Well, if you were called on to read today’s chapter aloud (II Chronicles 20), it certainly starts with some fancy names to stumble over. So, before I even got to verse 2, I already had to do a little research to really understand things. To set the stage for us, let’s read verse 1 and get a bit of a picture of who our characters are:
“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat” (2 Chronicles 20:1)
Both the Moabites and Ammonites were pagan idolatrous people, and both were started through the incestuous relationship of Lot and his daughter in Genesis 19. While somewhat “related” to Israel since Lot was Abraham’s nephew, unfortunately they did not worship the same God, and in turn, God had given Israel warnings not to marry from their nations and not to adopt their customs or their gods. Moabites worshipped Baal. The Ammonites worshipped Milcom and Molech and were known for cruelty and infant sacrifice to Molech. And the Meunites seem to be an Arab tribe that was another enemy to Israel/Judah.
So, pretty much in this chapter, there are a bunch of enemies waging war against Judah. Things don’t look good. The men, women, and children of Judah have gathered together. Often when this happened it would have been for a feast or celebration. But, not this time. They were scared and according to verse 4,
“The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him”
Verses 5-12 show us how they sought God with Jehosophat leading them in fervent prayer. And then God sends his spirit upon Jehaziel who says something in verse 15 to lift some spirits,
“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
As you read the rest, you’ll see that this story does have a happy ending and the people finally get their celebration and chance to whip out the harps and lyres! But, not because of them or for them. It was because of God and for God.
“The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”
There are some big enemies of God’s people today and we are living in a land full of other gods. Some are overt like the growing voice of Satan worshippers, modern paganism, and certainly some sorrowful practices with the way we treat infant life. But, others are far more subtle and creep in through media, entertainment, politics, education, and a general trend away from scriptures and the words of a sovereign God to relying on our own feelings and self-reliance . I doubt many would look at America or most Christian organizations and see a people set apart worshipping the one true God. The other gods are here. The adopted customs are here. The enemies are here. And in order to be rescued, it doesn’t require us investing in stockpiles of food and weapons. Instead, it takes fervent prayer and intentional seeking of the God who fights our battles and the one who is worthy of the glory He deserves.
Questions for reflection and discussion
- What enemies of God and His ways do you see in our world today? What is the danger in not recognizing these as enemies?
- What do you do first when confronted by enemies or facing the unknown? What did Jehoshaphat do?
- Reread Jehoshaphat’s prayer. What does he include besides just asking for help? How does he ask for help? How can you incorporate these into your prayer life?
- What did Jehoshaphat send to the front of the army? Why? What was happening at the same time that God was setting up ambushes against the enemy (vs 22)? How can you employ this powerful tactic in your battle plans?