"Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 16 Tomorrow march down against them."
II Chron. 20:16-16His name means 'Jehovah judged' or 'judged by Jehovah'. And yet, we typically add 'Jumpin' to the first part of his moniker.
As in Jehoshaphat.
He was the son of a successful and faithful king of Judah named Asa. His father served the Lord and was granted favor in his endeavors. And for the most part, his son Jehoshaphat followed suit.
This favor did not mean, however, that Jehoshaphat's reign was without challenge and difficulty. He received chastisement from the Lord in the alliances he formed with a couple of evil kings, an attempt to strengthen his kingdom while distilling the possible hostilities of neighboring territories. And he found himself at the center of a bullseye when the Moabites and the Ammonites along with the Meunites decided to make war on him, a tribal trifecta of terror. But to his credit, when Jehoshaphat hears news of this approaching aggression, he takes on the posture of a true leader.
One that we would not find politically correct in today's culture.
Not one that you would find listed amongst the writings of top generals.
Not one that would be housed as a strategy in the files of the Pentagon.
Jehoshaphat is afraid, 'alarmed', in some of the translations. And in his fear, he resolves to seek the Lord and he declares a fast for his people. It's not exactly Machiavellian. It doesn't read as strength. It doesn't have a military band score booming behind it. Imagine a State of the Union speech in which a leader would say he was 'afraid' in the face of impending attack. Pundits and politicos would declare him lacking in leadership.
And yet, leadership, humble, effective and powerful is exactly what Jehoshaphat models. Humble because he admits his inadequacy to the problem. Effective because all the people of Judah follow his example and come to pray and seek the Lord. Powerful because the battle is placed in the Lord's hands. And Jehoshaphat prays, "...we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
We face battles in our lives and our American can-do attitudes often get in front of our utter alarm. We develop strategies, create outlines, practice our speeches and charge ahead, thinking that those tactics show strength and courage. But perhaps the greater courage lays in knowing how to verbalize our overwhelm while still leading those put in our keeping and care into a posture of prayer. Perhaps the strongest posture we can take is in putting our eyes on the Lord and in encouraging those around us to do the same.
And then having the strength to wait on an answer.
Jehoshaphat receives an answer from a man within the crowd he has led in prayer. It is not a battle schema of positions and weapons. He is simply told that he and his people are to go out to march against their enemies the next day. They do, with faith and praise. And what they find is not an army marching against them, but an army that has turned on itself. They have fought the battle against fear and presumptive action and have gained victory in patience and trust. And rather than enter the theater of warfare, they watch as amazed spectators as the Lord shows the glory of His battle tactics.
There is a time for action. There is a time to fight. And whether we are called upon to fight or to simply stand and watch the hand of the Lord, we are well served to seek spiritual leadership that knows how to chose honesty over image and knows when to say, "I don't know."
And then knows how to say, "We will seek the Lord."