Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.
He said: “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. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
- 2 Chronicles 20:5-17
“You know it’s coming—the National Hurricane Center warned that it is 30 hours away, but it will be a direct hit. Even with the best preparations, the news is devastating. Bad news is always disturbing, regardless of its nature: a terminal disease, a custody battle in the midst of a divorce, a financial investment gone bad. Whatever the nature of your devastating news, whoever the source, regardless of the message, there is an answer for you.
“King Jehoshaphat was in fear. Three powerful nations had their armies marching against him. What was he to do? Early in his life, he made the commitment to follow wherever God led him. When he was told that the enemies’ armies surrounded him, he cried out to God. ‘We’re powerless,’ he said. But he put his focus on God and not on the problem. God told the king to face it head-on. Jehoshaphat did, relying on God’s promise, having faith that God will always keep His Word. God responded to him and the people during their crisis, and they stood and praised the Lord.
“You can spend countless hours worrying about your devastating news, or you can take it to the Lord and, as the song says, ‘leave it there.’ Avoid the tendency to pick it back up. Keep your faith strong. Stay in His Word. Be diligent in your prayers. God is at work, and in Him the victory is at hand.”
- Presidential Prayer Team Devotion
Before we go further, I cringe each time I hear someone on television or the radio say that a storm is a storm of Biblical proportions. I want to say, “Sonny Boy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” But I couldn’t resist the title.
I used this Scripture last July as “Prayer Number 6” in a series on prayers in the Bible. I want to revisit this prayer, with the reference in the devotion, to look at the weather. Of course, the political atmosphere is a bit more stormy than the weather, but things in my extended family are not exactly a rose garden, at present. … I know, You “never promised me a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain some time.” Thank you, Joe South (the song’s composer) for that interruption. I have got to get my attention span fixed.
Back to the Scripture above, King Jehoshaphat is being pressed on all sides. To put Jehoshaphat’s reign into perspective, Solomon was followed by Rehoboam and Abijam, two bad kings of Judah. Then came the reign of Asa, a good king who reigned for a long time, 41 years (1 Kings 15). While he reigned in Judah, Israel, next door, had six different kings. Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa. Jehoshaphat was a good king also.
Note: Do not get excited about the reference to Zechariah, whose son, Jahaziel, proclaimed that the Lord had given over the king’s enemies to him. The prophet Zechariah, the one in the book Zechariah, was the son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo, and he lived during the reign of Darius, about 300 years after the time of the Scripture above.
But back to the weather (and my need to get my attention span fixed), while teaching Sunday school class a week ago, we were studying Hosea 2, and somehow the conversation got around to floods and tornadoes (maybe from the prayer requests at the end of class, I can’t remember). I mentioned that as I watch the weather map, the projected forecast for the week, the same areas of the Southeast US seem to be getting hit with rain every week, and the thought going through my head is that God is reclaiming what is His. Others in the class had the same idea.
As for the tornadoes, we are not even at the peak of tornado season in the US. Hurricane season is yet to come in the North Atlantic. With the drought in California, will there be more wildfires this year than last and what about mud slides before that? We don’t have to think about the up-coming political campaign in the US to have storms in our lives, although I wouldn’t be much of a prophet by saying that the campaigning will get ugly, like it hasn’t already.
Yet, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, the storms in our lives can rage around us, but we can live without fear, just as Jahaziel says above. That’s the Joy in what Paul said about living being Christ and dying was gain. Notice how many survivors of storms praise God. They’d lost everything except their lives, and they are giving thanks for that. Do we all need to be that close to death to understand?
But now that the composer has interrupted my train of thought, again, I might as well provide a link to the Lynn Anderson hit song, as performed on a BBC television show – thus the one guy standing next to the TV monitor while everyone else dances. The song speaks of enjoying the life that you have rather than holding out for something unattainable. Seeking God’s will is like that. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can enjoy life in His will, as He protects and provides.
And thinking of Jehoshaphat’s prayer versus the song, Jehoshaphat needed to smile and be jolly while he could, and all Judah with him. There would be three bad kings to follow Jehoshaphat until Joash came along (2 Kings 11-12).
As the song essentially says, as lovers do, I’d promise you anything within my power. But God has the power, and if it’s within His will for your life, He can and will provide. He especially will see you through the storms of life.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.