2 Chronicles 20
Jehoshaphat Defeats Moab and Ammon
1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.
2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, [ from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'
10 "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.
14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.
15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: '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. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "
18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
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."
22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing [e] and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.
Jehoshaphat was taken by surprise. He may have thought because he was one of the few kings of Judah who honoured the Lord, everything will go smoothly with him and His Kingdom; no foes will attack him. But this was not the case. In fact he had rattled the cage of the enemies of God and they were stirred to attack him from all fronts. The anointing on his life that enabled him to run counter to the current of ungodliness attracted attack as we can see. His enemies here were armies of three nations Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites. They came as a vast army like sand. King Jehoshaphat panicked. He was terrified, alarmed, dismayed, but then reconsidered and took the right decision to declare a period of prayer and fasting for the nation.
Notice that he did not begin by rallying his troops. He did what would appear ridiculous or foolish in the natural- praying and fasting.
He did not despair and resign himself and backslide, saying, ‘Is this what I get for honouring the Lord and ridding the land of idols?’
He did not order intercessors to pray whilst he stayed at home hoping for a positive outcome. He led from the from by leading the prayer meeting. He humbled himself and stood before the congregation of the people and prayed.
Notice how he began his prayer by worshipping and praising the Lord
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.
Regardless of what happens on earth, Jehoshaphat declares that his God was from Heaven and heaven rules earth. The God of Heaven is above all. He decrees and it stands, commands and it comes into being. He declares the end from the beginning. No one can withstand Him. Power and might are in His hands. Jehoshaphat knew how to get God’s attention and had an audience with Him immediately. ‘God inhabits the praises of His people. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into his court with praise.’
This was what David was doing when he was ecstatic by the way the people responded so generously in giving super-abundantly for the building of God’s house: (1Chro.29)
The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly. Notice how his prayer relates to the opening prayer of Jehoshaphat.
10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
"Praise be to you, O LORD,
God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honour come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
Are you under attack even after obeying the Lord and doing what is pleasing in His sight? If so you are in good company with King Jehoshaphat. Are you surrounded by your enemies like Jehoshaphat? Has the sudden rise of your adversaries frightened you? Fear not!
Do what Jehoshaphat did. Pray and fast. Begin your prayer by praising and worshipping the Lord, like Jehoshaphat and David. Remember Paul and Silas in the Jail at Philippi after being beaten, battered and broken for preaching the gospel; their feet in stock and chains. They resorted to prayer and singing at mid-night. I believe they were praising God despite their predicament and that got God’s attention. The foundation of the jail was rocked and their chains fell off, the prison doors were opened and they were set free.
Praise brings the presence and power of God on the scene.
Examining the prayer of Jehoshaphat further we notice that he used rhetorical questioning device again and again:
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven?
O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8
12 ‘O our God, will you not judge them?’
This is a powerful device in prayer
Let us learn to use it in our payers: ‘Did you not….?’, ‘Are you not the one who said….?’
He also positively confessed the power, authority and sovereignty of God
Again he mentioned ‘Abraham, your friend’
By doing this he was anchoring his plea on an unshakable ground with God. He knew the power of covenant and that God was a covenant–keeping God, who would not deny his covenant partner- Abraham. We too need to learn to do this in our prayer because we have a new covenant established on better promises. (Heb.6: We can plead the finished work on Calvary’s cross and the blood of Jesus that speaks better things than the blood bulls and goat a or the blood of Abel. Friendship is the strongest relationship you can have and issues out of a covenant understanding. It is quite unlike the type of friendships we have in our day. Friends who are partners in a covenant relationship will do anything for their partner.
Furthermore, we need to note how Jehoshaphat quoted the scriptures to support his case:
'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'
We too need to be quoting the scriptures and the personal promises God had made to us in times past. Such as:
Was it not You who said:
‘10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Was it not You who said :
‘34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter what my lips have uttered. ‘Ps89:34
It was you who said:
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever." Isa40:8
Did you not say you watch over your word to perform it? (Jer.1:12)
Notice also the tone of the prayer with the use of the phrases:
"O LORD, God
O our God
This is the punctuation of a prayer from the heart and not the head. He sets his emotions free is able to add ‘O Lord, God…,’ ‘ O our God…’ He is not perturbed that he is the King and it may be too humbling to show his emotions. He knows that even though he is the king, he is before a higher authority- the king of kings and the Lord of lords. Let your prayer come from your heart. Release yourself and let your emotions be involved. Let out the ‘O’s and ‘aahs’
‘ O God ‘
. 12 O our God, will you not judge them?
Notice also that the stood before God whilst praying. Whereas we cannot prescribe definitive posture to adopt when praying, certain postures could enhance your prayers better than others especially on certain occasions. By standing up he is acknowledging that he is before the Most High, just as you would stand if the Queen of England comes into your congregation. It is a mark of respect. This posture also has the advantage of keeping you on your toes so that you don’t fall asleep. It is recommended for those who find themselves dosing at prayer while sitting down. You can walk about while you pray, use you hands, wrestle with God or your enemies like Jacob did:’ I will not leave you until you bless me.’
After Jehoshaphat had finished praying he did not run off but stood there in expectation. Then the Holy Spirit came and spoke.
We too need to learn to wait before God after we have prayed and expect to hear from Him. Prayer is supposed to be a two-way communication, and if you are always praying and not hearing from God, you need to be concerned. Perhaps He is speaking but you are not hearing or you are not giving Him the opportunity to speak to you.
In Psalm 5, David prayed and waited in expectation:
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation. (Ps5:3)
The Holy Spirit came and spoke by way of prophecy.
The Holy Spirit will come to comfort, encourage, or direct us at such times when we face crisis and call on God. On this occasion, apart from comforting them, he also gives them an instruction which does not sound like music to the natural ears; ‘Tomorrow you go out against them.’
Surely they would have preferred staying at home whilst their enemies are vanquished, ( you and I would also like that) but the Holy spirit wanted them to go out against the enemy even though they would not need to fight against them.
So when you fast and pray, expect to hear from God and do not expect that all that you will hear will be music to your ears. However, if you obey what you are instructed to do, no matter how unpleasant it might sound to you, God will give you the victory.
Secondly, God also gave them another strategy: ‘sing and praise in the face of the enemies surrounding you’.Whilst this is not clearly stated in the passage we know that King Jehoshaphat was being led by the Holy Spirit. They did and God worked wonders. Their enemies fought against themselves. This is unthinkable isn’t it? If they just ran away, we would understand that they may have seen something in the spirit realm that frightened them off. But on this occasion God does something that blows the mind: they fought against themselves and destroyed each other. It is even humorous. That is what God can do for those who come to Him in prayer and fasting and do what He says in faith no matter how ridiculous.
So in summary:
When the enemy surrounds you to overwhelm you:
Fast and pray
Enter His gates with praise, and worship;
Confess who you know He is, what He can do, has done and is doing;
Use rhetorical questions: ‘Did you not…’;
Let your emotions go: let out the ‘O Lord God…’;
Remind God of the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus, the finished work on Calvary’s cross;
Quote the scriptures and apply them as you plead your case;
Stand before his majesty;
Wait on God when you have finished praying for Him to speak back to you;
Do whatever He says no matter how ridiculous;
And the victory will be yours. In Jesus Name.
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