Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us. … O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help. [2 Chronicles 20:9,12 (NLT)]
The Judeans were surrounded by the armies of Moab, Ammon and Mount Sier and the odds clearly were against them. Terrified, King Jehoshaphat and his people turned to God. Admitting they were powerless against such foes, they asked God what to do. The Lord’s response came through Jahaziel, a Levite, who assured the people that this battle was God’s. They were told to take their battle positions the following day and then to stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. The battle would be won without any of them having to fight. Worship and praise followed this pronouncement.
I wonder how confident the army of Judah was the following morning as they marched out into the wilderness. Would they be “sitting ducks” as their army, clearly outnumbered, stood unmoving in front of their foes? Perhaps the King heard some grumbling about this strange battle plan because he stopped the troops to reassure them: “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” Jehoshaphat then appointed a chorus to walk ahead of the army and sing praises to the Lord: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” As the choir’s voice rose, the armies of Moab and Ammon turned against the men from Mount Sier and then turned upon each other. By the time the Judean army arrived, not one of their enemies had survived the melee and all they had to do was pick up the spoils of war. As promised, they had defeated their enemy without lifting a sword.
Jehoshaphat wasn’t the only one to be given a strange battle plan by God—Joshua and his men circled a fortified city for seven days, Gideon severely limited the size of his army to face overwhelming odds, Amaziah dismissed the trained mercenaries he’d hired, and David had to wait for a sound in the trees before attacking. Yet, by trusting God’s plan, as strange as it seemed, they all were victorious.
While we’re not likely to encounter an enemy army, we do encounter difficulties, temptations, and challenges every day. If we follow Jehoshaphat’s example, we will turn to God and ask for His guidance. The hardest part, however, comes in trusting God’s battle plan. Let’s face it, God’s way is often contrary to what we’d normally expect—turn the other cheek, love your enemies, bless those that curse us, forgive seventy times seven, and be still and know He is Lord! Jehoshaphat and his people trusted God so much that they thanked him even before the battle was won. Let us march into our daily battles as did the Judeans—trusting God and singing, “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”