Today: [2 Chronicles Twenty] Seek the Lord, Believe the Prophets, Take the Spoil. In this chapter we find Jehoshaphat receiving grim news of an impending invasion. He sets himself to seek the Lord and gathers the nation to him in prayer. A young, unknown prophet speaks up and promises victory by the word of the Lord. Jehoshaphat responds to what God is saying and the enemy is defeated. In the aftermath of the victory it took three days to gather the spoil that God had left to them in the battle.
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[2Ch 20:1-37 KJV] 1 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 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. 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask [help] of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, 6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, [art] not thou God in heaven? and rulest [not] thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand [is there not] power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? 7 [Art] not thou our God, [who] didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9 If, [when] evil cometh upon us, [as] the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name [is] in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. 10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 Behold, [I say, how] they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12 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. 13 And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
In the previous chapter Jehoshaphat makes great inroads in reforming the southern kingdom. He even makes an unprecedented effort to personally teach and instruct and train the people in the ways of the Lord as a itinerant preacher. He establishes judicial reforms and sets up godly judges to bring justice to the land according to the law of Moses. Suddenly now in this chapter comes bad news of an impending invasion. This is very common when you are blessed and walking in obedience and seeking first the kingdom – bad news comes to distract you from the things of God. Jehoshaphat could have had many responses to this threat from Ammon and Moab but he chooses to seek the Lord. He also calls upon the people to seek the Lord and pray and ask God to intervene, even to the point of involving the youngest among them. There was no sending the children off to children’s church while they got down to the business of praying. They included the children for their future was at stake as well.
They prayed and cried out setting their faces to seek the Lord. They also fasted. Fasting is appropriate and called for when you are facing an impended crises. When time is of the essence and deliverance is urgently needed this is a time to fast. Fasting focuses your attention where it needs to be. You will not be distracted by other things but looking to the Lord through the attenuated demand place on your physical body to believe God for a needed deliverance in your life. When you are tempted to push the “panic button” in life – it is time to fast. In Mark 9:28,29 Jesus teaches and demonstrates the power of fasting. Fasting is a source of strength to move mountains and turn back the demonic when nothing else is working or being effective.
When Jehoshaphat prays he reminds God and reminds himself and people who God is. God knows this and does not need to have his memory prompted. However it has been said that God will do nothing except a man first ask him. One writer puts it this way: 1.) God reveals his will to us. 2.) We return his will to him in prayer. 3.) God performs his will in the earth. This is God’s operation and if we ignore it we do so to our own peril. God never forgets his promise but he wants and expects us to put in him in remembrance:
[Isa 43:26 KJV] 26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.
14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; 15 And he said, 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. 16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 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; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you. 18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with [his] face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. 19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high. 20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy [endureth] for ever. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy [them]: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
Jehoshaphat with the people cry out to God in prayer and God answers through the prophetic. A young prophet by the name of Jahaziel speaks from the congregation of people gathered. Apparently he was not very well known because he was not in the gallery of recognized prophets in the court of the king. Yet even though he was not well known it was acknowledged by the king that his words were from God and he acted on them. The king was reminded to believe the prophets. There was something of Jehoshaphat’s father Asa in the king that required a reminder to respect the voice of God through the prophetic gifts. Asa vacillated in his obedience to the prophets particularly later in his life. Jehoshaphat seemed very attentive to the voice of God but we will see later in his life that his weakness in this area will evidence itself.
The Lord through the prophet makes it plain that the battle was His and there would be a great deliverance. After hearing what the prophet says Jehoshaphat consults with the people and they prepare to send out praisers in anticipation of what God promised he would do. Part of what the prophet spoke was a word of knowledge about how the army would come to besiege the city. Jehoshaphat gives us a blueprint for a miraculous deliverance.
1.) Pray – put God in remembrance.
2.) Listen – inquire of the prophets in your life.
3.) Consult the people – include others in what God has promised to do.
4.) Praise pre-emptively, before the answer comes.
The result was that God set ambushments against the Moabites and Ammonites and caused them to destroy each other until there was not a man left standing. This reveals a very valid and powerful prayer regarding people who come against you – “Lord occupy them elsewhere” … “Lord turn them against themselves so they don’t have time to make (my) life difficult…” We don’t fight against flesh and blood and the enemy’s strategy is to distract and engage you. Better to keep seeking the kingdom and ask the Father to turn your enemy aside and so distract them that they don’t have time to meddle with your life. This was exactly what God did in Jehoshaphat’s case.
24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they [were] dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. 25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. 28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of [those] countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. 31 And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: [he was] thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD. 33 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they [are] written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who [is] mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel. 35 And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: 36 And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber. 37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
Now when the enemy turned on themselves and their threat was destroyed this wasn’t the end of the matter. God arranged that Jehoshaphat and the people would take the spoil. Just because you prevail in a situation and the enemy’s plan is thwarted – don’t stop there. God turned all the spoil of this great army over the Jehoshaphat. There was so much there that it took three days to gather the spoil. God wants you to take the spoil. The spoil of souls held captive that wouldn’t have been reached had you been defeated by the enemy. The spoil of natural resources that the enemy was hoping to take away from you and thereby deprive the kingdom of the resources you represent. When you are in a battle that God obviously comes through for you – you need to never forget the blessing that He will always leave behind Him. There is always spoil and benefit and blessing to be gathered so put your attention on this and not just slinking away from a battle hoping to avoid the enemy’s attention.
You would think this high point in Jehoshaphat’s life would distinquish his faithfulness to God forever. Yet still after this he associated himself with Ahazariah in the north – a very wicked king. He went into the ship building business with him ignoring the dispicable nature of his character before God. You would think he had learned his lesson from Ahab but he had not. Therefore the epiphath on his life is a prophet once again reproving his rash association with wicked men. As a result the ships they built were destroyed before they could be employed in naval commerce.
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