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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why is the Trinity a Christian Belief?




Why is the Trinity a Christian Belief?

 

 

Christianity rests on the doctrine of the Trinity – (the Threeness of the One God.)  Our Athanasian Creed written by the Church fathers around 500 A.D. describes the Christian doctrine of the Trinity like this:  “that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God and yet there are not three gods, but one God.” 

 

We Christians believe in One God and we believe in the Three in One.  We believe this because we find the concept of the Trinity in the Bible.  The Old Testament as well as everywhere we look in the New Testament speak of the Triune God.  Just because we cannot put the mystery of the Triune God in a neat box and understand Him doesn’t mean we don’t believe in what Scripture says about Him. 

 

God would not be God if we could grasp who He is with our limited understanding.  His ways are much higher than our ways and His truths than our truths.  It is silly to try to pin Him down or box Him in with our little incomplete human reasoning.  God is all powerful and He can do anything He wants. He made the rules.  He is one God and He is also Three in One - a mystery we accept by faith.

 

Nicky Gumbel in his book, “Searching Issues” tells the story of a preacher who preached a sermon about the Trinity.  At the end of the sermon he asked his congregation, “Have I made the doctrine of the Trinity clear?”  One man in the congregation answered “Yes”, to which the preacher replied, “In that case you have got it wrong!”  If you can understand the Trinity it is not God because there will always an element of mystery about God.  A mystery we Christians accept by faith.  Faith alone can bridge the gap.

 

Our Christian faith arose out of Judaism. The belief that there is one God is and always has been all important to the Jewish faith.   Deuteronomy 6:4 states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”  All of the nations that were neighbors to Israel in the olden days believed in many gods.  And the Jewish people were constantly being tempted to worship idols since everyone else in the ancient world was doing it.  Many times human sacrifices were being made to these idols.  God hated to see His people worship idols and He was constantly calling Israel back to worshipping Him and Him alone.

 

God also calls us Christians to worship Him and Him alone.  The New Testament states that God is one God.  And as Christians we believe that. (John5:44: Romans 3:30: 1 Timothy 1:17: and James 2:19)   Our Athanasian Creed says that: “We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.” 

 

The doctrine of the Trinity sheds light on the interaction of God with His creation.  First, God the Father is the Source and the Creator.  He does everything out of love.  Even His justice is out of love.  “God is love “(1 John 4:8) and we are told to “Abide in His love.”  (1 John 4:16)

 

 Second, God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the human face of God revealed.  Scripture says that Jesus Christ (the Word) was there in the beginning with God and was God.  (John 1:1) Jesus Christ is the One through whom all things were and are created. (John 1:3)   And God the Son (Jesus) died for us.  He is our Shepherd.  And He is a risen Savior.  Jesus could not have conquered death and risen again if He were not God.

 

And thirdly God the Holy Spirit is God who is active and present throughout His creation.  The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts when we believe in Jesus.  And He meets our most fundamental psychological and spiritual needs as human beings. He is our teacher and guide if we allow Him to be.

 

The followers of Jesus found themselves worshipping Jesus as God. (John 20:28)  They watched Him heal the sick and raise the dead.  They saw Him after He rose from the dead. These early Christians had an experience with the Holy Spirit and they realized that the Holy Spirit was the spirit of Christ and was God.

 

 John writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him (Jesus), and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and lived among us. ” (John 1:1-4 and 14) The “Word” here is another name for Jesus. Scripture has called Jesus the Living Word. Jesus was in the beginning with God and is God and He became flesh (was born) and lived. (John 1:1)   

 

There are several blessings in the New Testament that include the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Baptism is in the Name (singular) of (1) the Father, and (2) the Son and (3) the Holy Spirit.  One name but three Persons. (Matthew 28:19)  Paul ends a letter to the Corinthians with: “may the grace of (2) the Lord Jesus Christ, and (1) the love of God, and (3) the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14) 

 

In Ephesians chapter 2 our relationship with God in prayer is seen in terms of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We are instructed to pray (1) “to the Father”, (2) “through the Son”, and (3)   “by the Spirit.”  (Ephesians 2:28)  And when we are filled with the (3) Holy Spirit we give thanks to (1) God our Father in the name of our (2) Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:18-20)   And then there is “(3) one Spirit…(2)one Lord…(1)one God and Father of all.”  (Ephesians 4:4-6) 

Everywhere in the New Testament we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together.  Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:13:14, “(1) God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the (3) Spirit…that you might share in the glory of our (2) Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Another of the many Trinitarian Bible passage shows the Trinitarian God at work.  “To (1) God’s elect, …who have been chosen …through the sanctifying work of the (3) Spirit, for obedience to (2) Jesus Christ sprinkling by His blood.”  (1 Peter 1:1, 2)

 

The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there is a threefoldness about God’s acts and revelations.  In the New Testament the doctrines of baptism, grace, salvation, ethics, worship, and unity – are all described in Trinitarian terms.  To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to experience God as the Father.  Scripture says: “those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons of God.  …and by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  (Romans 8:14-16) 

 

Paul also prays that the followers would experience the love of Christ and be filled with the fullness of God.  (Ephesians 3:17-19)  And Paul prays that the followers would experience the “power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16) When the Holy Spirit fills us, we experience the Fatherhood of God and the love of Christ, and the power of the Spirit.  Yet the three are not separated. Our spiritual lives also have a threefold fullness about them through the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to experience God as Trinity. 

 

Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Reverend Nicky Gumbel’s booklet “Searching Issues” which is one of the Alpha series.  

 

 

 

   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fighting Depression




 Fighting Depression

 

Depression is epidemic in our society and the rates of suicide are on the rise.  We live in a society that values individualism.  And of course individualism and freedom are very important.  But belonging to a caring community – a community that has a safety net – a society where we value one another is also very important.  All important to our emotional health.  We need a balance somewhere.  We need to work towards a community where everyone belongs. 

 

 God did not put us in this world to stand alone.  We were meant to live in community. Many people who commit suicide feel like they are all alone.  Statistics show that the main reason a person is desperate enough to kill him or herself is because he or she is alienated or cut off from family, work, friends or community.  It seems that when we are not valued by anyone we feel that life is no longer worth living.   

 

 As a Christian I believe that we are called to make a difference.  To love one another and be sensitive to each other’s fears and needs. We can help our church provide a warm community.  And we can be there for family members when they need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.  Scripture says that “A brother is born to help in times of trouble” (Proverbs 17:17) God calls us to be there for our families.  To judge less and love more.           

 

There are several kinds of depression.  First there is “medical depression” which is caused by a physical problem, an imbalance or a hormonal change.  These illnesses require medical or psychological attention. And secondly there is “situational depressions” which can be caused by man’s inhumanity to man, poor health, financial problems or any number of things.  Situational depression happens when our response is to become depressed when there are bad situations in our lives.  

 

We will mainly discuss situational depression in this blog.   You can depress yourself by thinking about all of the bad things that are happening in your life and talking about all of the people who are not treating you fairly, or have been mean to you in the past.  And you can worry about problems in your life that seem impossible to solve, or problems that may arise in the future that may be impossible to solve.

Your mood is linked to your thoughts and your words so you have power over how you feel by how you talk to yourself and the way you tell your story to others.  Instead of telling others  how impossible your relationship is with this mean person, you can mention that you prayed and your difficult relationship is in God’s capable Hands and you wait to see how things will be improving now with His help. Also the Word of God (the Bible) is powerful and you can fight depression by believing and counting on God’s promises.   

 

 Scripture says: “Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”  (Isaiah 61:3)  I think this Scripture is saying that praising and thanking God will help take away heaviness or depression.  We have been instructed here to “put on” praise.  Lose ourselves in God. Look at the Savior and not at the high waves threatening to do us in.  Our victory is in Him!  He promises to take care of all our problems if we try to follow Him. I have been in churches that spent time praising God and I can testify that any heaviness or sadness that I brought into the praise time was lifted when I spent some time praising God.   

 

In the Bible we read where David talked to himself when he was depressed. “Why are you cast down and why are you miserable?  Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him.  For I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.”  (Psalm 41:5)  When David was depressed he reminded himself that God would see him through his troubles and that God was his help.  We need to do that too.

 

 David had a lot to be depressed about.  He had many people who hated him and were trying to kill him. Even one of his own sons tried to kill him!  For many years David was an outcast and could never go home.  He was under heavy persecution as many of God’s children are and have been. (Matthew 6:10-12)  For years King Saul and all of his mighty men were searching for David, trying to find and kill him.  So poor David was forced to hide in dark caves and sleep in the dirt while constantly watching for his enemies.  He was out in the wilderness in the cold and on the run for such a long time. It all appeared so hopeless.  But finally God did something. God always comes through for his children, but in His time frame. 

 

You can talk to yourself and encourage yourself like David did. Put yourself in God’s hands and trust God to take care of you.  If there is sin in your life, do your best to turn from it and confess it to God. There is joy in coming clean and following God.  Remember, if you believe in Christ as your Savior then God is your Father, your “Abba” which means “Papa”.(Romans 8:15)  Enjoy your relationship with your “Abba”. 

 

 Stand on the promises in Scripture.  One of my favorite Scripture verses is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes.” God promises that in the end all of His children will have victory in Christ. (Revelations 19:11-21)  That is a mighty promise!  Encourage yourself in that!   

 

You can help break your depression by reminding yourself of your past victories.  Don’t sit and feel bad but go out and do something good for someone else.  Exercise. Eat right and get enough sleep. Have fun.  Laugh and lighten up. Make friends. Sing or listen to music. Keep busy and think about good things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

 Don’t dwell on the negative or allow it to have power over you. Refuse to be a victim.  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7)  Don’t allow others to make you feel ashamed of who you are (You are God’s precious child) and refuse to suffer from abnormal guilt. If you believe in Christ as your Savior then the Bible says that you have been set free from sin and guilt. Walk in the freedom that is yours in Christ.

 

 Stand tall and don’t let any critical person drag you down. If you have been disappointed by people or by failed expectations, start fresh with new goals or visions. Don’t live in the past or allow past failures to define who you are. (Isaiah 43:18) 

 

And if you need to do something and you are afraid you can’t do what you need to do, remind yourself that you can do anything you need to do in Christ’s power.  Believe it.  He will be with you.  Scripture says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  Everything we do is sacred if we do it for the Lord.  Jesus died so that we could have and enjoy a wonderful and powerful life.  “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Psalm 118:24)

 

 

Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Joyce Meyer’s book, “Living Beyond your Feelings”       

 

 

 

 


Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Little Foxes that Spoil the Vines



                                                     The Little Foxes That Spoil the Vines
 

Song of Solomon 2:15

 

We want to live a life of faith in God. We want to follow the Lord and we want our lives to make a difference.  We have God’s love in our hearts and the Holy Spirit in our lives and we are excited to be on our way. We start out strongly with faith and enthusiasm. But then some little thing happens, some small problem gets us off the course, and we never quite understand why.  Why we fall off the path and why we wander around in a muddle?

 

The two lovers in the Song of Solomon brag about their wonderful marriage. These lovers have named their love relationship “the vines”.  The bride and the groom are crazy in love. They can’t keep their eyes off of one another! They tell us that their love “the vines” has produced “tender grapes”.  The bride wants to catch any problem that could possibly harm their relationship, any little fox that could spoil their wonderful vine! They know that even the hottest love can grow cold and they want to protect their love “their vines” from such a fate. “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines.  For our vines have tender grapes.”  (Song of Solomon 2:15)  Foxes could chew the grape vines and spoil part of the harvest.

 

We are the bride of Christ and we want be His faithful witness. We try to love others and have faith in God when problems arise.  But little foxes or little problems always seem to show up and spoil some of our efforts, if we let them.  Our job is to catch these problems (foxes) before they spoil our (vines) faith walk. 

 

  My friend Sue, a faithful Christian, works in a beauty salon where one of the other workers, a woman named Judy, seems to hate her.  Everyday Judy makes fun of Sue, steals things from her work station, gossips about her behind her back and tries to make her life miserable. For a while Sue tries to be nice to Judy, but finally she starts spreading nasty rumors about Judy behind her back and doing what she can to get her in trouble.

 

  But Sue knows that she should not be paying back a bad deed with another bad deed.  She knows that Christ came to change all of that. His followers are not to practice hate and retribution.  But we are to pass on His love and His grace.  Christ forgives us our sins and extends grace to us and we are commanded to follow Him and forgive others and extend grace to those who sin against us.

 

Scripture says that Jesus has left us His peace, but Sue didn’t have any peace when she was around Judy.  Sue began to pray and ask God for His peace and His help and several Bible passages came to her mind.  Romans 12:20-21 says: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink: for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.  Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

 

I always thought that the “burning coals” spoken of in this Bible passage were payback for what the enemy had done to me.  But Joyce Meyer in her book, Living Beyond Your Feelings, says that she believes the burning coals “are actually the fire of love you are showing that eventually melts the hardness of your enemy’s heart.” 

 

Joyce Meyer in her book Living Beyond Your Feelings, says that: “The Bible teaches us to always believe the best about every person. “Love always believes the best of every person.” ( 1 Corinthians 13:7)  She goes on to say that if we let our thoughts lead us, they usually tend toward negativity.  The flesh without the Holy Spirit is dark and negative.  But if we choose to let the Spirit lead us, instead of the flesh, then we can be filled with life and peace in our souls.

 

Sue prayed and asked God to lead her in her dealing with Judy and then she tried out this idea of “thinking the best” about Judy.  Sue began thinking that Judy was probably hurting from a problem in her own life and that was why she was behaving so badly.  Each time Judy was rude or mean, Sue would repeat her “thinking the best” idea to herself and each time she noticed that those good thoughts calmed her down emotionally.

 

 Our own hateful thoughts are toxic to our minds and bodies and spirits.  We might as well take poison.  But if we choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadings, He will give us thoughts of love and grace that will lead us to life and peace and joy.  We have a choice to make.  Follow the Holy Spirit or follow our own angry negative thoughts.   Scripture says: “May the good Spirit lead you on to level ground.”  (Psalm 143:19) 

 

I am guilty of letting rude negative people turn me into a rude negative person.  This negative habit of mine is a sin, a “fox” that has spoiled part of my life “vine”. Next time I start thinking about a person who is rude to me, I plan to follow Scripture’s teaching and pray for that person and believe the best about that person.  Instead of wasting parts of my day being angry and down in the dumps, I plan to try to let the good Spirit lead me on to “level ground” like Psalm 143:19 says.

 

Being fearful is another bad habit (sin) that I have.  Another sin “fox” that messes up my faith walk (vine).  All through God’s Word we are told over and over not to fear because God is with us.  (Isaiah 41:10)   Scripture says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  We are told not to be anxious about anything but to pray about everything and give our problems to God and He will take care of them.  (Philippians 4:6-7)  God has promised to give us His grace.  Grace is the power we need to live our life in victory.  But grace can only be received through faith.  Joyce Meyer in her book Living Beyond Your Feelings, says, “Faith is our plug into the grace of God.” And then she asks: “Are you unplugged?”  You may be full of faith but are you using your faith?  How do you unleash your faith? 

 

Joyce Meyer suggests three ways to unleash our faith. 

 

1)       Praying

Scripture says: “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and       find grace to help in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16) When we pray we can also ask God to strengthen us in our faith during the time we are waiting for the answer. 

 

2)      Saying

 

After we have prayed, we should talk as if we really believe that God is answering our prayer. Hold fast your confession of faith in God!  Sometimes I ask for something and then I keep on complaining as if I had never prayed at all.  I have learned that I should not pray one way and talk another.  I should stop making negative, faithless statements. 

 

3)      Doing

The third ingredient in releasing your faith is to do whatever you feel that God is asking you to do.  If you have a part to play, play it. Keep moving forward. Perhaps He asks us to do nothing.  Be obedient to God. 

 

I can see that there are things I need to do to clean up my act. First I need to give in to the Spirit and receive His grace when I deal with a rude person.  I need to learn to “think the best” about the person who offends me.  Not to play the “pay back” game but to extend grace!

 And secondly, I need to plug my faith in. In the past I have prayed and given my troubles to God.  But then I take them back and continue grumbling about them.  My mouth doesn’t go along with my faith.  I have fallen down on the “Saying” part.  This tricky little “fox” has been spoiling things for me.  I need to learn to talk the talk of faith.  I need to catch this wily fox and the other one too.  Do you have any foxes you need to catch?          

      

 

                  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Good Father and the Bad Son



The Good Father and the Bad Son

 

King Jehoshaphat was king of Judah.  He was a good king and a good man who loved God and country. King Jehoshaphat was the great, great, great grandson of King David who had also been a good king and a good man who had also deeply loved God and country.  Both men were fathers who loved their children.

 

King Jehoshaphat went through his kingdom tearing down any idols he could find and teaching the people the Word of God. He encouraged the people of Judah to turn from worshipping idols and to worship the one true God.  Jehoshaphat so wanted his people to learn to love God.

 

 On one occasion King Jehoshaphat led his people to fast and pray when soldiers from several strong nations were coming against the people of Judah to destroy them. God miraculously fought Judah’s battle for them because they believed in Him.  The enemy soldiers became confused and fought one another instead of fighting the people of Judah! God blessed Judah with abundance throughout all of Jehoshaphat’s reign.

 

In 849 B.C., after a long successful reign, King Jehoshaphat died, and all the people of Judah mourned their beloved king.  Jehoshaphat had also been a devoted father and had given all of his children expensive gifts. He passed his crown on to his beloved oldest son, Jehoram.  But that proved to be a big mistake.

 

Jehoram was thirty two years old when he took over the throne from his father and he reigned as king for eight years.  But in those terrible eight years Jehoram nearly tore apart everything that his good father, Jehoshaphat, had loved and worked so hard to accomplish.  Soon after Jehoram became king of Judah, he had his six brothers murdered with the sword (2 Chronicles 21:2-4) along with some of their family members and friends. He must have been afraid that his position as king would be threatened by his brothers!   

 

Next King Jehoram formed an alliance with the wicked King Ahab, who was king of Israel at that time. King Ahab along with his evil wife, Queen Jezebel, sacrificed children to their idols and led the nation of Israel into these practices.  Jehoram married King Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah, and he rejected the God of his fathers.

 

Jehoram joined his wife in worshipping and sacrificing to King Ahab’s idols.  Together King Jehoram and his wife Athaliah set up idols around the country of Judah and ordered his people to sacrifice to these idols and forget their God.  The town of Libnah revolted and refused to be part of Judah any longer because Jehoram “had abandoned Yahweh, the God of his fathers.”  (2 Chronicles 21:10)  

 

About this time God’s prophet Elijah sent King Jehoram a personal message or a prophecy from God.  The message told King Jehoram that he had not walked in the ways of his fathers and that he had caused his people to “prostitute themselves.”  The message mentioned that God saw everything that King Jehoram had done and that there would be consequences.  God knew that Jehoram had murdered his brothers who were good men.  The prophecy ended with God telling Jehoram that his household would be “struck” and that he would die of a painful bowel disease. Jehoram ignored God’s message and did not repent. 

 

King Jehoram’s rule of Judah was shaky and Edom revolted and declared their independence from Judah.  King Jehoram went out to fight Edom but his armies fled when the Edomites attacked.  Soon after that the Philistines, Arabs and Ethiopians looted King Jehoram’s house and carried off nearly all of his family.  (2 Chronicles 21: 16-17)  And next King Jehoram contracted a painful bowel disease like the prophecy said would happen and two years later he died of it.  Scripture says that no one in his kingdom mourned his death or honored him.  And he was not buried with the other kings of Judah.

 

When we read a story like this we wonder how a good man like King Jehoshaphat could have been the father of such a bad son like King Jehoram.  Actually King Jehoshaphat’s ancestor, King David, had the same problem. One of David’s sons, Absalom, murdered his brother Amnon. (2 Samuel 13:119-29)  And then Absalom undermined his father by going around his kingdom spreading lies and bad stories about his father.  Absalom encouraging the people and the armies of Israel to rebel against their king, King David. And then he led an army of insurgents against his own father, King David, to attack and kill him and take over his throne. (2 Samuel 15:1-10) It doesn’t get any worse than that, does it?

 

David and Jehoshaphat aren’t the only parents who had children who turned against them. It seems to be one of the problems that can plague any parent today as well as it was back in antiquity. Scripture says: “A grown child who is wise makes a father glad, but a grown child who is foolish is the sorrow of the mother.” (Proverbs 10:1)   The book of Proverbs speaks often of wise persons and foolish persons but those words “wise” and “foolish” have a moral and spiritual meaning to them.  In other words in the book of Proverbs a “wise” person follows God and a “foolish” person doesn’t. 

 

It is touching to note that in spite of Absalom’s rebellion, he was still loved by his father, David.  When Absalom attacked his father along with his armies, King David ordered his soldiers to defend their position but not to kill his son Absalom.  But Absalom did die in the rebellion.  When David was told of Absalom’s death he “was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept.  He said: ’O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom – if only I had died in your place!’” (2 Samuel 18:33)  Often the modern parent is caught up in the same dilemma as David was, angry that the grown child has rejected and disrespected family but caring and grieving and wanting the child back.  It’s not a nice place to be.

 

 Parents wonder what they have done wrong when a grown child rebels or cuts them off.  Scripture speaks to parents. “Parents, do not provoke your children to anger,..” (Ephesians 6:4) and “Train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6)  Parents have a responsibility to their children.

 

 A parent may have done their best to raise their child to follow God.  But the grown child ultimately has to make his or her own choices.  All through the Bible God’s people are called to love family. And one of the Ten Commandments calls us to respect and honor our parents. (Exodus 20:12)  When we break these commands God will forgive us if we are sorry, but there may still be consequences.

 

God is the perfect parent, yet so many of His children have turned away from Him.  All through the prophetic scriptures God calls and begs His wayward children to return.  Often the Holy Scriptures reflect God’s deep sorrow and love for His rebellious children along with His anger.

 

The parents who have a rebellious grown child should not give up hope! Parents can give their wayward child to God and trust Him to take care of the problem.  (Malachi 4:6)   God will get involved and He will answer our prayers in ways perhaps differently than we might imagine. If not in this world then in the next. Our impossibilities are God’s possibilities. We have an awesome God!     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

God fought their battle while they watched and sang



God fought their battle while they watched and sang

2 Chronicles 17-20

 

This wild and amazing story from the Old Testament has been loved by Christians down through the ages since it tells of how God protected and fought for those who trusted in Him.  King Jehoshaphat and his people were allowed to experience things that many of us may never get to experience.       

 

Good King Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah.  King David was his great, great, great grandfather and Jehoshaphat wanted to serve David’s God. The year was approximately 820 B.C. and back then most of the people in the ancient world worshipped and sacrificed to idols.  It was the thing to do! Worshipping idols was so popular that many of King Jehoshaphat’s people in Judah also sacrificed to idols. Scripture says that “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the ways of his father, David: and he did not worship idols.”  (2 Chronicles 17:3)

 

King Jehoshaphat cared about his people and tried to influence them to worship God and stop worshipping idols.  Jehoshaphat went around his country tearing down all of the idols that he could find.  And he traveled through the land like a missionary teaching his people about the one true God.  He believed that if the people were educated and knew the Word of God that they would turn from idols.  And he called his priests and prophets to go out with him every week and teach the people about God.  The people of Judah loved their king and listened to him and they promised to follow their king and worship his God.  So God blessed the land of Judah with plenty and abundance and for a while life was good. 

 

But danger was never far away!  Judah was a tiny God-fearing country surrounded by large militant heathen nations.  Angry nations who were always looking for excuses to fight and kill and sack and burn their neighbors!  Scripture says that the countries of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir all agreed to join together and attack the land of Judah.  And Scripture records that a messenger came to King Jehoshaphat with the frightening news: “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria …” (2 Chronicles 20:2)

 

Scripture continues:  “ Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast throughout all the land of Judah. So all the people of Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord, and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”  (2 Chronicles 20:4)

King Jehoshaphat knew that his small army could never fight these massive forces.  He knew that his people would be taken captive or tortured or killed. He felt sick to his stomach and his whole body trembled as he ran to the Lord to pray for help.  Instead of calling his armies together to plan a battle strategy, the first thing King Jehoshaphat did was to proclaim a fast.  His orders went out to all of his people throughout the land of Judah to fast and pray.  We don’t know how many days the fast lasted, but it is recorded in Scripture that all the people in Judah stopped everything they were doing and came together and fasted and prayed, along with their king.   

 

Scripture says: “Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.  And this is the prayer the people prayed: “O our God.  Will You not judge them?  For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us: nor do we know what to do.  But our eyes are upon You.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12) 

 

Then while they were all there together bowing before the Lord praying, Scripture says: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel …..And he said, ‘Listen all of you of Judah and your inhabitants of Jerusalem and you King Jehoshaphat!  Thus says the Lord to you: ‘ Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ ” (2 Chronicles 20:14) 

 

Then God gave Jehoshaphat instructions through the prophet Jahaziel as to what to do when the enemies arrived for battle.  Scripture says: “Tomorrow go down against them.  They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.  You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…Do not fear or be dismayed, tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”  (2 Chronicles 20:16-17)  God had promised his people that He would take care of them and that He would save them from their enemy, and the people believed Him.   

 

As the prophet spoke God’s words, King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah fell to the ground worshipping the Lord.  “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all of Judah and the people of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshipping Him.”  (2 Chronicles 20:18)  After that they sang praises to God with voices loud and high.  (2 Chronicles 20:19) 

 

Everyone in Judah got up very early the next morning and started hiking down the desert trail to the place the Lord had told them to go and where He said that they would meet their enemies.  The Lord spoke to them through the prophet as they were on their way.  “Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established,…”  (2 Chronicles 20:20a)  As they were walking along the excited group decided who should sing and who should praise the Lord.  And as the whole nation that morning went out to meet their enemies, they went out singing and praising their God with harps and lutes and trumpets and loud shouts of praise. “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever,” The people of Judah were on a high.   

 

And amazingly, as King Jehoshaphat and his people began singing and praising God, the Lord began setting ambushes against their enemies – the armies of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who had come to destroy them. (2 Chronicles 20:22)  And as God set up His mysterious ambushes, a strange jumbled confusion seemed to settle in over the Ammonites and they all started becoming disorderly and rattled and began turning on the Moabites and fighting them. This only enraged the Moabites whose sanity was leaving them and they turned on the crazed Ammonites and fought back and the frenzied fighting between the fierce Ammonites the angry Moabites became so chaotic that they both began blindly fighting the armies of Mount Seir as well as each other. And the soldiers from Mount Seir started reeling like drunkards and blindly attacking each other as well as the Ammonites and the Moabites.  And as Judah watched, it seemed that their enemies were caught up in a tangled web of mass confusion with everyone crazily fighting everyone.  And under a spell of muddled insanity they all fought each other until they all were defeated by each other.  And there was no one left to fight.  

 

And all the while King Jehoshaphat and his people stood there and praised God and watched this very unusual battle being fought with God’s mysterious spiritual weapons.  And they joyfully praised God as their victory was being won. And God miraculously saved them that day because they believed in Him.  And there was power in their praise.    

 

The name “Judah” actually means “Praise”.   And this story from the Old Testament is a great lesson on the power of praise.  Scripture says that God is enthroned in the praises of His people.  (Psalm 22:3)  And how did God fight this unusual battle?  God is God and He can do anything He wants!  He has ways that are past our finding out.  The God who promised the people of Judah long ago that if they believed in Him they would be “established” (2 Chronicles 20:20b) is the same God who promises us today that if we believe in Him (Christ) we will also be “established”. (Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9)   

 

Word spread across the ancient world that Judah’s God had won a tremendous battle for them.  And fear gripped the ancient powers because they knew that Judah’s God was a powerful God who would fight for them. So Judah was able to rest from the concern of another military attack.  “And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.  Then the realm of King Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.”  (2 Chronicles 20:29-30)  Because the people of Judah so long ago trusted in God and obeyed Him, they were promised victory and rest all around. And today if we trust in God and obey Him, we are also promised sweet victory and also rest all around.