Have you ever made a decision to do the right thing before God, gone after it with your whole heart and then slammed into a brick wall of resistance? King Jehoshaphat had the same problem. Following the rebuke he received from the prophet Jehu for aligning himself with Ahab, Jehoshaphat got his act together and made massive reforms throughout his kingdom. He was leading them in the right direction and God was blessing. Then the wheels started to come off.
“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).
The Moabites and the Ammonites were descendants of Lot and they were the sworn enemies of Israel and Judah. They saw the reforms of Jehoshaphat and the rising influence of Judah as a threat and so they decided to go to battle against them. Imagine getting this news in your daily briefing:
“Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar,’ which is Engedi” (2 Chronicles 20:2).
The armies of the Moabites and the Ammonites were on Judah’s side of Syria and at most, two day’s march from Jerusalem, Judah’s capitol. Challenges like this can shake a person’s faith. It shook Jehoshaphat’s: “And Jehoshaphat feared…” (2 Chronicles 20:3a).
Can you blame him? An overpowering enemy was threatening him and his people. That kind of conflict after making a clear choice to follow after God can bring doubt and fear into a person’s life. “But God I chose to follow You. Why am I having all this trouble?” We think that choosing to side with God will make life better — and it will — but choosing to side with God, takes you off the sidelines and puts on the battlefield. When you do that, you can expect conflict. Jehoshaphat understood this. He also understood that while siding with God puts you on the battlefield, it also puts you on the winning side. So, instead of rushing ahead with plans of his own, he “set himself to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3b).
Were this the old Jehoshaphat, he’d have done what other kings of Israel and Judah had done. He’d have turned to one of the surrounding nations and prayed to them for help. At the very least he would have paid for mercenaries to come to his aid. That was the standard practice of the day. Instead, he prayed.
His prayer is one of the most eloquent in Scripture. The most beautiful words came at the end: “Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12b). Have you ever found yourself in a situation like that, where the circumstances were so overwhelming, you had no idea what to do? That’s exactly where Jehoshaphat found himself and so he threw himself upon the mercy of his God. The LORD loves prayers like that. In answer to the king’s plea, the Spirit of the Lord came down upon a Levite named Jahaziel who was moved to tell the entire nation of Judah:
“…Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).
We waste so much time wondering how we are going to deal with our problems when God has told us to cast all our cares upon Him like Jehoshaphat did. When we give our problems to God, He takes personal care of them.
After promising to take charge of the battle, God tells the king to ready his troops and do nothing: “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, and stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17a). Those were unusual orders, but when God takes charge, we just need to be still and know that He is God. On the day of battle, the king gave orders to sing praise to God, “and when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon and Moab…and they were smitten” (2 Chronicles 20:22). All that was left for the armies of Judah was to pick up the spoils (2 Chronicles 2:24-25).
At the beginning of this study, we talked about Jehoshaphat’s dumb list. For most of us, that’s where we start too. We’ve tried things our own way and all we have to show for it is the mess we’ve made. But if we do like Jehoshaphat did and start turning our lives and our plans over to God, we can end with a much different list, a list of victories, praises and blessing.