Links Daily Devotional

The Guidance of God

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV)

Our weekend in Israel was spent on the shore of the Dead Sea, sometimes called in Scripture the Sea of Arabah. The location now provides a resort getaway from travelers both in and out Israel. It is also the hub for day outings to well-known sites of Bible times and later Israeli history.

Nearby are En Gedi, Masada, and Qumran. In the rocks of En Gedi, David hid from the hunting King Saul, who was bent on the young man’s murder. At Masada, one of King Herod’s glorious and well-defended retreats, hundreds of Jewish defenders took their own lives when there was no way out against a Roman siege after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. And at Qumran, a shepherd tossing rocks in 1946 discovered the Dead Sea scrolls. Indeed, the region stands tall in matters of antiquity.

The Dead Sea itself runs as much as 40 miles from south to north, but its width is more important in our study today. For the 9-mile breadth of the sea has always allowed for a significant border stretch between Israel and those who lived to the east. Today that eastern side is the land of Jordan. In Old Testament times, the Moabites and Ammonites occupied the land east of Arabah.

When Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, these two peoples formed a united army to invade the western land and face Jehoshaphat at Jerusalem, which rests across the mountains but only 15 miles from the northern end of the Dead Sea.

It was easy enough to see this army approaching in the distance, and the king was duly warned. But no amount of warning helps when the army headed your way is far larger than your own. In such circumstances, military strategists have always understood that you must run, you must dare to fight, or you must negotiate.

Apparently Jehoshaphat was no military strategist. Rather than any of these plain options, the king turned to prayer.

Jehoshaphat assembled his people and beseeched God for guidance. There was, in his mind, no way to win without it. So together the people waited to hear from God. They were not disappointed. The Spirit of God rose up in one of the assembled men, Jahaziel, and he prophesied as God gave him the words. Among them was this: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 20:17).

So this is what Jehoshaphat’s men did. This, and singing praises to the Lord. And without one act of physical warfare, Israel saw the defeat of the enemy, who in its own confusion turned on itself until all lay dead.

The particulars of the account are remarkable in themselves. But it is this principle of entreaty with God that must capture our interest most. For it is this model we should follow when the forces of the enemy advance against us. We do not, as Paul told the Ephesians, fight a battle of flesh and blood. Instead, our conflict is with the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world. There is no chance of winning such a struggle without the help of God Almighty.

Jeff Hopper
December 8, 2014
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