On Monday we listened as God promised to fight the battle for Jehoshaphat. He even told Jehoshaphat how the other side would wage their campaign. Let’s see what happens next.
And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. 24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 2 Chron 20:20-25 (ESV)
God set the armies against each other and there were so many spoils that it took three days to gather! That’s God showing His power and might. This fulfilled God’s promise in a way that no one could doubt. With Israel waiting and singing and praising God (not fighting), the only possible way the battle was won was through the Lord.
Does God promise riches after every battle? Not physical stuff that we can hold, but we do receive riches as we gain more faith and trust in Christ. Did you know that in some cases, the word used for prosper in the Bible really means “you will accomplish what God desires”? So we learn that prosperity, riches, spoils of war may be physical, or it may be the riches of God’s will being fulfilled.
Strong – chazaq – to fasten, seize, grip
Courageous – amats – alert physically and mentally; not falling apart
Dismayed – chathath – broken down by violence, confusion and fear; to panic or be discouraged
Prosperous – tsalach – you will accomplish what God desires
Let’s go back to Joshua for a few minutes. He was Moses’ successor and one of only a few to actually reach the Promised Land. After Moses died, God spoke personally to Joshua and said:
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:5-9 (ESV)
Hmmmm… what point was God making? With strength and courage comes obligation. Besides strength and courage, what was expected of Joshua? What does God promise Joshua if he follows the book of the Law? Today, the Book of the Law is the Bible. By extension, what does God promise us if we follow the Book of the Law, not turning to the right or the left?
I have verse 9 posted on my wall. Whenever I am tempted to be afraid, I read those words, and God strengthens me. Perhaps you want to copy those words for yourself and place them anywhere you think they will be useful. Memorize them. Hold them in your heart. God doesn’t promise to take away our problems. He promises to be with us through them.
Is there a time when you followed God’s command to be strong – perhaps even before you knew it was His command? Were you strong in the Lord, or were you strong in yourself? If you relied on your own strength, do you think the outcome would have been different?
Sometimes we are strong. We do everything that we feel God wants us to do. We follow the Book of the Law. We don’t look right or left. We don’t sow discord. We don’t lash out in anger. We don’t slander or libel. And yet … the outcome is negative. Is God still in those situations? Could it be that the negative outcome is tsalach? Is that why we are told “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed”? Something to think about when your friends are all criticizing your actions and wondering what your silence had to do with God’s will.
We finish the study on Friday, tracing through a few of Paul’s writings.