14 Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; 15 and he said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.” II Chronicles 20:14-17.
King Jehoshaphat was facing insurmountable odds. Enemies from all sides of Judah were on the march towards Jerusalem. Suddenly his future and the future of his people was in jeopardy, and the king was afraid…though not in the most standard sense. To be afraid typically indicates that one has given control to that which is feared. But this was not the case with Jehoshaphat, who gave all control to God. He had fear, a healthy caution for danger. But he did not allow that fear to control him.
Immediately he ordered the people to fast, an act that would physically weaken them as mighty armies approached. Yet it was an act that would confirm their trust in the Lord, and strengthen them spiritually. They were ready to hear the word of the Lord, when the Spirit came upon Jahaziel: “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.”
It was time to face the enemy, but not with spears and swords. The battle was claimed by the Lord, which changed their preparation. Jehoshaphat called his people in to battler wearing worship clothes, not armor, and with songs of praise, not weapons of metal and stone. Then from the outlook over the battlefield, Judah watched as their enemies turned against one another. Not a single enemy combatant survived, and there were bountiful spoils for the people to collect. Appropriately, they renamed this valley the Valley of Blessing, for the Lord fulfilled His promise and over-answered prayer.
As we enter a new year, I think there is an important principle we can take from this story. Jehoshaphat trusted in the Lord more than he trusted in his circumstances. Too often we look at the battles we face, our trials, hardships, and obstacles…and then try and size up our God to meet them. Yet that is backwards thinking and dysfunctional faith. We must first trust in the awesome and loving nature of our God. God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty always works for our good.
By no means will God always answer our obstacles with the kind of outcome we see in this story, but we can trust that He will lead and guide us to an outcome far greater than we can achieve on our own. So as we begin 2018, may we do so trusting God above and beyond our circumstances. Trials will come and go, but the Lord is unchanging. May we fear, but not be afraid. Armed with our worship clothes, our praise, and a spirit of fasting, may we trust God in every battlefield we face.
-- Pastor Justin
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