2 Chronicles 20:15-17
At the beginning of chapter 20, Israel is informed that a "great multitude" is coming prepared for war. In fear, Jehoshaphat determines to seek the face of God by proclaiming a fast and calling for a national assembly to seek God's help. Jehoshaphat led the people in prayer remembering who they served, who ruled the nations, and who brought them into the land. He calls attention to God's promise to hear and save when His people cry out before the house that bore His name. Jehoshaphat also reminded God that He had kept Israel from attacking the nations that were coming to destroy Judah. The conclusion of his prayer was "We are powerless...we do not know what to do...our eyes are on you."
The LORD’s response to their prayer was "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them...You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf.'"
I wish I had remembered this biblical event a few weeks ago when I was teaching Ephesians 6:10-20. Just as the LORD commanded Judah to “stand firm” in the coming battle, so does Paul as he prepares believers for spiritual warfare. Three separate times believers are instructed to stand just as the LORD commanded Judah. In verse eleven, believers are to put on the whole armor of God so that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Verse thirteen tells us to withstand the evil day by taking up the whole armor of God so that we may stand firm. The last time believers are told to stand, Paul, makes it a command "Stand therefore."
In both passages, 2 Chronicles 20 and Ephesians 6, prayer is an integral part of the preparation for the coming war. Paul instructs believers to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
I think Jehoshaphat's final statement would be a fitting conclusion for virtually every prayer I pray; “I am powerless; I do not know what to do; my eyes are on you.”
I am so thankful Scripture makes the same point in so many ways. A fundamental principle of Bible study is that Scripture itself provides the best commentary. So, we should not be surprised to find the Bible repetitive.
In Zechariah 4, the LORD makes a similar point to Zerubbabel that Scripture made in 2 Chronicles 20 and Ephesians 6. Zechariah 4:7 says, "It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." This statement was the LORD's promise to Zerubbabel concerning the rebuilding of the temple.
In Ezra, the exiles who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon struggled to rebuild the temple. The Israelites were able to lay the foundation of the temple, but their enemies delayed the final construction for several years. In Zechariah 4:8 God said, "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it." That is precisely what happened.
LORD of host, Almighty God forgive me for attempting to accomplish Your work in my strength. Intellectually I know it is not my strength or power but Yours. I am both prideful and forgetful. Thank You for the faithful reminder it is in You alone that I can stand not in my strength but Yours.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.