2 Chronicles 20:30, “So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest round about.”
Often, we describe life as noisy. Many things are confusing, complicated, and nerve-wracking. Problems overwhelm the soul. “When will it ever end!” is a cry often heard. Illnesses, crime, stress, financial woes, relationship problems, the heartaches involved with raising children, and other difficulties of life persist. One or two of these issues are enough, but most people face multiple problems.
God gave Jehoshaphat rest, and the realm was quiet. Wouldn’t you love to have a quiet life? A quiet life is not without its problems, but a life of peace is not bombarded with difficulties, and those challenges are more like speed bumps in life instead of pending cliffs.
So why did God give Jehoshaphat rest? Was it just because God liked the guy? Well, God loves everyone, and He is no respecter of persons (John 3:16, Acts 10:34), so that isn’t the reason. God has a true life principle that fits Jehoshaphat’s case – you reap what you sow. The principle is so important to God it is mentioned directly in the Scriptures ten times and implied dozens more.
2 Chronicles 20 describes what Jehoshaphat sows to reap his life of peace.
The people of Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir are coming to invade Israel. Jehoshaphat, Israel’s king, understood one thing – He was vastly outnumbered and outgunned.
Most kings would seek to do one of two things when faced with an unsurmountable enemy. They would either seek the best terms of surrender possible or start ramping up the border defenses and enlisting troops as quickly as possible. The production of weapons for the war machine would beef up. Nearly all resources available would go to the military.
So, what does Jehoshaphat do? He “set himself to seek the LORD; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Juda.” Instead of issuing orders for troops to move to his border and call for more recruits, he prays and orders everyone in the nation to fast.
Every Sunday, when Sunday school starts at Countryside, I ask the kids, “What do we do first?” The kids yell out, “Pray!” I hope they remember this all their lives. When they argue with the husband, or the kids act like heathens, or when the boss says, “You’re fired!” they will know what to do first – talk to God. Jehoshaphat knew what to do first.
Jehoshaphat also ordered a fast. A note here about fasting: few Christians fast in a Biblical way. Some will say, “I will not eat for X number of days.” Others will give up something, such as fish, coffee, the internet, or whatever, for a set time. What happens with Biblical fasting is when someone is so involved in prayer and studying the Scriptures that nothing else comes to mind.
Let me explain. Have you ever done something, such as gardening, when you started early in the morning, and the next thing you know, it’s 4 p.m.? You missed lunch because your thoughts centered around your activity, and you forgot your tummy. That is what Biblical fasting is – you are involved so much in praying that food is an afterthought. How long a fast lasts is determined by how long you pray.
By declaring a fast, Jehoshaphat told people to get their hearts in tune with God through prayer that everything else in life becomes secondary.
Step one for having a quiet life is to be so in tune with God that everything else becomes secondary. It is no accident that Christians have no peace in their lives. With God so far down our priority list, we cannot have the peace we desire.
The second step was how Jehoshaphat prayed. Yes, he does mention the problem of the invading hordes, but he does that after he gives God His due. He praises God for being king, for how all power is in God’s hands, and for how God is so great that no one could stand before Him. He speaks of how God has blessed Israel. He praises God for always being there when help is needed. It is then that Jehoshaphat brings up his problems with the invading army.
Third, Jehoshaphat confirms his weakness. Jehoshaphat shows humility. 2 Chronicles 20:12, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”
Most Christians determine how to tackle a problem and then ask God to help them. We tend to forget that we are His servants, not vice versa. Being His servants, He should be giving the orders.
Jehoshaphat knew that in his own might, he was nothing, but God held all the power. Jehoshaphat was asking God what to do next. He was not telling God what needed accomplished. This thought process is foreign to many Christians today.
Step four. After Jehoshaphat’s prayer, God sent instructions to a prophet. The prophet gives Jehoshaphat and Israel specific instructions. Here is another problem for today’s Christians: so many stay away from church. Some can’t remember the last time they were there. Other Christians attend regularly if you can call every Easter regularly. The minority attend church whenever the doors are open. A Christian can do the first three steps above yet miss out on God’s instruction by rarely listening to God’s messengers (another massive problem in Christianity is the lack of ministers delivering God’s Word, but we will leave that for another day).
The specific instruction from the prophet was to let God deal with the problem. He tells them the battle is God’s, not theirs. The prophet goes on to say, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle…”
The prophet gave them God’s Word. Ultimately, our answer comes through His word, not feelings or emotions.
The result was that God confounded the enemy. They started fighting against themselves, destroying each other’s armies. God wiped out the enemy, and Israel never lifted a weapon other than the ultimate weapon – prayer.
If we do things God’s way, life’s troubles will often destroy themselves, never reaching our camp. Do you want to live a quiet, peaceful life? Live life God’s way.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com