A Vast Army Ahead
It wasn’t easy to make this important decision. After contemplating about it, I was still hesitant and thought of postponing my plan.
I asked the Lord what I should do. I had hoped He would tell me to do what my heart desired. But He instructed me the opposite and even told me to go an extra mile and do what was difficult for me.
God’s message was clear and I was rebuked that my desires and actions were reflection of my defiance. He wants me to submit and respect authority, to imitate His character, to not just have an exceptional output but more importantly have a right heart before Him. He also wanted me to do something that was not even necessary.
After a few weeks, I asked Him again what I should do. I had a feeling this event was something inevitable and I thought maybe the Lord just wanted to correct my heart before affirming my decision. But He told me the same thing as before — no.
As the situation went to a climax, I cried out to the Lord wanting to be out of it. I asked His leading if I can do what I had been asking Him. The Lord comforted me by reminding me of His character and the things He has done:
Father, You are ultimately in control – You always are in all situations.
You are the same yesterday, today and forever.
You never change Your mind.
My days are already set before You.
You are faithful and dependable.
You have shown Your faithfulness time and time again.
I have no reason to doubt You.
You are true, steadfast and unchangeable.
You are not swayed by mere men.
You are God all-powerful and all-knowing.
Yet in all Your majesty and splendor, You make time for me.
You have turned Your eyes on me and have shown me mercy…
Fear Not, The Battle Belongs to God
The Lord led me to read 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.
A vast army from the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord.
At first, I just wanted to be encouraged with God’s character and the things He has done by reading Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
O Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.
Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir… 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.”
They cried out to God in their distress. And I realized this is the exact description of what I felt – distressed!
As I continued reading, the Lord comforted me with His response to Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
…This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them…
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
God’s response was addressed to Judah, Jerusalem and their king Jehoshaphat. But God’s character described in this passage is true for eternity and was the only thing I held on to.
Though they were greatly outnumbered, king Jehoshaphat obeyed without question. He trusted God and led the people to obedience. His confidence was not from great assurance in their military ability but confidence that comes in trusting God’s faithfulness to His promise and the assurance that He would be with them.
Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” . . .
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.
Find Peace in God’s Presence
The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
The Lord was glorified through their obedience. He not only gave them victory over their enemies but also peace to the kingdom of Jehoshaphat.
Faith and trust in God produces obedience. Obedience is key to receiving God’s favor and blessings.
Problems, challenges and trials reveal the contents of man’s heart. And our response shows how we perceive God and how much we trust and obey Him.
The Lord is faithful in revealing my deepest sins, rebuking, correcting and confronting me through His Word — the Bible. At the same time showing and reminding me of His character, comforting and encouraging me to have a right heart before Him and to obey regardless how difficult or unreasonable it may seem.
We find true peace not in having a favorable circumstance but in God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. It enables us not to depend in our own strength or in what we see but only in God’s power and sovereignty.
God’s presence comforted me and His voice, through His Word, assured me. I found peace in the truth that though I am shortsighted, He who directs my path is all-knowing and trustworthy.
My situation did not change but the Lord changed my heart. I had the courage to face the vast army because my God promised to be with me. All I needed was to obey what He told me. The result belongs to Him.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
(First published on March 15, 2017 entitled: “Finding Peace and Comfort In the Face of a Vast Army”)
Further readings and study about King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30