“…This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b
My devotions this morning were too good not to share! I am once again overwhelmed by our Almighty God!
In the 20th chapter of 2 Chronicles, messengers told King Jehoshaphat that a “vast army” was coming to attack him and were already close (verses 1-2). “Jehoshaphat was alarmed by the news and sought the Lord for guidance. He also gave orders that everyone throughout Judah should observe a fast,” (2 Chronicles 20:3, emphasis mine) so the people went to Jerusalem to seek the Lord.
May I interject here that we have a choice of how to respond when we receive bad news – even overwhelming news? We can cry. We can scream. We can panic. Or, we can seek the Lord and ask for His guidance.
From the temple, Jehoshaphat prayed, “O Lord, the God of our ancestors, You alone are the God who is in heaven. You are the ruler of all kingdoms of earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!” (2 Chronicles 3:6).
I think the next step would be to remember who God is! When we feel overwhelmed or discouraged, take a step back and think about all that God has done. Declare all that He is! No problem, no medical diagnosis, no situation is greater than the Sovereign Lord! Say it out loud! Don’t let your present anxiety cloud out your knowledge of Who is in control of all things!
One of my favorite verses from this chapter is next: “O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.” (2 Chronicles 20:12, emphasis mine).
When you have no idea what to do – when you are powerless to change your current circumstances, cry out to God and look to Him for help! Tell Him that you don’t know what to do and ask Him to intervene! I’ve watched my children struggling with things that would be easy for me to fix. My oldest son, especially, is a fiery little man! If I offer to help when he believes he can do it himself, he’ll shout at me for stepping in and he’ll fight with me that he doesn’t want me interfering with what he’s doing. But, when he’s come to the end of his own struggle, when he realizes that he can’t accomplish what he wants to, and when the frustration gives way to the sweet little boy in tears who comes to me gently and asks me to help him, there’s nothing that gives me more joy than to do what I can to bring him back to smiling. Perhaps, it’s just giving him a suggestion on how he can better attack the problem, still allowing him to do it but guiding him on a better way to complete his goal. But at times it’s me simply doing it because it requires something only an adult can do and a child of his age can’t.
Don’t you see how our loving Father knows when we can solve a problem and guide us in the best path to take to do it? And He also knows when we simply can’t handle it with our earthly bodies but He can step in and fix it instantly?
Going back to the Bible, God spoke through a prophet to His people saying, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat! Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15, emphasis mine).
In case you need to hear this, LISTEN! Don’t be afraid and discouraged by what’s going on in your life. Doesn’t it make you feel better that this isn’t your battle but God’s? Because who ALWAYS wins? You simply need to do what God tells you, and you will OVERCOME!!!
“Tomorrow, march out against them…But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Go out there tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” (2 Chronicles 20:16-17).
Why would God ask the people to march out? This was a VAST army. Couldn’t God just say “Hey, stay home and I’ll take care of it. Get comfy; make other plans! No worries, it’s already done.” Isn’t that what we want? To wake up and realize that the problem is behind us, rather than needing to face it head on? But, that’s not what happened, and I’m going to make two guesses as to why (again, simply reading the Bible and ‘digesting’ it). First, I think God wants to see our obedience. Do we trust Him? Are we willing to take a stand? Will we follow what He tells us to do, and do we BELIEVE and TRUST that He will take care of us? Second, I think that only from this vantage point can we “watch the Lord’s victory.” You see, when we have an overwhelming circumstance – something we simply can’t do on our own and has us shaking in our boots – only then do we KNOW that we KNOW that God has triumphed for us! Otherwise, this sneaky little evil called pride might come in and we think we defeated the problem on our own. Could God allow us to go through such times so that we can glorify Him and know that He still works miracles?
Friends, I’ll give you an example from my own life. I tried so many diets, I won’t even list them. But, I was still obese! It wasn’t until I finally believed that God could heal me and I began to humble myself and allowed Him to work victory in my life that I began to lose weight. When someone comments on my eating or exercising, I often cringe because I want to explain that it was truly God moving in me. This was a battle in my life that ONLY He could win. And this is just one example of many. The healing of my oldest son (the fiery little man I talked about earlier in this post) is another. And there are so many more I could share! But, this post isn’t about me…
“Then King Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:18). Now, this demonstrates exactly how I believe we need to respond to God (may I suggest right now?). This response happened BEFORE the people saw the victory; they just received the message that God would fight for them and that He was asking them to march out and take their positions the next day. Before the battle was won, the people were on their faces in worship.
As they marched out for battle early the next morning, Jehoshaphat reminded the people, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm” (verse 20).
Again, I pause and want you to reflect on your personal situation. Do you BELIEVE that the Lord your God can do anything? Do you believe that He will heal you? Do you trust that He is for you? Do you know that the battle belongs to Him? The first step to victory is belief!
The next wise thing the king did in our story from 2 Chronicles 20 was to appoint singers to walk ahead of the army “singing to the Lord and praising Him for His holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!'” (verse 21).
How do you respond to bad news? Do you focus on it? Do you dwell on your misery? Or, do you sing and thank God? Do you sing and praise Him in His holy splendor? Even if I die in battle, I would be honored to end my days singing thanks for God’s faithful love… This act of singing and praising takes our focus off ourselves and back to where it should be. The devil would love for us to be immobilized by our problems, so focused on our own pity party that we’re useless for anything else. But, when we remember to instead trust and praise God, the spiritual battle becomes very real. And we already know Who wins!!! Praise Him!
This is the part of the story that gave me chills: “At the moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves” (2 Chronicles 20:22). The teacher in me has to ask this question. Re-read this verse above and tell me when God gave them the victory.
Now, what should your response be to your situation?
You can read the rest of 2 Chronicles 20 (in fact, I recommend that you read the entire chapter on your own!). But, let me just give you a highlight: “So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, there were dead bodies lying on the ground for as far as they could see. Not a single one had escaped” (2 Chronicles 20:24). Not only that, they were then able to carry the plunder home – it took them three days to collect it all (verse 25)! They then gathered in the “Valley of Blessing” to praise and thank the Lord.
Could this problem turn into a memory of absolute blessing? Could the very thing that makes you feel sick to your stomach today become such an amazing victory that you call it a time of blessing in your life? Do you believe that God can? Do you trust that He will (enough to take your stand)? Have you gotten on your face and prayed, asking the Lord for help and guidance? Have you begun to thank Him, praising Him for His faithful love that endures FOREVER (even today!)?
Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word continues to inspire us. No matter how many times I read it, You reveal new truths and show Your glory and faithfulness. Lord, we thank You for being God of all. You are powerful and mighty and no one and nothing can stand up to You! We confess, Lord, that we are at a place where we don’t know what to do, so we’re asking for Your guidance. God, this battle seems far to overwhelming for us! In fact, on our own, we realize that we are doomed. But, thank You for reminding us that we are not on our own. You created us for this very moment – to reveal Your glory in this time. Lord, You are good! Your faithful love endures forever! Please act on our behalf! Please change the times, the circumstances, the things we can’t. We trust You, and we will obey what You tell us to do. We want to be at the exact place You call us to be so that we can look and see Your victory! May this moment in our lives be considered the “Valley of Blessing” where the enemy meant to destroy us and You rescued us! All for Your glory and renown. May we live for You alone – please be honored by all that we say and do, keeping us from sin and from pride. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!