(Today’s post is taken and adapted from the December 7th Your Daily Bible Verse episode titled Seeking God’s Guidance in Times of Crisis. You can listen to that episode HERE.)
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This is one of the most powerful prayers in Scripture: “God, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12c, NIV).
Such an honest, humble declaration positions us to receive God’s power, which He loves to display through our weakness. It is in our desperate places, when we feel we have nowhere else to turn, that we most experience Him.
The king who spoke the words recorded in 2 Chronicles 20:12 was in a terrifying place. Shortly after initiating a sweeping religious reform throughout Judah, he learned numerous allied nations had declared war against him and his people.
By the time King Jehoshapat learned about this army, they were only 35 miles from Jerusalem. The King didn’t have a whole lot of options. He and his people could’ve tried to hide in caves and the clefts of mountains, like they had back in Judges chapter 6, when “the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country” (v. 3, NIV). Or he could’ve fled to a neighboring country, forfeiting his throne and abandoning his people.
In a panic, he could’ve sent commanders out to gather all the fighting men they could find, but they’d still be outnumbered, out-skilled, out-weaponed, and outmuscles.
He could’ve allowed his fear to drive him to increased reliance and chasing after false securities. This inevitably would’ve distanced him from God and distorted his perception, causing the crisis to feel exponentially larger. Making his all-powerful God to simultaneously feel smaller.
That wasn’t how King Jehoshapat responded.
In the middle of his fear, he hit pause. Before he took a single step forward, he turned his face and his heart upward, proclaimed a fast for all of Judah, and cried out to God.
When facing a life or death situation, for him and his nation, the king of Judah immediately turned to God in prayer. And called all his people to do the same. Such a powerful example of God-led, leadership! In a life-or-death situation, he showed everyone what it looked like to live by faith; complete dependence on God.
And notice the result. Verse four states, “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”
Because King Jehoshaphat sought God in his fear, his people did as well. Then, once they’d all gathered, Scripture tells us the King stood in front of the courtyard and spoke an incredibly powerful prayer.
First, he acknowledged and proclaimed God’s sovereignty and limitless power, a power greater than their worst and most viscous and numerous enemy, saying, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”
Then, in verses 7-8, he reminded God, and through this, the people, of who they were to Him. The men, women, children, and soldiers of Judah were God’s chosen people, whom He had placed in and given the land they now occupied. A land that, ultimately, God owned.
He reminded himself and the people of God’s constant presence. Regardless of how they felt or things appeared, their God was with them and heard them, He stated, in verse 9, “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us” (NIV).
Then, after all this, after remembering and proclaiming God’s power, sovereignty, attentiveness, and presence, knowing that God would hear and respond, he ended with, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
In other words, guide us, Lord. Tell us what to do here, and whatever that is, we’ll do it. Because we trust You.
The next morning, he and his people put feet to their faith. At God’s command, they appointed men to sing praises to God, and sent them out at the head of the army.
They led with praise.
They entered the battle with praise, singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.” With every step, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love” –His heced in the original Greek, a fierce, steadfast, enduring love– “endures forever” (V. 21, NIV).
God’s love was their armor and their defense. The Israelites advanced in confidence knowing Almighty, all-knowing, sovereign, Creator God loved them and would fight for them.
And he did. Scripture says, “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. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another” (V. 22-23, NIV).
Their enemies fought against one another! Not one of them escaped.
When we find ourselves in frightening situations, often our first response is to react–to shut down, lash out, or to flee. But what if we turned to God first? What if we hit pause, took a breath, and prayed?
What if we fought our battles through surrendered dependence and our hands lifted high in praise?
And speaking of love, first flowing into us, then flowing from us, make sure to listen to the latest Your Daily Bible Verse podcast episode: