Date: January 29, 2019 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Eight
Today is the day of the Lord. Today is the day to bless the Lord. Today is the day to say, “Thank you, God, for all You have done for me. You have been a mighty God. When I have called out to you in distress, You have answered and You have done mighty works for me.” Today is the day for you to call out to the Lord and say, “Thank you.” If you have a great problem or great battle in your life and you do not know what to do, the lesson today is for you. It is called What to Do When the Battle Seems to Great. There are times when the battle is overwhelming. A lot of times you go through battles and think, “It is going to be hard, but I can do it.” Then you have battles that you think, “I can’t do it. It is going to kill me. I don’t know what I am going to do. It is too great. It is overwhelming.” Today we are going to talk about someone in the Bible, King Jehoshaphat. You are going to learn what he did when he got in that kind of predicament. You are going to be very surprised at what happened, what God told him to do and what method God used to fight the battle for him.
Open your Bible to 2 Chronicles 20. It seems that someone has always been picking on Israel. Have you noticed that? If you look on a map, Israel is so tiny. It is almost like a speck compared to the major countries of the world. Why is it always in the news? Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the deal about the Jewish people? What is the deal about Israel? It is just a little country.” Israel is not just a little country. God delights in taking “little” and doing great things with it. Then people know of His power, His majesty, and His greatness. That is what has happened with Israel. God picked Israel and He picked the Jews to be His chosen people. That has not changed. We are Christians and we are grafted in, but we are grafted into them. God still has His hand on them. I have friends that live in Israel. Some of them are secular Jews. They have stayed in my home and we have talked about the Lord. They do not even know what I am talking about. I think, “How could you live in Israel and not know it?” They tell me, “I am a Jew nationally, but I am really not religious.” Maybe you are watching today and you are like that. I want to tell you the living God knows you. The living God wants to come and invade your life in a good way, change it and make it what it really should be. He wants to show you who He really is. He is never going to abandon you. He is never going to turn His back on you. This is a great story to hear about it.
King Jehoshaphat had a problem that came up suddenly and he did not know what to do. Israel was this little country that you see on the map and all of these people were coming against him. Listen to what it says. “Word reached Jehoshaphat ‘A vast army is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea, from Syria, and it is already at En Gedi.’” Jehoshaphat was a powerful king, but he was badly shaken by this news. He was determined to beg help from the Lord. Are you a government leader? Are you the president of your country and you were just clicking the remote control and picked up just as I read that? I know a president of a country in Africa that is a Christian. There was a lot of corruption in his government before he took office. Now he is the president and he has to fight the corruption. He has to fight evil and it is difficult. He has to make very, very difficult decisions. When he was going to abolish part of his government, he called a particular pastor. He knew that pastor was a man of God and he knew that he had to have God’s help. He said, “If I don’t have God’s help in this, I am not going to be able to do it. The enemies are too great.” What do you do when your battle is too great, when your enemies are too great? Do you call on the Lord? Let’s see how this man did it. When we talk about what he did, remember that he was not just an average person. We all know how to call on the Lord as average people. This was a man responsible for a country. He could have done anything. What did he do?
“Jehoshaphat was badly shaken by the news, and he was determined to beg for help from the Lord. He announced to Judah for all the people in Judah that they needed to go without food.” What does that mean? That means to fast. They were to go without food. It did not say food and water, it just said food. They were to not eat for awhile. There is something about fasting that brings answers when nothing else will. I want you to consider doing that. It is a powerful thing. Also, it seems like you can hear the Lord better when you do not have food in you. I do not know why that is, but it does seem that way. It said, “We not only want you to fast, we want you to intercede before God.” The whole nation was to do this. Wouldn’t that be a great thing if your whole nation united and interceded before God, and the whole nation fasted. It said people from all over the nation had come to Jerusalem to plead with him. Was Jehoshaphat off by himself? No, he was not. The Scripture says, “Jehoshaphat stood among them as they gathered at the court in the temple and together they prayed this prayer.” I want you to listen to this prayer and the order that it went in. When you are going to have to seek God for something really important, think about the order of this prayer. It surprised me. If I had gotten in trouble and I did not know this in the Bible, I would be saying, “Help, help, help, help, help.” Instead, they did it in a totally different manner. First, they began to tell God who He was, who they knew He was. Listen to this, “Oh Lord God of our fathers.” They were saying, “Our people have always served you Lord. We have always known you were our God.” Had all of those people served God? No. That was the problem with Israel. They were stiff-necked, rebellious and would not listen. They would not do and would not believe. That did not stop the fact that He was the God of their fathers. They might not have obeyed, just like your children might not obey, but you are still their father. “Oh God of our fathers. The only God in all of the heavens, the only God. There is no other God. There is just the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the ruler of all of the kingdoms of the earth. You are so powerful and so mighty. Who could stand against you? No one. Oh God, didn’t you drive out the heathen who lived in this land when your people arrived and didn’t you give this land forever to the descendants of your friend, Abraham.” He kind of threw that in, didn’t he? “Your people settled here and built this temple for you and now we are faced with a major calamity. We are here, we stand for you, and we cry out.”
There was a book written by Bill Bright about crying out to God. It was a very interesting book. He said, “I went through and did a study of all of the times in the Bible it says ‘the people cried out to God.’ It is all over the Bible. Once you look it up you will be amazed.” What does that mean and what are they saying there? Some of you have been in churches that are very quiet and reverent. That is really good because we are to honor God. We are to fear the Lord. When things are bad, when things are serious, we cry out, “God, help.” It does not have to be unemotional. You are not a weak Christian when you are that emotional. Instead you are being real. That is how you feel anyway. “We cry out to you and we ask that you hear us and rescue us, and now Lord see what the armies are doing.” Then they reminded the Lord of something. “You wouldn’t let our ancestors invade those nations, so we went around them and didn’t destroy them. Now, see how they reward us. They have come to throw us out of our land that you have given us. Oh God, won’t you stop them? Won’t you help us? We have no way to protect ourselves against this mighty army.”
Then one of the greatest verses in the whole Bible was said. This is one of the greatest sentences. You can say this powerful, life-changing sentence. It is a situation changing sentence. “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” There are times in life that you do not know what to do. You do not have a clue and you do not know what to do. What do you do? “Lord, I don’t know what to do but my eyes are upon you.” What does that mean? I am looking at you, I am listening, and I am going to do what you say. I trust you. I don’t have anything else. You are it.” God loves that kind of faith. Jehoshaphat wanted to hear the Lord and to know what was going on. All the people of Israel were standing there, even the little children, all of them so afraid. They were waiting and wondering, “What is going to happen? What is God going to do?” The Bible says, “While they were standing there, the spirit of the Lord came on one of the men there and he began to prophesy. Thank God for prophets and prophesy. God bless you if you are a prophet. We need you. “Listen to me all you people of Judah and Jerusalem, and you oh King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says ‘Don’t be afraid. Don’t be paralyzed by this might army for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” Now how would you like to have God on your side? You get him on your side when you trust Him and you say, “I don’t know what to do but my eyes are on you.” That gets God on your side.
Instead of giving some mighty, profound, religious talk, God told them exactly what to do. He gave them the plan. He said, “Tomorrow (not today, tomorrow) go down and attack them. You will find them coming up the slopes of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel.” Here is what God said, “You will not need to fight.” Maybe God is saying that to you about this terrible calamity that is coming. “You will not need to fight. Take your places and stand quietly.” Do you know how hard it is to stand quietly when you are afraid? Just think you are with a lot of people and saying, “Hey, are you afraid?” “I am trying not to be.” That is what you really want to do, instead God said, “Stand quietly.” When you stand quietly, you are peaceful. You cannot stand quietly without being peaceful. He is saying, “This is a big deal, but stand quietly.” Then see the incredible rescue operation God will perform for you. It is like God is saying, “Just watch what I can do.” The Scripture continues, “Oh people of Jerusalem and Judah, don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged. Go out there tomorrow for the Lord is with you.” Do you want that in your life? Do not be afraid and do not be discouraged for the Lord is with you.”
What happened next? I think you might have done the very same thing that King Jehoshaphat did. He fell to the ground with his face to the earth. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same thing, worshiping the Lord, “Thank you God. Thank you God.” The battle had not been fought yet, but they had gotten the answer. That happens to me and I am sure you see it happen to you. You have a big problem and do not know what you are going to do. You go to the Lord, and he talks to you. The battle has not even taken place and it is as if you have already won it and you know you are going to win it. Then you go out and it happens because God had already told you “Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged. I am going to fight it for you.”
“Then they all stood to praise God.” I am sure they did. They had a hallelujah break down. “Thank you Jesus, thank you.” “Early the next morning they went out and one more time the spirit of the Lord came on Jehoshaphat.” Jehoshaphat was a good leader. Are you a good leader? There are times when people are so afraid and they are going to look to you. You have to have the faith to say to them “Be brave. Be strong.” Jehoshaphat said, “Listen to me, oh people of Judah and Jerusalem, believe in the Lord God and you will have success. Believe his prophets and everything will be all right.”
What did he do next? There really is a progression to all of this. Jehoshaphat consulted with other people, he consulted with his leaders. No great leader does it by himself. It is not possible. You have to have people around you who see it from a different angle, who have a different perspective, and they have wisdom. You are not a person with all of the wisdom in the world. I am not either. No one is. You have to be able to go to other people and listen. Can people give input into your life, your job, your situation? Or do you think, “I don’t need anybody. I can do it all by myself.” There is a wisdom out there for you that you do not have. After he consulted with the leaders of the people, he came up with this plan that does not even make sense. Who would ever think of this? “He determined that there should be a choir leading the march clothed in sanctified garments and singing this particular song ‘His loving kindness is forever, His loving kindness is forever, His loving kindness is forever’ and singing it as they walked along with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.” Would you do that if you were the commanding officer, if you were the king or the president of a country? Would you put the choir first? You would only do that if you knew that God had given you the plan. That is what He did. It is a pretty amazing thing. You think, “They are going to kill them.” They did not though. Listen to what happened. Verse 22 says, “As they began to sing and praise.” They stepped out in faith. The very first step is your step of faith and you have to do it.
Once my husband was very unhappy in his job. Men have to be happy in their jobs. It is what they do all day long and the pressure is so great on them. They have to provide for the family. They are the main provider and it is hard. You might be working as a woman, but men have that responsibility of the family on them. We needed to make a change and we did not know what to do. We prayed and prayed. Sometimes you can pray too much. One time God said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving.” We were so scared. We thought, “What is the right step?” We consulted with a friend who was a leader. He said, “I don’t believe the Lord is going to answer you until you take a step of faith. You need to go in and tell your boss ‘I am leaving’.” That was very scary and was a definite step of faith. We prayed about it, thought about it and said, “Okay, we are going to do it.” When we did, at the moment that we did, things began to change. We did not get our answer fast, but it began to change and things happened that let us know “This is the right direction.”
“At the moment they began to sing and praise, the Lord calls the armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir to begin fighting among themselves.” As an army general, leader or king, you cannot plan that they are going to fight among themselves. Only God can do that. They destroyed each other. Remember what God said, “Stand still. The battle is mine, not yours. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” They destroyed each other. They turned on each other and killed every one of them. It is amazing. It says, “When the armies of Judah arrived to look out as far as they could see there were dead bodies everywhere.” Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. Then they went out to plunder everything and they came away loaded down with money, garments, jewels, so much that it took them three days to cart it all away. Why was that? God says He stores up the wealth of the unrighteous for the righteous. God did that. There is your proof. He honored their faith.
“On the fourth day, they gathered in the Valley of Blessing and how they praised the Lord.” It is hard to praise the Lord when things are difficult and you are afraid, but you have to do it because it is powerful. God invades praise. The devil hates it when you praise God. It is like cussing is to us, he hates it. He hates the sound of it. You are not going to do it as great as you can do it when you have won the battle, but that is okay because you have the faith to do it. “When they returned to Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat leading them, they were full of joy that the Lord had given them this marvelous rescue from the enemy. They had a great celebration. They sang, had harps and danced.” Then it says, “Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was quiet because God had given him rest.” You never know what the ramifications are going to be of your taking a stand for faith. For all you know, this enemy that you think you have will bring about the defeat of many of your enemies, maybe even enemies of other people. That is why the battle seems so great, that is why your fear is so great, and that is why you are so paralyzed with fear. But the Lord can do great things. You know that. Call on Him. Ask Him to help you. Remember, the most important thing that they said was, “We don’t know what to do but our eyes are upon you.” The battle is not yours; it is God’s.
What do you do when the battle is too great? It is so important that I want to be sure you get this. The first thing is you praise God for who He is, “You are great, You are mighty, You are powerful. You are the God of our fathers. We remember your promises to Abraham.” You can call a fast even before that. You can call a fast for your family. It is a good thing to do. It can be a one day fast. Then you praise God. After that, you remind God of all of the things He has done for you. It does your ear good to hear all of the things where He kept His promises. Remind Him of how great the battle is and that you do not know what to do, but your eyes are on Him. Listen for the word that God gives you. He will send a word to you and tell you what to do. Just listen and you will hear it. He is going to tell you what to do. He will not fail you or abandon you. He will tell you what to do. After you hear the battle plan, only do that plan. It does not hurt to consult people you respect, people that you know are wise and walk with God. Maybe there will be a part of the battle plan that will come out of that. You do not have to get it all from a prophet or all from God speaking to you. You can consult people that are wise and get this battle plan. Determine in your heart, “I am going to do this plan and not do anything else, and wait quietly and in faith for God to do what He has let me know He is going to do.” The last thing is do not forget to thank Him. Remember, they went back and had a great praise time. Do you remember in the New Testament when Jesus healed ten lepers and only one came back and thanked Him? How many times do you spend as much time thanking God as you did pleading, begging and crying out? How much time do you spend thanking Him?
Let’s thank God right now. Ask God into your heart. Maybe you do not even know the Lord. Just say, “Jesus, I don’t even know what that lady is talking about, but I want to know you. I know she is right, I can tell. Jesus come into my life and come into my heart. I want this. I want to know how to walk with you. I want to know how to have this kind of faith.” Let’s just stop right now and thank God for all everything. Take time after this show is over and say, “I want to thank you for this. I want to thank you for that."
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Who is the main person in this lesson?
2. Briefly describe what they did for God.
3. What scripture about this person is meaningful to you and why?
4. In what ways do you find yourself relating to this person or their experience?
5. How does this lesson influence your thoughts about God or the way you walk out your beliefs?
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Topics: People of the Bible Speak