First Things First
2 Chronicles 20:2-4,12, 21
Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea.
It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him...
“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.’
…After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and 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 forever.”
In my previous devotional I mentioned that this virus pandemic is being referred to as a war that we must fight. There is certainly no shortage of war in the Bible. In fact, it is all over the Old Testament. But there is one war that has significance for us in this situation and I think we can learn two very important lessons from a king named Jehoshaphat who was facing a very serious situation. A vast army was on it’s way to destroy Jerusalem and take its people into captivity along with it. And, rightfully so, it made him a little anxious! He was so concerned in fact he had to act. 2 Chronicles says he was “alarmed” and “distressed”. I know I certainly would be!
What would be your first move in this situation?
When the pressure is really backing you into a corner to the point of distress, when it seems like there is no way out, what is your first response? Who do you run to?
King Jehoshaphat didn’t consult his trusted advisors. He didn’t hide in the corner. He didn’t run to any sort of coping mechanism (food, Netflix, romantic fulfillment, sex, alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, social media, you name it). Was he distressed…of course! However, he knew there was only one way out – the Lord himself. He called the nation together and they began to fast and pray. He acknowledged his reality, “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,” (verse 12). He trusted the Lord to be the one who would hear him and lead him in this trial he was facing. “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (verse 20)
The second thing that he did was a bold response to his trust in the Lord. He put the worship team on the front lines of the army. “What?!” That is my first response!
That doesn’t seem like the best decision! Please note that he consulted the people first and they were on board with this idea. They all knew that they needed the Lord to be the one who made the way for them and they were going to lead the way with praises “of him for the splendor of his holiness.”
What if we, in the midst of this battle we all face, followed Jehoshaphat’s example; first we run to the One who holds the world in His hands. Then, our first decisive action is to praise him from the bottom of our hearts.
Some of you may recognize the attached song from our fall revival, We Praise You. Our speaker, Gerald Murphy, taught this to us and sang with us as we sought the Lord’s presence together in that time. Here are some of the lyrics of the song:
Let praise be a weapon that silences the enemy
Let praise be a weapon that conquers all anxiety…
We sing Your name in the dark and it changes everything…
Fear cannot survive when we praise You…
Forever lift Him high
With all creation cry, 'God, we praise You'
Oh, we praise You
To me this echoes the cries of the Israelites, those front line worshipers, who sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (Spoiler alert – they won the battle!)
I encourage you in this time to run to the Lord first before anything. I encourage you to worship in response as we go about our way in this war. For we are not alone; the Lord hears us and sees us and desires to be our guide.