2 Chronicles 20:1-30
They what?!? They sang praises? Hold on a second. Let’s make sure we have the story straight. Judah is being invaded by a ravenous horde that is intent on destroying them, taking their property, raping and pillaging their women, and killing their men. Jehoshaphat is alarmed (I should hope so), and he cries out to God. Good move. God says go face them on the battle field. Makes sense so far. And then…they have a little praise and worship service on the hillside! At this point we would have expected that they would have followed the movement of God and rushed into battle, trusting that God would go ahead of them. But singing? That is pretty weird.
This story has got to be one of the most dramatic illustrations of the importance of keeping focus and not becoming distracted by circumstances. When Joshua defeated Jericho, at least the people were marching around the city in a war-like stance. When Gideon defeated the Midianites, at least the 300 were surrounding the enemy and blew horns. When David killed the giant, at least he threw a rock. All of these stories show trust in the hand of God to defeat an enemy, but they also show that the people were engaged in a warlike stance. In this story, the stakes are raised even higher. Not only are the people not rushing into battle, they are not even poising for it. The “frontline” is not the strong infantry, it is the worship team!
Just like Judah, even though we may be at peace with God and are authentically walking in His ways, there are always enemies on our borders that seek to invade us and do us harm. The old sins that were cast out when Jesus established His kingdom have cousins on the border who are seeking vengeance. The adversary would like nothing more than to find your weak spot and send his villainous marauders to terrorize your heart.
Here are some observations from today’s story that will help us in our on-going battle with this ever-present threat.
1. Be alarmed! Jehoshaphat was alarmed when the invaders were approaching. We must have our antennae up for danger. To be alarmed is to be at a heightened state of alert. It is not the same as being fearful. Fear means weakness. Alarm means readiness. Jesus said to “watch,” David said to guard your heart. As soon as we are no longer alarmed, and are overcome with complacency, that is when the invaders can stroll in through the front gate and take over without a fight.
2. Seek God. The first thing Jehoshaphat led the people to do was to fall down before God and ask for his help, admitting that they were not strong enough to fight the battle. We must realize from the get-go that we do not have the strength, power, or wisdom to defeat this enemy. Many times Christians who have experienced God’s victory in the past can start to believe that, because of that experience, they are now equipped to take on the enemy on their own. Big mistake. We must always remember that any victory that is won is because of the power of God flowing through us. He is the source of strength, we are the conduit. Our job is to keep the conduit clean, not to become the source of strength ourselves. When we let our pride puff us up, thinking we have what it takes, that is when the enemy knocks us down.
3. Face the enemy. God told Judah to go to the battle field and confidently face the enemy. Many times we try to hide from the enemy. We run away by denying that we are even being attacked. When you study the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) you will realize that all the armor is in the front. The back is exposed. When you turn and run in fear you will probably get shot in the back. We cannot be afraid or live in denial of the battle that we face every day. We must look sin right in the eye and call it what it is. “Bitterness, I see you standing there. Envy, I know your name. Unforgiveness, fear, self-indulgence, lust; I see you all, and I stand against you in the power of God, and I am not afraid.”
4. Forget the fight. Here is the real key to winning these battles. You don’t have to fight. What you have to do is immerse yourself in the presence of God through praise and prayer. When we worship God, when we submit everything in our lives to Him and lay them down at His feet as a sacrificial offering to bring glory to Him, then we are surrounded by His glory and the power that comes through His presence. When the enemy invades a worshipping heart they are blown away by the presence of God’s glory and are sent scurrying in mass confusion like so many cock roaches that are exposed to the light. They are sent into a self-destructive frenzy and they kill themselves, leaving you with nothing but blessing and victory.
May we never take our eyes off of God. Let us engage in daily, moment by moment, authentic worship of Him, and experience the victory over our enemies that God has promised to those who would humbly submit to His loving power.