By Dr. Kelli Criss
Unfortunately, the current public health crisis has become politicized. The radical left is using the coronavirus to attempt to stop the re-election of President Trump. Democrats and the media elite are blaming the administration for this naturally occurring pandemic. While we need leadership from the president and government officials, whatever impact COVID-19 has, it is no match against God’s plan for His children.
In recent blogs, we considered how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah in fasting and prayer centered upon God’s faithfulness and justice. God’s answer to the prayers of Judah came through Jahaziel, who proclaimed that the battle was God’s to fight and that the people did not have to fear. Today’s blog, Responding to God’s Command, emphasizes King Jehoshaphat’s and Judah’s reaction to God’s words.
Obedience to God’s Words
King Jehoshaphat responded to God’s revelation of Himself and His plan with humility, worship, and obedience. 2 Chronicles 20:18 describes how “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord” (New American Standard Bible). What an impactful act of humility for the king of Judah to “bow his head with his face to the ground” as he worshipped God in the presence of the nation he led. King Jehoshaphat’s leadership had guided the nation of Judah into prayer and now he ushered his people into worship. (In Jehoshaphat’s response, we see a powerful reminder of the value of righteous leadership for a country. As goes the king, so goes the nation.)
Worship Leads the Charge
Next, the priests, “the Levites . . . stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice” as they joined the king in worship (2 Chron. 20:19). The following morning, they went to the battlefield to face the enemy. When they started the journey toward the battlefield, King Jehoshaphat addressed the people saying “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful” (2 Chron. 20:20, NASB). How amazing that this verse is the 20th chapter and 20th verse of 2 Chronicles. We can have “20-20” vision to face the battle when we have faith in God’s words.
Subsequently, Jehoshaphat “consulted with the people” and organized them for battle (2 Chron. 20:21, New International Version). The way he organized the people carried significance – they were instructed to worship ahead of the soldiers in order to face their enemies:
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.” (2 Chron. 20:21, NIV)
God’s enduring love was on their lips as they marched into battle. This is the faith community’s model for facing our current enemy, the coronavirus. Let us speak about the love of God to everyone around us so that we are prepared for battle.
God’s Victory and Abundant Favor
God was at work before Judah could even reach the battlefield: “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” (2 Chron. 20:22, NIV). It was as they worshipped the Lord that Judah received the fulfillment of God’s promise. Indeed, God satisfied His commitment to fight the battle for Judah. Likewise, as we worship God during this crisis, God is acting to fulfill His promises to us.
As if winning an impossible battle and saving Judah from slaughter weren’t enough, God blesses the nation abundantly after the battle is won:
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. (2 Chron. 20: 24-25, NIV)
Judah received the blessing, grace, and favor of God as a result of the people’s actions (fasting, praying, waiting, listening, obeying, and responding to God’s answer through worship).
By recalling God’s faithfulness to the nation of Judah, the faith community can understand how to respond to God during the pandemic and can be encouraged by Judah’s testimony. Just as the king admonished Judah’s people to have faith in the message of the prophets, we recall the words of God’s messengers in the Scriptures so that we may have godly success in our current struggles. We stand together assured that God is at work as we worship Him in the charge onto the battlefield of this crisis.
Join us next week, as we consider how Judah thanked God for His favor and received peace without fear.