The Lord’s Battle
“Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s… . Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you’” (vv. 15–17).- 2 Chronicles 20
Jehoshaphat of Judah enjoyed many blessings from the Lord (2 Chron. 17). However, his reign was not free of all conflict. Today’s passage describes one of these conflicts when a coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites moved against Judah.
We know little about the Meunites, who resided on Mount Seir, a mountain range running the length of the land of Edom. The Moabites and Ammonites, both related to the Israelites and Judahites through Abraham’s nephew Lot (Gen. 19:30–38), had long been enemies of God’s people. King Saul had battled the Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:1–11). The Moabites had hired Balaam to curse God’s people during the wilderness era (Num. 22:1–6). Later, King Ahab of Israel subjugated the Moabites, forcing them to pay tribute. Since Jehoshaphat had allied Judah with Ahab’s Israel, when Ahab died and the Moabites revolted against Israel, Judah entered the conflict (2 Kings 1:1; 3:5; see 2 Chron. 18). The Moabite-led coalition against Judah was part of this rebellion, and it attacked Judah probably because it perceived Judah as the weaker partner in the alliance with Israel.
Outnumbered, the Judahites went to the Lord, with Jehoshaphat leading them in a prayer that serves as a model in several ways. It starts out acknowledging God’s power, then rehearses God’s acts of salvation for Israel. Next, it appeals to God’s promise to hear His people’s prayers, states the problem, and appeals for help based on the great need of the Lord’s powerless people (2 Chron. 20:1–12; see Gen. 15; Josh. 24:18; 2 Chron. 6:12–7:22). To make our prayers more biblical, we should include similar petitions in our prayers.
God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer by confusing the enemy and leading the various peoples to fight against one another until they were destroyed. Judah did not even have to act in the fight, and the Judahites’ resultant victory encouraged the surrounding nations to fear the Lord (2 Chron. 20:13–30). God answers our prayers not only to rescue us but also to move people to fear His name.
The original audience of 2 Chronicles consisted of Jews who came back from Babylon and lived in their own land under Persian rule. These Jews were outnumbered by a hostile pagan empire, so reading this prayer of Jehoshaphat and God’s response encouraged them to trust the Lord and seek His face for their own preservation. Today, God’s people, the church, are frequently outnumbered and live in hostile territory. So, let us be people of prayer as well.
To cry out earnestly for God’s help, we must know our need for it. C.H. Spurgeon says in his sermon “The Singing Army” that “one of the most prevailing arguments to be used in prayer with God is a truthful statement of our condition—a confession of our sad estate.” When we cry out to God for assistance and forgiveness, let us confess our powerlessness. Then, we can stand back and watch as He—in His time—defeats all His and our enemies.
Passages for Further Study