Paul writes in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
So, in 2 Chronicles 18-21, we read about Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat made a marriage alliance with Ahab king of Israel, one of the most wicked kings of Israel. Ahab wanted to go to war against Syria. Because of the marriage alliance, Jehoshaphat said, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.” Through the marriage alliance, Jehoshaphat literally wedded himself to the desires of a wicked king. Seeking the will of the Lord, while done before going to war, was an afterthought and a token action. But, during the battle, “Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him.”
After setting about to bring the law of the Lord to the people, Jehoshaphat and Judah were attacked by Moab, Ammon, and Edom. The very first thing Jehoshaphat did was “set his face to seek the Lord.” It was no longer an afterthought, a pretense to justify his own desire. Jehoshaphat proclaims that he is powerless against the kingdoms coming to attack Judah and that God is in control of all kingdoms.
Having sought the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jahaziel. He says, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” Jehoshaphat and all Judah fell down and worshiped the Lord.
As Jehoshaphat went out to face Moab, Ammon, and Edom, he put the praisers in front of the army. As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush and Moab, Ammon, and Edom fought against one another and were defeated by the Lord.
What do we learn?
Seeking the Lord cannot be an afterthought to justify our own desires. It should not be done after we have already decided to go our own way and enter into a battle.
Rather, seeking the Lord must be done all the time, even during the time when we aren’t struggling, so that when the battle comes we admit our weakness and powerlessness. Then, we are able to fully depend on the Lord.
Depending on God, we can stand firm, hold our position, and see the salvation of the Lord. Don’t be afraid. This is exactly what Moses told Israel when they were “trapped” between Egypt and the Red Sea.
Having sought the Lord, what was the one thing Jehoshaphat did in going out to battle? He led the way with praise. Over and over in the New Testament we are encouraged to give thanks in everything and at all times and continually let praise to God be on our lips. But, this will only happen if seek God with our whole heart in the times of peace, in the times when staring a major test straight in the face.
A rather simple lesson – seek God at all times and praise him at all times, then stand back, hold firm, don’t be afraid, and watch God win the victory for you.