Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't know what to do? Maybe you are trying to figure out how to pay a bill you simply do not have the money to pay. Perhaps you are battling a sickness and you cannot find the cure or relief. It could be a relationship issue where there is an impasse. You are stuck. Defeat looks like a very real possibility.
We have various ways of dealing with such situations. Sometimes we get an extra job... or two, to make ends meet. Other times we may research and pursue as many treatments as possible. We might even change our whole lifestyle just to make the other person happy with us. But after all of this, there is no promise of personal victory.
This is because we were not made to conquer every enemy. Nope, we don't have the power even as God's people to win every battle. I know. That sounds like a defeatist attitude. But in reality, it is very freeing once we truly get that truth.
The Bible is full of battles and conflicts. That is because it is a real and regular part of life. Sometimes God gave specific instructions and strategies for how to win the battles. Then God's warrior leader would lead His people into battle and victory. Other times the people tried to fight on their own, or they did not obey God's instructions, and they got whooped.
But there was an occasion when God's people were facing an incredibly large and powerful set of armies. When Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah received word, he readied the people. They all moved into a spirit of prayer, fasting, and seeking God. Here is what the king proclaimed,
"Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They have lived in the land and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name and have said, 'If disaster comes on us—sword or judgment, pestilence or famine—we will stand before this temple and before You, for Your name is in this temple. We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver.'
Now here are the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir. You did not let Israel invade them when Israel came out of the land of Egypt, but Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them. Look how they repay us by coming to drive us out of Your possession that You gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast number that comes to fight against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You." (2 Chronicles 21:6-12)
Look at that last line. "We do not know what to do, but we look to You." I want you to read it a few times. Let it sink in. "We do not know what to do, but we look to You." I've got to be honest... that does not sound very good or strong, or decisive. It doesn't sound like faith. It sounds like they are at the end of their rope and are giving up. One of the worst answers a leader can give is, "I do not know what to do." That just doesn't give much hope. You would rather hear a leader say, "Okay... we've got this. All we have to do is..." But Jehoshaphat was brutally honest. And God honored that.
I do find it interesting that before the king says that they don't know what to do he proclaims the greatness of God, and recounts His protection and provision in their history. I think it is a lot easier to say, "I don't know what to do" when I know in Whom I can absolutely trust. The worst thing is saying, "I don't know what to do," and leaving it at that. That is where despair comes in. It is also unhealthy to say, "I don't know what to do, but I'm going to figure it out one way or another." Jehoshaphat might not have known how to win the battle, but he knew Who would win the battle.
The story of the battle goes on...
All Judah was standing before the Lord with their infants, their wives, and their children. In the middle of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants), and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.’”
Then Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord to worship Him. Then the Levites from the sons of the Kohathites and the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel shouting with a loud voice. (2 Chronicles 21:13-19)
Look how quickly things can turn when the word of the Lord arrives. God shows up in the midst of His people to use a man to ignite faith in a people who are grasping for hope. God doesn't rebuke them for sounding hopeless. He knew that they were willing to admit their limitations and look to Him. That's actually all He desires. People who are honest and willing to trust. It was likely refreshing for the Lord to hear people admit that they don't have a plan. It's been said, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans." I will add, "If you want to see God move, tell Him you have no plan, except to trust in Him."
God told them to basically...
1 - Stop.
2 - Set-up.
3 - Stand.
4 - See.
To be honest, that doesn't sound like much of a plan. Let me be straight up. If you tell people you are doing the first three things to deal with your battle, most people will say that you have given up hope, or that you don't care about the outcome. Even number four has become spiritualized so much that people don't really take it seriously. I'm not suggesting you be a slacker and just wait for God to do what you should do. I'm just saying that when you get to the end of what you know to do, you should be satisfied to look to God. Just because you don't know how to win a battle doesn't mean you can't know Who will win the battle.
The fact is, looking to God is the most important thing you can do when facing insurmountable odds. Tomorrow we will continue the story and see how the battle went. There is something to learn about going into battle with no plan. And there is something to learn about being in a battle with no plan to fight.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.