Friday, March 26, 2010

Mid-Day Devotion 3/26/10

The Triumph of Jehosephat, Josephe Flavius, 1470

“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; tomorrow 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

The armies were raised and now they marched....

In many senses they had to seem like they were an unstoppable force. They had crossed the seas and reached Hazazon Tamar without warning, (2 Chronicles 20:1-2) and now… now as word come to Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, he had to wonder how it was that his nation would survive from this united attack from the Moabites and the Ammonites as their armies stretched across the distant horizon, closer each and every day to the seat of power and the inevitable victory that they had to feel so assured of.

He knew that he had to raise the armies of Judah and that they had to meet Moab and Ammon on the battlefield, he knew they had to go before they had marched too far, before they reached the capital, before they surrounded the palace and demanded surround, before his people were given up to slavery without even a whimper. Yet, even as he realized this, he would know that defeat was at hand. He didn’t have time to prepare his people, he didn’t have time to ready his armies, they would have to march immediately, and, as they did, it had to strike him how many of them wouldn’t be returning home, as, by such a cruel twist of fate, they would, without the time to even properly prepare, be cut down on those fields just out of the sights of their homes, never to return again.

There was nothing left for him to do… there was nothing left for him that he could do….

There was nothing left to him but prayer….

“O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 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 20:6-12)

In this, his deepest hour of need, the deepest hour of need for His people, Jehoshaphat wouldn’t spend the final moments in preparation for war, nor would he spend his final seconds before the armies had to march drawing out plans and creating strategies. No, in that moment, as fate seemed to ride so heavily upon him and his nation, as fear gripped them and they were left to wonder for how long they would be allowed to stand fast as free men and women, he would go before the gathered assemblies of Judah and he would raise his voice, and the voice of the nation to the Lord, taking the weight from their hearts, the burdens now upon their shoulders, the struggles that now afflicted their spirits and place them before the throne of God at the feet of the Almighty.

A God of deliverance… the living God who delivered Israel from the hands of Egypt, who led His people to that land of promise amidst the tender love of His gracious mercy, He would not abandon them now as this hour of bitter trial and brutal turmoil was so near at hand. He would not fail them as captivity seemed so near and slavery threatened to strangle the life from them. Without a sword being raised, without a drop of Judah’s blood being shed, the Lord would hand the day to His people as He came upon their enemies and they were given to their worst rivalries with one another and their unity was shattered before the power and the authority of the Lord God Almighty.

Peace would come to Judah… (2 Chronicles 20:22-30)

There are times amidst this life when evil is on the march and iniquity is raised up against the people. The force that it brings, it slips through without us noticing until it has reached places we never thought it would go and terror is extended to places we least suspected. In those moments it’s not hard to find fear gripping us in the most significant of ways as we are left to wonder for how long it will be that freedom remains in the lives of the people who find themselves in the way of such unrighteousness. They are taken captive as they are made into hostages and slaves, they are bound by chains as they are persecuted and oppressed and dark subjugation amidst the brutal tyranny that can be inflicted by men as they wage their wars against the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the minds of the weak and the innocent, the poor and the destitute, and hold them in such grim estate.

Yet there is a promise from the Lord. It is the same that would carry forward Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah and it extends to us today.

When we put our trust in the Lord… when we look to the wickedness of this world and the rise of evil and we raise our voices to God in humility to His will, deliverance shall come to His people in the most significant of ways as hope is restored in a lost and fallen world. In those times He will rise up for the cause of His people and show unto them His devotion and His faithfulness as He gives endurance and perseverance. Then, in His time, in His way, a way that transcends all human understanding, He shall restore freedom and liberty amidst the justice that shall only come by the power of His hand and the authority of His will.

We may fret, we may feel a deep longing in our souls as we look to the impeding threat of unrighteousness and iniquity, we may cry out as we see the wickedness that is inflicted and the anguish that is caused, but God, who is loving and compassionate, is stronger and more powerful than all of these forces. Though we may not see a way to stop it’s grim advances, He does, and He is at work in this world, weaving through it according to His divine will and His tender mercy for His children to show that whatever the force, whatever the struggle, He is there making the weak strong, and showing that His grace shall always be sufficient as justice is restored and hope is assured in the lives of His people.

Trust in that, whatever the struggle, whatever the challenge and you shall never be frustrated as peace comes to His people and liberty is endowed upon them by His gracious precepts.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen….

First Prayer:

Hear our prayers, O Lord, and bend Your ear to our supplications with the full measure of Your devotion, be faithful to Your children and cast upon them Your Spirit of righteousness that hope shall guide their lives and mercy shall follow them through all of their days.

Enemies of Your love persecute. They rise up from their places of darkness, they lift their heads like the serpent and they roar like the lion, as they bite at the heel of Your people and seek to devour them amidst their wicked transgressions. They bring captivity Lord, and slavery follows near behind them as persecution grips the lives of Your children and their spirits… their spirits are overwhelmed by anguish.

We remember Lord that in those days of old, in those ancient of days, You delivered Your people from the hands of their enemies, from the grip of those who oppressed them and sought to usurp Your will through bitter bondage. With our arms outstretched to You we pray for a restoration of that divine deliverance, a restoration of that divine justice as we flee to You seeking and imploring Your grace in the lives of Your people.

Be not far from them O Lord and let not them fall by the hand of wickedness and evil. In mercy break the chains that bind the spirit and the soul, the body and the mind, and set to flight the destitution and the despair, the anguish and the agony that come from these hidden places where darkness lurks. Destroy the wickedness that encompasses the hearts of men and free them of the hatred that would hold the lives of Your creation in such contempt. Bring freedom to the afflicted and hope to the hopeless that mercy shall transcend their meager estate to restore unto them the joy of Your compassion and love.

Hear us O Lord, and bend Your ear to our supplication that Your name shall be raised on high as praise is lifted from the mouths of the people for the love and the mercy that comes through Your divine hand as it leads Your people from the darkness to the light.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

Second Prayer:

We cry out to You O Lord with all the strength of our soul…

We cry out to You O Lord with all the hope of our spirits…

Be not far distant from our supplications, nor be far off from the yearning of our hope as we show forth the trouble that has afflicted this lost and fallen world.

Be the refuge of the lost and the fallen, be the shelter for the hurt and the afflicted, let not sorrow encompass their lives, let not pain be their companion, let not slavery and captivity engulf their lives, but hear their names, see their faces, and feel their suffering, for in the darkness that so encompasses them they long for Your justice and Your mercy to come upon their lives and guide them from these days of trouble and turmoil that so try the soul.

Bring their spirits from prison, bring their hearts from oppression, lead them by Your love as You draw them close to You in the hope of those promises You have made unto them. Assure them that Your mercy shall carry them through and give them the endurance that they need to stand with courage and strength through all that this world may seek to afflict them with. Let not their journeys end here but show unto them the path to those safe shores of Your love that they may dwell forever in Your grace as hope is restored to the hopeless and peace is brought to bear in their lives.

Then shall all know Your righteousness as evil is set to flight and Your goodness is praised for the love that it has shown even in the darkest of days, even in the times of the deepest of troubles.

In the name of Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, one God, world without end, Amen.

No comments: