When darkness looms, part three

We established some looming darkness in the last blog entry. King Jehoshaphat and his kingdom of Judah are about to be attacked by a huge army. The odds are overwhelming, and this looming darkness has put fear into the king. But he doesn’t succumb to the fear, and instead he gathers together with his people to seek God in prayer and ask Him for help.

I’m going to pause for a moment to once again point out the fact that our nation faces a looming darkness, too. I really believe that God revealed this to me as I studied 2 Chronicles to show me what a proper response to looming darkness really was because He knows that just like Judah, we too face a looming darkness today. When you want God to speak, just open the Bible and hear His voice. Because as I read this I heard Him clear as day. The word in 2 Chronicles is historically based, it’s to give us an account of past times and the history of God’s people, but just like the rest of the Bible, it’s also useful for our instruction and enlightenment here in modern day. So when I read this story, I saw Judah, but I also saw the modern world, too.

Alright, back to the story. When darkness looms, God’s people gather together and pray. The prayer that Jehoshaphat leads in 2 Chronicles is beautiful. I’m not going to put it all here, but you can read it in chapter 20 verses 5-12. I want to look at the ending of the prayer, because there’s a deep wisdom in what he says to God.

2 Chronicles 20:12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

It may be the smartest statement in the whole Bible and one that we should all seal away in our hearts. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Did you know that God honors the humble? Did you know that one of the most beautiful things in existence is finding your place before God, to acknowledge our smallness in the face of His bigness? Jehoshaphat doesn’t sugar coat it. God, we’re in trouble! We can’t win against these people! Will you just destroy them? We’re lost here, we don’t know what to do…

Let me pause it. Had the prayer stopped there, I have to wonder what God would’ve done. You know me, I like to speculate on this kind of stuff. Because to me, the truest power in this prayer comes in the final few words. Up to this point, Jehoshaphat is desperate, scared, overwhelmed, lost. But look how he picks it up in the final few words.

We’re lost here, we don’t know what to do, BUT OUR EYES ARE ON YOU. They were overwhelmed as a great darkness loomed over them, but their faith was in the Lord. Trouble’s gonna come, we all know that, and bad times and scary times and tumultuous times are the new norm, it seems. And it’s okay if we’re a little lost in the storms, if we’re a little unsure of what our next move is, if we’re a little wide eyed as we look at the overwhelming odds that seem to be facing us. That’s okay, so long as our eyes are on the Lord. So long as we put our faith in Him.

If you focus too hard on what’s happening all around us in the world a few things will happen to you. You will lose your joy. You will lose your hope. You will gain fear. You will gain worry. We need to get our eyes off the troubled world around us and focus them on the King who reigns supreme. God, we don’t know what to do here. Terrorist attacks are horrific and they seem unstoppable and unpredictable and it feels like they’re never going to stop happening. I don’t know what to do about it, but my eyes are on you, Lord. Our country feels like it’s at war with itself, blacks and police, republicans and democrats, believers and nonbelievers. I don’t know what to do about it, but my eyes are on you, Lord.

When darkness looms, our eyes are on you, Lord.

When darkness loomed over the kingdom of Judah, they gathered together and prayed. What did God do in response to their prayers? He tells them about what’s going to happen in the battle, laying out one of his patented ludicrous God battle plans that seem to pop up time and time again in the Old Testament. If you want to read it it’s in chapters 13 – 17, but basically God tells them not to worry, that the battle is His and not theirs. He then tells them to head out, tells them where they’ll find the enemy armies, but that they won’t fight, they’ll just go there and watch God handle things.

This is God’s plan for tomorrow. It hasn’t happened yet, but look at what Jehoshaphat and his people do.

2 Chronicles 20:18-19 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

You know I’ve been on a kick about big faith lately, and I love the faith that this moment shows. They didn’t wait until after God delivered victory to praise and worship Him. All they needed to do was hear that He was there for them. Even though His plan was a little weird (show up and watch what happens), knowing that God heard them and was handling things on their behalf was enough. The promise of victory put them on their faces before the Lord. We have so many promises of victory in the Bible, and that’s a whole separate Bible blog series I could do, but I want you to realize the example that we’re seeing here in Judah. God’s promises always get fulfilled. Always. So when He promises victory, we don’t need to wait until we see that promise come true to praise and worship Him. We need to get on our faces now, to bow down to the King and praise and worship Him for the victory that we know is coming. How do we know? Because big daddy God says it is.

I’m going to close out the blog with a chunk of the Bible so you can read for yourself what God’s promised victory looked like for Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah. I want to remind everyone, just as I was reminded reading this, what happens when God promises His people victory. Read this and see what He did then, and then look up and imagine what He’s going to do next as he delivers unto us the victory in Jesus that is promised to us. When darkness looms, we’re reminded of the explosion of light and goodness that will come when Jesus returns.

As these verses pick up, Judah is heading out to the place God directed them, and as they go they are singing and praising God.

2 Chronicles 20:22-30 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. 24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, I praise you for the promised victory we have in Jesus.  I don’t have to wait to experience it to praise you, because I have your word that it’s coming.  And your word is unshakeable.  It is unbreakable.  I love your book, God, and I thank you so much for it.  What a great thing this story is about Jehoshaphat, to see the response he and his people had in the face of looming darkness.  You show me a picture of something that happened thousands of years ago and somehow it perfectly fits the situation in the modern world.  Only you, God.  Only you could pull something like that off.  You align past and present and it all speaks to your goodness and your glory.  You’ve laid to rest the fears in me, you’ve built up a strength and confidence in these dark times.  Like the people of Judah, our eyes are turned to you now, my King.  We don’t know what to do, but we’re gathering together to pray, and our eyes are on you, Lord.  I think you love it when your kids get it, and I get this.  Thank you for instructing me and for empowering me and for protecting me.  And thank you for working through interesting people throughout history.  I’m excited to meet Jehoshaphat one day in heaven.  I want to talk to him about this moment when instead of giving into fear he chose faith instead.  I want to talk to him about how good our God is.  I love you, Jesus, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you are.  In your precious name I pray, amen.

I love you guys.  It’s late and I’m exhausted so I will just say that God is good, He is on your side, and He’s got great things in store for you.  Ask Him all about it in prayer.  Have a safe and relaxing weekend!

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