Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jehoshaphat, "Vast" Armies & Trusting God to Be Faithful No Matter What We Face

Today's post is longer than most, but please take a minute or two to read it.

Do you have a favorite Bible Adventure? I do. While there are many accounts in the Bible which I love to read and study, I am truly fascinated and encouraged by the life of Jehoshaphat. Who is Jehoshaphat, you ask?

Well, allow me to give you a brief “family tree”. David was king of all Israel and Judah, and he was known as, “a man after God’s own heart”. He was not perfect and he did sin, but he repented and turned to God when he did, and focused on knowing and walking with God throughout his life. When David died, Solomon became king. Even though his father knew and walked with God, Solomon did not remain faithful to God; he allowed his many wives to lead him into worshiping false gods.

When Solomon died, the kingdom split and Judah was ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who did not always follow God. But towards the end of his reign he humbled himself which pleased God. When Rehoboam died, his son Abijah become king; in 2 Chronicles 13 he said,

The Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader.”  

When Abijah died, his son Asa became king and in 2 Chronicles 14 it says he;

Did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”

In 2 Chronicles 15, God sent a message to King Asa. God told him;

The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”

When Asa heard this, he took courage, and the Bible says he removed idols from the land and led the people in turning to God. Sadly, in the final years of his life, he did not seek God and died not being completely faithful to God.

This brings us to Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa and Great-great-great grandson of King David. 2 Chronicles 17:3-6 says;

The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord.”  

Jehoshaphat made a choice which did not please God, but because his heart was set on seeking God, and was devoted to God, he was forgiven. He went on to make wise decisions, and then one day something happened which brings me to my favorite Bible Adventure!
A messenger told Jehoshaphat a “vast” army was coming to fight him. This army was much larger than his own. What do you suppose Jehoshaphat did? Well, he didn’t hide under his bed. He did not run away or go and ask people what he should do. Second Chronicles 20 tells us what Jehoshaphat did do; he,
Resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord" 
Picture this. A, “vast” army was coming to attack Jehoshaphat, and he had no power to stop them. He did not know what to do; but rather than panic, hide, run away or gather a committee, Jehoshaphat put his eyes on God! He remembered God’s faithfulness in the past! He remembered Who God is; the all-powerful God Who is in Heaven. And then he remembered God’s promise; if they faced calamity and called out to God, He would hear and save them! 
God’s answer was incredible! He said,
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  16 Tomorrow march down against them. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the  Lord will be with you.”
Jehoshaphat believed what God said!  
20“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, 'Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.' 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.'”

Jehoshaphat and all the people went out to face this “vast” army, but they did not go afraid or worried about what was going to happen; they went actually singing praises to God! While they were joyfully and enthusiastically singing praises to God, He caused the “vast” army to turn on one another, so when Jehoshaphat arrived, the entire “vast” army was dead! God did exactly what He said He would do; He fought the battle for Jehoshaphat!
Do you see why this is my favorite Bible Adventure? Real people who faced a truly difficult situation - even totally frightening. They could have run and hid, they could have panicked. They could have just made the choice to give up. But they did not do any of these things. They turned to God for help. They remembered how He helped them in the past and they trusted Him to be faithful to do what he said He would do!
Life is not a "fairy tale". It does not always work out to be "happily ever after". Families struggle with very real, difficult and painful issues, because we live in a broken world. While we may not have a real "vast" army coming to fight us, there are times, no matter who we are, when we face difficult times and feel like our lives are "surrounded" by a "vast army". Times when we just do not know what to do.

But, the answer for us, is the same as it was for Jehoshaphat. We need to turn to God and trust Him to do what He says He will do. We need to remember how He has been faithful in the past and trust Him to be faithful now and in the future. And we need to face challenges with a heart which is fully devoted to God and which is focused upon thanking Him!

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