Day 3: Worship
Recently, while reading 2 Chronicles 20, a few things in the passage stood out to me as I have prayed and prepared my heart for our church wide fast.
In 2 Chronicles 20:2-4, we read, “2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. (NIV)”. So Judah, which is a separate kingdom from Israel at this point, has been alerted that they are about to come under attack. The response of the king is to A) inquire of the Lord, and B) declare a fast for all of Judah, and C) the people all come together to seek help from the Lord! I cannot imagine what it would be like for a modern leader or ruler of a nation to do such a thing, but Jehoshaphat “did what is right in the eyes of the Lord.”
The result of the fast, of the king and all of the “men of Judah, with their wives, and children and little ones” standing before the Lord in one accord was that the Holy Spirit came upon one of the Levites (a descendant of Asaph, who was one of David’s appointed musicians who wrote many of the Psalms,) who made the following declaration, “15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” He goes on to say, “17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” So in response to the heart of the king and the people coming together in one accord and fasting and praying, the Lord goes to battle FOR them! They won’t even have to fight! But they cannot just pack up and go home. They are expected to take their positions, stand firm and see what the Lord does on their behalf.
At this point, the king and all the people could have had a great celebration, they could have cheered wildly, or they could have even responded in doubt and muttered against God. Instead, we read, “18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.” They have not yet seen the battle won, but the king and the people respond in faith and fall down in WORSHIP before the Lord! Then the religious leaders, the Levites, stand up and PRAISE God LOUDLY! (I can just imagine the roar of the people!) The relief of knowing God will fight for them, leaves them in awe of who He is, which wells up into shouts of praise! I find myself encouraged to remember in my own private time with the Lord, but also as we come together corporately as a body of believers, that this is to be the response in the face of our battles: falling before Him in worship by faith knowing he is responding to our cries, and rising up to our feet in praise, knowing we have the victory even before the battle has begun!!
Next, before the king leads them out to the battlefield to take up their positions, we read, “….Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
What I find so captivating in this passage, is that the singers were to praise the Lord for splendor of his holiness, not sing some victory chant, not make some declarative song of pronouncement about”God is on our side”, not even were they to bang drums and make noise to intimidate the enemy. No, they were to declare God’s holiness as they went before the troops. God’s holiness is bright and radiant. His holiness sets him apart from ALL others…there is no one like him…he is completely above and beyond any other being. This is the worship that takes place before his throne in heaven, and the worship that went before the troops that day. And God’s response was to set ambushes against the enemy so that they turned on one another and they destroyed one another so that the army of Judah showed up only to find dead bodies and plunder. It took them three days to gather all that was left behind! And on the fourth day, “26 … they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah (which means praise) to this day.” We so often think of a valley as a low place, but this was a place of praise!
Finally, 27 …led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.” When the kings and the troops returned, they could have just split up the plunder and sent everyone home, but instead they are in a mood to rejoice before everyone because of the incredible victory God brought about on their behalf! What I love about this whole account from beginning to end is the heart of the king, the leaders and the people to respond in worship and praise. Not only did they pray and fast in one accord, but upon receiving God’s promise, they responded in one accord in worship and praise. They went out to battle declaring the splendor of His holiness in song, they praised Him in the valley after retrieving all the plunder, and then came home joyfully to spend more time making music before him in joyful adoration.
We ask that you would give us hearts to inquire of you when the enemies loom large in our lives. Let us come to you first in prayer and in fasting, in humble faith and expectation. We pray that we would respond in the same way King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah did; on our faces before you in worship and in praise even before we see the fruition of what is promised. We want to acknowledge your holiness, your “set-apart-ness”, before all others. And we want to acknowledge you are the source of our victory, you are the source of our supply. We desire to be joyful in our worship and praise when seeing and remembering ALL you have done and will do. Let our hearts always be bent to give you all the glory, honor, and praise!