The well-known story of Jehoshaphat describes one of the greatest epic battles in the history of Israel. Jehoshaphat, the king of Israel, received word from a friend that the combined armies of three enemy nations were on their way to fight and conquer him. The chronicler tells us that these three nations were the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Meunites (2 Chron 20:1) and all were nearby – just beyond the Jordan River of the Dead Sea. The odds were definitely not in Jehoshaphat’s favour.
This story is relevant to each of us because we face battles each day: financial, spiritual, marital, vocational and relational. God put the story of Jehoshaphat in the Bible in order to illustrate certain vital spiritual principles in winning the battles of life.
- Identify the enemy
This seems rather an obvious principle, but actually it is not. Many people simply do not know who their enemy is. We often think the enemy is a person who is trying to take something from us – our job, our spouse, our money – but very often the enemy is our own attitude.
It is not so much the situation that gets us down but our response to the situation. Before we can start winning our personal battles, we have to accurately and honestly identify the enemy. When Jehoshaphat heard that three nations were coming against him, he was alarmed (2 Chron 20:3). This is a natural reaction to problems and fear is not bad unless we deal with it in the wrong way. We can use fear to motivate ourselves to conquer the problem. But if we become discouraged and give up, or get angry with God and ask “Why me?” then fear defeats us.
- Admit your inadequecy
There is only one kind of person that God doesn’t help: someone who doesn’t think he needs help. When you admit your inadequacy and ask for help, God can work on it. After Jehoshaphat admitted that he and his counsellors didn’t know what to do, he prayed, “But our eyes are upon you”
2 Chron 20:12.
We need to get our eyes focused on the Lord. Too often we have our eyes on everything except the One who can solve our problems. If we keep our eyes on the Lord, we will overcome our circumstances.
- Take it to the Lord
So in the midst of this crisis, what did Jehoshaphat do? He proclaimed a fast and had all people come together to seek the Lord: “So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord” 2 Chron 20:4.
Taking your problems to the Lord means praying. Unfortunately prayer is often the last thing we try, because we want to be able to work things out on our own. Prayer ought to be the first weapon we use – not the last. It is important to note that Jesus fought the biggest battles in life, He also prayed the most.
- Relax in faith
Notice how God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayers: “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” 2 Chron 20:15. To overcome battles you need to relax in faith. Many Christians today are totally worn out because they are trying to fight the Lord’s battles in their own strength. If we try to fight God’s battles in our own power, we are sure to be defeated.
When we first become Christians, we may not really understand what we have gotten ourselves into. In our enthusiasm we may think we are ready to go out and bring in God’s Kingdom single-handedly. We are eager to win the world for Him. Then we work really hard and reality sets in and eventually we come crawling back on our hands and knees, feeling remorseful and disappointed that we have let God down.
But God replies, “No, you didn’t let Me down, because you weren’t holding Me up.” We don’t hold God up, He holds us up. We don’t have God in our hands, He has us in His hands. The Lord is trying to tell us, “Relax in faith and let Me work through you.”
- Christ is your strength
There was a time in my life when I had been working diligently for the Lord, but doing everything under my own power. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I said, “Lord, this stinks! I don’t like it. I’m tired.” Then I said, “God, I give up.” At that moment I heard His voice saying, “Great! Now I can start working, because as long as you’re out there trying to make your own plans and do it on your own, you’re just going to mess things up. Let Me work through you.”
The apostle Paul said, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” Col 2:6. In other words, as you look at the way you became a believer, be sure to live the same way. It’s a choice. The Bible says that salvation is “not by works, so that no one can boast” Eph 2:9. You didn’t become a Christian by working really hard at being good. You did it by
simply saying to God, “Lord, I relax; I let You live in my life.” We should continue in the same way and let God manage things.
Victory in life is a gift from God: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Cor 15:57.
Twice in 2 Chron 20:15-17, God instructed Jehoshaphat not to be afraid. The king thought he had every reason to be fearful – after all, it was three-to-one odds against him. But God said, “Do not be afraid.” Why not? Because the Lord promised to fight the battle for us and with us. Notice what else God said to Jehoshaphat: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm”2 Chron 20:17. What does it mean to stand firm when you have a problem, when you are facing a battle? It is a mental attitude of quiet confidence that says, “I’m going to trust God.”
- Run only to God
It is never God’s will for me to run from a difficult situation. If I do run, the situation will only follow and catch up with me a little further down the line. Why? Because God wants to teach me that He is sufficient for any problems. We can save ourselves problems by standing firm and waiting on God in quiet confidence. So what can we stand firm on? First, we need to stand firm on the character of God. The Lord is faithful, and we can
depend on Him; He will never let us down.
Second, we need to stand firm on the writings that God has given us through His prophets – in other words, the truth of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word and we need to rely in quiet confidence on His written promises.
- Thank God in advance
The seventh principle in conquering life’s battle is to thank God in advance for giving you the victory. The story of Jehoshaphat is fascinating, because after he consulted the people, he appointed men to sing to the Lord, to praise God for His splendour and holiness as they went out at the head of the army (2 Chron 20:21). Now get the picture: Imagine you’re standing on a mountaintop and looking across a valley toward a mountain on the other side. On one mountain there are three enemy nations, waiting to devastate the Israelites. The Israelites are on your mountain, and their leader tells them, “Here’s God’s battle pan. All of those who sing in the choir, I want you out front.” So the army goes marching to battle with the choir out in front,
singing praises to God. Did God’s plan work? Yes. The three enemy armies got confused and ended up killing each other! Why did God do it this way? As a visual object lesson to teach us to praise Him in faith even before the victory takes place. The lesson is that there is power in thankfulness. Each one of us can say, “Lord, I know I have problems, but I thank You in advance because there is no situation that You can’t take care of.” That’s true faith.
By Rick Warren