(Check Out 2 Chronicles 20)
It came out the blue and struck like a thunderbolt.
There they were, Judah and King Jehoshaphat, minding their own business, when the news came that a vast army was marching against them. Not only was this an unprovoked attack, but it was coming from people whose territory God had forbidden the Israelites to invade on their way to the promised land. That’s gratitude for you!
Jehoshaphat sprang into action (perhaps the origin of the term “jumping Jehoshaphat”?). The first thing he did was decide to talk to God. The second was to involve His people in the conversation. When they had come together, Jehoshaphat laid it on the line: “. . .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.”
This is a remarkable statement from a leader, this admission that the forces he commands are weak and he doesn’t have a clue how to proceed. It goes against all the motivational techniques known to man. But it was refreshingly honest and absolutely true. The motivational part came in the source the nation was tapping for help in their weakness and fear. Their eyes were on God, the ruler of all things, who had given them this land in the first place — the God who proved over and over that He could be trusted. This was actually leadership at its finest; leadership that put God in the lead.
As they stood together before God, His answer came: “Do not be afraid or discouraged . . . For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. . . Go and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
God had given them the best news they could have in this situation. In this case, there would be no hand-to-hand combat for them. God himself was their weapon, and He would be more than enough.
Jehoshaphat’s immediate response to God’s answer was to appoint singers “to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures for ever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against . . . the men who were invading Judah, and they were defeated . . . they helped to destroy one another.”
There’s an important lesson here for every one of us. Every day we face forces that are bent on destroying our relationship with and trust in God. They may come in the form of negative people and situations, temptations enticing us away from God, and often, by inducing a schedule so crowded there’s little time to think of God, let alone involve Him in determining our steps. These forces may not wear uniforms, but they have a uniform purpose, and that’s to derail us in every way they can.
Leading off each day by praising God and thanking HIm for His unfailing love puts our focus in the right place. It underscores that we are not only loved, but loved by the all-powerful God whose spendor is His holiness. We praise Him because He continues to love, guide and care for us, whose holiness is full of holes. Because of this love (which is never fickle despite our tendency to fickleness), we can follow and obey Him with complete confidence, no matter how threatening the situation.
It’s illuminating to think about how praising God and being grateful to Him impacts those who come against us. Those whose goal is to intimidate us will, at the least, be unsettled by our calm response. Intimidation tactics rely on inducing fear of our enemy, not peace that comes from the fear of God. Confidence in God in the face of overwhelming odds may lead the enemy to question our sanity, but also to wonder what we’ve got up our sleeves they don’t know about. What we have up our sleeves is the arm of God!
Uniting with other believers to seek God and to praise Him produces a unity of mind and purpose that can divide our enemies and result in them fighting each other. The enemy’s forces are equipped with arrows like greed, envy, lust and insecurity. These weapons are easily turned against their own comrades and by definition, are destructive on contact.
Praising God keeps us holding firmly to the greatest positive that exists. It reminds us who is in ultimate control. It elicits trust, hope, peace, gratitude, love and unity. It strengthens and encourages our compatriots. It demonstrates that the power behind us is far greater than the enemy in front of us.
Satan, who is public enemy #1, hates to hear God praised. That in itself would be reason enough for us to do it, but the benefits of praising God are so much more than that. It makes me want to raise the praise to higher and higher levels, and make sure I keep it there.
Thank You, Father, for Your amazing and empowering goodness and love!