Have you ever needed to FIGHT?
And no, I’m not talking about swinging your fists when you got made fun of on the playground in elementary school – I mean FIGHTING IN THE SPIRIT. I mean throwing all you are into a battle where your heart, your mind, your soul – are on the line.
I have had to. And I would love to share with you what is ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL SECRETS the Lord has taught me about spiritual war. It is a secret weapon that is so often neglected by Christ Warriors – it is left sitting on the pew at church or restricted to our hymnals and iPods – if it even exists in those places! In a culture where even Sunday mornings are primarily filled with songs about what God has done for ME, what God should do for ME, or about how broken WE are, how much WE need,we are unwittingly laying down one of our sharpest, most powerful weapons: THE WEAPON OF PRAISE.
WHAT IS PRAISE? Praise is using our words, our voice, and our bodies to pour out thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us, for Jesus’ sacrifice, to glorify Him for Who He is, and to declare His worthiness, His majesty, and His beauty. Keeping this in mind, we are going to look at one of my favorite chapters in the Bible to see an example of battling with praise. Don’t be lazy – grab your Bible and turn to 2 Chronicles, chapter 20!
This historical account of a very memorable battle occurs during the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Jehoshaphat had made many reforms in Judah – putting away idols and teaching the people the ways of the Lord (for fascinating back story, see chapters 17 & 18). He then gets word that “a great multitude” of Moabites and Ammonites were coming up to battle against him and his people. Verses 3 and 4 captivate my attention:
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
Notice: Jehoshaphat was AFRAID. But he let his fear drive him to his God. And then he chooses to seek God in a way that few people know how to do anymore – BY FASTING. And not only himself fasting, but he gathers the ENTIRE KINGDOM into complete unity to pray and fast before the Lord.
Then Jehoshaphat stood in the house of God and spoke aloud to God, recalling the things Jehovah had done for His people, glorifying God for Who He is, and beseeching His divine help. This section (verses 5-13) ends with Jehoshaphat humbly proclaiming, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes on You.”
AND THEN….GET THIS:
“Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” ONCE AGAIN, this theme of complete unity as a nation as they seek the Lord. Oh, if our nation knew how to do this, what a different place America would be!
BUT CONTINUING ON….
The Spirit of God comes in response to this king’s bold, yet humble prayer and declares, “do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…you will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, oh Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
Oh, how many times this beautiful declaration of salvation from God to His people has given me great comfort and courage! To think that the God of heaven and earth fights FOR me…..fights for ME….
All I have to say to that is – WOW.
Then all Judah and Jerusalem falls down and worships the Lord, and the scripture specifically notes that the Levites “stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.” Hmm….Seems to me like we don’t like to do that in our culture either. We don’t like to be “very loud,” at least not for God – I mean, that would be embarrassing, RIGHT? I speak not because I am better than those who fear being embarrassed if they worship too radically…but because all too often I AM one of those people. God forgive me for ever being ashamed of praising Him with my whole being!
OKAY, NEXT SECTION:
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went BEFORE the army, and -“
Woah, woah, hold up – BEFORE THE ARMY?!?! No offense Mr. Jehoshaphat, but what king with ANY brains sends the choir out before the infantry??? I mean let’s be serious, IT SOUNDS CRAZY.
And then I realized – CRAZY IS WHAT GOD CALLS US TO. He calls us to CRAZY TRUST. He often asks us to put aside what makes logical sense and throw our pathetic, trembling selves into His arms and upon His strong and valiant chest – and when we do, we will hear His heartbeat.
His deep, constantly thudding, aching heartbeat of mercy. Mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy….
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
When they began to sing and to praise…..Oh Lord, teach us this truth! Teach us that when we CHOOSE to praise You (yes friends, it IS a choice!) that YOU WILL FIGHT FOR US!
This miraculous story ends with:
29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
Oh, dear friends! How I WISH that Jesus’ Body truly knew this magnificent, crazy truth! PRAISE IS OUR GREATEST WEAPON, CHURCH! God has ordained it to be so. HE WILL ACT WHEN WE PRAISE HIM! Have you ever done that? You know, instead of whining to God about how hard life is and begging Him to please do something cause He’s taking forever – have you ever just quit your complaining and started to PRAISE HIM? To lift your voice in until you are “very loud,” to sing and to dance, to throw your entire being into radical worship of your Savior?
HAVE YOU EVER?
I dare you to try.