Jehoshaphat was a king of Judah. His name means “Jehovah judges,” and he did his best to live up to that name. During his reign he brought about many reforms. He set judges over the people, men appointed to judge civil cases, and set them on notice:
2 Chronicles 19:6-7
(6) And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment.
(7) Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
To put this into plain English: “You judges don’t represent yourselves. You represent the Judge of judges. So, don’t abuse your office, don’t take bribes and don’t think higher of yourselves than of others. Judge humbly and in the fear of the Lord.”
In addition to setting up judges, Jehoshaphat also restored the Levites to their proper office. For years the kingdom of Israel to the north had worshipped idols instead of God. That same practice had made its way to the southern kingdom of Judah. Idol worship had displaced the Levites from their rightful office. The Levites were supposed to be priests before God. They handled matters of worship and sacred law. When Jehoshaphat restored them to their proper roles, he exhorted them as he had exhorted the judges:
And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. (2 Chronicles 19:9)
Long story short, Jehoshaphat did everything right. Then everything went wrong. The king wasn’t wrong in bringing about reform, but life had turned against him. Have you ever noticed that every time you make a decision to do right before God, the same thing happens to you as it did to Jehoshaphat? He was turning things around for God and then he hit a brick wall of resistance:
It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. (2 Chronicles 20:1)
It’s almost as though when you are determined to do right, the devil and his crowd make it their mission to mess you up! (It’s because that is their mission.) So, why does God allow that? He does it in hopes to bring us to the same place He brought Jehoshaphat:
O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
Have you ever found yourself in such dire straits you didn’t know what to do? You feel like you’re in a deep, deep hole and you need God to throw you a rope just to get you out! That was king Jehoshaphat. So, he “feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
He did the right thing. He went straight to God (2 Chronicles 20:5-12), and God threw him a rope. The Lord moved upon the heart of a man by the name of Jahaziel whose name means “beheld of God,” who assured the king and his people: “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15). He went on to say:
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; [tomorrow] go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. (2 Chronicles 20:17)
The Bible says that after hearing that prophesy the king and his people worshipped. That means they took that rope, tied a knot in it and hung on! In the battle that followed, the king and his people did not have to do a thing. The Bible says the Lord had Judah’s enemies turn on each other (2 Chronicles 20-23). By the time Jehoshaphat’s armies came to the battle all they found “were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped” (2 Chronicles 20:24).
Because Jehoshaphat trusted God even when things were falling apart, he found God’s grace. So, what does all that mean for us? First, we should not be surprised if we meet with resistance every time we determine to do right before God. Resistance is going to happen. Second, when resistance comes (not if), all you need to do is tie a knot in your prayer rope, like Jehoshaphat did, and hang on! God has some amazing things to work out in your life!
Photo by: unsplash-logoRobert Zunikoff