2 Chronicles 20:14-15a
God made people to be worshipers. We all worship something, whether in a religious format, or the pursuit of created things, or even ourselves, which we usually call pride. If you wonder about the rightness of God commanding us to worship him, I will now simply refer you to John Piper’s book, Desiring God. But now we must see what the Lord does to bring out this desire to worship and praise in Jehoshaphat and his people.
In the account of the life of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, we can see what we all experience: a clash of good and bad desires. Sometimes we can wonder about ourselves and others! Why do we feel such desires for what is evil and destructive? Why do our lives get out of control? How can we change for the glory of God and the good of others? In this chapter, we have seen Jehoshaphat filled with fear. Yet he counteracted his fear with faith, expressed in leading his nation in prayer. But at the end of the prayer, has anything changed? Does God listen to our prayers? Is it meaningful to pray? Many struggle today at this point, and so we need this part of God’s word to encourage us to pray. It is not that we expect the Lord God to do exactly what he did in this account in answer to his prayer. But we need to learn that God does hear our prayer, and he answers in unexpected ways. I doubt that anyone at that time expected to get the answer given in our text.
In the middle of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph’s descendants) and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s’” (2 Chronicles 20:14-15 HCSB).
The Spirit of God stepped in to bring radical change to the situation of God’s people. This idea is developed throughout Chronicles. When God tells us stories in his word, the Bible, he wants us to understand ideas about him and the way he relates with his creatures. In Chronicles, the Holy Spirit tells us a few things about his activity, so that we might know its absolute necessity for life and worship.
- The Spirit worked so that people gathered to support David as king (1 Chronicles 12:18).
- The Spirit gave the plans for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 28:12).
- The Spirit spoke to encourage Asa to act against idolatry (2 Chronicles 15:1).
- The Spirit enabled Zechariah to stand against the wickedness of Joash near the end of his reign (2 Chronicles 24:20).
- The Spirit came upon Jahaziel to deliver God’s message to the people.
We only know the truth and power of God’s message when the Spirit is working in its delivery. Otherwise, we are like elementary school students hurrying through the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ignorant of the masterpieces on display. Here, the Spirit of the Lord is active in both the message and their response to it. We ought to pray constantly for the work of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
The Word is the basis of radical change, which the Holy Spirit produces.
- Our contemporary Christian problem resides very much in extremely low opinions of the Word of God. For example, we do not appreciate its power, as displayed in the creation (Genesis 1; cf. Psalm 33:6-11). In a decaying situation, we remain unmoved, unlike Jeremiah, who knew the power of God’s word (Jeremiah 23:29).
- The Spirit uses the Word to produce deep change in human hearts (Psalm 19:7-11). All true spirituality comes from and agrees with God’s Word.
Have you ever listened to God’s Word? I mean, not just heard it, but do you pay attention to it? Do its ideas grip you, transform you, and motivate you? How is the Spirit presently using the Word to transform you into the likeness of Christ?
Grace and peace, David