King Jehoshaphat was a pretty good guy. He was a king of Judah back in the day. The Word tells us that he wasn’t perfect – he made mistakes – but in 2 Chronicles 20, we read of an instance when he did well! His story was a great encouragement to me last week. Here’s the story:
King Jehoshaphat was hanging around the palace, feeling very Kingly. He was strolling through a courtyard overlooking Jerusalem, content and enjoying the warmth of the sun upon his face. His heart felt at peace with God and with his people, especially after his latest reforms in the nation’s legal system. He had recently appointed new judges, righteous men who reported directly to the high priest in all matters of the law of God. The new system was working well, and in that moment, the affairs of state were at the back of his mind; he was simply enjoying a moment of contentment, when he heard commotion at the gate. It was not long before a messenger was brought to him, conveying terrible news.
The messenger fell at the king’s feet, chest heaving, as he breathlessly conveyed the news that a great multitude had been seen near En Gedi. “They are Syrians and Moabites and Ammonites – and soldiers from other places too. They are a vast multitude amassed against us, my King, and our army is not great enough to defend us!”
King Jehoshaphat’s face fell, and icy fear tangibly gripped his heart. How should he respond to such terrifying news? The report told him that imminent destruction loomed over his nation. It was like a giant cloud had come between him and the sun, and a deep shadow fell over him. How could he respond to this impossibility?
Turning his back to the messenger, he closed his eyes and raised his face to the heavens. “Lord, I set myself to seek You,” He whispered. A few moments passed before he turned again to the messenger and advisers that had just come. “Gather our people to Jerusalem,” He said resolutely, “No one should take any food. Together, from the youngest to the oldest, we will all seek help from the Lord in His temple.”
The people gathered, and King Jehoshaphat stood before them, crying out to God.
“Lord, aren’t You the defender of our people? Don’t You rule the heavens? And can’t you rule the nations? Don’t You hold all power and might in your hand? Isn’t it true that none can stand against You?! Didn’t You call us here? Didn’t You promise us this land? And now, Lord, don’t You see the mighty armies encamped against us? Don’t You hear their threats? Don’t You see our weakness before them? We have no recourse, Lord! You are our Defender! Our eyes are fixed on YOU!”
All the people stood to their feet – all of the men, the women, the old ones, and even the children. As they stood there before the Lord, one man’s voice began crying out. Every ear strained to hear his words. It was Jahaziel, the prophet. Some people thought he heard from God, but others thought he was a bit loony. He had grown up around the temple. He sometimes seemed a bit “out of touch.” But in that moment, Jahaziel cried out,
“Listen you people! My King, listen to this! God is speaking, and He is saying, ‘Don’t be afraid! Do not fear this great army!’ I tell you, this battle is not yours to fight! It belongs to God! So, take your army to meet them tomorrow. Their troops will come up by the Ziz hill, and you’ll find them near the stream, just before the wild land of Jeruel. But, King, your troops don’t need to fight, so they should know that going in. They should go in ready to see God win a battle. So, people! Don’t be afraid! Celebrate the salvation that God is bringing! You must not fear! God is with you!”
The people were silent. How should they respond to such a ridiculous declaration? God will fight, and their troops should just go to watch? And how did Jahaziel know that the enemy troops would come up the Ziz hill? As many of their minds wondered about these things, they noticed their King. King Jehoshaphat had fallen flat on his face in worship! One by one, all of the people of Judah followed suit. God had promised their deliverance and had given them His strategy. With tears running down his face, dripping onto the temple floor, King Jehoshaphat worshiped God as the priests stood up, their voices ringing clearly with praise.
Early the next morning, King Jehoshaphat mobilized the troops. The early morning light fell on their assembly as the King called to them, “Hear what I say! If you believe God’s word, you will be established in this land! If you believe His prophets, you will prosper! We go forward, not in fear, but praising Him! Let us sing to the Lord and praise the beauty of holiness!”
They moved confidently toward the enemy, singing praise to the rhythm of their march. As they drew nearer to the enemy troops, the Lord ambushed the enemy, confusing them from within so that they attacked one another. Their division was so complete that they utterly defeated each other. As the soldiers of Judah came to the place overlooking the valley of Jeruel, they were amazed to see the ground littered with a multitude of corpses. Not one enemy soldier had escaped!
For three days, the soldiers of Judah gathered spoils from the abundance of valuables on the dead bodies. On the fourth day, they all met in the valley to praise the Lord, calling the valley The Valley of Blessing. Returning to Jerusalem, they again called the people together to praise! The fear of God spread through the nations surrounding Judah, and King Jehoshaphat’s land knew peace during the rest of his reign.
So, no matter what impossibility YOU may be facing today, let me encourage you not to fear. Set yourself to seek the Lord, together with your people. Wait expectantly until He reveals His strategy – then follow His lead and praise Him until you see the resolution! His victory will surprise you (He’s a surprising God!), and you will find yourself swept up into a great God celebration!