As a child with family roots in Minnesota, I spent a good deal of my childhood on a snowmobile. Bundled to the gills against the cold, I zipped across frozen lakes and down snow covered trails. One particularly frigid day, my dad was tasked with driving the snowmobile the 11 miles or so from the cabin back to town. I asked to ride along. I was still small enough to sit in front of him on the machine. Normally, I loved riding with him, as I was totally at ease with his fearless, fun driving. But the day was so cold that my breath kept forming a fog that crystalized on the interior of the helmet visor, completely obscuring my vision. As we flew between trees and over small hills, my heart raced. I couldn’t see a single thing in front of us. Every so often, he would stop and wipe out the front of my visor with his enormous glove, but within minutes, it fogged and froze again. With no ability to see the road ahead, my trust in my father was put to the test.
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-22, the people of God face the terrifying threat of attack from powerful enemies. Unlike their ancestors in yesterday’s passage, the people do not fall into panic but rather “come together to seek help from the Lord.” Their leader, King Jehoshaphat, comes before their Lord on behalf of the people. He reminds God (as well as himself and all who are listening) of God’s lordship over all creation and of God’s past mighty acts of deliverance. In complete humility, the king acknowledges that they have no ability to save themselves. He concludes his prayer by simply stating: We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. (vs. 12)
The Lord hears the prayers of the people and sends a prophet with a clear message: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (vs. 15) The people follow the prophet’s instructions to go out into battle to bear witness to God’s deliverance. The very next day, the people head to the battlefield. King Jehoshaphat instructs the to sing praises to God en route. As the people sing and worship, the Lord acts on their behalf without so much as a sword swing on the part of Israel, and the enemy is defeated.
How different from the fear-driven response of the ancient Israelites who had refused to enter the Promised Land for fear of their mighty opponents! This new generation silenced the voice of fear by grasping hold of what they knew of God’s character: King over all the earth and every nation, mighty to save, attentive to the cries of God’s people.
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Grace and Peace.