You will not fight in this battle. Take your positions, stand, and watch the Lord deliver you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! Tomorrow march out toward them; the Lord is with you! (2 Chronicles 20:17 HCSB)
King Jehoshaphat faced a terrifying dilemma. The armies of three different nations had marched in to attack Judah. The Bible says that it was “a vast number from beyond the Dead Sea.” Jehoshaphat, however, was wise. Instead of rushing into military strategy meetings with his commanders, he stopped everything and called the entire country to make a fast. Men, women and children from all the cities came to Jerusalem to gather for prayer along with their king. He lifted up his voice to God and made a prayer that was thoughtful and intelligent. He called on the justice of God to defend them when they had done nothing wrong, and in fact had shown mercy to these kingdoms in the past. Then God’s Spirit spoke through the prophet Jehaziel and told them that the battle was not theirs, but God’s.
But even though the battle was God’s, His people were still required to act with great courage and determination. They were to position themselves and face the enemy. All the details of how the battle would turn out were not revealed. Imagine yourself in a situation like this, where a terrible threat was before you. God says He will fight for you, but you still have to go onto the battlefield of whatever problem it is, and look your enemy in the eye. We’d much rather stay home and let God do all the fighting from a distance, and then let us know when it’s safe to come out of our houses – but that’s not how God fights for us. He wants us in the thick of battle while allowing Him to fight in, through and around us. Without obedience and courage, there can be no victory.
King Jehoshaphat’s trust in God was crazy – good crazy. He marched his much smaller army towards the valley where the vast armies were waiting, but insisted that his greatest warriors should not take the lead. Instead, he set musicians and singers on the front line to praise and worship God loudly as they marched. His determination was that if God was going to be their victory, then His name should be proclaimed above all things. Military strategies were not going to save them. They were tempted to panic, but they chose not to act in fear and believe in God’s promise.
When they reached the valley, they saw the dead bodies of those vast armies. While waiting for war with Judah, one army turned against another one and wiped it out. Then the third army turned against the remaining one, and they both killed each other. The Bible says that the Lord set an ambush and turned each enemy against the other. This is the promise of God for you today, if you feel like scary problems are closing in on you from all directions. Don’t be afraid, and don’t panic. Instead be crazy enough to act on the faith that God will defeat these enemies for you. Don’t hide from them, but face them with a complete trust that God will fight for you, and you can be sure that He will. The God of Jehoshaphat is still our God today.