June 21, 2010
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Here’s the story, as it is recorded in the Bible, with some commentary along the way by yours truly.
Jehoshaphat got word that three nations were joining forces to come against Jerusalem. So he gathered the people, proclaimed a fast, and prayed, “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” May I interrupt the story to say, this is a great motto for graduates? “I have no power. I don’t know what to do. My eyes are on God.” Here’s the truth about how God responds to such humility. He loves it. He gives grace. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to him.
I imagine God hearing this prayer of Jehoshaphat and turning to his angels in heaven, saying, “Oh! Did you hear that? This is a man who runs to me for refuge. Stand back and watch this.” God then sent his prophet to Jehoshaphat and said, “Don’t be afraid. The battle is not yours, but the Lord’s.”
Lesson: when God is our refuge, our battles become his battles.
Then the prophet told the king that God wanted the people to see their deliverance, so they were to go to a certain place the next morning. “There,” he said, “position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Lesson: Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to be still and trust God. To stand and see rather than to run and fight. Lest we think that standing and trusting isn’t doing anything, however, remember the words of Jesus in response to the question, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” Jesus responded, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Believe God. Run to him for refuge.
Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah all got up early in the morning. Lesson: when God is moving, sleep is overrated at best, and a total waste of time at worst.
They went to the place God had told them, sending the praise singers out first.
Lesson: When our confidence is in God, we will sing praises to him. We will not be able to help it.
When the praises started, God rose up and set ambushes against the enemies of Judah. Here’s where the story makes us do a double-take. Two of the nations that had come together to attack Jerusalem suddenly attacked the third, utterly destroying it. If that is not strange enough, check this out: The two armies who had combined forces to kill the third army then glared at each other and started killing each other off, until there was no one left. How did that work? I imagine the last two people looked at each other, said, “Ready, set, go!” and each ran his sword into the other at the same time. When the people of Judah got there, they looked at the scene, and all they saw were dead bodies. “No one had escaped.” Lesson: We don’t have to pick up after God; he is thorough in everything he does.
There you have it: five lessons to live by, and not just for graduates. These truths apply to all who would humbly follow Jesus Christ, giving daily to him what has been given freely by him: your very lives.