31 October 2013

the best battle plan: fighting to rest

Back in August, God was teaching me about trusting in Him for a certain situation out of my control. Well, actually, several situations. (They always seem to abound! Because I never have control! News flash!) 

I just randomly opened up to 2 Chroncles 20 and God started speaking to me. As you intercede for your the lost, for reconciliation, for healing, for justice, for the church, for anything at all you are going through, follow this battle plan.

It's the battle plan of a people who don't actually have a plan. The threat is too big. It's out of their control. So their lack of a plan turns into the following response. It's a pretty amazing story. 

vs. 1-2 the threat arises
 It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi).

vs. 3-4: choosing to seek YHWH earnestly as a people gathered together
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

vs. 5-9: remembering God's power, promises, and faithfulness
Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’

vs. 10-12a: making a bold request for salvation
And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them? 

vs 12b: admitting our total dependence on God (so beautiful)
For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

vs. 13: waiting on God! 
Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

vs 14-15a: God speaks 
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! 

vs. 15b: God instructs us not to fear--to look at Him instead of the circumstances 
Thus says YHWH to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

vs 16-17: Special instructions
Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battlePosition yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of YHWH, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

vs. 18-19: Humble worship and loud praise
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

vs. 20a: The people rise up early to obey God's instructions
So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; 

vs. 20b: Faith in God precedes the success of the mission from God:
and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 

vs. 21: Sing praise as you go out to fight the battle
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”

vs. 22-25: God moves during the praises of His people to fulfill His promises
Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 

vs. 26: The people gather to bless God in the valley (bless God in the valleys where He has given you victory!)
And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed YHWH; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah [blessing] until this day. 

vs. 27-28: The people praise God with joy and music 
Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of YHWH. 

vs. 29: The fame of YHWH's Name and His glory spread throughout the territory
And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 

vs. 30: The people who had waited quietly in spite and in the midst of turmoil, now enjoy the blessing and rest and peace of God:
Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

God gave him rest all around! I could use some of that rest all around. Not rest because nothing ever happens to me, or I'm never in any "impossible" battles... but rest in knowing that God is on His throne. Rest in knowing that I am His child. Rest in knowing that He has overcome the world. Rest in what I cannot see. FAITH.

Arriving at this kind of rest is not something you work up or meditate on until it pops up on your radar. That's not what Jehoshaphat and his people did. They did what the people did in 2 Chronicles 15:15, where the same phrase is used. They sought Him with all their soul: "And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around." 

True "rest all around" doesn't mean you don't fight. It means you stop fighting on your own strength. ("Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" --Galatians 3:3). By faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, you fight to seek God with everything you are. 

I have so much still to learn about rest! It all starts with admitting my insufficiency and seeking God.

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:3-4)

What has God taught you about rest?


  1. I love this. One of my favorite Bible stories. And I love the verse at the end. =]