On Sunday, Pastor Christy Johnson continued our series, “As for Me and My House,” by showing us that praise and worship is our greatest weapon against the enemy. Jehoshaphat knew this well when war was declared on his people.
2 Chronicles 20:1-4 says, “After this, the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites declared war on Jehoshaphat. 2Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army from Edom is marching against you from beyond the Dead Sea. They are already at Hazazon-tamar.’ (This was another name for En-gedi.) 3Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. 4So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.”
When the moment of crisis came, everyone in Judah (which means, “Now I will praise”) came together in worship. Often times when tragedy comes, we retreat and try to go about it on our own unprotected. However, we are not meant to fight alone. We are not meant to retreat. We are called to come together in the fight and believe that God will come through.
Pastor Christy used the example of Jacob, Rachel and Leah as an example of what breakthrough praise looks like. Jacob’s desire was to marry Rachel and when he asked her father for her hand, he told Jacob to work for him for 7 years. After 7 years, he was to marry Rachel or so he thought. On the wedding night, the father switched Rachel with his eldest daughter Leah. Once Jacob figured out what had happened, he went to the father and the father told him that the eldest had to be married first and that he would have to work another 7 years for Rachel. Eventually, David was married to both Leah and Rachel. Can you imagine how insignificant Leah felt not being her husband’s first choice? In those days, the way to feel significant was to have children. Leah’s plea for significance can be seen in the names of her children.
First came Rueben whose name meant, “See a son.” That was Leah’s way of saying, “See Jacob, I have given you a son! I am significant!” Her second son was named Simeon, which means, “heard.” This was her way of saying, “God has heard me by giving me another son. I am significant!” Her next son was named Levi, which means, “attached.” Now she hoped that because Jacob was attached to her through all three sons, that he would finally love her. Her youngest son was named Judah, which means, “Now I will praise.” If you look at the progression here, she went from fighting for her significance to letting go and praising God even though her situation had not changed (Genesis 29:14-35).
This is the true foundation of worship – to choose to worship even when nothing around you has changed. Some of you are waiting for things to change and you are prolonging your destiny because you are delaying your praise. God says do not delay in your praise for it is the very thing that is going to unlock what is in front of you. Praise and worship have two different positions. Praise is being thankful for what He has already done, while worship is thanking him for who He is, regardless of what He has done. When you get the house you want and you thank Him for it, that is praise. When you thank Him regardless of whether or not you have a house, that is worship.
If we go back to before the war was waged on Jehoshaphat’s people, we can see that in 2 Chronicles 17:6, Jehoshaphat was so dedicated to the Lord that he removed the idols from Judah (the place called praise). In order for us to have breakthrough praise, we must also remove the idols in our lives. Oftentimes our idols are our own opinions. We cannot worship God and our opinions at the same time. Jehoshaphat knew that. We have to be willing to surrender our opinions to God and allow Him to do things the way He wants to do them. Look beyond your music preferences or whatever it is that holds you up from your praise in church. Allow God to show you what He wants to do.
In 2 Chronicles 20:5-9, Jehoshaphat begins to list all the times the Lord had come through before this moment. “Jehoshaphat stood before the community of Judah and Jerusalem in front of the new courtyard at the Temple of the Lord. 6He prayed, ‘O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 7O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? 8Your people settled here and built this Temple to honor your name. 9They said, ‘Whenever we are faced with any calamity such as war, plague, or famine, we can come to stand in your presence before this Temple where your name is honored. We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’”
He was confident in God because of His history with God. When we are facing a battle, one of the best things we can do is remember what God has done for us in the past. What He has done for us in the past will give us the confidence we need to face the present. If He was faithful before, He will be faithful again.
As Jehoshaphat continues to pray, He tells God that they are powerless against the army that wants to attack them. He admits that He does not know what to do and asks God for help. Then starting in verse 14, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph. 15He said, ‘Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!’
18Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 19Then the Levites from the clans of Kohath and Korah stood to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud shout.”
The only thing they were called to do was hold their positions. Allowing God to fight is not taking a back seat. We still have to show up, but in showing up, we allow God the opportunity to show off. Do not be weary of your position. It is remaining there with your eyes on Him that you will find victory. See what happens next in 2 Chronicles 20:20-24:
20Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.”
21After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!”
22At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.23The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. 24So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.
Can you believe that?! Their praise caused the Lord to cause the enemy’s camp to turn on each other. When they arrived to the battle, their enemy was already defeated! The Lord meant what He said! They did not have to fight! They just had to take their positions as people of praise. They may have thought they needed more than what they had to win this battle. They may have thought they needed to be more than who they were, but it was what they had and who they were that allowed them to walk in victory. They were the army of praise who had a faithful God. That is all they needed and that is all that you need. Command your soul to praise, even if nothing changes and position your eyes on God and allow Him to fight your battle for you. Ask those around you for help as well. There is a tribe of Judah in your own life that is waiting to praise with you toward victory!