II Chronicles 20:13-17
December 29, 2002
Now be honest, over the years, haven’t you wondered, why the phrase, “Jumping Jehoshaphat”? I can understand Jeremiah. After all---he was a bullfrog. He was a good friend of mine...and I like to drink his...coke. Besides! - frogs jump! But Jumping Jehoshaphat?
Just who was the real Jehoshaphat? Why should we care? We first hear about Jehoshaphat in the Old Testament book of I Kings. This is written more from the human point of view. We meet him again here in Second Chronicles. The Chronicle passages talk about the same information as the Kings, but from God’s point of view.
Jehoshaphat is one of the most godly kings. He lived in the 9th Century. He loves the Word of God. Now the Old Testament was still being formed, so the Word of God Jehoshaphat had was probably the Books of Moses, and a few others, including the Psalms from his great, great, great grandfather, King David. Jehoshaphat tries to obey God’s commands.
. Hiss love for God is evident in his actions. God uses him to bring about a spiritual revival. Jehoshaphat experiences how much God blesses him and he wants his people to have this same blessing. He sends out his best teachers to teach the Word of God. He sends them not only to his own people but to the surrounding nations. One of the many results of this area-wide Bible-study is that even some of his enemies are converted. That is the power of the Word of God. Many of you have experienced this same transforming power through your own small group Bible studies.
God also uses Jehoshaphat to bring about civil reform. He creates courts with just judges throughout the region. He instructs these judges that they are “not judging for man but for the Lord” (19:6-9). What a great reminder that good government comes from commitment to God.
However, this mighty man of God also makes mistakes. Earlier chapters of Chronicles tell us that Jehoshaphat makes three wrong alliances. The first is a dreadful marriage alliance between Jehoshaphat’s own son and the daughter of King Ahab. Ahab’s wife is Jezabel. Jezebel is the one who brought idol worship to the people of Israel.
This marriage alliance leads to the other two. One was a trade alliance. This results in God allowing the ship to be wrecked that was carrying the grain and animals. The goods never reach market. The third alliance is a military alliance with King Ahab. This almost costs Jehoshaphat his own life. God intervenes to save Jehoshaphat. Ahab is killed instead.
In his daily walk with God, Jehoshaphat is close to God, yet still makes mistakes. But the exciting thing is even when Jehoshaphat messes up, he always jumps back to God.
It can be the same with us today. You and I make mistakes. Some of the mistakes we make are far reaching. They affect other people in our lives. They cause heartache, heartbreak, broken homes and broken lives. We know when we do wrong. We know we have disobeyed God’s commands for our lives. We know we need to get right with God. That is exactly what Jehoshaphat does. Jehoshaphat asks God to forgive Him. How great for us to see how this godly man did not fail to jump back into the waiting arms of God. We are just like Jehoshaphat. We know that God still loves us in the midst of our mistakes. God created us and therefore we are His. We are His responsibility. He wants to take care of us. It is His job!
Now Jehoshaphat learns over the years to trust God in the seemingly smaller issues of life. This prepares him for the BIG crisis that is still to come. We learn the same thing. As we jump into God’s care in the smaller stuff of our lives we learn from God’s Word that we can’t rely on things, organizations and people to carry us through. We learn that we can continually rely on Him in all situations.
It’s like a small child and a parent goofing around in the house. The soft sofa, strong bed and forgiving carpet provide a margin of safety. Then we move to the park on the jungle gym set. Mom or dad stand right beneath to catch or encourage. Mom and dad are there through the broken arms and disappointments that life hands the child in growing up. The child learns to trust dad’s strength and mom’s care. The child learns to rely on the parents’ consistency through the little glitches of life.
Then the big ones come....the deep end of the swimming pool, broken hearts over lost loves, failing grades in school, a personal devastating illness, unplanned pregnancy, the death of close friends or family members. Perhaps the family lives through a major illness like cancer. They share the loss because of a move, a divorce or death. The parent still urges the child to jump into waiting and loving arms.
But parents are also jumpers. As we learn to rely on God’s power to catch us in the daily, seemingly small challenges, we are reassured that we, like Jehoshaphat, can also trust God in the big issues and crises in our lives. We mean that much to Him. What is God’s possession is God’s responsibility. And God will not forget to take care of His children.
It is this way with Jehoshaphat. Here Chapter 20 begins as Jehoshaphat hears from his messengers that a massive enemy army approaches. This massive army is a combination of three enemy nations.
This would be like three major crises in our lives happening all at one time. The loss of job, loss of a spouse or child and loss of one’s own health - all within a day or two of the other. This is ANY big challenge before us. You and I might be, understandably, frozen spiritually as well physically. We would be fearful, unable to make plans. We might be unable to take action, let alone carry through with life. If we have not experienced the assurance of why to jump to God in the first place, of we have not practiced jumping to God on the small stuff, we just would not know where to turn during the big crises
You and I are to jump in the very exact place that Jehosaphat did. The same God that intervened and held up King Jehosaphat is the same faithful and strong God we can count on today and every day of the New Year and beyond. His grace and security are there for us. Jehosaphat experienced this and now is about to live it out with new conviction.
Picture this: The warning horns still blast. The bad guys are but hours away. The peaceful and calm life that has been known is about to be shattered forever. Thoughts of pain beyond imagination are causing panic. Many are thinking that death could turn out to be welcome. I imagine that feeling of frozen action and out of control panic has already begun to reach fever pitch.
Even the great godly king Jehoshaphat admits he is afraid! But what does he do? Well what he does NOT do is this: He does not call in the national guard and reserves. He does not make provision to protect the women and children. He does not hide the animals or the huge accumulated wealth. He does not put double military power at the walls and gates prepared to battle the enemy.
What Jehoshaphat does do is he jumps! He jumps directly into the open, welcoming and powerful arms of God. Verse 3 tells us that after Jehoshaphat admits he is afraid, he then “set himself to seek the Lord.” He prays! He seeks help from God. WOW!
Jehoshaphat doesn’t just stop there. He calls upon all the people of Judah to jump with him....to seek the Lord. The entire nation is called to gather together. He wants the entire nation to be unified; to be of one mind and one spirit as they seek help and guidance from God.
Instead of the scattering, like ant when their hill is attacked and they go off in every direction, panicked and disorganized; instead of military forces getting into battle gear and position; instead of women and children going into hiding - even all the while yelling: Do something!.....we see this strong nation of people standing. They stand shoulder to shoulder, kneel knee to knee, many arm in arm - all praying - seeking the Lord. Some stand with raised arms. Some stand with not so raised arms. Some hold hands. Others embrace. Some weep. There are small groups of three or five over here. Family units stand together there. Some stand apart, with hands clasped behind their backs or in with arms firmly folded across their chests. But, all are united in prayer - seeking the Lord.
This is like our Prayer Chain in action. Anyone can call on the Prayer Chain members, as many of you have done. This unifies us as we seek the Lord’s guidance, protection, and healing hand. The Tuesday night Prayer Time from 6:30 to 7:00 is another calling together of God’s people to worship Him and seek His help. Some of you have called Dave and me and asked for prayer. Even over the telephone line we stand together in prayer,, arm-in-arm, hands raised to God, wrapped in His protection and guidance. Wrapped in God’s care.
Back to Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat then prays the most humble of prayers in the entire Bible. In verses 6-12 Jehoshaphat humbles himself and his powerful, strong people before God. He reminds God of the help God provided in the past. As Jehoshaphat reminds God, Who does not need any reminding, He is also reminding himself and his people of all the ways God was trusted in the past. He also remind himself how he has learned to trust God. Then Jehoshaphat closes his prayer by saying, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” He jumps into God’s power. He waits on the Lord.
You see, the enemy wants so much to scatter this unified group. He also wants to scatter us. He wants us to be confused. Satan wants us to feel helpless. He wants us to feel powerless and out of control.
However, we must do exactly what Jehoshaphat has done. When we jump into God’s Word and His care regularly we are reminded of what He has done and will do. Because God is not a God of confusion, we no longer need to be confused. We are no longer helpless. Because of God’s power, we are not powerless. We are no longer out of control. You see, when we give our hearts to Jesus we become His. He takes care of us. He speaks to us. He helps us hear Him. He shows us what to do and where to go. And Jesus is how to get there.
Jehoshaphat and the nation seek the Lord and wait on Him and worship Him. God assures them through the voice of a prophet they are to “not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude - because the battle is not theirs - but God’s.” Because we are God’s possession and responsibility our battle is His as well. Just as with Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah, God wants to fight our battles.
You see, Jehoshaphat and his army set out in very unmilitary style. They sing and praise the Lord. How confusing is that to the advancing army. How confusing is that to our advancing enemy. Anyway, they go to the designated spot where the battle is to take place. Instead of the huge enemy army descending on them in full battle mode the only thing they find are corpses all over the valley. They are all dead! The way God fought Jehoshaphat’s battle was that the enemy soldiers turned on themselves, and literally fought and killed each other. This is when Jehoshaphat and all the soldiers and people joyously worship God. They do not have to go to battle. God had already fought the battle for them.
Just as with Jehoshaphat, God asks us to jump as we go into the new year. The battle is not for us to fight with earthly weapons. We are to take our position with the Lord. We are to stand still. We are to seek God and see how He will bring the victory. God has raised us up to be His people who will trust Him in all circumstances and situations. God wants us to rely on Him; to be so close to Him through Jesus that we will not see the difference between a difficult situation and any other situation. In fact, He wants us to be so anchored in His Word, in Him, that jumping into His strong arms of care will be first nature.
So JUMP like Jehoshaphat!!