An abbreviated post first appeared on Seriously Write.
In this new year beginning tomorrow, the Lord’s intentions are always for our good, even though we’re living through a difficult time. He’s refining our character and teaching us important truths. I want to learn, to cooperate, and to seek out what He’s impressing upon us. May we be quick to learn.
As we approached the election, which followed the rioting, the cries for social injustice, and yet another surge in COVID-19, I “just happened” to be studying a passage that has carried me through. God’s Word strengthened me then, and I know he will strengthen me as new challenges await us in 2021.
Now more than 83,200,000 people worldwide have COVID-19, and more than 1,820,000 loved ones have passed away. The unknown awaits us with a new president and his policies, and our vaccination program is ramping up.
How do we juggle all of this with faithful hearts and joyful attitudes? A lesson from the history of the Jewish people supplies us with a good model.
In the 800s B.C., the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came to battle against King Jehoshaphat. Ammon and Moab were long-time enemies, descended from Lot and his daughters after Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. These carried their broken relational baggage into every interaction. They had united with the Arabic Meunites into a vicious horde.
When Jehoshaphat was informed that an enormous enemy army would soon attack, he was afraid, and so, he sought the Lord and called Judah to fast and to pray. All of Judah gathered, together with their wives, their little ones, and their children. A LAMENT was offered by Jehoshaphat as he stood among the assembly in the house of the Lord.
The king PRAISED GOD for His majestic qualities and the sovereignty of His nature.
Jehoshaphat REMINDED THE LORD that He had driven out the past inhabitants and had given the land to Abraham’s descendants. These had built a sanctuary for Him, saying, “Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save” (2 Chronicles 20:9).
The king COMPLAINED TO THE LORD about extenuating circumstances previously superintended by God Himself – the hordes who had come to invade Judah were groups whom Israel had spared at God’s direction when they had first entered the Promised Land.
Of course, God already knew all of this, just as He knows all that we are suffering and how it all came about. But praying the history of a problem before the Lord is powerful.Of course, God already knew it all, just as He knows all that we are suffering and how it all came about. But praying the history of a problem before the Lord is powerful. Click To Tweet
WITH GREAT HUMILITY, Jehoshaphat next ASKED THE LORD: “O our God, will You not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12).A powerful prayer: "For we are powerless against _____________. Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chron 20:12). Click To Tweet
And then, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons of Asaph: “… Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s,…You will not need to fight this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you’” (2 Chronicles 20:15b, 16b-17 ESV).
The battle is not yours but God’s. He wants us to learn to rely on Him.The battle is not yours but God's. He wants us to learn to rely on Him. Click To Tweet
- The Lord did all the work to defeat the Egyptians during the first Passover and afterward at the Red Sea while the Hebrew nation looked on. The Lord promised to do the same for Jehoshaphat and the gathered people.
- The Lord did all the work to protect and to sustain the Hebrew people during their time in the wilderness, and He promised to do the same for Jehoshaphat and His people when they marched out to face this battle.
- Similarly, the Lord Jesus took on the cross, doing all the work to defeat sin and Satan. He did this for us, not only for those who walked the earth during his ministry.
- Likewise, the Lord rose from the dead, and His defeat of death is also for us. He did all the work necessary to defeat the grave.
- In like manner, the Lord will raise from the dead all believers since the beginning of time when He returns and establishes a new heaven and a new earth. Only the Lord Jesus can do the work of calling forth the dead from the grave with a shout. We will not raise ourselves. In this most significant of miracles, we entrust ourselves entirely to Him.
In all of these actions, the Lord did or will do all of the work. This is what God Almighty does.
We watch and pray and trust, but the battle belongs to the Lord. Go out there. Stand firm. Watch and see what God will do. The LORD is with you.We watch and pray and trust, but the battle belongs to the Lord. Go out there. Stand firm. Watch and see what God will do. The LORD is with you. #TrustGod Click To Tweet
So what happened after Jahaziel the Levite prophesied what the Spirit gave him to say?
Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem worshipped the Lord, falling on their faces before Him. When we pray thusly, prostrating ourselves before the Lord, yielded and pleading, we are in the same posture Jesus assumed in the Garden. We ourselves become the prayer. Not my will, Lord, but Thine.
Next the singers from among the Levites — the Kohathites and the Korahites — stood and burst into song, praising the LORD, the God of Israel, calling on Him with a loud and mighty voice. Imagine men’s bass and tenor voices soaring to the pinnacle of the temple as they sang of their confidence in God. I would love to have heard and to have seen that! Surely the singing for joy when we are in God’s eternal kingdom will be even more glorious!
They all rose early the next morning in the darkness of the predawn and prepared to head to the wilderness of Tekoa, twelve miles south of Jerusalem.
But first, King Jehoshaphat stood before them, invoking the essence of Isaiah 7:9, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”
He called them to faith in the Lord, saying, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20b ESV).Isaiah 7:9, "If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all." The battle belongs to the Lord. #Faith #TrustGod Click To Tweet
The king then chose which priests would go before the army in holy attire, singing praises to the Lord: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (2 Chronicles 20:21b ESV). With the priests in the lead, Israel marched toward the gathered enemy horde.
Their eyes were on the LORD, entrusting themselves entirely to Him, and so when they began singing and praising, the LORD set an ambush against their enemies Ammon, Moab, and the Meunites of Mount Seir.
The LORD worked the situation so that these armies were routed. And not only that, but the armies in confusion turned first upon the Meunites, killing them all, and then they turned upon one another. In their wrath they wiped out one another’s armies.
When Jehoshaphat and his army finally arrived in the wilderness and mounted the watchtower, the bodies of their dead enemies were already scattered across the wilderness. Their ancestors had seen the same, looking down upon the ancient Egyptians, dead after the Lord split the Red Sea, wiping out their entire army.
Similarly, no one had escaped the slaughter below in the wilderness. The horde lay lifeless upon the earth. Then Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem gathered the spoil until they could carry no more. It took three days. On the fourth day, they all stood together in the Valley of Beracah to bless the Lord for the victory He had wrought in protecting them.
They came into Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets, and they entered the house of the LORD. And then, as when all of the ancient world feared God’s people because of how the LORD had delivered them from the Egyptians, so now “the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel” (2 Chronicles 20:29 ESV).
This is our God. He is mighty. We can trust Him.
Like them, we need not fear this great horde of hardship, for just as the battle was not theirs, so also the battle is not ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You” is likewise our cry, our song, and our worship.We need not fear this great horde of hardship. The battle belongs to the Lord. “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You” is likewise our cry, our song, and our worship. Click To Tweet
And, likewise, the Lord answers our prayers, orchestrating good out of everything we experience, whether blessing or hardship.
We pray, we trust the Lord, and we strive for what is right and good. But whether our candidate won or lost, whether goodness or calamity prevails during this pandemic, whether social justice ever comes to pass, the battle is the Lord’s.Whether our candidate won or lost, whether goodness or calamity prevails during this #pandemic, whether #socialjustice ever comes to pass, the battle is the Lord’s. Click To Tweet
In our election, the Lord put down one, and He raised another (Psalm 75:7). We commit the leaders God has raised up to the Lord in prayer.
In the justice that is due to our friends and neighbors of Color—fellow human beings, we speak, we protest, we pray, but the battle belongs to the Lord. He is the One who softens hardened hearts and changes unseeing minds.
In the defeat of COVID-19, the Lord has now supplied not one, but two and possibly three vaccines engineered with ground-breaking technology. The battle is the Lord’s. He inspires scientists. He opens doors.
We cry to the Lord in faith, entrusting ourselves to Him. We then write and speak to encourage others, penning the promises and the instructions of God’s Word clearly and applicably. We keep our eyes upon Him when we don’t know what to do or what to write.
Do not be afraid. The battle is the Lord’s.
How have you seen the Lord work, answering miraculously when you prayed?
Are you currently in a besieged place? How can I pray for you?
Might your faith be faltering? Do you need prayers and encouragement?
What are you doing to strengthen your faith in the Lord?