Thankful by Faith
I was reminded of this story when I read it from a children’s bible story book for my kids as I was getting them ready for bed. I put them to bed and got out my Bible to read the full version. I fell in love with this story all over again and decided to write a second post on it.
On this post, we will be studying 2 Chronicles 20 and learning not only how to deal with humanly unsurmountable challenges but more importantly how to be thankful and to praise God by faith.
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. 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).
2 Chronicles 20:1-2 NKJV (bold mine)
So what do you do when you’re just going about life and minding your own business and suddenly a great multitude is coming to attack you? Okay, maybe not literally, but I believe many of you who are reading this have felt like this was happening in your life correct? When unexpectedly you become overwhelmed by what feels like a great multitude of things coming to destroy you, to take away your peace, your health, your family, your money, your house or possessions or even your very life?
Life can be pretty intense, and nowadays many suffer from anxiety. The sad truth is that the problem does not even have to materialize in order to affect us, just the possibility of the enemy attack is often enough to cause us to suffer.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
- 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 NKJV
I believe we can all learn from King Jehoshaphat and how he handled this crisis. Jehoshaphat was scared so he sought the Lord, but not by himself, he called all of Judah together to ask God for help. We can all come to God individually and we should, throughout the day we should be in God’s presence prayerfully considering each decision we make. However, there is something special about corporately coming together to seek the Lord.
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.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:5-12 NKJV (bold mine)
In this prayer, we see the importance of knowing God. Jehoshaphat was aware of who God is and what He is capable of. Jehoshaphat is also familiar with God’s promises and he claims them. Jehoshaphat also recognizes that he is unable to handle this situation and had no idea what to do other than look to God for help.
Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.
2 Chronicles 20:13 NKJV
This is so challenging is it not? To get everyone together and stand before the Lord? My church members probably wonder why I promote prayer meeting so much. What could possibly be gained from coming together to pray and wait in God’s presence?
So often I am eager to do something for God. I like being busy for the Lord, and in my busyness, I am constantly in danger of neglecting my personal relationship with God. How many of us pray but fail to wait upon Him? How difficult it can be to just stand in the presence of the Lord.
The Spirit of the Lord came
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.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:14-17 NKJV (bold mine)
We are not told how long they stood before the Lord, but imagine how they must have cheered when they heard the message from God! I have many of these verses underlined in my Bible. How wonderful it is to have a God who delivers his children from the attack of the enemy. How incredible to serve a God who says this battle is mine, just stand and watch Me save you. How different challenges look when you know God is with you.
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. 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.
- 2 Chronicles 20:18-19 NKJV
How did everyone react? First, they bowed before God in an act of worship, then the praise leaders got up and led the people in worship and they praised God with voices loud and high. In worship, there are times for quiet and somber, but there are also times for loud and joyful praise! How else do you react, or what would be a proper reaction to hearing from God that He will take care of what was coming to destroy you? When we become aware of what God saves us from, sometimes it brings out more than a halfhearted “amen.”
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.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV (bold mine)
Salvation not based on works but on trust, or faith. Trust in God, believe in His prophets. Trust God, claim His promises, and everything will turn out great. Just a quick note that in order to believe in God’s prophets you need to familiarize yourself with what they said, this would mean studying the Bible.
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.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:21 NKJV (bold mine)
The kings checks with the people and everyone is in agreement, and he assembles the choir, the song leaders who will praise the beauty of holiness, and have them go ahead of the army singing praises to God because His mercy/love endures forever. The Hebrew word translated here as mercy is חֶסֶד (hesed) which is very difficult to translate because it means so many things (I describe it further on my post “Love Is”).
They begin to sing because of who God is. They begin to sing because of the words of the prophet. They begin to sing because they believe, they trust, in their God. The choir begins to sing before they see any evidence that God has indeed done for them what He promised to do, but for them, the promise is a good an evidence as anything else could be.
Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
- 2 Peter 1:19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
They begin to praise God before they are able to tell if God has indeed done anything for them. They praise and thank God by faith. Faith in who God is and what He has done for them in the past and what He promised to do for them.
When they began to sing
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. 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.
- 2 Chronicles 20:22-23 NKJV (bold mine)
When they began to sing and praise God delivered them.
Just let that truth sink in for a bit.
Could it be that we don’t experience more of God’s power in our lives because we are not willing to believe and to praise Him before we have any “evidence” of his power at work? How many times to hear Jesus says something along the lines of “your faith has made you whole”? (Mark 5:34,) Or something along the lines of “everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mark 9:23-24). Could it be that having more praise in our lives would increase our faith which would, in turn, unleash God’s power to work in our lives?
Think of the story of Gideon and how having too many men in the army was a problem because they would think they had saved themselves.
And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.
- Judges 7:2 NKJV
When I recognize my inability to save myself and turn to God He can come and save in a mighty way.
Witnessing what God has done
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.
- 2 Chronicles 20:24 NKJV
When the people finally come to a place where they can see what God has done they realize that God had thoroughly destroyed their enemies. No one who had wanted to harm God’s children survived. Just a note on God’s judgment: The armies God destroyed had intentionally come to attack and destroy God’s people, they were not ignorant and this was not a mistake, this was pre-meditated, and God destroyed them completely.
The final outcome
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. 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.
- 2 Chronicles 20:25-30 NKJV (bold mine)
God gave them spoils form their enemies. The people praised and worshiped God even more. God causes them to rejoice over their enemies. They had peace, they had no fear because they knew their God loved them and would protect them and provide for them.
God gave them rest.
It is understandable to be apprehensive about the future. There are so many uncertainties in the world we live in. Health, relationships, finances, politics, etc. There are so many uncertainties all around us. Yet, we have a choice, we can choose to familiarize ourselves with God’s promises and claim them and praise Him. We can start praising God today for delivering us from all the things that threaten to destroy us.
So we have two options. We can worry, which won’t help at all. Or we can come before God, claim his promises, spend time standing before Him, and praise Him for what He promises to do for us.
If you would like a list of promises I have some listed on my post “Some of my Favorite Bible Verses for Prayer”