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August 27, 2013 / Pastor George Fike

What do you do when you just don’t know what to do?


A story from 2 Chronicles 20

 

An Etchings App Photo of Pastor George

After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came tojehoshaphat_28 wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

LEARN FROM HOLY HISTORY

 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying,   If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ *

Jehoshaphat is calling out to God on the basis of God’s promise to answer the prayer of his ancestor, Solomon, hundreds of years earlier when he dedicated the Temple in 1 Chronicles 6.  God gave this famous answer in chapter 7, verses 13- 14:

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

T.W. Hunt, in his study resource PrayerLife suggests wisdom in our prayers is to give God a reason to answer.  He recommends reading the Bible with an eye to observe what people prayed when their prayers were answered.  On most occasions, they reminded God of what He had already promised.

LEARN TO HUMBLY HESITATE

Armed with only an ancient promise from God, Hezekiah pressed forward with his plea:

10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

Everyone speaking at once is pandemonium, but everyone listening at once is wisdom.  Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)  Literally, stop squirming!  Our first response to crisis is to panic.  Our second response is to fight, flee, or freeze. The best response is to open our eyes. I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)  King Jehoshaphat WAS the head honcho.  But he recognized the wisdom taught by his ancestor, Solomon: Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.  It is not for naught that Jesus reminds us we are called to gather together because  “… if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20) In waiting on God, help often comes from the place you may be least looking for it.

LOOK FOR THE HIDDEN HERO

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

The name Jahaziel appears in the Bible 6 times, but only 1 time is it him.  We never heard of him before, and we never hear from him again. Interestingly, his name means Beheld by the LORD God.  Often God reaches down and stirs the heart of the obscure rather than the obvious.  He’s looking for someone: is it you?  Rather than select the handsome star quarterback from Bethlehem as king of Israel, God chose the red-headed runt of the litter than Dad forgot was out in the field watching the sheep.  When Jesus needed to feed a multitude, it was the heart of a child He  touched, feeding thousands with his 2 fish tacos.  I want you to think about that particular story because it speaks to our need today.  When Jesus told his disciples the need, Andrew said, “Here is a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fishes…”  What do we know about this boy?  3 things:

  1. He was expectant.  He, of all that multitude, anticipated that what Jesus had to offer was important enough to plan on sitting for a while.  He brought enough for at least 2 meals for himself. When I go to God, do I really expect an outcome?
  2. He was up front.  He got close enough to Jesus that he heard first what God’s desire was. When I go to God, do I draw near enough for His inspection, or do I sit in the cheap seats?
  3. He was all in.  He didn’t have enough, but he was generous with everything he had.  Have I really let go of everything I have or am?

1 Corinthians 14:26 instructs us to look for God’s answer in whoever shows up. 

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 

Everyone is potentially the difference maker in a given situation.  In Numbers 11 God demonstrated this to Moses by putting His Spirit on the tribal elders – and 2 of them didn’t even show up for church that day.  They poured forth the wisdom of God that day, but v. 25 says, “but they never did so again.”  Lest we think God needs only the most qualified leaders, remember in Numbers 21 that God used a donkey to speak wisdom to a foolish prophet, but I’ll bet he never did that again either!  He’s looking for someone: is it you?  We need to know that God WILL speak when the time is right, and we need to realize that anyone could be the spokesman, no matter who they are.  In fact, using people who are not the brightest and best often gives God the greater glory.  It is His crown jewel of revelation, that shows off the many facets of his splendor:

Ephesians 3: …this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,…  10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. That word manifold is the greek word  polupo|ikilos,  – “‘variegated’ like Joseph’s coat. ‘diversified,’ ‘multi-form,’ a rare poetical adjective, indicative of the complexity of the divine counsels…” (E.K. Simpson, Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, p. 75, The New International Commentary on the New Testament,  Eerdman’s).  It is a twice-compounded word, meaning not just multi-colored, but multi-multi-colored.

jesus_of_nazaretth_mosaic_by_cornejo_sanchez-d46dh1b

There are things about God this world doesn’t know. Things even that the angels do not know.    There is more to God than any one person can express.  God in His wisdom knew He can be expressed only through the mosaic of our witness.  If the world is ever to know Who He is, more of us need to step forward to willingly clarify Him through our knowledge and experiences of Him.

  15 (Jahaziel) said: “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… 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

How did Jahaziel discern that they would not have to lift a finger in this battle?  Because he was attuned to the prayer of the king, who had already reminded God: …we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  To him, the answer was obvious: We are totally dependent on God, so obviously God will do for us what we can never do for ourselves!

LEAD FROM THE HEIGHTS OF HUMILITY

Were we to look 4 chapters back in 1 Chronicles 16 we would read of King Asa.  He was faced with a similar situation.  Two kings allied against him and Judah.  Asa did the “smart” thing.  He took gold and silver from the Temple and sent a bribe to the Syrian king to change sides.  The bribe worked.  Syria turned on Israel and destroyed several of their cities. So King Asa hurried down to these cities and ransacked them, using the resources to fortify his own border cities.  Good business according to Wall Street.

But a prophet of God came to Asa and let him know it might have been good business, but definitely not “God” business. Mark this passage in 1 Chronicles 16:9: 

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…  (REMEMBER: He’s looking for someone: is it you?)

In anger Asa threw the prophet in prison, but his presumption was costly.  As we conclude that chapter, we find that Asa developed terminal athlete’s foot and his refusal to look to godly counsel cost him his life. “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” (v. 12)  As we reflect that Asa had no ear to hear from the godly, it is interesting to know the son who followed him onto the national stage was none other than…

JehoshaphatSo back to our story in chapter 20, who do we see responding first to the word from God?

18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and (then, in response, {addition mine}) ALL the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 

20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa.  As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld…

Leaders like to be the movers and the shakers, but the truth is: they need to be the moved and the shaken before anything else.  And before anyone else.  In Jesus’ model of leadership, the first of all must be the least of all and servant of all.  If a leader thinks he is qualified to lead because he is ‘RED’ or a high ‘Dominant’, then how could he ever find the humility to follow the one who was “meek and lowly of heart,” who was “despised and rejected by men”? 

God is to be loved, not marketed.  So our most important activity is not planning, leading, or executing our programs – it is waiting on Him, pure and simple.  Talk about monkey wrenches!  Do you value your progress over God’s presence?

Acts 13 records the minutes of a staff meeting at the church in Antioch:

In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.”  Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.

Did you notice they were not going over the budget?  They were not planning the next blockbuster series of services?  They were not hiring and firing staff?  They were WAITING on God.  And God called them to do something very non-strategic for the First Church of Antioch.  They sent off their brightest and best.  Not because it was the smart thing to do.  But because it was what God asked them to do.

EVERYTHING is initiated and finds its satisfaction in God.  Only when we release it from our grasp into His able hands will we see miracles. Water becomes wine. A fish becomes a feast. A cross becomes a crown.  A bad business move begets a bountiful MOVEment of God.  The leader God’s eyes run to and fro to find is the first to his knees and the first to say, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”  And who wouldn’t want to follow a man like that?

Where do we see the multiplicably multi-faceted wisdom of God?

  1. Humility from the highest position down!
  2. Heroic availability from each member of His body!
  3. Headstrong insistence on waiting for God!
  4. Honor for the life lessons of those who have succeeded before us! 

He’s looking for someone: is it you?

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