After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites,[a] came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom,[b] from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment,[c] or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came[d] upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there[e] were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah,[f] for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
31 Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. 33 The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. 36 He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, “Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.” And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish. (2 Chronicles 20)
The Necessity of Biblical Warfare
The Bible is epic. Any reading of these Old Testament battles that leaves us bored is because we are dull. These Old Testament accounts of battles, mighty men of valor, blood shed, lines of kings, honor, violence, courage, faith, etc., were real events that pictured forth the mission of God in the world through His Christ to come. But many modern Christians don’t even know many of these great Old Testament battles. Many don’t realize that Abraham’s household contained over 300 fighting men that defeated kings. Many don’t know about Shamgar and his ox goad. Many don’t know about King Jehoshaphat. And many of the stories we do know and love, modern evangelicalism has greatly defanged these stories by making them much more palatable to our modern sensibilities. We think of David as a cute little shepherd boy who had a cool little slingshot and he knocked over some mythical giant creature with it. But do you realize that that actually happened, and it happened because David could hurl a stone from his sling at an incredibly deadly speed, so he was tough as nails, then when Goliath falls, David goes over, pulls out Goliath’s sword and cuts his head off. That part always gets left out of the children’s books of course. But what kind of person do you have to be to cut someone’s head off who is twice your size? Or Sampson, or any number of the judges. The fact is that these stories are far more gritty than we would like to recall them. God commanded Israel to wipe out many pagan cities, men, women, and children. And do you realize how wicked those nations were? They were literally satanic. Many of these battles, and we see it pictured well in our text today, were gruesomely physical, and no less spiritual battles. If the epic battles, prayers, fights, violence, etc., are too rough and too gritty for our cuddly gospel message, then we don’t have a biblical gospel message. Do you realize what happened at the cross? How gruesome, and how intensely spiritual, it was. We need these Old Testament epics about hordes of enemies on all sides. This is our Christian history, and divinely inspired history at that, profitable for training and equipping in righteousness. These historical accounts are profitable for training us in righteousness. And we need them in all their grit and all their glory. They teach us Christ. And they teach us to stand. And those are two things that the Church desperately needs today. We need Christ. And we need to stand.
When we read these stories as Christians, in a Christian way, we are strengthened with the strength of Christ. We are reminded of our smallness in light of our history, and in light of the transcendent. And when we read these epics our hearts are brought to long for the transcendent and for mission. And that is found and satisfied in Jesus Christ, and only in Jesus Christ. If you read many of my posts on social media, you notice that I post a lot about building a new Christendom. (And by Christendom I just mean a world in which we have multiple Christian societies at peace with one another where every sphere, family, church, state, is submitted to the Lordship of Christ.) And one reason I post about that is because thinking that way connects us to our mission that is so much bigger than ourselves. And it is what we ought to be working toward, the Christianization of every nation. Whether you’re a Postmillennialist or not, we all should be working toward that, because that’s what Jesus told us to do, to go therefore baptizing the nations and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And so often we just get so caught up in our own life and our own problems, we shrink the world down to our own little bubble. And that really hurts our soul, because we were made to be part of something so much bigger. And as we say so often around here, how do we play our part in that so much bigger something? By very normal faithful Christian things like changing diapers, eating meals together, singing together, going to church – those things. And when we see that those are the things that build civilization, we are immediately brought up into something that gets us out of our bubble and connects us to those who came before, and those who will come after us. All that to say that when we, for example, come together to sing Psalms, we are actually connecting ourselves to the people of Judah under Jehoshaphat who sang Psalms while being surrounded by a murderous horde when God showed up and fought for them. And do you realize that when we sing the Psalms, we are singing the exact same songs that were sung by these warriors, men, women, and children, and kings, and priests, thousands of years ago, in an unrecognizable world to us before Jesus of Nazareth was born? I mean that’s epic.
As we consider 2 Chronicles 20 today, I want us to consider what are the weapons of our warfare. Because to be a Christian is to be in conflict with the world. And we need to know how we are to fight. As a disclaimer, this passage is not all exhaustive, of all our spiritual weapons, or tactics, or strategies, so that is not the purpose – Israel stood still and here, and in other places devoted cities to destruction. So this is not exhaustive, but I do believe we have some of our most basic and fundamental weapons of our warfare illustrated here in 2 Chronicles 20. So we have three weapons of Christian warfare here.
Our first weapon is prayer. Jehoshaphat hears of the enemy armies coming for Judah, and is afraid. So what does he do? He calls for a fast throughout all Judah, and all the people seek the Lord. As an aside, this is what a nation’s leaders ought to do before going to war. They ought to call for a fast and that all the people seek the one true triune God in prayer, and no other god. And they ought to pray and see if the Lord would have us do this thing, before we go out to battle and shed blood.
So the people of Judah are assembled together in Jerusalem and Jehoshaphat stands before them and he prays a prayer, the likes of which has never been heard in many evangellyfish pulpits, but which our forefathers in many times and places have lifted up to the God of Heaven. The idea of prayer being a weapon is lost on so many today. We don’t look to the Psalms to guide our prayers, and if we do, we neglect the imprecatory elements that give a lot of bite to the bark of our prayers, because that’s too “mean” and “unloving.” We don’t realize we are in battle everyday with the principalities and powers of the evil one! Certainly Jehoshaphat’s prayer is not nearly as intense as some of the Psalms, but nevertheless it is powerful and strong.
The first powerful thing in Jehoshaphat’s prayer is that there is no doubt about to whom he is praying. Verse 6 in our translations begins the prayer, “O LORD, God of our fathers…” “O LORD” in “all caps” means that it is the covenant name of God that is used there, which sounds roughly something like “Yahweh” when brought into English. When you start praying in public to the one true God by name, in the name of Jesus Christ and our Triune God, that’s when you can start praying powerful prayers of war. Our society is just fine with you public prayers that address no god in specific or any number of gods. But when you start naming the name of Jesus Christ, they say, “No, no, you can’t do that.” Our nation is fine to have a pledge of allegiance that says we are one nation “under God.” But what we said, “one nation under Jesus Christ?” That, you can be sure, would not be allowed, which reveals to you who most certainly is not the God that is worshipped in our nation.
Then in naming the name of Yahweh God, Jehoshaphat prays according to the sovereignty of God, no less offensive, declaring that God is in the heavens and rules over all the kingdoms of the nations and none can withstand Him. This is why prayer is a powerful weapon for war, the one true God to whom we pray dwells in Heaven and rules over all the most powerful nations on the earth. We are praying to a God whose arm is not too short to save. He then “reminds” God, so to speak, of His promises to His friend Abraham and the land that He gave to Him, then he offers up their commitment to be faithful no matter what, then he calls upon God to execute judgment on their enemies, and then declares their powerlessness and total dependency on Him, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” When we pray in total dependency upon the one true God, He will hear us and respond. In the book of Revelation there is incense, that is the prayers of the saints, that rise up to God, and He responds by raining down judgments on the earth. Worship is warfare and prayer is a chief weapon. And prayer is a privilege that belongs to every child of God. It is not a giant 5 foot sword that requires incredible size and strength to wield. It just requires faith. So wherever we find ourselves surrounded by our enemies – the church in the world at large, issues in our own lives, or in our own hearts, may we make great use of this most powerful weapon the Lord has entrusted to us. And if you want to come fight with us in prayer, we do that every Lord’s Day at 1:30, before church. We gather as a small regiment calling upon the God who dwells in heaven above and rules over all, and when we pray, He hears us.
The next weapon of our warfare is patience. Or in other words, standing firm and waiting on the Lord. The day before the battle the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jahaziel and God tells them that the battle is the Lord’s and not theirs, thus they are to go out against the enemy, but they are not to fight, they are just to stand firm, hold their position, and see the salvation of the LORD on their behalf. Upon brief consideration it may seem like this tactic of not fighting and simply holding their position, is a weak or retreatist or fearful mentality. We would tend to see this in our flesh as inferior to going out to fight. There is certainly a time to go out to the battlefield and unsheathe the sword, but let us recognize the necessity and the power of the weapon of patience. Only those who trust in a sovereign all powerful Lord are able to exercise patience, for we know that He is in control. And things are never out of His hands. Only Christians can exercise true patience that is not born out of cowardice or laziness.
In this we must recognize that Christian patience takes courage. Standing firm and holding your position is in fact not retreatist, it is a manful thing to do, and takes manful courage, that we are in dire need of in our day. I need not tell you every detail about how the current leadership of the largest denomination in America is filled with a bunch of cowards who don’t know how to stand their ground and hold their position! Just a few years ago they would’ve preached sound and strong orthodoxy, but now the president is saying the Bible whispers about sexual sin and that we ought to use people’s preferred pronouns for the sake of hospitality, the NAMB has had church plants with female pastors and they refuse to address the issue manfully and with repentance, the president of the Southern Baptist Seminary said years ago that he was glad the convention repented of its apparent racism over a hundred years ago, but now recently has caved to the woke mob and has said that racism is a stain that can never be removed from the Southern Baptist Convention. I know we’ve stopped singing the Psalms, but have stopped singing hymns like “Nothing but the blood” that tells us our sins are washed white as snow by the blood of Jesus? Where have you gone, O men of the SBC? You’re not holding your position!
This is basic marching orders for basic Christianity. Ephesians 6:10-20,
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Church, this begins not in the SBC, not in our society, but it begins in our homes. If we will not stand firm, and hold our position to defend our homes against the evil one, we cannot be surprised when the whole world has gone that way. The evil one wants to destroy you, O man of God, and he wants to destroy your home, because He knows that strong men of God, make for strong homes, which make for strong churches, which make for the Christianizing of the nation. But if the evil one can get you, to simply not stand your ground and hold your position, then he’s already won. You gave him the foothold. Stand firm and say no to laziness, no to lust, no to sinful anger, no to our fleshly appetites! Our very lives, and homes, and wives, and children, and churches, and society depends upon it! We need men to stand firm, and hold their position, in the strength and might of the Lord. And if you have already given ground, and we all have, it is not too late, it is not an excuse, all is not lost, because Jesus rose from the dead. And since Jesus rose from the dead and sits now at the right hand of the Father, we have every reason to get back up, to get back in the fight, to retake our position, and stand once again. O Lord, would you give us strength to stand?
The next weapon of our warfare is praises, or singing, or the Psalms, or worship, we could say. What does Jehoshaphat do when they go out to take their position the next morning? He appoints a regiment of singers. He appoints a regiment of Psalm singers to go out before the armies and to sing and praise the Lord! And what are they singing? “Give thanks to the Lord.” They are thanking the Lord as they face armies wanting to kill them on every side. “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” And what happens? When they begin to sing and praise, the LORD sets an ambush against these enemy armies, and then they turn one another and destroy one another. Worship is warfare! When God is praised, God responds. When the Lord is worshipped, God acts. When we sing and pray God’s divinely inspired hymnbook and prayer book back to God, He will respond. It is the chief means by which He will respond.
There is a great principle here, and that is that the effectiveness of the church in the world is inseparably related to the purity of it’s worship. The effectiveness of the church in the world is inseparably related to the purity of it’s worship. And that has been the great sin of the American church in our time. The worship of the American church at large is an idolatrous clown show of a joke. The Psalms are not sung, Christ is not preached, the ordinances are blasphemed, folks, I’m not exaggerating or picking on people. You can look up churches that have had hip hop dancers on stage to secular rap songs, one pastor at a big church turned his stage into a literal basketball court during march madness a couple years ago. This is literal idolatry. Why is the society the way it is? Look at the professing Church!
I’m not being an excuser of the brethren here, many of these people are not brethren. They are wolves masquerading in light. I love the church of Jesus Christ, and since the purity of our worship is connected to our effectiveness in the world, I have great hope. Because I know that Jesus Christ has not given up on His Church. And I know the Lord Jesus is working to purify His bride and sanctify her. I know that He will do it, He will be successful. The Church will be purified, Christ will preached with clarity, Psalms will be song, the ordinances will be honored, and the strongholds of Satan will fall. And I take great courage, that we don’t have to go out and use carnal means, but we need to simply get our worship right. Because that’s what God uses. That is His means for conquering the strongholds of Satan. A worshipping Church. A Psalm singing Church.
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