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Grace Notes

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PROFITING FROM PROBLEMS
by Philip Owen

   The twentieth chapter of II Chronicles contains a wonderful lesson for us.  For in that one chapter, we are given a panoramic view of Judah, from their confrontation of a problem to God’s peaceful deliverance of them from it.

   1.  Problem (vv. 1, 2).  King Jehoshaphat of Judah had just finished bringing his nation back from the apostasy and idolatry in which their worship had sunk (ch. 19).  It had almost certainly been a struggle, and Jehoshaphat was, no doubt, ready for respite.  But that was not to be, for the adversary never rests.  No sooner had Jehoshaphat conquered one problem than a messenger came with the announcement that “a great multitude” of Moabites, Ammonites, “with some of the Meunites” were, in fact, already in Engedi, located along Judah’s central-east border.

   2.  Prayer (vv. 3-13).  Facing an active military attack, Jehoshaphat did not do the logical thing—muster an army.  Instead, with a hostile force already advancing through his little country, he stopped.  And in what must have been an alarmingly time-consuming process, he called his people together.  When “all Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives and their children,” Jehoshaphat prayed.  He (1) reminded the Lord of His promises, (2) told the Lord that Judah had no might of its own, (3) admitted ignorance, and (4) avowed that Judah was looking to the Lord for aid.

   3.  Promise (vv. 14-19).  How the Lord’s heart must have melted as he saw His entire nation—men, women, and children—standing before Him, their eyes lifted upward in supplication.  The Spirit of the Lord moved on Jehaziel, one of the Levites through whom the Lord declared with great compassion:  “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”  Jehaziel continued:  “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”   As the Lord promised complete victory at no cost,  everyone “fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.”

   4.  Preaching (v. 20).  Early the next morning, Judah arose to meet the invaders.  And as they set out, King Jehoshaphat stood before them and reminded them again that their hope rested in the Lord:  “put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established.  Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”

   5.  Praise (vv. 21, 22a).  Then in a glorious act of faith and confidence, Jehoshaphat appointed singers, “who praised Him in holy attire” (not battle attire), saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”  This action demonstrated their faith in two key ways.  First, Jehoshaphat placed the singers (who were not soldiers) at the front of the army, thereby making it impossible for them either to fight or to escape slaughter if the Lord’s promise failed.  Second, the singers praised the Lord for a promise yet to be fulfilled as though it were already accomplished.

   6.  Provision (vv. 22b-25).  At the very instant that He heard the praises of His people, the Lord Himself “set ambushes against” Judah’s enemies.  Thus, the “sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir” turned on one another so that “they helped to destroy one another.”  By the time Judah arrived at the wilderness, “they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one escaped.”  That alone would have been a wonderful miracle, but as Judah went among the fallen enemy, “they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves.”  In fact, “they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much.”

   7.  Peace (vv. 26-34).  The result of the God-wrought victory was peace as all the nations feared God when they saw what He had done for Judah.  “So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for His God gave him rest on all sides.”

   Just as Judah’s restoration of spiritual order prepared them for the battle and provided them victory over their enemies, so it is with us.  When we believe and obey God, the Lord sends us battles, not in order to defeat us, but in order, first, to draw us to Himself, and, second, to load us with the spoils of victory.  We profit from problems when we give them to the Lord.  They bring growth and heap blessings of all kinds on those who serve Him.

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