It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
2 Chronicles 20:15
From this incident we learn:
I. That God has many ways at His disposal of which we know nothing. God can touch the reason of men, God can touch the eyes of men, so that a man shall mistake his brother for an enemy.
II. In the training of our highest life we want principles as well as detailed laws. The principle here referred to is, "The battle is not ours, but God's." God is far more concerned about us than we can be about ourselves. We make all the noise, but He does all the work.
III. In the culture of our highest life we must regard extremity as one phase of Divine discipline. Jehoshaphat was driven into a corner. He said openly in the hearing of his people, "We have no might against this great host." The text addresses all who are trying to live in the fear and love of God under discouraging circumstances. "The battle is not yours, but God's."
IV. The text also addresses a word (1) to all who are bearing Christian protest against evil; (2) to all who are undergoing severe temptation; (3) to all who are labouring for the good of the world; (4) to all who are engaged in controversy on behalf of Christian doctrine. If we had to defend everything and to fight everything in our own strength, and for our own ends, the case would be perfectly different; but when God says to us, "Ye have this treasure in earthen vessels; the excellency of the power is of God, and not of man," when He teaches us that we are servants and not masters, creatures and not creators, with no grasp of eternity, it becomes us patiently to wait, to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.
Parker, City Temple, 1871, p. 15.
2 Chronicles 20:15, 2 Chronicles 20:17I. The history of the Church is full of instances of this law of Divine procedure. An old saying of the German Reformers was this: "One with God on His side is a majority." Every cause which God originates starts with only Gideon's three hundred.
II. From this law of God's working it is clear that in spiritual affairs the balance of power does not depend on numbers. Votes have very little to do with it. It depends on spiritual forces. It depends on insight into the spiritual wants of the world, on consecration to God's service, on the power of prayer, on spiritual discovery of the side on which God is, and specially on intensity of Christian character.
III. It is a great thought on this subject that the human race furnishes but a small part of the holy ministries of this world. The ministry of angels probably swells what we call minorities to secret majorities.
IV. Success in spiritual affairs often loses the character of a conflict, so overwhelming and so easy is the working of Divine auxiliaries.
V. Minorities of honest and earnest men, devoted to a great cause, should never be opposed heedlessly. Let us be on the look-out for such men. Let us greet them with a "Godspeed" when they make their Divine credentials clear.
VI. Within the Church of Christ itself is to be found a minority of believers whom God regards with peculiar complacency. As a spiritual power, they are the vanguard of the Church. They are the spiritual aristocracy of Christ's kingdom.
A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book, p. 21.
2 Chronicles 20:21Anybody can sing the Te Deum when the battle is over. The difference between an ordinary man of war and a Christian is this: a Christian shouts before the victory, because he knows it is sure to come.
I. We learn here, first, a lesson of patriotism. The foreign policy of Ammon and Moab seemed very brilliant for a time. They carried everything before them, but in due time they were overthrown. We must not trust in the number of our soldiers, in the boundless resources of our country, but in the beauty of holiness, in the justice of our cause, in the purity of our motive, in one word in the blessing of our God.
II. The special object of the lesson is to illustrate the history of the Christian Church, for the Christian Church is engaged in a holy war. If we go forth to war, we must do as Jehoshaphat—we must be clothed with the spirit of holiness. God came down to fill the hearts of His children; then they were ready for the great work. The pentecostal blessing delivered the early Christians from the three hindrances to the progress of the Gospel—cowardice, selfishness, and ignorance. Catch the spirit of the Apostles, and you will save the whole world.
H. P. Hughes, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 152.
References: 2 Chronicles 20:20.—Sermons for Boys and Girls, p. 185. 2 Chronicles 20:26.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 140. 2 Chronicles 20:30.—E. Monro, Practical Sermons, vol. iii., p. 97.
2 Chronicles 20:37I. The example of Jehoshaphat is a warning to us. There is something of infinitely greater consequence in the world than making a fortune. What you have to settle first and foremost is the moral basis on which you are proceeding; you must get the full consent of your judgment, and heart, and conscience before you give yourself up to any commercial course. Have God for your Partner if you would make your business, in the highest sense of the term, honourable and successful.
II. The principle of the text is expansive enough to include other subjects of equal importance. For example, the subject of marriage is fairly within the scope of its application. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" "What communion hath Christ with Belial?"
III. The principle of the text bears upon evil companionship generally. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Men cannot confederate themselves against God and succeed. Better stand alone than be found in the association of evil men. Better never hear a friendly voice than be allured by the deceit of evil men. Better be found in unpitied loneliness, yet with a conscience void of offence, than lift up our heads amongst the most influential and illustrious servants of the devil.
Parker, City Temple, 1870, p. 301
Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?
And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,
If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.
And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;
Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.
O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.
And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.
And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the LORD: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.
Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.
And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the LORD fought against the enemies of Israel.
So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.
And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.
And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.
Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers.
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.
And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongeber.
Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.