Sermon for Sunday 8th August 2021

Sermon for Sunday August 8th, 2021: What do you do when you don’t know what to do? (2 Chronicles 20: 1-12)

 

Ps 145:18 says, “The LORD is near unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”

For the most part he was a good leader. He walked with and sought God who established his kingdom. He had sufficient courage to address the sins of Judah and called the people back to the law and to the fear of God. The land knew a time of material and spiritual blessing. But the king took his eye off the ball. He fell in with the wrong crowd and made some near fatal mistakes, but he lived to tell the tale. The Lord had preserved him through many dangers. His was, like most leaders, a chequered career.

The king knew he had fared better than he deserved, so he repented of these dealings and went about making amends and surrounded himself with good people to advise and assist him. They told him to be bold and diligent and said God would be with them as he did his best (2 Chronicles 19: 11). We could have forgiven the king for putting his feet up now that everything was back in order...and just when everything seemed plain sailing, the king faced another great challenge from an enemy which was even greater than the one from whom he had just escaped. The enemy is just like that, apt to unsettle us when things look good.

 

What should he do now? (Will he be up to the job?) Mobilize the standing army he’d built up and rush head-long into the fray...and attack the enemy now and fight? There’s no time to waste, the generals tell him. Should he surrender in the face of “this vast horde” that was massing, even then, inside the border; should he take his wife and children and run for hills...take flight? We imagine the feeling of panic. Would he freeze and do nothing in the face of this threat?

What should we do when faced with such a seemingly insurmountable threat or problem? Some of us have faced just such challenges these past 18 months. Some of us are there right now!  How do we navigate both our fears and our faith?

 

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do, when everything around us in the world today leaves us feeling quite alarmed? I am both inspired and challenged by how he chose to react to his overwhelming circumstances:

3-4 Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. The country of Judah united in seeking God’s help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God.

 

If ever (humanly-speaking) there were a time for a king to feel alarmed (shaken, fearful), this would be it. I get that same feeling of dread when medical letters drop on the door mat. But Jehoshaphat didn’t fall apart under pressure. Fear may be the first feeling, but it will not have the last word. Time spent with the Lord had taught Jehosophat to trust God and come straight to him in utter dependence. “Lord, if I ever needed someone, I need you…”

 

The king sought the Lord. Not only did he himself pray, but he called the people to unite and gather in prayer, and in fasting – so all their resources (forces) could be marshaled in finding help, firstly, from God. 13 Everyone in Judah was there—little children, wives, sons—all present and attentive to God.

 

What do you do when you don't know what to do?  ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3) Come together and you SEEK THE LORD!

5Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyardTAKE A STAND!  The King stood up. His knees would have been knocking…

And then he spoke out: The king’s very first word is, “O LORD!” Our words can affect our emotions and decisions, and those of others.  SPEAK OUT! The king magnifies the Name of the Lord.

O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn’t you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend?  They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you…

 

Before even asking for a thing about the obvious, he reminds himself and that fearful, concerned people of who this God is and has always been and will be… always – of mighty power and faithfulness to his promises, the God in whom alone the victory is found, the God who is mighty to save!

‘When the worst calamity happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.

Ps 145:18 says, “The LORD is near unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” We have to speak out!

12 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.”

 

Jesus said the Father was looking for worshippers who came in spirit and truth (John 4:24) It is true. In ourselves, we have no power to face the enemy and what he throws at us; no knowledge of tomorrow’s battles, except that battles-there-will-be, of one kind or another.  If we try to fight our battles without God we will lose. The king doesn’t rush to find solutions…his way. He’s already made those errors. Solutions is God’s job, the “to do” bit; ours is to listen! And we can’t listen if we panic and do the first thing that comes into our head. Our job is to admit we are weak…and look at God.

 

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel… 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. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’

 

It seems clear that this team is of one accord. God doesn’t use iron bars or stiff-necked people, he uses empty vessels which He can fill with the things God has for them…we cannot face our foes without the Spirit. BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!

 

Victory is promised before a shot is fired or a sword wielded.  The people are told to do something that previous generations have seen, but which goes against the grain, which seems counter-intuitive. Wait until tomorrow, then stand, be patient and watch the Lord deliver you out of this situation.  We often fail because, in that panic to do something, we take the very actions that God does not want us to take. Many a battle in scripture’s pages ended disastrously because God’s people did not fight according to God’s rules. We fight battles that are not our own to fight, the wrong battles, and the wrong way. An army that is guaranteed to lose is one that ignores it commander and squabbles amongst itself. United we stand, divided we fall…

 

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” Our task is simply to believe God. If we don’t do this, we live defeated and diminished lives, not as Christians who enjoy the victory of God and the freedom of Christ…

 

What should I do when I don’t know what to do?  Today, in the meantime, give thanks to God – whatever your circumstances, WORSHIP. Come just as you are!

18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord

And, tomorrow came and the people gathered early with their weapons.

 

“Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (With the weapon of FAITH IN GOD!)

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” 22 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. (With the weapon of SONG!)

 

The Lord won’t let us depend on the weapons of the world.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6)

 

Our enemies are defeated with the weapons of prayer and praise and songs of praises which not only strengthen our hearts, but which have the effect of drowning out the baying and mocking cries of the enemy encroaching into our land. Many a battle is won in the mind. If the enemy gets in your mind, defeat may come. Remember, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). But many a wall has come-a-tumbling down…and many an enemy of God vanquished… to the tune of God’s singing people!

 

When you don’t know what to do, what do you do?: SING TO THE LORD…and when you do, bring to mind that it is in the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ that your hope is found & your victory is won – daily victories and the ultimate victory that He has already won over sin and the world, over the devil and death. You didn’t have to fight that battle! We are on the winning side.

We can and should rest-assured that the battle belongs to the Lord.

And let the final word be, “…thanks (be) to God who always leads us in triumphal procession.” (2 Cor. 2:14); that, “…he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:56)

 

Mark Faris-Robertson. (05/08/21)


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