“To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.”
2 Chronicles 20:16-18
They were afraid…
They had formed a powerful alliance, a great and mighty confederacy that surrounded the nation of Judah. Now, with dreadful numbers the armies of their enemies, Moab and Ammon, marched against them. They had left their fortresses and their homes from across the sea and they were getting closer and closer by the day, by the moment. Soon, with force and power, they would be at the gates ready to take the Kingdom and enslave the populace, holding them in bitter bondage to their will.
It would not be hard to imagine the fear that now gripped the king and his people. They had been unprepared for the war. Now, as the news of the advance of Moabite and their allies reached them, as they heard the news that they were encamped at Ein Gedi, west of the Dead Sea, they knew that their time was at hand. It wouldn’t be long now before they would find themselves in the midst of a battle that they just could not win, the throes of a fight that they were sure to lose. Captivity and death, slavery and oppression would surely follow as they found themselves held at the mercy of brutal men of grim iniquity, an army of an unrighteous king who sought not the way of the living God, but of his own dark ambition.
They had nowhere else to turn but the Lord, they had nowhere else to go but to their God as everything seemed to be collapsing around them. In their hour of need, in fearful, dreadful time, they had nothing else to guide them but that hope and that faith in their God. As the tangible forces of this world marched, they had to put their trust in the intangible force of the Lord to protect them.
They would pray…
In the temple of the court Jehoshaphat would pray “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) The nation and the people would pray, begging the Lord, their God to intercede on their behalf, seeking His deliverance, His help, in this, their hour of most desperate need.
And from the God of their fathers, the God who would lead His people from the hands of their Egyptian slave masters and the task master whip to a land of milk and honey, that land of promise He had assured them, the God who would give the nomadic tribes a home and an inheritance, would come the resounding answer from the generations past. It would be the same that He would utter to Joshua as he stood at the border of the Promised Land with the enemies of his people before him, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:5-6) It would be the same promise that David would put his hope on as he stood before the Philistine giant Goliath and knew that “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” And as he placed his hope in that sacred trust, “Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” (1Samuel 17:37)
To Jehoshaphat would come the blessed assurances of the Lord that He would protect them, that He would deliver them from the hands of their enemies. All they had to do was put their trust in Him and He would guide their way with strength that the dark armies that marched before them would not be able to stand against them even with their force and their might, even with their great numbers and their powerful arms. For the strength of the Lord would be superior to anything they would have, anything they could bring.
They would fall….
Without a fight, without a battle they would fall. All Judah, all Jehoshaphat and his armies would need to do is stand their ground amidst their firm resolve and the Lord would do the rest for them amidst His great might and His boundless authority that could make armies collapse and nations crumble…
Throughout the world today we see the march of powerful people and great forces. They work to capture and enslave their fellow men. They hijack boats, they take prisoners and hostages, they oppress and subjugate their people, they trade in human flesh as they traffic the weak and the innocent, they ransom off bodies as if they are nothing more than a pound of meat to be bought and sold at the market or traded like cattle. The brutality of their iniquity and their unrighteousness is known to us even if their names and their faces are not. They are our enemies as they are the enemies of freedom, and decency, the enemies of love and compassion and mercy, the enemies of our God who teaches us to, in righteousness, love one another.
Their forces, they seem great and powerful though. Yesterday, for example, we talked about the fact that we know of over 300 who are held by pirates. If that is the number we know of imagine how many more are held. That doesn’t include the over 700 held in Columbia, the political prisoners in Iran, the terrorists who hold captives or the human traffickers who rip the innocent from their lives, the prisoners murdered in the Sudan, or the slaves made throughout countries in Africa.
When we take the time to look there is just so much need, as the forces of this world seems so powerful, so strong, as if it is an impossible task to take up the cause of those who are held in bondage and captivity throughout this world. In many senses we don’t even know where to begin as we see the fearful, hate filled actions of those who would rob all dignity and integrity from life.
Yet when we start by coming to the Lord, by humbling ourselves before him, as we start by praying to Him in the most sincere of ways, knowing that He is the force for deliverance in this world, that He is the overwhelming, encompassing force for the freedom of people amidst the challenges that we face we know that He will offer His help in the times of overwhelming need, showing His love as He showed it to His people in even the most ancient of days.
Trust therefore in the power of the Lord, seeking and imploring His grace in even the times when it seems like we are overshadowed by the grim, bitter forces of darkness and iniquity, as unrighteousness seems to be on the rise, as it seems like it is on the march all around us. We then can trust that He shall show His mercy and His peace, His compassion and His comfort as His spirit comes upon His people to deliver them in the most significant of ways.
Therefore pray for the hostages, and hold fast to that ancient sacred trust, that ancient, sacred faith that guided Joshua and David, that protected Jehoshaphat and Judah, and that is promised even unto us in this present age, in this current age, through all things, in all things, knowing that the Lord, He shall never fail us or forsake us when we turn our hope to Him and set our firm gaze upon His transcending grace. What a blessed and beloved assurance that truly is.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen.