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From Defeat to Victory
2 Chronicles 20:1-25
Today we study chapter 20. However, by way of introduction we want to talk over with you several important features found in chapter 19. We closed the last study with the death of Ahab, in a losing battle; and with Hanani's reproof of Jehoshaphat for joining in battle with the ungodly. Jehoshaphat evidently acknowledged his error, and began immediately to seek the Lord and to improve every moment of his time in the service of His master.
1. Jehoshaphat made a tour from Jerusalem to Beersheba even unto mount Ephraim. Everywhere he went he brought the people back to the Lord God of their fathers. He was king and yet he was priest, to this extent, that he was representing God to the people. Is it not true that all of our leaders, whether they be kings or potentates or great captains or leaders in business, should major in using their influence in. guiding men and women to God?
2. Jehoshaphat appointed judges throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city. To these judges he said, "Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord." Then he told them that the fear of the Lord should be upon them, and that they should remember that there was no iniquity with the Lord their God nor was there respect of persons.
Herein is a lesson that we all need to learn. A holy God demands holy service. A God who is Judge of all the earth, and who is righteous in all His judgments, must have judges under Him who likewise are holy and true.
3. Jehoshaphat told his judges that the fear of the Lord should be upon them. Perhaps the people would have the fear of the judges, but the judges also are to be judged. Thus they who are set to judge others, should remember that they must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The expression does not mean that we should be afraid of God when we are right and holy in our judgment; it does mean that we should be afraid to disobey or dishonor Him, and we should be afraid to judge unrighteously.
4. Jehoshaphat also set the Levites and the Priests and the chief fathers of Israel for the judgment of the Lord. These he charged, saying "Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart." Jehoshaphat said: "What cause soever shall come to you of your brethren * *, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord." They were to deal courageously and faithfully in all matters pertaining to the Lord.
We feel that the ones who represent Christ, and who judge in spiritual things should, by all means, take their service to heart. They should never trespass against God. Let others do as they will. The leaders in spiritual life dare not do anything except that which is acceptable unto God our Father.
I. ASKING HELP FROM GOD (2 Chronicles 20:1-4 )
1. Jehoshaphat was threatened with war. The Children of Ammon and the Children of Moab, with others, had come against him to battle. When the king heard this he was very much afraid, and he feared, "And set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." This is what every one of us should do when the tempter comes against us, when we are afraid of the overwhelming numbers who come against us to seek our harm.
2. Jehoshaphat asked help of the Lord. He gathered the people together even out of all the cities of Judah and they came, not for a frolic, but to fast, and to pray, and to cry unto God. There is a rightful place for fasting as well as for prayer. Children of God should warn one another, instead of giving themselves over to pleasures and follies. They should teach their daughters to weep and to wail because of the sins of the people.
Jesus Christ wept over Jerusalem, and we must weep. Paul one time said he could wish that himself were accursed for his brethren, and we must enter into that same spirit. It is only when the passion and compassion of Christ grips our heart that we shall be worth reckoning upon in the service of our Lord. We must have the people in our hearts. We glory in Jehoshaphat because, with breaking heart for his people, he sought the help of the Lord.
II. A REMARKABLE PRAYER (2 Chronicles 20:5-12 )
1. Jehoshaphat magnified the Lord God. He said, "O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in Heaven? And rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee?"
This vision of God is what we all need. In God we must see One who rules and holds authority over all lives; One who is clothed with all power and all might.
The Lord Jesus said "All power (authority) is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, * * and, lo, I am with you." If we do not go out in His service in the full knowledge and sway of His power and might, we will go in vain.
2. Jehoshaphat reminded God of His great dealings. He said, "Art not Thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham Thy friend for ever?" Then he said, "If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, * * we stand before this House, and in Thy presence, * * and cry unto Thee in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear and help." Jehoshaphat therefore not only believed in the great God, the God of all authority and might, but he believed that the great God would use His might and power in behalf of the people who bore His Name.
3. Jehoshaphat believed in the efficiency and effectiveness of prayer. He said that God will help those who cry unto Him in their affliction. Such He would hear and would help. Do we believe in prayer in any real way? Too many people imagine that the only value of prayer is the effect it has upon the one who prays. They do not believe that God actually hears or answers our petitions.
Jehoshaphat believed that God would both hear and help. Have we not read that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much? When saints take hold of the hand of God in prayer, they take hold of the power that works miracles and does wonders among men.
4. Jehoshaphat told God of the coming of the enemy. He said in his prayer, "Behold, the Children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, * * come to cast us out of Thy possession, which Thou hast given us to inherit." Then Jehoshaphat called upon God to judge them.
5. Jehoshaphat confessed his own weakness. Here is what he said, "We have no might against, this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee."
III. GOD'S REPLY (2 Chronicles 20:14-16 )
1. A Spirit-anointed man. Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, their wives, and their children. That is the way we ought always to stand. As they prayed the Spirit of the Lord came in the midst of the congregation, and came upon one of God's servants. This servant immediately began to prophesy in the Name of the Lord. He said, "Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's."
2. The Spirit's message. "The battle is not yours." If it were our battle, we would have to fight it; but it is the Lord's battle, and He will fight it out. The Spirit gives encouragement. He tells us not to be afraid, and not to be dismayed. If the battle is God's why should we be afraid? Is not God greater than any multitude? Is He not able to give victory under any and all conditions?
This is always the voice of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is saying to us, even now, "We can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us." He is saying, "Ye shall have power, the Holy Spirit corning upon you."
3. The Spirit's promise. "To morrow go ye down against them: behold they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel." God always knows just where the enemy encamps. He knows their strength, their power. He knows, therefore, how to give orders unto His children as they go forth to battle.
Is it not wonderful to hear the Spirit of God saying even unto us, "As Captain of the host of the Lord am I come"? The Holy Spirit takes charge not only of the individual, but also of the Church. He directs our goings out, and our comings in.
When He is upon us to give us power, and when He dwells within us to give us wisdom and guidance, what have we to fear?
IV. IN WEAKNESS WE ARE STRONG (2 Chronicles 20:17-18 )
1. "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle." Jehoshaphat had said, "We have no might against this great company." God's answer is, "Ye shall not need to fight." Sometimes God does put strength upon our weakness, and commands us to go forth to victory. At other times He leaves us entirely out of the picture, and tells us that there isn't any need for us to do anything.
2. "Set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord." Perhaps we have here a little key to the reason that there was no need for them to fight. The word "salvation" gives us the key. When the enemy comes against our soul to damn us, what can we do? We seem altogether under his dominion and sway. We have no power and no might against the devil nor against his emissaries.
The Lord quietly says, "Just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." He is our Salvation, and He is all of it. We have nothing to do, save to stand still. We have nothing to do save what the Lord has wrought out for us on Calvary. Salvation is of grace, apart from all works on our part. We can do nothing to become a Christian, although we should do everything that becomes one. We are saved apart from works, although we are saved unto good works which God hath before prepared that we should walk in.
3. "Fear not, nor be dismayed." God was promising Israel to undertake in her behalf, therefore they had nothing to fear. He was saying, "To morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you."
When all this, as listed above under three quotations, happened, then Jehoshaphat "bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord." To us it is very beautiful to see this king with so great a renown, and with so many admirers, falling upon his face in all humility. No wonder that all Judah likewise prostrated themselves.
V. ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH BE IT UNTO YOU (2 Chronicles 20:19-20 )
1. Praising the Lord. After the people had fallen before the Lord in worship and adoration, then they stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice. They were, in reality, praising God before the victory. They were praising God with the Children of Moab, Ammon, and Mount Seir, still encamped against them. They were praising the Lord because they believed in their God.
It was for this cause that they lifted up their voice on high. It was for this cause that their voices were loud with praise. When we believe that we receive something from God even before we get it, we praise Him before we get it. This all lies in the scope of faith.
2. Rising up early in the morning and going forth. We not only praise God, but we obey Him, when we believe Him. God had told them that they should go forth in the morning, and they rose up early to go forth. He told them that they should go to a certain place, and they went forth to that place. Faith is necessarily followed by obedience and by an obedience that is both prompt and complete.
3. Believing in God and being established. As the people went forth, Jehoshaphat said, "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established." Here is a statement that we need to study. God can do nothing with the soul that doubts. The Lord demands faith. Whenever there is faith unmoved by doubt, they are building upon a rock as strong as Gibraltar. "Believe His Prophets, so shall ye prosper." Here is the second division of faith. One is believing God, and being established; the second is believing the prophets and prospering.
We can almost hear the Apostle Paul making his declaration of faith, as he said, "This I confess, * * believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets." There is no room for prosperity in the things of God until we have accepted by faith every statement written in the Prophets, and every statement written in the Law.
VI. THE PEOPLE DID THE SINGING, GOD DID THE FIGHTING (2 Chronicles 20:21-24 )
1. Israel's part in the battle. 2 Chronicles 20:21 says that Jehoshaphat appointed singers unto the Lord, and that they should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army; and say, "Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever."
The singers were singing and praising the Lord because they were assured of the victory. They were not singing in order to overwhelm the enemy with the words of their songs. They were just singing the songs of victory before they met their enemy.
We have no doubt that their songs did play a large part in filling their foes with fear and with awe. Is it not true that we should encourage the songs of praise which magnify and glorify God? The songs which praise the beauties of holiness and which acclaim the mercy of the Lord which endureth forever, are songs of victory. One thing we know: when the people began to sing, the Lord began to work in behalf of Israel.
2. God's part in the battle. When Israel did the singing, God did the fighting. The Children of Ammon and Moab stood up first against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and to destroy them. The inhabitants of Mount Seir were their allies, but Ammon and Moab were confused, and fought against them. Then when they had overwhelmed that part of their own army, and had made an end of them, they began to destroy one another. Thus it was that Judah looked upon the multitudes, and, behold, there were dead bodies falling to the earth and none escaped.
VII. RETURNING WITH RICHES, REJOICING IN REST (2 Chronicles 20:25-30 )
1. Riches. "When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away." The fact is they were three days in gathering the spoils, for it was much. Thus God not only overthrew the enemy, but God enriched His people.
2. Rejoicing. "On the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord." The valley of Berachah is the valley of blessing. It is in the valley where God wants us all to live. When we live in this valley of blessing, we will live in the valley of praise. Thus they returned to go again to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies.
We can see the victorious army approaching Jerusalem with psalteries, and harps, and trumpets, even unto the House of the Lord. They went out singing, and they came back singing. They went out with the songs of faith upon their lips, the songs of assured victory not yet achieved; they came back with the songs of God's great power and the songs of victory accomplished.
Let us sing down here in anticipation of the coming glory which shall be ours; then, when we stand around the throne of God, we shall sing once more the song of Moses and the Lamb.
3. Rest. When the nations round about heard of how God had wrought so great a victory, they were filled with fear; so they fought no more against the Lord and His people Israel. Thus it was that the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet for God gave him rest around about.
How happy we are that Jehoshaphat, who reigned 25 years over Israel, did right in the sight of the Lord. How glad we are to have had, in three studies, the lives of Jehoshaphat and Asa and how God blessed Israel during their reigns. We thank God for their victory. We thank God because they have left before us a call to courage and to faith.
Let us, too, fearlessly set our faces like a flint and make the God of Asa and of Jehoshaphat our God. Let us be encouraged to go forth without doubting, to fight the good fight of faith and to lay hold upon eternal life.
Shall we allow the saints of old to outdo us in praise, in piety, or in the triumph of their accomplishments? If God wrought through them, He will work through us. The God of Asa and Jehoshaphat is our God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
After all, the chief asset of Jehoshaphat was his godly walk and deeds.
An American vessel was once boarded by a Malay merchant in the Indian seas; and almost the first question the Malay asked the captain was whether he had any tracts to dispose of. "Why, what do you want with them? You cannot read them," said the captain. "True," said the Malay, "but I have a use for them. If one of your people or an Englishman comes to trade with me, I give him a tract and watch what he does with it. If he reads it soberly, and treats it with respect, I take it he is honest, and will not cheat me; but, if he throws it down with an oath, I'll have nothing to do with him, for he can't be trusted." The Malay's method had some good sound common sense about it. "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath One that judgeth him" (John 12:48 ).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Chronicles 20". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
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