This past Sunday morning, we looked at 2 Chronicles 20 in Sunday school. Just for the record, I love reading 1 Samuel through 2 Chronicles and the portions of the prophets that intermingle chronologically with that time period. While much of the reading covers dark, dark times in Israel’s history, there is also so much that shows the faithfulness of God. The story told in 2 Chronicles 20 is no exception.
Three different nations – the Ammonites, Moabites, and some of the Meunites – have decided to attack Judah. King Jehoshaphat, Jerusalem, and Judah are all scared. So, they do what many previous kings and generations refused to do: they turn to God. As they pray, God sends His Holy Spirit to a man named Jahaziel who prophecies that God’s got it all under control. I love the exact response…Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chron 20:15, emphasis mine)
He goes on to tell them that they won’t even have to fight. All they have to do is show up and see what He’s doing to fight. I love it!
But what I love even more is what comes next. The people take God at His word. They haven’t seen Him do yet what He says He’s going to do, but they trust that Jahaziel truly did speak the words of God. Their automatic reaction is to start to praise. 2 Chron 20:22 begins with this phrase: When they began singing and praising, the Lord…
Yes, I stopped there intentionally. Why? Because it really doesn’t matter what God did specifically (although I would encourage you to read it if you don’t remember – it is pretty cool!). What matters is that when the praises started to rise, God started to act. Now, I firmly believe God would have acted whether they praised or not because He said He would. But, what I find beautiful is that the people of Judah were there in their city still under the immediate threat of attack. But, because they had the word of God ringing in their ears, they put aside their fear and began to praise and rejoice.They celebrated as if the battle was already over. And in the middle of all of that rejoicing God started working. Can you imagine how they reacted after they saw His handiwork? I bet they had yet another party!
Because the people of Judah took God at His word, they got to celebrate twice. Once in the middle of their fear, and then again after they saw the victory.
It dawned on me when I read this that I miss a lot of partying because of my lack of trust. I fear, so I pray. I get that far. Then I receive God’s reassurances. And, I do accept them. But, it’s almost as if I can’t relax until I actually see them. So, I continue to fret and pray and require His reassurances over and over and over again. What I forget is that I could be partying!! I could be filling my days with rejoicing and praise, setting aside all fear as I trust God and take Him at His word. Instead, I hold off on the party. I wait until all is said and done, and then I celebrate. But, it always seems to be a little hampered because I am reminded that I should have trusted Him.
How much more delight would I discover if I were to just go ahead and praise while God works? I think I’m ready to find out.