As you can tell, lesson 4 is quite long since it has already been divided up into 4 parts. I have been greatly encouraged by this study and I do not think that it was by chance that I was studying and teaching this course when God called me to follow Him on one of the scariest endeavors of my life. I have been put in situations over the past 6 months that have forced me to apply what I have been learning and teaching. God is good and has been faithful to His promises over and over again throughout this journey.
In the previous lessons, we have learned some very important truths about fear and overcoming it. Just to recap, I would like to look at some bullet points of what we have covered.
- Fear is a natural tendency for us because of our sin nature. Fear wants to keep us from accomplishing (even attempting) great things for the kingdom of God.
- All of us have to make a choice, either fear people and circumstances or fear (respect) God, who rules over people and circumstances. The better that you know God personally, the easier it will be to trust Him and not fear.
- Genuine, godly wisdom will help you make proper choices, like overcoming your fears.
- Genuine, godly wisdom is found in the Word of God.
- Trust in God over man because man is just like you are and will enslave you by your fears.
- You cannot be a child of God and be held captive by your fears at the same time. You either side with one or the other.
- What do you do when you have real, live enemies because of your stance for the Gospel?
Today’s lesson will focus on what King Jehoshaphat did when he faced the enemies of God.
1 Now after this, the children of Moab and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the Meunim, made war against Jehoshaphat. 2 And they came to Jehoshaphat with the news, saying, A great army is moving against you from Edom across the sea; and now they are in Hazazon-tamar (which is En-gedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat, in his fear, went to the Lord for directions, and gave orders all through Judah for the people to go without food. 4 And Judah came together to make prayer for help from the Lord; from every town of Judah they came to give worship to the Lord. (II Chronicles 20:1-4)
A great army was ready to attack the king and his people. This enemy had a long history with the children of Israel. These people were enemies of God. By attacking the king and the children of Israel, they were in essence attacking God. Jehoshaphat’s natural reaction was to fear because he had a sin nature just like you and I do today. His knee jerk reaction was not to focus on God but instead to focus on the powerful enemy and because of this, he was terrified. Jehoshaphat came to his senses and made a very wise decision; he remembered God and went to Him for help. Fear is a natural reaction. The question is, “how do you respond to your fears? Are you controlled by them or do your turn to the one who rules over your enemies?”. Jehoshaphat did something that would seem foolish to a person who does not walk with the Lord; instead of rallying the army, he rallies the people to fasting, praying, and worshiping God. This may not seem like the natural response but it is the best one, turning to God for help, walking with Him, and trusting Him to provide in your distress and time of need. Which are you more inclined to do, try to fix it on your own or run to God, worship Him and allow Him to intervene at the right time?
Jehoshaphat appeals to God’s character
5 And Jehoshaphat took his place in the meeting of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord in front of the new open space, 6 And said, O Lord, the God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in your hands are power and strength so that no one is able to keep his place against you. 7 Did you not, O Lord our God, after driving out the people of this land before your people Israel, give it to the seed of Abraham, your friend, for ever? 8 And they made it their living-place, building there a holy house for your name, and saying, 9 If evil comes on us, the sword, or punishment, or disease, or need of food, we will come to this house and to you, (for your name is in this house,) crying to you in our trouble, and you will give us salvation in answer to our cry. 10 And now, see, the children of Ammon and Moab and the people of Mount Seir, whom you kept Israel from attacking when they came out of Egypt, so that turning to one side they did not send destruction on them: 11 See now, how as our reward they have come to send us out of your land which you have given us as our heritage. 12 O our God, will you not be their judge? for our strength is not equal to this great army which is coming against us; and we are at a loss what to do: but our eyes are on you. (II Chronicles 20:5-12)
Jehoshaphat knew his God, not based on his own opinions about God but based on his knowledge of the Word of God and how God had worked in human history. When you think of making an appeal to God for help, do you envision Him as a big Santa in the sky or do you know Him for who He is as He has revealed Himself in His Word? That makes a huge difference. Prayer is not done to change God, prayer is done to change you. If you look throughout the Old Testament at the prayers of the men of God then you will see a common thread; they all prayed according to God’s will because they knew His character based on His Word and actions in human history according to that Word.
God’s response to Jehoshaphat’s actions
14 Then, before all the meeting, the spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite and one of the family of Asaph; 15 And he said, Give ear, O Judah, and you people of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat: the Lord says to you, Have no fear and do not be troubled on account of this great army; for the fight is not yours but God’s. 17 There will be no need for you to take up arms in this fight; put yourselves in position, and keep where you are, and you will see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: have no fear and do not be troubled: go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you. 20 And early in the morning they got up and went out to the waste land of Tekoa: and when they were going out, Jehoshaphat took his station and said to them, Give ear to me, O Judah and you people of Jerusalem: have faith in the Lord your God and you will be safe; have faith in his prophets and all will go well for you. (II Chronicles 20:14-15, 17, 20)
God heard Jehoshaphat’s plea and answered. He sent His Word to His prophet to communicate His message to His people. They had to choose to act according to that message. Again, it was a strange message, especially for war, that is, if you are looking at things through human nature. God’s answer was “good to battle but do not fight because I will fight for you. The victory is yours. You still have to go to battle but I will fight for you.”. This is the same message that we have today when it comes to battling our fears. God will fight for us. We have to trust Him, go to the battlefield and then watch with amazement how He will provide. Are you able to give up control like that? Does doing something like that (pardon the expression) terrify you? That is God’s method because in the end, you are victorious and He gets all the glory. You can try to stay in control and do it on your own but you will fail. This is what it means to live by faith day in and day out, trusting that God’s plan is best for you even if it does not seem to make sense. Are you ready to live like this day by day? It starts by getting to know the character of this great God and that can be done by opening His Book and becoming a “learner” (disciple, to use the Biblical term). God bless you as you learn to walk with Him and trust Him more and more, day by day.