2 Chron 20 – Jehoshaphat Defeats Moab and Ammon

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2 Chron 20:1-2

  1. In the previous chapter, King Jehoshaphat narrowly escaped death from a situation where he had not listened to the Lord enough and had made a mess of things for himself. But in this chapter, he is instead taken by surprise by an attack from behind.
    1. The Moabites, the Ammonites and a third group join forces and attack Judah via En-Gedi on the Dead Sea. Judah was better defended further west (2 Chronicles 11:5-10), so King Jehoshaphat is caught off guard by the attack. Jehoshaphat realizes that he is outnumbered and has no chance.
      1. In the Christian life, temptation or misfortune can catch us by surprise where we least expect it. You may have prepared and built a strong defence in one part of your life, but then something happens to you that you were not prepared for in another part of your life.
        1. You may have built your spiritual strength through the Bible and prayer and be in the midst of your calling to serve God with your gifts, but then suddenly you are struck with an illness that leaves you completely overwhelmed and incapacitated, unable to serve God.

2 Chron 20:3

  1. When King Jehoshaphat realizes that things are not looking good, he does the right thing, he prays to God!
    1. Jehoshaphat “consulted”, i.e. “sought” the Lord, something the Bible constantly urges believers to do (Deuteronomy 4:29, 1 Chronicles 16:11).
    2. When it came down to it, Jehoshaphat had more faith in God than in his own army. Perhaps he had to because he was facing an overwhelming enemy. Sometimes, therefore, it can be good for one’s faith to face an overwhelming enemy, so that one is forced to trust in the Lord, because that is all that remains. Hopefully, you will learn to trust in the Lord even when you face lesser troubles and let God guide you even then.

2 Chron 20:4

  1. When Judah realizes the gravity of the situation, they all gather in Jerusalem to do as their leader Jehoshaphat did and seek the Lord through prayer and fasting.
  2. Before Judah was gathered, King Jehoshaphat set a good example, not wanting to urge his people to do something that he himself was not prepared to do at first.
  3. When the leader seeks the Lord with his congregation, the answer from the Lord is just around the corner.
  4. Prayer and fasting is a powerful spiritual weapon when used to seek the Lord. Not because there is anything magical about abstaining from food, but because it causes us to concentrate intensely and focus on the Lord.

2 Chron 20:5-12

  1. Jehoshaphat begins by confessing that God is the God of the whole earth and universe, in contrast to the local gods of the pagan peoples. Ammon had its god, Moab its god, but Israel had the God of the whole world. If God is the God of the whole earth, he is also able to defeat Ammon and Moab. If God is the God of all life, he is also able to conquer diseases, financial problems and other troubles that affect us.
    1. Jehoshaphat goes on to recall God’s previous miracles, how he gave the land where they live to the people of Israel.
      1. If God has saved God’s people before, He can do it again!
      2. If God has answered your prayers before, He can do it again!
    1. Jehoshaphat reminds God that it was he who prevented Israel from fighting against Ammon and Moab when they took the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 2:8-9, 2:19), because these people were descendants of the patriarch Jacob’s brother Esau. The problem that Jehoshaphat and Judah now face, then, is a problem not of their own making, but rather of God’s.
      1. Jehoshaphat humbly asks God not to let Judah perish because they had previously obeyed God. Since it was God who told them not to attack Moab and Ammon, God should now help stop Ammon and Moab.
      2. If God has given you a calling and a mission, but you are prevented from carrying it out by circumstances beyond your control, then you can pray to God to remove your worries, since it is God who has asked you to do what you can no longer do.
    1. King Jehoshaphat concludes his prayer by openly admitting to all the people that as their leader he does not know what they should do.
      1. But in his recognition of human weakness lay Jehoshaphat’s spiritual strength. For while he acknowledged his own weakness, he showed that he had only God left to go to. When we come to a point in life when our only hope is in God, that is when we are at our spiritually strongest.
        1. “Therefore I will rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b)
        2. It is when we are in desperate need that we cry out to God for a miracle and he in his goodness answers our prayer. If we could learn to live an everyday life dependent on God, we would also see more miracles in everyday life.

2 Chron 20:13

  1. How long did all Judah stand before the Lord waiting for answers to prayer? We don’t know. But we can imagine silence, panic, hope, anticipation, impatience. It was certainly a time of impatience and anxiety. But had the assembled not waited for the Lord’s answer, perhaps Jahaziel would not have been able to listen properly to the Lord’s words. Sometimes silence is part of the prerequisite before the answer to prayer.

2 Chron 20:14

  1. While the people are waiting for an answer from the Lord, the Holy Spirit comes upon one of the Levites, Jahaziel. He is moved by the Spirit of God and begins to prophesy God’s message to Judah.
    1. The Levites had been commissioned by King David to prophesy with songs of praise and musical instruments (1 Chronicles 25:1-3).

2 Chron 20:15-17

  1. Jahaziel’s approach strongly resembles how prophets sometimes stand up in a church service and say, “Thus says the Lord!” and then a prophetic message. Even today, God speaks through and to his people.
    1. Jahaziel’s prophecy is 1) that Judah will not be afraid, 2) that the battle is not theirs but God’s, 3) that God will be with them, and 4) instructions on how they will experience God’s salvation.
      1. When you are overwhelmed by misfortune, illness, financial worries, broken relationships, don’t be afraid! God will be with you even in that situation. Seek God and wait for His instructions on how to rescue you. Some battles we need the courage to fight ourselves, but other battles God wants to fight for us.
    1. God knew exactly which way the enemy would go and what God’s people needed to do to win victory.
      1. God knows the enemy, he knows what their plans are, what path they intend to take and how they will be defeated. It’s the same with your worries; your job situation, your relationships, your finances, your health, your future.
    1. God wins victory over the enemy in different ways. What they all have in common is that God involves his people and they need to believe God’s instructions and act on them.
      1. Joshua took Jericho after first being instructed by God to walk around the city for six days and then blow his horn, shout and rush into the city when the walls fell (Josh 6).
      2. Gideon defeated the Midianites after first being instructed by God to take only 300 men into battle (Judges 7).
      3. Here Jehoshaphat defeated the Ammonites and Moabites by simply standing up to fight and then witnessing God’s victory over the enemy. It took a great deal of both faith and courage to stand up in the face of an overwhelming enemy, trusting that God will prevail for them.
      4. To learn to walk by faith, one needs to seek God, listen to his instructions and act in the way God shows. But the instructions vary and are never the same, otherwise we would begin to rely on traditions rather than on the living relationship with the Lord. Answers to prayer do not depend on repeating previously successful concepts, because then it would be magic. Answering prayer depends on starting from the Word and being led by His Spirit.

2 Chron 20:18-19

  1. Why did Jehoshaphat and Judah worship and praise, even though their enemies were not yet defeated? Well, because in their hearts they began to believe in the future victory of God. They trusted so strongly that God would do what he had promised, so they began to praise the Lord for his future victory even now.
    1. In the same way, you and I can rejoice and praise the Lord for his victory over death and sin right here and now. We know that God has conquered death and that we will go to heaven, and we can begin to celebrate that future victory right here and now through praise and thanksgiving.

2 Chron 20:20

  1. It was one thing to praise the Lord in the midst of the assembly when a prophet had just announced God’s imminent victory. But not necessarily to be as faithful and inspired the morning after. But then it’s up to the leaders to step forward and continue to instill courage, hope and faith in the congregation.
    1. There is also a risk of settling for God’s victory and then staying in Jerusalem. But even if the battle was not theirs, God’s people still had to face their enemy.
      1. There is a certain risk that belief leads to paralysis of action. You can pray for revival at the prayer meeting, someone prophesies that God will do something, and everyone in the congregation cheers. But then you go home and do nothing and the prayer meeting is repeated the same way again the next week. What is missing to see the prophetic promises fulfilled is to also act according to God’s word and instructions.
      2. If God puts something on your heart, pray about it and thank the Lord. But also act on what God has begun. Start taking small tentative steps in the right direction, consult those who have gone before and act.

2 Chron 20:21

  1. King Jehoshaphat consulting the people does not mean that he does not have a clear plan or does not know what to do, but that he involves the people and makes decisions and implementation a common cause.
  2. The praise singers would go BEFORE the army against the enemy. If God would not intervene and defeat the enemy, the praise singers would be the first to be destroyed when the enemy attacked. They would be completely crushed between two fighting armies. This was truly a “No Turning Back!” moment.
    1. In my experience, worship is often what brings one into the presence of God and makes one open to God’s word.

2 Chron 20:22-23

  1. Just as God had promised, he fought for his people and defeated the enemy. The Ammonites, the Moabites and the people of Seir were attacked from behind by some unknown invaders, whereupon mutual fighting ensues.
  2. God’s people had obeyed God’s instructions and done what he had said. They had lined up and when they began to sing worship, it became the public confession of their faith in God. The church’s faith interacted with God’s Word and led to victory over the enemies of God’s people.
  3. It is ironic that God defeats the enemy in the same way that the enemy intended to defeat God’s people, i.e. by attacking from behind.

2 Chron 20:24-25

  1. Because Jehoshaphat and Judah believed in God and obeyed His instructions, they were able to reap great wealth when God won for them.
    1. In the same way, God’s victory over our troubles often leads to the gaining of great spiritual riches and experiences that would not have been gained had we not had to go through hardship and distress.

2 Chron 20:26

  1. “Beraka” comes from the Hebrew word “barak” which means “bless”. In the Valley of Berachah, the people gathered to bless the Lord by worshipping and exalting Him.
  2. The people had gathered to cry out their distress to the Lord, and it is only right that they also gather to cry out their thanks to the Lord.
  3. It is not uncommon for a congregation to call a special prayer meeting to pray over important matters. But how often do we call a thanksgiving meeting when we have something to rejoice and give thanks for? Perhaps we should do that more often!

2 Chron 20:27-30

  1. God’s victory over the enemy led to joy and peace.
  2. In many ways, God’s victory in this chapter is reminiscent of Jesus’ victory on the cross of Calvary.
  3. In this amazing chapter hidden in one of the Bible’s least-read books, we see how God fights for his people as they pray, trust his word and worship him.
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