Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!”
-2 Chronicles 20:20-21 NLT
In the verses above, we read that Israel is being invaded. Nothing new, and neither is how Israel responded to the news about this impending invasion. But there are some lessons we can learn from Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the reigning king of Judah and he had just received news, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea…” (2 Chronicles 20:2).
In the next verse we see his emotional and spiritual response: Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
The Hebrew word for turn is most often translated as to give, to put, to do or to set. The word attention literally means face. You could say Jehoshaphat set his face towards the Lord or, Jehoshaphat was face to face with God. This is how he sought Him. It was done carefully and surely. He then went on to proclaim they all do a fast, because he wanted his people to be thoroughly committed in seeking the Lord.
How does fear cause you to respond? How you react to fear could be different every time it arises. Maybe you build even bigger walls or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe you choose to fight or choose flight or just freeze. But how does God want you to respond to the news that fills you with fear?
Jehoshaphat gives you the answer. Even to overwhelming fear, he responded by turning his attention to seek the Lord.
Three things we learn from Jehoshaphat:
- Being afraid is a part of life.
- Respond to your fear by turning to and seeking the Lord.
- Get other people involved.
In the midst of all this preparation, fasting and worship (yes, there was worship) a word came from the LORD, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you’” (2 Chronicles 20:15,17).
That brings us back to the opening verses. One of the most critical things we need to understand is thanksgiving came as a result of their faith in God and His promises before the battle took place.
Is there something looming before you which causes you to fear? May your first response be to seek the Lord. Then in faith, join with the singers, “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!”