The king of Judah was a man by the name of Jehoshaphat. The only thing that most people know about this king is that the editor of the Daily Planet newspaper from the Superman comics, Perry White, used to say as an expression, “Jumping Jehoshaphat!”
But there is more to say about Jehoshaphat, who was one of ancient Judah’s better kings. However, at one point in his reign, Jehoshaphat was threatened by some very powerful nations. In fact, it was reported to him that a large force from three nations had allied themselves with one another, and even at that moment were amassed on Judah’s border, poised and ready to attack.
Jehoshaphat knew that his army would be no match against this threat. He was afraid of what looked like would be a devastation to his people. In desperation, he turned his attention to seek God, proclaiming a fast throughout all Judah.
The king prayed to God, “O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not the God in the heavens? Are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You…And now [these nations] are coming to drive us out from Your possession which You had given to us as an inheritance…O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who is coming against us; nor do we know what to do. But our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:6-12 NAS).
It was after Jehoshaphat had prayed this prayer of utter dependence upon God that he was visited by a prophet of God, man by the name of Jahaziel. The prophet said these words:
Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
Tomorrow go down against them…You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.”
Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you.
2 Chronicles 20:15-18 (emphasis added)
In the prophet’s words are echoes of young David’s words when he stood before Goliath. Jehaziel said, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
In addition to echoes of David’s words, there are echoes of words that Moses spoke to his people as they stood on the banks of the Red Sea. Did you notice them? “Stand and see the salvation of the LORD.”
Moses Cries Out
Returning now to the story of Moses, I am not sure that this strong statement of faith and confidence fully revealed what was in his heart, for the next words that we see in the account of the Red Sea crossing are those from God. God told Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land” (Exodus 14:15-16 NAS).
This is the account that we have of the Red Sea crossing. God required Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea to cause it to part, but there is no doubt what the real cause was. It was no power that Moses possessed. The power came from God.
Just as David said of his confrontation with Goliath, “The battle is the Lord’s.”
Jehoshaphat Cries Out
In the case of Jehoshaphat and the Israelite army of his day, when the day of battle came, the king addressed the army and all the people, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will be established.”
Then Jehoshaphat appointed singers to begin singing praise to God and instructed the army to give thanks to the Lord, saying, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Amazingly, when the people began singing praises to the Lord, God sent ambushes against the enemy forces, routing them completely. There were three nations that had been in alliance with one another and against Judah, but as it turns out, all was not well within the alliance. At the appropriate time, God caused there to be discord within this alliance, and two of the nations turned upon the third, destroying this nation.
But the job was not yet complete. After the third nation had been annihilated, the two remaining nations began fighting each other, destroying each other.
It was clear that the battle was the Lord’s. As the prophet had earlier told the king, “Stand and see the salvation of the Lord.”
(I will conclude this post in a few days, showing how we can learn from these past experiences of utter dependence on God)