I’m working on a workshop on worship for a retreat that’s coming up, and one of my main points is that worship can be used as a defense mechanism, as a weapon. The journey through Scripture that this point is taking me on is pretty powerful, and as I’m reading and writing, I’m thinking of so many that I love that are going through massive hardships in their lives and relationships. This section of 2 Chronicles just smacked me upside the head, and though I know most people won’t stop and read this, someone who reads this blog needs this word.
I’m going to throw my thoughts and comments into the mix in bold.
p class=”passage-display”>2 Chronicles 20 (NKJV)
Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir Defeated
20 It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
So, there’s trouble brewing, Jehoshaphat was scared. But he didn’t run and hide out, he united his people and went to the Lord to seek Him.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’ 10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.
Why do you think he said these things out loud, in front of all these people? Was it for God’s benefit? I doubt it. I think Jehoshaphat was not only reminding himself, but also his people that God was for them, that He had done great and mighty things, that He had already rescued them before, that God had given them the land once before, and was more than capable of doing it again. The people are well aware that their livelihoods are under attack, but they are holding tightly to what God had promised them. Jehoshaphat states out loud that they have no power over the coming armies, and God is their only hope. I’m sure that there is a big significance to the fact that women and children are included in this text as well, but I’m no scholar, and I’m just moving through this at face value.
14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
This is probably my favorite portion of this chapter. The people have implored God, and He answers them! He restores their hope. “For the battle is not yours, but God’s! . . . You will not need to fight in this battle . . .the Lord is with you.”
THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S. (Selah- pause and calmly think of it) For real. Stop. Stop right now and receive this truth. The God of heaven and earth is actively fighting on YOUR behalf. Slow down, friend! Take a deep breath and trust that He has you. You need only be still (Exodus 14:14).
God tells Judah the exact plan of the enemy, takes the responsibility off of their shoulders, and promises His favor.
18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.
And they worship. Full stop. They praise Him before He’s even delivered them. They praise Him because He promised to deliver them, and they are activating this faith by lifting worship to the God who saves.
20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.
All of Judah showed up to the fight, and as they worshipped the Lord, God took out the enemy, right before their eyes. Their enemies, instead of unifying against Judah, turned on one another and slaughtered each other.
25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day.
Because of their obedience to allow God to fight for them, to worship Him instead of running away from the fight, He not only defeated their enemies, but He provided for them in the midst of that victory. So not only did they keep their lives, but they were blessed beyond even that with the spoils of a war they didn’t have to fight.
27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
God was made known in this victory, not just to the people of Judah, but to the surrounding kingdoms as well.
This story is such a beautiful description of how we can walk through trials and attacks. The minute the people of Judah knew an attack was imminent, they sought the Lord, heard Him, worshipped Him and obeyed Him. Because of this, He rescued and blessed them. What the enemy meant to harm them, the Lord used for their good, just like with Joseph and his brothers in Gen. 50:20.
Do we put this into practice in our own lives, though? How often do we miss the rescue of our Savior because we aren’t showing up to the fight and instead are reacting out of fear and running for our lives? I know that I miss it a lot. I get there eventually, but man I spend a lot of time running before I turn back to Him and begin to worship in the midst of my struggle.
I know that there are many ways to commune with the Lord, and not everyone is a ‘music person’ like I am, but worshipping with music is a Biblical practice, so, even if it’s not your M.O. typically, I implore you to find your favorite worship song on Youtube or Spotify or wherever you listen to music, get alone with the Lord and worship in the midst of your every day, in the midst of your angst, your trial, your weeping, your joy, or your victory. It may not change your immediate circumstances — Judah still had to show up for a battle, but God was faithful to deliver them from it.
Don’t hide. Don’t run away. Show up. Show up to your fight and worship the Lord. Paul and Silas showed up, worshipped the Lord in a jail cell and their chains literally fell off (Acts 16:25-26). Who knows what chains you will break as you lift your praise to the Lord?