There’s one story which has been living with me for a while now. About a year ago, the Lord began to speak to me about worship in the midst of the battle; the power of praise and declaration from an attitude of rest, despite surrounding circumstances, and how significant it is to know the absolute reality of His victory on our behalf.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah are facing a serious enemy. Word comes to them that “a great multitude” is on its way to attack them, and it seems like the outcome is a foregone conclusion; the people of Judah have already been through battles, and they’re weary. Defeat seems inevitable. But, Jehoshaphat is described as a man who had “set his heart to seek God” (ch.19 v.3). When his people are facing this seemingly hopeless situation, Jehoshaphat’s response is to call them together in worship. He prays an incredible prayer: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (ch.19 v.12).
Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah choose to worship in the face of a battle. As they go out toward their enemy, their war cry is “give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever” (v.21). What happens next is the miracle. “When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men… who had come against Judah” (v.22). When Judah arrived at the battleground, they found a scene of total destruction. The enemy was routed and no man had escaped. The Lord had won the battle on their behalf! They also got to take the spoils of victory. What the enemy had accumulated for themselves, the people of Judah redeemed and were blessed by – the passage says the spoils they won were so great, it took three days to gather together and still they could not even carry the wealth of riches the Lord provided!
I feel like this is significant for us as a community – that we learn what it is to praise and bring declarations of God’s goodness whatever the circumstances. He calls us to love him first. That’s it. We are to gaze on him, to lift our eyes to His goodness, and He takes care of the rest. As we do this we receive revelation of the goodness of God and the steadfast nature of his character so that even when we don’t yet see the victory, we KNOW it is coming – because of who He is and His love and faithfulness toward us. This will transform our perspective, from one that waits to see a “result” before engaging, to one that brings praise and thanks not because of anything to do with ourselves, but because we truly know who our God is.
The promise is that he fights on our behalf! Not only this but when He’s won the battle for us, we get the spoils of victory without having done anything! We can rest and rejoice, knowing that He is a lavish God whose heart is for abundance and blessing and fullness of life.
My prayer and passion is that this truth goes so deep into our hearts that we live as a people marked by praise, whose overflow is thanks, who live in the daily reality of God’s goodness, and where worship is our heart’s response to the wonder of who He is. This is our God!