I have a new strategy for this summer.
No matter what comes my way, I am determined to “Jehoshaphat That!”
Whatever “that” might be.
Let me explain.
As you may know, summer is my busiest season in ministry.
And with all the busyness comes a ton of spiritual battle as well.
Couple that with the weariness that is inevitable and it is a long and draining season.
But about a week ago I was reading in 2 Chronicles during my quiet time.
It was a story I have read many times before.
But this time when I read it, I realized that it lays out a very effective strategy for doing ministry.
A way to “Jehoshaphat That!”
So here’s how the story goes…
Jehoshaphat was the King of Judah.
He had ill-advisedly allied himself with Ahab, the King of Israel.
Hundreds of years earlier, those two kingdoms had been one – but they had split apart as part of God’s judgement against Solomon’s sin of idolatry. Over the years Judah and Israel occasionally fought each other. And every once in a great while, they joined forces against a common enemy.
So Ahab, the wicked, idol-worshipping King of Israel had concocted a plan where he would invite Jehoshaphat and his God-fearing kingdom of Judah to join forces with him against a host of surrounding armies. He actually tried to protect himself by having Jehoshaphat go out in all his royal garb while Ahab dressed as a common soldier. That way, if things went badly – and they did – Ahab could more easily escape. However, that plan did not end well for Ahab – he ended up being shot and killed by a “stray” arrow while God helped Jehoshaphat escape.
However, these surrounding nations still wanted war. So they set out against Judah. When King Jehoshaphat learned that they were coming back for more, he did what every great leader does first – he cried out to God. In fact, I love how the Amplified Version tells it. It says, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord.” The King also called for the entire nation to fast and pray with him, seeking God’s help.
The Chronicler recorded Jehoshaphat’s prayer for posterity and this is what he said: “O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, there is no one able to take a stand against You.” In other words, King Jehoshaphat reminded God of His character and heart, who He is and all He can do. Had God forgotten that? No, of course not. But in reminding God of those things, Jehoshaphat was doing two things: he was reminding himself of those Truths and he was declaring his dependence on God. He laid aside any pride that said, “I’m the King, I’ve got this” and instead humbled himself before the King of Kings.
In the next part of his prayer, the terrified king lays out the specifics of the problem before the King of Kings. And sure enough, God answers through a priest named Jahaziel. He tells King Jehoshaphat, “The Lord says this to you: ‘Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Go down against them tomorrow. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the river valley, in front of the Wilderness of Jeruel. You need not fight in this battle; take your positions, stand and witness the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.’”
Here’s the thing.
God didn’t give them a specific battle strategy. He had done that for other leaders and kings in their history. But this time there is no real battle plan, just a command to head for a certain spot. And the reminder that He will be with them and that they do not have to be afraid.
In light of the lack of specific instructions, I LOVE what King Jehoshaphat does next.
It is the crux of the strategy.
He sends out the chief worshippers first.
Not the commanders.
Not the calvary.
Not the most experienced soldiers.
But the priests.
The religious leaders.
The worship leaders.
And as they get their praise party on, God worked on their behalf.
They didn’t even realize it at first.
It wasn’t until they sent a scout up a watchtower that they realized that God had done exactly what He said He would do. He fought the battle for them. When they looked out of over the enemy troops, they realized they were ALL dead. They had turned on each other – so that, while the people were busy praising, the enemy was busy dying.
And then they got to reap the spoils. In fact, the Bible says it took them three days to gather all the goodies from the fallen armies! But check out what they did after they had gathered it all – they had another praise party, thanking God for all He had done!
And that, my friends, is how you “Jehoshaphat That!”
But to make it simpler, I’ve broken what Jehoshaphat did into steps that I hope you find easy to apply.
Step One: Tell God the problem.
Or problems. In all their gory detail, lay it all out before Him. Yes, He already knows. But because He is a good, good Dad, He loves to hear from His kids. Lay it all out – the tiny and the huge, the gory and the gross – whatever “it” is, He wants to hear about it!
Step Two: Declare the Truth about Who He is and who you are.
Claim His promises. Stand on His Word. Remember what He has done. And thank Him for what He will do. Again, He knows these things. But when you speak His Word into the situation, you will be changed. You will do what Peter told the early church to do: “… humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. (I Peter 5)
And then He will do what only He can do. The very best thing – even if it is not what you think it should be. And He will do it at the right time. In the right way. Because He is for you and not against you.
Step Three: Believe. And because you believe, worship.
Just that simple. For King Jehoshaphat, God had to speak through an earthly messenger. But you and I are so incredibly blessed to have two things King Jehoshaphat did not have – the inspired Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. That is where you can find God’s answer to any situation – by reading His Word and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate it for you. How will you know it is God and not your own heart? Those two things – His Word and the message from His Spirit will always match. And, when you apply them, they are always matchless in power.
Your job is figure out God’s heart on the matter through His Word.
And then to trust and obey. Believe what He says. And obey it.
That’s how you demonstrate that you actually trust Him – by living life His way. Make your life a “living sacrifice, for this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12) and you will be amazed at what He can – and will – accomplish! Instead of agonizing, strategizing, and striving to send in all of your resources and best strategies to face “that”, leave the battle to Him as you lead with praise.
Step Four: Stand back and watch what God will do.
He is God alone.
And He is good.
Everything He does is right.
And, as Isaiah put it, “…since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 64)
Step Five: Collect the spoils, conducting a praise party as you go, giving God all the glory.
Because He deserves it.
After all, He did all the work.
Your job was to trust and obey; His was to give the victory.
You may not see it in your timetable – but you will see at just the right time.
And that, my friends, is how you “Jehoshaphat That!”
That’s my plan for tackling all the challenges ahead.
I hope it’s yours as well!