The Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites all rose up against Judah to force the Southern Kingdom to submit to pagan control. King Jehoshaphat, however, feared God more than the armies arrayed against him and his people. He called for a public fast and stood in the court of the Temple to pray for the Lord’s help. Jehoshaphat confessed to God that he and his people lacked the wisdom and the strength to win this battle (2 Chron 20:6-12). God responded through a little known prophet named Jahaziel (2 Chron 20:14-17). The people of Israel in both kingdoms (North and South) had a history of not listening to the prophets whom the Lord sent with His messages for His people (Neh 9:26; Jer 7:25-26). Would they listen now?
Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah bowed down with their faces on the ground and worshipped the Lord (2 Chron 20:18). Then the Levites rose to their feet and began to praise the Lord (2 Chron 20:19). Early the next morning Jehoshaphat led his army out into the Wilderness of Tekoa. Like a football coach in the locker room exhorting his team for the coming game, Jehoshaphat charged his troops:
“So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.'” (2 Chron 20:20 NKJV, emphasis added)
The king challenged the Judean soldiers to believe the prophets (not just Jahaziel). Jehoshaphat was the same king who had sent men throughout the southern kingdom with copies of the Book of the Law to teach the people (2 Chron 17:7-10). His itinerant Bible teachers took the Lord’s written revelation to the people and the Lord gave a spiritual revival.
Jehoshaphat understood the issues clearly. His clarion call to believe the prophets presaged the words of Jesus Himself:
“But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31)
“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!'” (Luke 24:25)
Life can be scary, because we cannot see what’s ahead. Like running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon for the first time, we rely upon the knowledge of our guides–both personal and written. The Lord guides us personally and by means of His written Word.
Today the formula for success, for gaining a spiritual victory against overwhelming odds, is still the same. We need to obey what the Lord has revealed to us in His Word through His prophets. As Peter closes his second epistle, he reminds his readers that they must listen to the prophets, as well as to the apostles:
“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, . . .” (2 Pet 3:1-2)
And with that Peter summons us
- to be diligent about sanctified living (2 Pet 3:14),
- to think theologically–remembering who our God is (2 Pet 3:15-16),
- to be on guard against our own spiritual weakness and foolishness (2 Pet 3:17), and
- to grow in experiencing and appreciating God’s grace and in our knowledge concerning Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
So, with Jehoshaphat’s and Jesus’ and Peter’s charge to pay attention to the revelation God has given to me, how am I measuring up to His Word in this new year? If I compare where I am today with where I was one year ago, am I more conscious than ever of God’s grace, mercy, and goodness? Am I ready to enter the battle for Christ. Do I live out the 20-20 vision in 2 Chronicles 20:20?