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If you are a regular to our channel, you may have gathered that I enjoy reading of the battles recorded in the Old Testament.
In some of these battles our people were victorious, in others they were defeated. It is not the violence and death that draws me to these action packed passages of Scripture but rather the strategic battle plans that are recorded there. These detailed plans are written down for our benefit as they provide us with blueprints that we can use as we face similar challenges in our modern day.
So in this episode of Caleb’s Journal I want to take a look at 2 Chronicles 20 where we read of a battle in which swords and spears are laid aside in favour of a most unconventional weapon, one which overcame a mighty army. The approach taken was certainly visionary and has stood the test of time as this special weapon is one that we can still use today. So let’s get started and discover what this weapon is, the power it holds and how we can wield it as we each face our own battles of life.
An Unexpected Battle.
At the time of our story, Jehoshaphat was King over Judah. One day he was surprised to hear from his watchmen that a mighty army was advancing towards his kingdom. The enemy was making their approach from an unexpected corner, namely through the seldom used ‘back door’ of his kingdom which is at Engedi on the shores of the Dead Sea.
This mighty army planned to capture Jerusalem by passing through the steep ascent of Ziz. Climbing about 550 meters in less than one kilometre over a narrow rocky path required great levels of fitness and endurance on behalf of the soldiers… but the officers knew that once this hurdle had been overcome the path to Jerusalem and victory would be quick and easy.
Despite the advanced warning, Jehoshaphat was filled with fear as he saw the approach of this mighty army. In Jehoshaphat’s mind, it seemed impossible to overcome and he did not know what to do or how he was to tackle this invading horde.
Can you relate to this situation? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a trial or challenge the Lord placed on your path? Did it catch you by surprise, like it did Jehoshaphat? Maybe you are facing some challenges at this very moment and you may be wondering how to deal with it all.
Let’s see what we can learn from the approach Jehoshaphat took.
Turning to seek the lord.
Instead relying on the strength of his own hand by mobilising his mighty warriors, Jehoshaphat turned to seek the Lord.
Is this how we respond to challenges that suddenly appear on our own path? Is our first response like that of Jehoshaphat, to seek the Lord and ask Him for help? If I am honest, I must confess that it is not always the path that I take… because my first instincts are to try to solve the problem myself with the tools that I know… but the Lord wants His people to learn to trust Him, to lean on Him and let Him help them… but for that we need to be open and ask.
Giving voice to the sovereignty of god
Listen to how Jehoshaphat grappled with this great threat to his kingdom… His prayer in its entirety is heartfelt and beautiful, but we will just focus on verse 12 for now.
In this prayer Jehoshaphat recognises, and gives voice to, the Sovereignty of God. This is a pivotal point in the story as this position of humility, sets the tone for the events that follow. This King looks to the King of Kings to execute judgement. For Jehoshaphat this is a very personal lesson to learn and walk out as his name literally means ‘The Lord Judges or Governs’…
Humility opens the door
It was through this act of humility, of both the King and the people, that the door was opened so that the Lord could enter into their midst and become the source of their salvation.
This is God’s promise to us… as we humbly seek Him, He will fight the battle. He has done that for our people in the past and He will continue to do so in our present day.
Walking forth boldly into the chaos
However, the story did not end there. The people were promised that the Lord would fight for them, He would be the source of their salvation… But God did not just miraculously fall out of the sky to take care of the situation whilst the people remained at a safe distance. No… they were commanded to walk forth boldly towards the enemy and then, stand their ground. They could do this because they were strengthened by their belief in the Word that the Lord had given them.
Is this how we live out our lives today? As Christians we are saved by the blood of our Lord and Saviour… that is our belief… but are we also walking forth boldly in that belief? How are we to walk forth into the chaos of our world… how are we to approach the enemy that seems to make an appearance at every turn?
There are two things that Jehoshaphat and his people did the next day as they walked forth boldly towards the advancing army. Firstly they believed in the Lord, and secondly they began to proclaim this belief by singing praises.
As they went they sang;
Singing Praises was the secret weapon Jehoshaphat’s men used against the advancing army. It was not enough to hold a belief in their hearts, they needed to give voice to it. It was by proclaiming the sovereignty of their God through songs of praise that the enemy was overcome.
Did you get that… as soon as the people began to sing and praise, the Lord set the ambush and the enemy was overcome.
Praise brings god’s presence and intervention
This battle illustrates to us the amazing power of Praise. Praise opens the door through which God enters your life and goes to work on your behalf. In other words, praise brings God’s presence along with His direct intervention.
At the precise moment that the people began to sing Praises, the Lord appeared and deliverance was secured. This was not only visible to Jehoshaphat and his people, but also to all the Kingdoms around about because they feared as they saw God dwelling in the midst of His people. This brought peace and rest to all around.
The Lord desires that intimate relationship with us, that union. He longs to dwell in the midst of His people, and as we learn to praise Him, both individually and as a nation, He will do so.
Let us take a look at a few more passages in Scripture where we see this concept illustrated… where we see that as the people praised, the Lord came to dwell in their midst. As as we look at these passages, let’s see how we are to apply this in our modern day.
The lord dwells with his people
King Solomon, during his reign, built a Temple for the Lord at Jerusalem. At the dedication of this Temple we read;
It is as they sang praises with one voice that the presence of the Lord came and filled the Temple, and He dwelt in the midst of His people.
This must have been amazing for the people of Israel to see and experience, but how are we to see this working in our modern day? How can we be assured that the Lord is dwelling in our midst?
Confessing ‘Jesus is Lord’ – the highest praise
As I was pondering this question a verse in the book of Romans came to mind;
It is as we confess and believe that we will see His Salvation. It is not enough to believe something in our hearts, we must publicly declare it.
And what is Paul admonishing us to declare? That ‘Jesus is Lord’. Publicly declaring the Lordship of Jesus over our lives is not only the highest praise, it is an expression of faith.
Paul is writing these words to a cluster of house churches in the heart of the Roman Empire. For these early Christians to declare the Lordship of Jesus in this setting would have been highly provocative. Yet this is the mark of a true Christian. By confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ in your life, you are proclaiming that a transfer of allegiance has taken place within your heart, a change in acknowledged ownership.
Praising through our walk
And how do we witness of, or proclaim this change in allegiance to the world at large? Through our walk. We praise Him by ‘following Him’ on this new path of righteousness that He has laid out for us. This takes courage and faith as you will very soon start to realise that this path often runs contrary to the path of our logical thinking or of our society at large.
So in many ways we find ourselves in the same situation as the early christians in Paul’s day.
Our world is highly secularised so proclaiming that ‘Jesus is Lord’ in our daily walk is as provocative in our day as it was in Paul’s. Yet, if we walk forth boldly on this path, by faith, we are promised that we will see His Salvation, just as Jehoshaphat did centuries before.
Moving forward by praise and fulfilling our destiny
It is our destiny, as a people, to walk forth as one, praising His Name. In the Old Testament we see this illustrated in the movements of the Israelite nation. Every time they moved, they did so as one and it was always the tribe of Judah that led the way. Judah means ‘praise’. At his birth Leah, his mother proclaimed ‘This time I will praise the Lord’. The lesson for us here is that if we desire, as individuals or as a people, to move forward, we can only do so by praise.
A wonderful encouragement for us, as we contemplate how to move forward in praise is that the prophet Zephaniah speaks of a remnant in Israel who will return to covenant with God and once again become a people who will praise His name. Zephaniah writes that this remnant will seek refuge in the Lord, uniting with Him in Holy Covenant and as a result the Lord will come once again to dwell in our midst, transforming us to reflect His Character and His nature so that we can speak pure words of Praise to His name. The Lord will then again rejoice over His people and in this union we will move forwards as one, overcoming all obstacles in our way. As we come to praise our God in this way we will fulfil our destiny of becoming a people who, through exalting His Name, will not only overcome all obstacles on our way, but we will also draw all nations together in rest and unity.
I pray that you have been blessed with the thoughts I have shared with you today. In the study guide for this episode, which you can download by clicking on the link in the description box below, I have included a lot of extra resource material on this most important topic of praise. I hope this information will encourage you too, as you seek to walk forth boldly for our Lord and His Kingdom.
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May the Lord bless and keep you and we will see you again in our next episode.