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Friday, July 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 20

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-37

Chapter 20

Now in chapter 20, it records how that at this time three nations had gathered together to fight against Judah. The nation of Moab and Ammon, and those of Mount Seir, which would have been the Edomites. And word came to Jehoshaphat that Judah was being invaded by this confederacy of nations. That they had already come across the Dead Sea and they were in the area of Engedi. And they were approaching, actually, by the area of Engedi, which is the valley known also as the Valley of Passengers and became known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat, because this is where God wrought the victory for Jehoshaphat, and thus, it became known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

Now it is interesting, because God ultimately destroyed this invading army. And we'll get to that in a moment. But Ezekiel tells us that there is going to be another confederacy of nations that is going to attack Israel in the last days. A confederacy of nations led by Russia and there will be with her, of course, many of the eastern Europe nations, plus the Balkan nations, plus Iran, plus Saudi Arabia, and they also will be destroyed in this Valley of Passengers. So history will be repeated, and interestingly enough, much of the destruction will be in the same way this destruction took place. For in the destruction described in Ezekiel, one aspect of it, God said, "Every man's sword will be against his brother" ( Ezekiel 38:21 ). So God speaks of an internal revolution that is going to take place among the communist states and nations at the time when which they seek to come against Israel, plus the judgment that God pours out.

But when, in time, people are passing through this Valley of the Passengers of Jehoshaphat, and they see the carcasses, the bones, they'll set a flag by it and so forth. So this same valley in which God once destroyed the enemies of Israel God is going to work again and destroy invading armies that are coming against Israel in that same area. I find that very fascinating indeed.

So Jehoshaphat, when he heard that these three nations were gathered together to invade the land, called the men of Judah together and he proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah. And he set himself to seek the Lord. The people gathered together.

And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah there at the house of the Lord, in the new court, And he said, O LORD God of our fathers, you are the God of heaven or the God of the universe and the ruler over the eaRuth ( 2 Chronicles 20:5-6 ).

Now, in a sense God is the ruler over the earth because whatever happens on the earth happens because God has allowed it to happen. And yet, in a narrower sense, Jesus recognized that Satan was ruling the earth at the present time. Now, Satan only rules because God allows him to rule. So in an overall sense, yes, God rules, but God in His rule has allotted man free moral agency, self-determination, the power or capacity of choice. God has allowed man to choose who he desires to rule over him. And the majority of men have chosen that Satan should rule over their lives. And God has not violated man's choice. He's allowed him to make the choice and then respects the choice that man has made.

So in the world today, Satan is ruling. When Jesus came, Satan took Him up to a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and said, "All of these will I give to you and the glory of them if you will bow down and worship me. For they are mine and I can give them to whomever I will" ( Matthew 4:9 ). Now Satan is boasting to Jesus that, "Hey, it's all mine. I have the power to give it to whoever I want." And Jesus did not dispute that claim. In fact, why did Jesus come? In order that He might redeem the world because it was under Satan's power. Now Jesus called Satan "the prince of this world." He said to His disciples the night He was betrayed, just before going to the garden where He was arrested by the soldiers, He said, "I have told you that I go to my Father. Now if you love Me, you would rejoice for my Father is greater than I. But now," He said, "the prince of this world cometh but he hath nothing in Me" ( John 14:28-30 ). So Satan is referred to by Christ as the prince of the world.

Paul calls him "the god of this age." Referring to the sinners, he said, "The god of this age has blinded their eyes that they cannot see the truth" ( 2 Corinthians 4:4 ). So in a narrow sense, Satan is ruling over the earth at the present time. This is his domain. This is his kingdom. When the antichrist comes on the scene, the book of Revelation, chapter 13 tells us that Satan, the dragon, is going to give to him his authority and his throne. Now Satan said to Jesus, "It's mine, I can give it to whomever I will." And he's going to give it to the antichrist who will rule over the world.

Now it is interesting how many of the world leaders have been involved in the occult. And, of course, one of the most notable of recent times was Hitler, who actually was controlled by what the men who were called the White Masters. Those men who were steeped in the art of white magic. Many of them after Hitler's fall fled to Peru where they still exercise quite a bit of power and control over the lives of many people. But Hitler was taking directions and following the advice of these men of the occult. And, of course, it doesn't give me comfort to hear our President say, or at least Jeanne Dixon say, that so many of the presidents call her for advice.

Now Satan one day is going to turn over the full authority and power of this earth that is his to the antichrist. But, of course, he knows that his time is short. The scriptures said he knows that his reign is about over, and so he's really doing his best to mess things up before he has to exit the scene.

Now Jesus said to His disciples, "When you pray you should say: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" ( Matthew 6:9-10 ). We pray that His kingdom will come. We pray that His will be done here in the earth, because right now His kingdom has not come; His will is not being done. You do not see the world that God wants or God intends. He doesn't want a world that is filled with suffering and war and hardships and inflation and pollution and all of this. The Bible tells us that when He comes to establish His kingdom that righteousness will cover the earth as the waters do cover the sea. And that there won't be the physical maladies that men experience today. And that Satan during this period of time will be bound and be cast into the abusso while Jesus reigns upon the earth for a thousand-year period.

And so when Jehoshaphat said that You rule over the earth, that is only in an overall sense as God rules over the universe. But in the universe there is one planet that is in rebellion against the rule of God, and as the result of that rebellion against God's rule, that planet is hurting. It's suffering. And it's headed... it's on a head-on collision course with great calamity and disasters. And they are coming. There's no escaping it. But after this time of great disaster, then Jesus will come and He will reign, and God's kingdom will then extend and cover over the whole earth.

So Jehoshaphat in his prayer acknowledged the greatness of God. And then he acknowledged that God was the one that brought us into this land. He was the one that delivered this land to our fathers. For He had promised the land unto Abraham and to Abraham's seed. And God drove out the inhabitants that were there. And then he said, "They built this," and they were standing, remember, in the temple and he said, "They built this sanctuary for Thy name. That when calamity came, they might come to this place and call upon You." And here is where he makes reference to the prayer of Solomon in verse 2 Chronicles 20:9 when Solomon dedicated the temple.

And they dwelt in this land, they have built thee this sanctuary for thy name, saying ( 2 Chronicles 20:8 ),

When they built it they said,

If, when evil comes upon us, as the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, and we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and we cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help ( 2 Chronicles 20:9 ).

And so he acknowledges first the greatness of God, the purposes of God in bringing them into the land and the promise of God. That when they were in trouble, when the sword was threatening or judgment, and they come into Your house and they pray, then that You would answer. Now he lays out the cause. "Lord, here they come, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Edomites and they're too many for us to handle. We don't have the power. We don't have the might against them." So he's asking God for help.

In verse 2 Chronicles 20:12 :

O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that comes against us; neither do we know what to do: but our eyes are upon You ( 2 Chronicles 20:12 ).

"God, we're facing an enemy that is stronger than we are. We don't know what to do, but we're looking to You for help." Now how many times I have been in a similar state. When the situation that I faced was overwhelming. I didn't know the answer. I didn't know what to do. And so I just turn to the Lord. "Lord, my eyes are upon You. I'm looking to You for wisdom, for guidance, for help." And so the Lord answered Jehoshaphat by this fellow Jahaziel who was the son of Zechariah. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in the midst of the congregation.

And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid or dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff 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 battle: set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you ( 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ).

And so the glorious promise of God. Commanding them to not be afraid or dismayed. "For the battle is not yours, but God's." It's so wonderful when God takes up our part. When God stands up for our defense. David said, "The Lord is my refuge and my strength. I will not fear though the mountains be removed and cast into the midst of the sea" ( Psalms 46:1-2 ). How wonderful when God is my strength. God is my defense, my defender. "Don't be afraid. Don't be dismayed. This battle isn't yours, it's God's. Now you go down tomorrow by the cliff of Ziz where you get the overview of the valley of Jeruel there. And you just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." And then again, "Don't be afraid, don't be dismayed for the Lord is with you."

The consciousness of the presence of God is always one of the greatest factors to dispel fear from our lives. I can be extremely frightened until I realize God is with me. Then all of a sudden I'm not afraid anymore. It's only when I lose the consciousness of God's presence with me. It's only when I get things out of perspective and I forget that my life belongs to Him, that this is His church, and I try to start carrying the burdens myself and losing that perspective of God's presence with me. Sometimes I become terrified. As David said, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me?" ( Psalms 42:11 ) And sometimes my soul gets cast down or very disquieted. It's because I have forgotten that it all belongs to God. That I am His, that He is with me. "Hopest thou in the Lord," David said, "He shall yet deliver thee." Hey, did you forget about God? Did you forget that God's on the throne? And how many times we forget that God is on the throne. And we try to take up the battle ourselves. And we try to do things ourselves until we get into the place of despair. God says, "Don't be afraid, don't be dismayed. I will be with you."

So as the result of this, of course,

Jehoshaphat bowed his face to the ground before the LORD: and all of the army, the men of Israel just fell on their faces before the LORD, and just worshipped the LORD ( 2 Chronicles 20:18 ).

Oh, what good word this is. "Here we thought we were going to get wiped out. Here we thought there was no hope for our survival. And now the word of the Lord comes and says, hey, we're not going to even have to fight against this huge army that's invading the land. All we have to do is be a spectator. We're going to go down and watch God fight the battle." Ringside seats as God destroys the enemy.

And the priests, as the people were lying there before the Lord, worshipping God, the priests stood and they praised God with loud voices. The next morning, they left Jerusalem heading down through the valley of Hinnom and around towards the right going south towards Bethlehem, through the Shepherd's field, the valleys below the city of Bethlehem, again taking another southern turn over near the area of the Herodians. And then on past that area, turning now again east, coming down to the little village of Tekoa, the home of Amos the prophet. And there, just beyond Tekoa, the cliffs of Ziz that overlooked the wilderness area towards Engedi, this valley where the invading army was coming up from Engedi into the land. And yet, what a strange army it must have looked like, because out in front of the army were the choir, the singers, and they were singing praises unto God. And the people were responding to their praises. They would sing, "O praise the Lord for He is good." And the army would answer, "For His mercy endureth forever." And so they were going towards the battle to watch the victory of God singing praises of victory already unto the Lord, for His mercy endureth forever. It is possible for you to have the victory before you have the victory.

Paul talks about being "more than conquerors through Him who loves us" ( Romans 8:37 ). What does that mean? More than a conqueror. I know what it means to be a conqueror, but what does it mean to be more than a conqueror? It means that you have the victory before you have the victory. You have the victory even before the battle starts. You have that glorious victory of God in your heart and spirit. You're rejoicing and praising God before you ever see the accomplished work of God.

So here they were. Their hearts were lifted. They were rejoicing. They were praising the Lord, because they had the word of God and the promise of God that He was going to destroy their enemies.

Now even before they got to the battleground to see what God was doing, they were already rejoicing and shouting and praising God for the victory that had been promised unto them. Oh, what a glorious scene that must have been to see that valley full of men, probably some two hundred thousand strong being led by a choir as they were going down to see the work of God in delivering their enemies into their hand. The victory through praise. And it is at this point we read:

And as they praised the Lord, the LORD put ambushments against their enemies ( 2 Chronicles 20:22 ).

As they were praising the Lord, the Lord began His work in destroying their enemies.

There can be glorious victory in your life through praise. As you learn to praise the Lord and just spend your time in praise of Him, for His promise, we need to take the promises of God and put them over against our situations. And then just praise the Lord for His promises that He's given to us of victory in our situations.

Now I don't think that you should praise the Lord that you have so many debts that you can't pay them all. But I think you should praise the Lord in that He has promised, "I will supply all of your needs according to my riches in glory by Christ Jesus our Lord" ( Philippians 4:19 ). So I can't praise the Lord for these duns that I'm getting from the bill collectors, but I can praise the Lord that He has promised to supply my needs. So my praises are in the promises of God and as I am praising God for His promises, God begins a work. His work of mystery, many times. I don't know how He's going to do it. I don't know what He's going to do. But He begins His work and He begins to accomplish His work. And it's so glorious as they praise the Lord, the Lord put the ambushments against their enemies.

Now we do spend an awful lot of time complaining to the Lord about our situations, about our problems, about the circumstances of our life. If you would take that time that you spend complaining to the Lord and just start praising the Lord for His promise to watch over you and to deliver you and to keep you and to bless you, then you'd find that God would, while you are praising, bring you victory in your heart. Suddenly the whole perspective changes as I'm praising the Lord. As I'm thanking Him for His Word and for His promises, my whole attitude changes. It goes from one of fear and dismay and anxiety to one of confidence and victory. "All right, Lord. Go at them." And I just have that beautiful confidence that God is working.

So as they praised the Lord, the Lord put ambushments against their enemies so that when they got to the cliff of Ziz, and they began to look down in the valley, they saw the valley was full of all these dead bodies. For the men of mount Seir, the Edomites began to fight against those from Moab and it turned into a real brawl and a donnybrook. And the men of Ammon joined in. And so they were all fighting with each other and killing each other, so that by the time the children of Israel got there, they were all wiped out. Oh, God is so good.

I was talking with John who is one of our young men here in the church who is now a recruit in the Costa Mesa Police Department, and he was sharing how the other night the officer who was training him. He and the officer pulled a car over down here on Fairview and Fair Drive in the Exxon Station. And he said as they started pulling the guys out of the car, he said there were six big bikers. And he said that as they started pulling out the booze and as they started to get to some of the other things, the guys jumped them. He said just the two of them officers against these six big bikers. And he said, "I heard one of them say, 'Grab his gun and we will shoot the brains out of these guys.'" And so he said he felt this guy tugging at his gun. He said, "Now the guns have a front throw on them. You have to pull them out front ways to get them out of the holster." This guy was trying behind him and trying to pull it up straight, couldn't get it out. and so he said he just took and elbowed the guy. And he said, "But boy," he said, "they were swinging, rolling on the ground and everything else." And of course, they put out the officer-in-distress call and he said, "But pretty soon," he said, "he and his partner were standing up and these guys were all brawling with each other." He said they were swinging away and hitting each other. He said they just stood there back to back watching these guys wiping out each other, you know. And after it was over, he said to his training officer, "Did you get hit?" And he said, "No." And he said, "Neither did I." In all of that swinging they never hit him. And he said he told his training officer, "Praise the Lord, you know. The Lord just put them to confusion. Got them fighting with each other and we were able to escape."

But, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" ( Hebrews 13:8 ), and He could put the enemies to confusion. He can deliver His child out of distress, out of danger. He can keep you unscathed in the midst of a battle. The Lord is the same.

They went on down. They found that these guys had worn all their jewelry into the battle, all the precious gems and everything else these guys were wearing. So they began to strip the dead bodies of all of the valuables, the jewels, the ornaments and everything else, and there was so much that they could not even carry it all. It took them three days to strip all the bodies. And they came back with great rejoicing unto the Lord.

On the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah [which means, The Valley of Blessing]; for there they blessed the Lord ( 2 Chronicles 20:26 ).

And so they named the valley, the Valley of Berachah unto this day.

Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat was in front of them, and they came back to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And as they came to Jerusalem with the psalteries and the harps and the trumpets unto the house of the LORD. The fear of God was in all of the kingdoms of those countries, when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for twenty-five years. He walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, they are written in the book of Jehu who was a prophet, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel ( 2 Chronicles 20:27-34 ).

Now Jehoshaphat, then, once again joined affinity with Ahaziah, the king of Israel. Now Ahaziah was the son of Ahab. He also was an extremely wicked person, but Jehoshaphat had some strange drawing towards the kings of Israel. And so they made an agreement to build ships in order that they might go to Tarshish to get gold and all. But the ships broke up in a storm and they never made it to Tarshish. Actually Eliezer, a prophet, prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, Because you have joined yourself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken in a storm; they were not able to go to Tarshish.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/2-chronicles-20.html. 2014.
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