Have you ever been in a situation that seemed impossible? Like there’s an obstacle you need to get through, but you have no idea how that’s going to happen or even if it’s going to happen? Maybe you’ve started working through a “Plan B” in your head because the outcome you want to hope for seems so unlikely.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we see this type of situation with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. Jehoshaphat was told a “great multitude” of an army from other lands was coming out to make war against him, and he became afraid (vv. 2-3).
Next, Jehoshaphat had a choice: fight, flight, or… pray? Instead of trying to scramble his men and strategize how they would defeat the approaching warriors, Jehoshaphat immediately turned to God for help and led all of Judah to seek God with him (vv. 3-4). In the midst of his fear over what seemed like an otherwise impossible victory, Jehoshaphat stopped and acknowledged:
“Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.” (v. 6b)
Do you know what was interesting? The multitude coming against them came right after Jehoshaphat instituted reforms throughout Judah. Here Jehoshaphat is making moves toward God, and the foundation of his motivation finds itself face to face with what appears to be an impassible crossroads – A multitude of warriors marching forward with Judah in their sights. As all of Judah gathered together with their families and sought the Lord, Jehoshaphat turns to God and reaffirms his convictions to the nation that was trusting him to lead:
“O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NASB)
“Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” Wow! Jehoshaphat didn’t try to solve this one by force; he didn’t try to secure stability by his own understanding. He turned to God and look at how God responds:
“and he said, ‘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. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 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 20:15-17 (NASB)
Jehoshaphat worshiped God when he heard this, the people arose early the next morning to face the battle, and they praised God along the way (vv.18-22). Then, they approached the lookout to see the multitude that had come to destroy them… Only to find the battle had already been won without them (v. 24).
Check out verses 16-17 again:
“Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 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 20:16-17 (NASB)
They were told 1) to go, 2) they would indeed find the army that was after them, but also 3) they wouldn’t need to fight in the battle. What they weren’t told was how that was going to happen. They had to make the decision to be obedient, make the move God was asking them to make, and stand trusting that He who promised was faithful and able.
After all of Judah moved forward to face the battle in obedience, they were given such an overwhelming victory that the spoils were more than they could carry (v. 25). The people returned home with joy and the kingdom was even given peace for a time while they chose to turn their eyes to God (vv. 28-30).
In this example, the people turned to God as they were faced with something they couldn’t figure out or fix by themselves, and God took that burden. They still had to go face their enemies, they had to face the battle, but God was going with them and they had nothing to fear. Victory was theirs, but they had to rely on God and trust that He who promised was faithful to fulfill what He had spoken. The people had to let go of a battle that was not theirs to fight in their strength, and they had to give it into the hands of the One who was able to bring victory on their behalf.
What a great reminder of God’s faithfulness! He brings the breakthrough, and He does it in ways that so blow through what we envision is possible. But we have to be obedient, even when it’s hard. We have to let go of the way we think things should go and trust the One who has already made the way. Be encouraged; no standard or circumstance created by man can void the words God has already spoken over your life. Trust Him!
Music for the journey: I Am by Mark Schultz has been getting me lately. It’s an old one (2006 seems like forever ago… And it has the super cool music videos to prove it), but towards the end there’s a line: “Yes, I Am… Almighty God your Father…” Seems fitting for this topic!
Here’s to our journey!
“For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.” – Proverbs 2:6-8 (NASB)
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)