Thursday, March 08, 2007

Great Jehoshaphat!!

So many things in the Old Testament really speak to me. 2 Chronicles 20 is no exception. I actually cried while reading it. No joke.

Moabites, Ammonites, and men from Mt. Seir are marching on Judah unprovoked. They have a vast army, they're on their way, and King Jehoshaphat has no idea what to do. So he does the best thing a man can do when he's at the end of his own wisdom, that is, he called upon the Lord. He pronounced a fast for all of Judah, and he prayed in front of the entire kingdom, pleading for God's help.

I think the key words of his prayer were: "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 upon you."

And through the discernment of a man called Jahaziel, God answered:
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." He goes on to say, "You will not have to fight this battle."

Now, we know from previous parts of the Old Testament that the Lord is a Warrior, the Lord is our Banner, and the rest of the war-like attributes of YHWH. Judah might not have known that they literally would have to fight NO battle. They might have thought that Jehovah would be fighting with and for them and that they would succeed. Not so.

Not one from the kingdom of Judah perished. Not one had to swing a sword or loose an arrow. At the vanguard of the army of Judah, King Jehoshaphat placed men worshipping and praising God, presumably instead of his strongest fighters, and as they crested the hill to the battlefield... army waited for them there! Well, that's incorrect...there was an army, but every Moabite, Ammonite and Meunite warrior that had marched out against Judah lay dead on the ground. They had ambushed and scuffled with each other, and by the time Judah got there, none had survived. If the Lord can slay an entire army of men without any help from His people, how much more so our little problems and worries!

"Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid. The Lord is with you."

What more needs to be said?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Answered Prayers (?)

I'll be the first to admit that my life is pretty blessed. If I didn't believe in divine providence, I might even describe myself as "lucky". The past ten years of my life have been pretty darn great, and I would be the world's biggest ingrate to complain about anything, really.

The problem with this is that I start getting ridiculously optimistic about everything. When people do things or try things and fail, I will always think that I'll be different. I went on a blind date awhile ago, actually thinking, "It can't possibly be as bad as all that!" Well, surprise! It was. Still, I chalk it up to experience and move on.

Things that I pray for usually happen, too. I'm not saying I'm ever-so-holy and have the secret to prayer or anything. I'm just stating what I know: for whatever reason, God generally answers my prayers in amazing ways. So when I pray for my friends and family, I naturally assume that things will all work out how I think they should. Last night, however, I got the startling realization that, as the old song says, "it ain't necessarily so".

We in my Sunday school class have been praying for one of our own brothers. He had a trial at court yesterday, and instead of turning out how we'd hoped, he's been sentenced to two years of incarceration. When I heard this, I literally could not believe it. I sat there staring and shaking my head. "This isn't right," my brain was thinking. I simply could not compute that something like this would happen...hadn't I been praying?!

Of course, I had. We had all been praying. But no matter what, God is still God. He knows what He's doing, and we must trust this above all. Perhaps our brother can do more good for the Kingdom while he is inside the walls of prison, I don't know. That's where he was first touched by God's love and mercy, so maybe it's now his job to bring it to others. Perhaps this is just earthly consequences for earthly screw-ups. Again, I don't know. I don't need to know.

What I do need to do...I assume we will be able to visit him, bring cookies and brownies and books and smiles and whatnot. It might be hard to visit very often because of course he has family and girlfriend and all that will have first priority. But what I will certainly not do is stop praying. Never, ever stop praying.

Ephesians 6 says "Pray in the spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."