Thursday, September 26, 2013

Preparation for War

We all are familiar with the (biblical) saying “time for peace and a time for war”.   As of late we have been hearing of wars and rumors of wars.  However, the present war that we are in, the terrorism war, has really never been fought before, and at the same time we hear “peace, peace when there is no peace.  What is all this confusion about?   Is this happening for the purpose of bringing together some one-world system?  Is it so that Islam will become the only legitimate religion in the world?  Is it to restore and bring back the tribes of Israel to their homeland?  Or is the Creator judging iniquity and sin? Whatever the reason might be, we who have been taken out of this world’s system and order, and have been transferred into the kingdom of YHVH’s beloved Son, need to focus on what the Word of YHVH says, just in case we should find ourselves in a grip of an even fiercer war.

With this in mind, let us take a look at how one of the kings of Judah faced his nation’s war-woes.  It was during the reign of King Jehoshaphat that some of the surrounding nations, Ammon, Moab, Syria and Mount Seir (Esau) were gathered together as “a great assembly” (2 Chron. 20:2) to destroy Judah/Israel.  When Jehoshaphat first heard the news of this mighty army he “feared”.  Is inflicting fear not the motivation of the terrorist packs nowadays?  We can see just how sinister this spirit is, as was illustrated this week in a mall in Kenya. None of the victims were wearing military uniforms.  With this kind of demonic mayhem, is it any wonder that the nations are spending more on protecting themselves from these religious fanatics than on any other military objective? 

What did Jehoshaphat do when he faced the same threat of annihilation from his neighbors?  Scripture records that he”set ‘natan pa’neem’ himself to seek ‘drash’ YHVH”.  “Natan pa’neem” means to give oneself, set or put oneself in a position before the face of YHVH in order to “drash”, to inquire advice of YHVH  (ref. 2 Ch. 20:3-4). Then he proclaimed a fast throughout Judea.  The Judeans gathered from many places to seek  - “baqesh” - or simply ask for divine protection.  Notice the difference between what the king did in turning to God, and the people.  As a leader, he set himself before the face of YHVH and inquired for YHVH’s counsel and wisdom.  But before he begins to make his requests, he acknowledges the Elohim whom he is addressing.  He then reminds YHVH, by way of questions, as to who He is: “YHVH, Elohim of our fathers, are You not Elohim in the heavens? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in Your hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand You? Art You not our Elohim, who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham Your friend for ever?” (2 Chr 20:6-7).   Why did the king address YHVH in this way?  Was he himself in doubt as to who He was and what He could do?  Did the Almighty need someone to remind Him of His position and duties?  In the following statement we can see what Jehoshaphat was driving at.  Those questions came from one who knew and feared (revered) the Elohim of Abraham, and knew that what He was and what He did was all for one purpose, to glorify His name: “And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for Your name sake” (v. 8).

The king understood that if YHVH were going to move to deliver him and His people, it would not be because of their worthiness or their righteousness, as the mere fact that those nations were ‘knocking at their door’ meant that YHVH was not pleased with Judah. Listen to the following statements of the king:  “If, when evil comes upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for Your name is in this house,) and cry unto You in our affliction, then You will hear and help” (v. 9).  This is the prayer of a very wise man, who knew how to get the Elohim of the heavens to respond to his plight and the fears of the people.  This confession, and the following conclusion, demonstrated humility and complete dependence on YHVH’s sovereignty, not only over Judah, but also over those kingdoms of the enemies that were about to attack the nation (see v.6).

Here is Jehoshaphat’s concluding prayer   “O our Elohim, will You not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that comes against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon You” (v. 12).  The king, along with the men, women and children were not looking at their own chariots and horses, at their strong men with their bows, arrows and spears, neither for the shrewdness of their politicians and generals.  Their eyes were upon YHVH Elohim alone; He was their only Savior and Deliverer.  It was only then that the Spirit came to a priest/prophet and delivered YHVH’s response to their supplication, consecration and prayer. 

Jahaziel (“God will cause to see”) came to deliver the message: “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but Elohim's.
Tomorrow go down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and you shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. You shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of YHVH with you” (v.15-17).  What wonderful words! Now they knew exactly where the enemy will be the following day, and what they (Judah) were to do.  But even better news were encapsulated by the statement: “the battle is not yours, but the Almighty’s”. 

This, however, is not the end. Even though they had this wonderful word from YHVH they still had to go to bed that night and wake up to a very unpredictable future.  They had to face their enemy, which is something we too must do. As believers, our enemies are principalities and powers in heavenly places; they come to us in the form of evil thoughts and intentions. At that time the only thing the Judeans had to stand and act upon was YHVH’s word. So too today - we must face our enemy with faith and trust in the truth of YHVH’s word.  

The following day, the king, knowing the doubts and fears of his people, encouraged them with these words:  “Believe in YHVH your Elohim, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper” (20).  The Hebrew word for “established” is “te’am’nu”  - of the root a.m.n, which is “to believe”. Thus Jehoshapat addressed the nation with a play on words: “ha’aminu, ve-te’amnu”: “Believe and be established, confirmed, strong” and in particular “become credible”. In other words, by believing, trusting, giving credit to and having faith in YHVH, they themselves were becoming not only strong and established, but also “credible”.

“Praise YHVH; for his mercy endures for ever” (V.21).

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