The Battle is not Yours
Read 2Chron. 20:1-30.
I will take my text from the center of this passage: “14 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; 15 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. 16 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. 17 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.” (2Chron. 20:14-17.)
This was a tumultuous time in the history of Israel and Judah. There was war on every side. And both the northern and southern kingdoms were being cut short. The surrounding nations were attacking them, and shrinking the borders. In the northern kingdom (Israel), the wickedest king of them all was reigning: King Ahab. And the Lord was afflicting them very sore. In the southern kingdom (Judah), King Asa was seeking to serve the Lord – as did his son King Jehoshaphat.
Now, upon the occasion of this attack by the nations of Moab, Ammon, and the children of Mount Seir, we find that Jehoshaphat was just returned from the joint battle that he had joined with Ahab, against the Syrians, the very battle in which King Ahab was killed. Now, after some period of time in Jerusalem, we find that the nations mentioned in our text verses, rise up against Judah and her people.
There is a Battle being Waged Today
Jehoshaphat and his people faced a real enemy. There was real danger here. There were important things at stake. The battle that faced them was literal and physical and to the death. If they did not win this battle, they faced literal extinction. Their nation could be lost; their people destroyed; their very lives could be forfeit.
Our enemies are real as well. We are engaged in a spiritual warfare that is as real as any warfare or battle that has ever taken place – either in this world, or in any other world. The stakes are very high here as well! The battle that I am talking about is the battle that rages over the souls of men.
In the beginning of this warfare, we are talking about the salvation of men’s souls. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1Pet. 5:8.) The devil is evil and wicked. His followers are numerous, depraved, and very powerful. He and his followers seek the destruction of the race of mankind. They desire to see men, women and children destroyed – not just physically, but also spiritually.
This, then, is the warning that we need to sound today: Beware! There is an enemy of your very soul that desires nothing more than to see the entire race of men destroyed and utterly lost for all eternity! This is the fate that faces men; and this is the enemy of those that would do good.
This is a battle, or a warfare, that has been going on since the time that Adam was expelled from Eden. In the Old Testament, just after the Great Flood, we read about a man called Nimrod. It says in Gen. 10:8-12, “8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.” Some believe that Nimrod was a mighty hunter in that he slew a great many beasts, and brought peace to a land because of his prowess in hunting the violent and dangerous beasts that had populated the land – since mankind had not yet inhabited these areas since the Flood. And then, based upon his fame and great skills, men were bound to him, and they followed him, and he became a great leader.
I think, though, that Nimrod was probably a hunter of men’s souls. I think that he was a mighty hunter before the LORD in that he sought to dominate men; and he sought to lead men astray; perhaps even leading men into idolatry. Now, it is probably true that he was also a great and mighty hunter of the fields as well – and this is what gained him such notoriety. But, notice that the beginning of his kingdom was Babel. If you look in the next chapter of Genesis, you find that Babel is where men sought to make themselves like God. We read in Gen. 11:4, “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” I think that the men that were leading this host of men at Babel, had a desire to usurp the authority of Heaven, and God Himself. It must be so, because when the Lord saw what they were building, He confused their languages, and He scattered them from the project and from the city.
If you look in the Book of the Revelation, you will find the end fate of that City of Babylon – of which Nimrod could be said to be the founder and builder: “9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come. 11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: 12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, 13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.” (Rev. 18:9-13.)
I have said all of this, just so you will understand that there is a great battle being waged; a warfare that continually rages, between God and the Devil. This warfare encompasses not only the spiritual realm, but the physical realm. The devil will constantly lead men astray – and not to their own good, but to their own destruction. We know that God will win this battle. We know that there is no doubt about the final outcome. But, we also know that the Lord God permits Satan to have much success in his endeavors on this earth. He will inspire nations (such as those in our text verses) to attack those that seek to serve God. He will inspire men to lead others into evil. He will inspire idolatry amongst men. He will even infiltrate the religions of the world, and lead entire generations of mankind into the pits of Hell.
I said previously that the beginning of this warfare is the Salvation or Destruction of the souls of men. But, there is more: The devil will even do what he can to prevent the faithful service and the obedience and the love that men have for God, from ever being put on display. In other words, not only does the devil seek and desire the utter destruction of the souls of men, but he even desires that those that God does save, would not be permitted to properly show their allegiance to God. The devil will do what he can to limit the successes of the people of God!
When Peter wrote that we ought to beware of the Devil, because he is as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour, he is not writing to the lost; but, rather, he is issuing a warning to the saved and to the elect! Now, certainly a major part of this warning is that the devil finds great satisfaction in dragging the souls of men down into hell. But, this same evil entity will do what he can to devour the literal lives of the people of God; and, he will do what he can to devour the good and the righteous deeds that the people of God might otherwise have performed, if not for the attacks of the devil and his followers.
When we consider the religion of Christianity today, I think it favors the terrible edict that God pronounced upon the religion of the Jews in the time of Ezekiel. (See Ezek. 22:21-31.) In that portion of Scripture we find that the prophets and the leaders of the religion of the Jews are condemned for their pursuit and destruction of the souls of men. (See also Ezek. 13:17-23.) I believe that the same is true today. In the religion of the world today – which often poses under the name of “Christianity” – the devil and his followers are waging a great war on the good conduct and good conversation and good words and deeds that the followers of God seek to perform. These same wicked men and women are even seeking to deceive and deprave further, the lost that might sometimes demonstrate some desire to learn and to do good. What a terrible and awful wickedness is being perpetrated on the men, women, boys, and girls of the religions of the world today! I suppose that we, too, would despair, if we did not call to mind these words of God: “…the battle is not yours, but God's.”
This Battle is Larger than any of Us
Now that we have talked a little bit about the battle that rages all around us today, let’s go back to our text verses again. Remember, that in the terrible battle that confronted King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, they were confronted with an enemy that was too great for them. In reality, the Battle that Jehoshaphat faced, was bigger than any of them. They were not able to meet all of their enemies with the forces that they had at their disposal – there just weren’t enough soldiers in the armies of Judah.
The same is true of us today. The Battle of Good vs. Evil that is being waged today, is larger than any one of us. There is so much going on, that we only seem to be small players in a vast warfare. In the time of Elijah (who was a contemporary of Ahab and Jehoshaphat) we find that he, too, despaired of victory in the immense struggle in which he was involved. He found that the King and Queen of Israel was opposed to him. He found that he had to struggle against idolatry and wickedness on every hand. He found that he had to run for his very life. And then, when the angel of the Lord came to him in the wilderness, we read these words: “4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (1Kings 19:4-8.)
Do you realize today, that if you seek to depend upon your own abilities and strengths, that you will fail in your attempts to worship and follow God? Do you realize that the both the Battle and the Journey are too great for thee? But, if you will depend upon God, then God will preserve you and keep you.
I suppose that the world of religion is full of people that depend upon their own worth or merit. And, I suppose that even the realm of Christianity is populated with lost folks that depend upon their ownselves for their salvation. But, I want you to know that there is no victory in this warfare that we are engaged in, if we depend on ourselves! This battle is too great for us! Paul told the Ephesians, “12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:12-13.)
I suppose that some of you might think that I spend too much time literalizing and personalizing this warfare in which we are engaged. I remind you often that Satan is a real person. I remind you often that there are demons all around us – who are, right now, opposed to us, and engaged in defeating the next good thing you would like to do, and the next good word that you would desire to say. But, I want you to know that this battle is real!
However, don’t despair! The Lord God is real as well! His angels are all around us – and they, too, are real. They desire your good, even more than the demons desire your ill. The battle is immense – and it is too great for us. But, this battle is not too great for the Lord which we serve!
We Serve a God that will Fight for Us
Despite the fact that the battle that confronted Jehoshaphat was greater and larger than they could reasonably face, he did not despair. Instead, he leaned upon the power and the might of the Omnipotent God of Israel. In truth, the Children of Judah did not have any allies that they could call upon to aid them against this army that had come against them. They were, physically speaking, on their own. But, God was with them. The Lord led Jehoshaphat and the others to believe and trust in Him. He gave them a confidence that the Lord God would fight their battles for them. A few years later, the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, would tell the people of Judah these same things: “24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? 25 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. 26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” (Is. 49:24-26.) Of course, these words of Isaiah have prophetic implications. But, can’t you see them literally fulfilled here, years previously, at the borders of Judah in the time of King Jehoshaphat? We read in 2Chron. 20:23, “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.”
I think this is a good way for us to look at these verses as well: We are not alone! We serve a God that doesn’t just know us and love us – He will fight for us and defend us from our enemies!
Much of the world that pretends to believe in God, consider God to be a being that might have created the world and all that is, but He is really not that interested in goings on and the happenings in the world today. But, I want you to remember, and I want you to know without any shadow of a doubt – our God is in control! He not only is aware of the happenings and the goings on within the realm of mankind, He is, in fact, in utter and total control! Remember, even Nebuchadnezzar said, “34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:34-35.) According to Nebuchadnezzar (and every other Scripture) there was nothing that the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites and Mount Seir could do against the Children of Israel that the Lord would not first permit.
We need to remember this teaching in our day today. Sure, the Battle that we are engaged in is mighty and large – and we are just small and helpless. Sure, the Warfare that we are engaged in is long and enduring – from the time of Eden even until now. But, our God is in control. He is aware and knowledgeable. And, amazingly, He will fight our battles for us! As the Lord told Jehoshaphat, we will not even have to fight. We can just “…stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you.”
I think of Peter in the prison at the beginning of the New Testament, and how that the Lord delivered him from the guards and the prison. I think of Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi, and how that the Lord not only delivered them physically, but He also spiritually delivered and saved the Philippian jailer and his family. What a God we serve! He will preserve us and keep us! He will fight for us and deliver us! And, He will do all of this while at the same time performing His Will and Purpose in the lives of others – even to the extent of saving the souls of our own enemies!
Paul told Timothy about his own convictions concerning the Power and Ability and Desire that God has exerted for His People: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2Tim. 1:12.)
Our God is our Saviour
No matter what the Battle might be; no matter what the struggle might be; no matter what the obstacle might be; our God is our Saviour. He will fight for us. He will lead us. He will teach us. And, He will save us.
God was the Saviour of Jehoshaphat, Judah, and Jerusalem. Even now, we recognize, and we take comfort, in the fact that God is the Saviour of His people for all time. “15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. 16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. 17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. 18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. 19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. 20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. 21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. 23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. 24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. 25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” (Isa. 45:15-25.)