Lately, the Lord keeps reminding me of the Old Testament kings. They faced a LOT of battles. The Israelites had countless enemies, after all, and someone was always on the attack against God’s people. (Some things never change.) But those Old Testament kings followed a pattern that seems consistent and holds some keys for us today.
This was their battle plan:
When the going gets tough, call in the prophets. Let’s face it, many of these kings weren’t godly men. But when catastrophe would strike, they knew where real answers were found. They wanted to talk to someone who had been talking to God, (and listening for His instruction). Over and over you’ll see the kings calling for a prophetic voice to a). reassure them they had a chance or b). offer a battle plan. Sometimes the prophets would come in with a word the king didn’t like. But sometimes, as in the case of a king named Jehoshaphat, the prophetic word ended up being sage advice useable thousands of years later.
Here’s the backstory to Jehoshaphat’s story:
Many nations had banded together against God’s people and their king (Jehoshaphat) wasn’t having it. He didn’t believe any enemies could stand against God’s people. In 2 Chronicles 20 we read that he called his people to fast and pray. That’s the best jumping off point.
He made a public proclamation:
“Lord, God of our ancestors, you are the God in heaven. You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. You have power and strength, so no one can stand against you. Our God, you forced out the people who lived in this land as your people Israel moved in. And you gave this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham. They lived in this land and built a Temple for you. They said, ‘If trouble comes upon us, or war, punishment, sickness, or hunger, we will stand before you and before this Temple where you have chosen to be worshiped. We will cry out to you when we are in trouble. Then you will hear and save us.’ (v. 6-9)
Right there, in this middle of this huge prayer rally, something remarkable happened. We read it in vs. 14-15 (paraphrased):
Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Jahaziel. Jahaziel, a Levite and a descendant of Asaph, stood up in the meeting. He said, “Listen to me, King Jehoshaphat and all you people living in Judah and Jerusalem. The Lord says this to you: ‘Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of this large army. The battle is not your battle, it is God’s.
Okay, then. In the middle of the prayer and fasting, while giving public praise to God….God moved. His Spirit filled one of the men in the room and He (God almighty) spoke through him, saying, “Don’t worry. I’ll do the fighting.”
(Can I just pause here to say how much better things go when we take our hands off and give them to God?)
It’s the next part of the story that wows me. Jahaziel says: “You won’t need to fight in this battle. Just stand strong in your places, and you will see the Lord save you. Judah and Jerusalem, don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord is with you. So go out against those people tomorrow.’”
They headed off to battle, filled with energy and joy. As they drew near the enemy, we find the another key strategy, (and this is my favorite part of the story):
Jehoshaphat listened to the people’s advice. Then he chose men to be singers to the Lord, to praise him because he is holy and wonderful. As they marched in front of the army, they said,“Thank the Lord, because his love continues forever.”
He sent the worshippers to the front lines. Why? Because God’s people always go into the battle with a song of praise on their lips. When we proclaim that the battle is won BEFORE it’s won, we’re honoring God and expressing our faith. It worked for Jehoshaphat. According to vs. 22-23, the Lord set ambushes for the enemy. Three groups fell and the rest turned on each other, not the Israelites.
Look, I don’t know what you’re up against today. I don’t know if you’re feeling up to the battle or more inclined to climb back in bed and pull the covers over your head. But I do know one thing: God wants to fight this battle for you. But there are plans you need to put into play, a strategy, if you will:
- Seek God.
- Gather godly people around you and ask them to pray with you.
- Open yourself up to the Spirit of God. He wants to speak.
- Listen when He speaks.
- Do what He says.
- Begin to worship and praise AHEAD OF the victory.
- Watch in awe and wonder as He fights on your behalf. Praise Him all over again.
- Allow your faith to grow so that NEXT TIME you anticipate good things, not bad.
That’s it. That’s God’s battle plan…for anything you (or our country) might be facing. The battle belongs to the Lord, my friends. He wants to show up and show off.