When The Battle Chooses You



In January 2020, I arrived at the Memphis School of Preaching to begin my journey to be a gospel preacher. Upon my second week of the quarter, I received a phone call from my dad. He told me that my mother had been diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. It was the worst news I could receive. They say to “choose your battles”. Well, this battle chose me. I did not seek to fight this battle. This battle was the battle of grief and frustration. I was sad for my mother having to go through all the pain and suffering. I was frustrated that she had the cancer. The two things that kept me going was God and my fiancé. I knew that God was faithful. I knew that God could give me victory. It is this author’s goal that you can learn from my life and the account in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 how to fight the battles that you cannot choose. There are three ways to fight the battles that choose you. First, we must seek God before the battle. Second, we must seek God during the battle. Last, we must thank God when the battle is concluded.



SEEKING GOD BEFORE THE BATTLE (2 CHRONICLES 20:1-19)


When we look at the account in 2 Chronicles 20, we notice that an army has come to invade Israel. We must observe the first couple of verses.


Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, "A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi) (2 Chronicles 20:1-2; NASB).



We notice that this is not a small army that has come upon Jehoshaphat. It was “a great multitude.” Could you imagine being in the position of this king? What would you do? How would you respond? This situation is equal to what I felt when my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. How did king Jehoshaphat respond? We know because the next verses tell us.


Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he said, "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. "Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? "They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying, 'Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' "Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. "O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You (2 Chronicles 20:3-12; NASB).



He was afraid. However, his fear did not lead to cowardice. He “turned his attention to seek the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:3; NASB). He looked at the true Captain. This is what I needed to do to face the battle in my life. I needed to recognize who my Captain was. We must recognize who our Captain is. We also see king Jehoshaphat give characteristics of the true Captain. He attributed Jehovah as “the God of our fathers”. God is and always will exist. Jehoshaphat was aware of God’s power in the early days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc. He must have known about the exodus from Egypt. He must have known the history of Judah. He knew God’s power.

He then attributed Jehovah as “God in the heavens” (2 Chronicles 20:6). This specifies that he was not talking about an idol god. He was talking about the true and living God. Regarding God, brother Curtis Cates wrote:


Without God, man is but a graduate beast, “floating over the briny sea of life without purpose, without meaning, and without goals. We become merely ‘a hunk of flesh and a hank of hair.’ Nothing really matters. But if God does exist, everything matters (Cates 28).



Jehoshaphat knew this fact. He knew the importance of God. The people would also realize this as well (2 Chronicles 20:12). The importance of the One God of the universe is abundant. If He does not exist, then Jehoshaphat and Judah would have no hope. In the Memphis School of Preaching’s lectureship in 2003, brother Liddell wrote:


There is ONE God; thus, the ideas of there being no God, or of there being many gods are false. Paul declared: “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I Cor. 8:6). To Timothy, the inspired apostle wrote: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:15). If what Paul wrote is not true, then who would dare to assert that any part of the Bible is true? If the Bible is truth, and is Truth (John 17:17), and it is, then what Paul wrote is true—there is one God (Liddell 115).



God is the God in the heavens indeed!


Jehoshaphat also ascribed God to be “ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations” (2 Chronicles 20:6; NASB). Jehoshaphat was a king. He was one in authority in Judah, yet he ascribes God as the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations! We notice the humility of Jehoshaphat here. Daniel would acknowledge this in Daniel 4:17:


This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men (Daniel 4:17; NKJV).


Ultimately, God is in control over all the kingdoms of man. Jehoshaphat acknowledged this. Oh how we would be if the rulers of today would acknowledge Jehovah God as ruler!


Jehoshaphat also acknowledged God in that “power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You” (2 Chronicles 20:6). Nothing can overcome God. Even in our own battles, God is bigger. The more I think about this passage the more I realize the faith of king Jehoshaphat. This tells me of the faith we must have to gain the victory. Paul wrote to the Romans about victory in Christ.


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39; NASB).


It is not that we cannot lose salvation, but that we can have victory if we are faithful to God’s will. Continue to place yourself in Jehoshaphat’s place. An army of a great multitude has come upon you and you are relying upon God to grant victory. Would you waiver in that faith as the enemy approaches? Or would you declare the power and strength to be in God?


We notice in the main text of 2 Chronicles 20 that Jehoshaphat and the people cried out to God (2 Chronicles 20:9-10).


Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' "Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance. "O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You (2 Chronicles 20:9-12; NASB).

They believed that God would hear their plea. They relied upon God to answer their cry. Do we believe that God will hear us today? "The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29; NASB). The Bible says that He will. Also notice in the text that they realize that they cannot win the battle on their own strength. “O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12; NASB). They are needing strength from the Lord. Man today seems to dismiss the idea of relying upon God for strength. The fact is, "I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23; NASB). We cannot rely upon our own strength. We must rely on God. What would happen if I relied upon myself than God when my mother went through her suffering? How could I make it through that great difficulty without looking to God as my strength? The answer is clear. I would be lost as a sheep in the dark. I would not make it. What if the people relied upon themselves for the battle? They would be destroyed. The power is not in man but God. We can win the battle when we realize who our Captain is and where the source of the power is. Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel said, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You” (2 Chronicles 20:12b; NASB). Where are our eyes? They must be looking to God above the universe.


Now, God will respond to Jehoshaphat through Jahaziel the prophet. We notice now that all of Judah was standing before God (2 Chronicles 20:13). They also had their families with them. In the midst of that congregation of people, Jahaziel reveals the message from God.


Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph; and he said, "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. 'Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel. 'You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you (2 Chronicles 20:14-17; NASB).


We are revealed that Jahaziel urges the people to listen to the Lord and to king Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:15). What a lesson for us in the opening statement by Jahaziel! Paul gave us a charge regarding government:


Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor (Romans 13:1-7; NASB).


Even we are subject to earthly rulers today as long as they do not contradict what God has willed us to do. God showed the people through Jahaziel that they should hearken to their king.


Next, Jahaziel gives an encouragement that would help them in this difficult situation. He encourages them not to fear nor be dismayed (2 Chronicles 20:15b). The reason he gives is quite amazing. He said, “for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15b; NASB). I am reminded of a gospel song, “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”.


In heavenly armor we’ll enter the land,

The battle belongs to the Lord!

No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand,

The battle belongs to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!


When the power of darkness comes in like a flood,

The battle belongs to the Lord!

He’s raised up a standard, the pow’r of His blood,

The battle belongs to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!


When your enemy presses in hard do not fear

The battle belongs to the Lord!

Take courage my friend your deliverance is near

The battle belongs to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!

We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord!

(Jamie Owens-Collins https://gccsatx.com/hymns/the-battle-belongs-to-the-lord/).


There battle would not be won by their own power. It would be won by God. God will be their warrior. He would be with them in the battle. What an encouragement to know that God both heard and answered their cry! Will He not help us in the battles of this life today? Not in the sense of a miracle, but He does answer prayer.


The account tells that Jehoshaphat bowed his head to the ground (2 Chronicles 20:18). This shows his humility even though he is a king. Sometimes in life we must fall face down in order to rise up above the challenge of the hardest of battles. It takes humility to admit that one needs help. However, pride should not be shown in a way that help is not sought. We must not forget that God can help. It does not show weakness. It shows that one is willing to submit their life to God. We are warned about pride.


Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud (Proverbs 16:18-19; NASB).


A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor (Proverbs 29:23; NASB).


For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1 John 2:16; NASB).


If Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah demonstrated pride and not humility, then a victory would be far from their grasp. If we demonstrate pride in our lives, then we will not grasp victory either. We must be willing to be humble and walk in the steps of humility.


In the last part of this section of our study, we see all the people stand up to praise the Lord before the battle even begins (2 Chronicles 20:19). It is hard to fathom that these people are shouting praise to God with a massive army coming to fight them. The fact is that they do. When God promises victory, it is guaranteed to those who meet the conditions for the victory. We should expect the victory that is promised to us when the battle is complete. The ultimate victory will be when Christ comes again. Brother Goodwin wrote:


From the point of our conversion, we should be looking toward heaven. We should lay up our treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21); it should be our number one goal. All the sacrifice and suffering, all the pain and persecution, all that we endure in living the Christian life will certainly be worth the glory that will be ours when Jesus comes back for us (cf. John 14:1-4; 1 John 3:1-3; Rev. 22:5). In the thick of battle, when the devil seeks to distract us from fighting the good fight of faith, we must remember that heaven will surely be worth it all (Goodwin 167).




SEEKING GOD DURING THE BATTLE (2 CHRONICLES 20:20-23)


As we come to the battle, we must remember to continue to seek God as the battle ensues. This means that we should eliminate distractions, obstacles, and doubts in order to be successful. This also means that we should be early to seek God. Let us consider our text.


They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed." When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another (2 Chronicles 20:20-23; NASB).


In our text, it reveals that Jehoshaphat encourages the people to trust in God to gain the victory. As long as they would do that, then they would be successful (2 Chronicles 20:20). If they failed at any time, they would fail in the war. This gives us the initiative to fight with vigor and to do so while maintaining our focus upon the Captain. Our Captain, Christ, has told us that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20). He will give us victory as long as trust in God and do His will. As I read through this text, it reminds me of my battles. I should focus on Christ in the midst of the war going on in my life. We all should have this same motive. We all should set our minds on Christ (Col. 3:1-3). This is what Jehoshaphat did. This is what the nation of Judah did.


It is amazing what happens next in verses twenty-one and twenty-two.


When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed (2 Chronicles 20:21-22; NASB).



So, as the battle ensues, they are singing and thanking God. What a sight and sound to behold! The text even reveals to us that it was the Lord who set ambushes against the enemies of Judah. God is fulfilling His promise to fight for them (2 Chronicles 20:17). There is an application here for us today. We are to know that God will fight in our battles. However, we must still do our part as well.

We notice in the next verse that the enemies of Judah were victorious over the inhabitants over Mount Seir but then in turn destroyed themselves (2 Chronicles 20:23). What a turn of events! John Gill observed, “in their confusion, they [sic] mistook one another, either for Edomites or Jews, like the Midianites in the times of Gideon” (Gill E-Sword Module). When you go up against God, you end up fighting your own battle against your own self! It is a foolish thing to fight against yourself. Man can not win against God. God will always be victorious. The divisive schemes of man only brings confusion and chaos, and will never bring unification.



THANKING GOD AFTER THE BATTLE (2 CHRONICLES 20:24-30)


Once the battle is over, man must remember to thank God. Let us notice our text:


When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry. And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much. Then on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore they have named that place "The Valley of Beracah" until today. Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres and trumpets to the house of the LORD. And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides (2 Chronicles 20:24-30; NASB).


After the enemies of Judah had destroyed themselves, Judah comes to observe the result of fighting against God’s will. They saw “corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped” (2 Chronicles 20:24). No one escapes the wrath of God. When God wins, it is a complete victory. This sight encouraged Judah. They had truly seen the victory that God had won for them. Do we see the victory that is ahead of us (Revelation 2:10)?

Let us notice the blessing that came from the victory.


When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry. And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much (2 Chronicles 20:25; NASB).



God granted a spoil so abundant that they could not even carry all of it. What a glimpse of the glory of Heaven for us here. God will bless us more abundantly in the great life that awaits the faithful Christian. It is hard for the human to describe a spiritual place in physical words. Could you imagine winning a victory and getting more than you could carry? That is what happened to Judah. God heard their cry and gave them that victory. God kept His promise. Will man keep his?

We must never forget the blesser and the true victor. The nation of Judah remembered to thank God.


Then on the fourth day they assembled in the valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore they have named that place "The Valley of Beracah" until today. Every man of Judah and Jerusalem returned with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets to the house of the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:26-28; NASB).



Judah had great joy not because of their own ability, but because of what God had done. If man would give the credit of all good things to God, then perhaps man would prosper more than he does today. We must be ever thankful to God for all that He has done for us. He could have destroyed all of mankind, but He showed His great love in sending His own Son to atone for the sins of man. The nation of Judah’s singing reminds me of what we read in the New Testament. James wrote, "Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises” (James 5:13; NASB). What a cheerful occasion it was for Judah! We must also point out that upon arriving back in Jerusalem, they immediately went to the house of the Lord. Where do we go when we have great success or great failure? Is it to the assembly with the saints? Is it to a bar? It must be to worship God.


We send at the end of it all a great rest in the land of Judah.


And the dread of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God gave him rest on all sides (2 Chronicles 20:29-30; NASB).


We observe the influence of the victory and the rest that God gave them. Rest comes at the end of the battle. Ultimately, our rest will be at the end of our lives. God will give rest to those who have fought the battle listening to the commands of the Captain.


This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; NASB).


What a glorious day that awaits man! In the introduction, I wrote about my mother who died of stage IV liver cancer. I know that the promise of eternal life is real. I know that the faithful child of God will be there. I am confident that one day, as long as I remain faithful, I will see her again. It may not be in the same way that I knew her, but I will see her again nonetheless. May we take this and live our lives in a way that the victory crown will be ours on the last day!


CONCLUSION


We have studied the account of Jehoshaphat and Judah’s great victory given by God. We have observed that we must seek God before the battle, during the battle, and to thank God after the battle has concluded. There are great blessings that come from the hardest of battles. Sometimes we must lose in order to gain. Before my mom passed, my dad who was not a Christian was baptized into Christ. My mom prayed and hoped that he would do so. God’s word still has the ability to change lives today! May we take from this account that even though the battle is hard, we have a promised victory if we keep our eyes on our Captain!



 

Works Cited


Gill, John E-Sword Module


The Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible


Liddell, Bobby, editor. God The Father: 2003 Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship. Sain Publications, 2003.


M., Post author By Jenny. “The Battle Belongs to The Lord: Hymn Lyrics and Piano Music.” Hymns, 4 Mar. 2021, gccsatx.com/hymns/the-battle-belongs-to-the-lord/.


Sain, Paul. The Victory Through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Sain Publications, 2002.

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