by Jeff Davidson
In 2 Chronicles 20, we see that Judah finds herself in a difficult situation, for all her enemies, usually divided amongst themselves, have united to attack her. But Jehoshaphat, a king after God's heart, will not panic or complain, but seek the face of the Lord, plead with Him and give Him praise, then consult the prophets to know His will.
The first thing that the Lord will say to His people is "Do not be afraid!" (2 Chronicles 20:15). Fear, in fact, is the substance of things not hoped for; and, in the same way that faith brings good things, fear brings bad things. In addition we know that, without faith it is impossible to please God, and if we are in fear, we are not in faith. The most powerful weapon of the enemy therefore is fear; for if the enemy succeeds in leading us into fear, he will be able to do almost anything he wants with us. We cannot therefore exercise our faith if we are in fear.
Then still in this same verse, God will reassure His people by saying to them: "... do not be dismayed... for the battle (is not yours but) belongs to Me". That does not mean that we are to do nothing for after that the Lord added: "... tomorrow you will march against them ..." (2 Chronicles 20:16). But we must understand that we take part in this battle with God, not with carnal (natural) weapons, but with spiritual weapons. We must be there (present), even if it is God who fights for us, for if without Him we can do nothing, without us He will do nothing either!
Therefore how can we be involved and have the victory?
God has given us 3 things to do:
It is also by standing at our post that we shall hear the voice of God and understand the tactics of the enemy. To be at one's post is therefore an attitude, a priority to be established in our hearts. Whether it is us or the church, we need to hear God.
The only thing that impresses Jesus is our ability to let the Holy Spirit work in us, and not our ability to follow the law (our own righteousness); for when we are under the law, we cannot walk either in faith or in grace.
Ephesians 6:13 shows us how to stand firm and be strengthened by taking the whole armour of God which is placed at our disposal to struggle against all the demonic powers. Each part of this armour is found in Christ and in His Word. And it is by spending time with Him and in the Scriptures that we shall be able to clothe and equip ourselves with every one of these weapons.
Praise also will allow us to change our perspective and see things as God sees them (He changed the perspective of Joshua: "See! I deliver Jericho into your hands ..." Joshua 6:2). And so in 2 Chronicles 20:20, Jehoshaphat exhorts his people to put their confidence in the Lord and in His prophets in order to achieve victory and prosperity.
Lifting our heads up towards God enables us to see His promises and enables us to enter into the process which will lead us to victory: for the question is not to know how we can overcome, but how we can get to the place where we can overcome. In 2 Chronicles 20:22, we see that praise will cause the Lord to move and that it is an indispensable means for taking part in the battle.
Praise yadah (see the different types of praise below) enables us therefore to open up the way and put the enemy to flight (2 Chronicles 20:21); it was followed by victory praise tehillah (2 Chronicles 20:22). That's why, after a victory, we must not stay on the mountain, but move forward in the open path to gather the spoil (2 Chronicles 20:21); for that is the real purpose of God, the purpose of the battle.
So if we know how to position ourselves, stand fast and see beyond the circumstances, we shall experience an opening up and an advance in order to take the spoils, the souls that still do not know Jesus.
It is the opening up that God wants to achieve for France!
The different types of praise
Praise takes different forms:
- hallal: is to shine, to be mad, praise as David praised, it is alleluia!
- yadah: is to throw praises like arrows with our hands.
- tehillah: is a new song (Psalm 40:3); it changes according to the context, when the Holy Spirit is seized with praise (it is worship in spirit and in truth). That is where we achieve the victory (Psalm 22:3 and Psalm 100).
- todah: is to praise with our hands held out to Him in thanksgiving.
- chasak: is to shout.
- zamar: is to praise with instruments.
- baruch: is to prostrate oneself, to be silent.
In 2 Chronicles 20, the praises of the people were transformed into tehillah by the Holy Spirit. That is where the victory is! Praise is therefore a building plan to reach tehillah where the enemy cannot remain any longer, he has to flee.
How do we stand fast?
"For we are the circumcised, who render our worship to God by God's Spirit, who rejoice in Jesus Christ, and who put no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).
So we are the ones who are circumcised (those who are participators in God's covenant) who worship in Spirit and rejoice in Jesus Christ and not in the flesh. In Philippians 3:4-8, Paul warns us against those who want to impose the law on us, for it is not that that makes us righteous. Even if the law can play the role of tutor when we are young in the faith, this tutor is no longer necessary when we are growing up. Those who keep the law as a measure of their righteousness have moved out of the benefits of grace. God does not like that, any more, moreover, than the world does, which runs away from this hypocrisy and is waiting for a people who live out true grace, which is activated through faith.
So grace is God's part, and faith is our part; and when the two are brought together, the glory and power of God can be made manifest. Neither is grace the freedom to sin, but it is the strength not to sin, It is to walk with God and to do what we are called to.
Grace is therefore the ability that God gives us to live out what He has called us to. In addition, grace forgives, for, when God looks at us, He sees Jesus our righteousness. We are therefore the Body of Christ and without us, He is not complete. We are therefore "His fullness" by His grace and our faith (Ephesians 1: 23). God is a living God, and we cannot serve Him with dead works, the law.
"Thus I shall know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed to Him in His death" (Philippians 3:10).
The apostle Paul speaks of "fellowship with the sufferings of Christ" in order to become similar to Him in His death. Here he is describing a daily process. Paul is not speaking of the sufferings that Jesus experienced on the cross but of those He lived through when He was in Gethsemane. For it was at that moment that he struggled against Himself, against His soul and His humanity to accomplish God's desire. He could have called upon the angels to save Him, He therefore had the choice. And His suffering was such that His perspiration turned to blood.
Then how did Jesus overcome His sufferings?
How did Jesus manage to say "not My will, but Yours" (Luke 22:42)? Jesus lived through the same temptations as we do, so how did He come through this great temptation?
"Therefore we also ... looking on Jesus, who gives life to faith and brings it to perfection; in exchange for the joy that was reserved for Him, He suffered the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Jesus looked, for He had His head lifted up, and saw beyond the cross. He saw the result, the joy (which was His strength), the resurrection of men, He saw us! And it was with that strength that He endured the cross. The apostle Paul understood that he was to suffer, to enter into fellowship with Christ's sufferings, and go through those sufferings in order to live, through the resurrection. This also is the only way we can live, go through the trials and get the victory: by taking up our position, by holding firm and seeing the deliverance.
W e must therefore look further, get the perspective of victory, and start to live in the resurrection and eternal life. So it is not the sufferings that change us but the process we go through.
"That is why we do not lose heart, and even if our outward man is being destroyed, our inner man is being renewed from day to day. For our light afflictions of the present moment produce for us, beyond all measure, an eternal weight of glory, because we are looking at, not the things that are visible, but at those that are invisible; for the things that are visible are temporary, and the things that are invisible are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
This passage speaks to us of the renewal of the inner man and of the eternal glory that our afflictions, which come because we are still in the world, produce. We must look therefore to the things that are invisible. God uses our suffering to move us forward, but we do not move forward if we keep our eyes fixed on the sufferings.
"It is not that I have already carried off the prize or that I have already attained perfection; but I run (my race) in order to lay hold of it, since I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12 Interlinear).
To move forward is to push (the idea of resistance), to run in order to get what Jesus has obtained for us on the cross. Jesus took hold of Paul for the sake of his calling, in the same way he takes hold of us, and we can live Him out in every area of our lives. Therefore there are things that we must take hold of personally, but also as a community.
"Brothers, for myself I do not consider that I have taken hold (of the prize) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching to what is in front, I run towards the goal to obtain the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14 Interlinear).
Paul says "I have still not arrived (am still not mature), but I forget what is behind and push forward for that which is before me". We have the choice then of looking to the past or going forward, but the two are not compatible. Besides, when the enemy speaks, he always speaks to us of the past, whereas God He always speaks to us of the future (Proverbs 3:5 where the past can, from the human point of view, be seen as wisdom).
To be at our post, to hold fast, we have to be detached from the past. And it is the sword of the Spirit which is the weapon which will cut the ties with the past. God wants to make us free in order that we are no longer held back by our past and we can, in our turn, set the captives free in His name.