MUSINGS CONCERNING STANDING STILL
Stand Still, The Battle Is Not Yours
Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea… And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord… And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord… they came to seek the Lord… And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel… If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help… O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee… Then… came the spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; and he said… 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. .. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you… Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth forever. And when they began to sing and to praise, The Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten… And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, there were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped… Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies… And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. (2 Chron. 20:2-30).
Chapter 20 of Second Chronicles begins like so many other portions of scripture that one can see a basic principle being described for the saints of God. The life of the believer is permeated with battles and warfares of every type and description. Numbers are not used to declare how many, but rather, the simple phrase “a great multitude cometh against thee.” There is Satan and his emissaries; the evil world in which we exist; our own inherent wickedness and flesh, coupled with weakness and unbelief. To many, this sounds like a myriad of enemies, but in reality, it is an abbreviated catalog of principalities and powers that war against us.
“Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea…” (v. 2).
Our adversaries outnumber us greatly. They are stronger that we are, by far. They are wiser in this world’s wisdom, to be sure. What hope do we have of victory when all these things seem to be against us?
It is often in these periods of time God cannot be found. His presence is not felt and leadership is as silent as the grave. We do not hear God’s voice, but the thundering advances of the enemies’ footsteps are so close, we almost taste the dust – clinging to a hope and promise that seem to be now as far removed from reality as yesterday’s wind. There is a magnitude of wonder and musings in the heart.
“Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?… The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly… God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked… He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant… for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. (Job 10:3, 12:6, 16:11,14; Ps. 102:10).
The dark side is what Satan would have us study. His counsel is best served when we think hard thoughts of God. The vexed one views his position as all consuming. His wit is useless and escape is ostensibly impossible. Oh! that faith may be granted to the born again, that we might understand the wonder, the glory of this position; forced, if you will, to watch God be God. Precious few see this in their afflictions. What a great transaction is unfolding in their behalf. “Listen” to the holy voice of parental affection.
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction… Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity… Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God. The Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour… Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy… For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Is. 48:10; Ps. 94:12,13; Is.43:1-3; 1 Peter 4:12-13; Heb. 12:6).
The Lord of Glory directed the paths of His people, and this cannot change as long as God is God. Not because we are strong, good, wise, or wonderful prayer warriors, but simply put, because we are God’s.
For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them. Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob. (Ps. 44:3-4).
Let us not condemn that which is common to all believers. We must bear in mind, the Lord does not save the worthy, nor bless as a result of debt. He does what delights the glorious Godhead, showing grace and mercy for His great namesake.
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord… to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (v. 3-4).
It is always wise in times of trouble to set yourself and seek the Lord. When the invasion of the enemy is swift, powerful and overwhelming, it takes great grace to seek God, to wait upon Him, and stand still, while He is unraveling the present maze in which we are entangled.
Intense fears and inexplicable anguish are pursuing every thought. The emotions surge forward with unmanageable anxiety. It was at this time that Jehoshaphat set himself and sought the Lord. This statement is best understood as a taking by force his natural instincts and making his raging fright submissive to the promises of God. He set himself against the great multitude in the name of Jehovah. Not rushing forward in the heat of sense and passion for deliverance, he quelled all opposition by the imparted grace of the Lord. This is no small mercy to have extended, and if you have ever stood close to the enemies’ almost certain triumph, you know wherein we speak.
It is our nature to react, at least somehow, to the multitude that comes against us. We have just got to be doing something. Satan has us convinced, as do most of our associates, that God is not going to intercede unless, or until, we make some attempt to deliver ourselves. “The legitimate use of means” is the normal cliché heard, followed by a witless heap of proverbial verbiage.
Jehoshaphat considered the only “legitimate means” was to “seek the Lord,” “to ask help of the Lord,” “to seek the Lord.” The repetitions of seek, ask, and seek again, are invitations of the most merciful sort. The entire Bible is saturated with entreaties which implore the believer to solicit the intervention of the Lord.
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all they soul.” “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith he Lord. (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:11-14).
There are many other examples of seeking God, one I am sure that holds a great place in the hearts of most of the redeemed is Matthew 7:7-8. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
For holy and unsearchable reasons, there are times when the Lord does not shine His face upon us at our first beseeching. There are those days in the valley of distress when comfort is not a ready attitude. The Bible illustrates that there were a good many saints who had pleaded long for the Lord to usher in His delivering mercies. Days, weeks, months, and in some cases even years, of agonizing prayer and supplication are recorded. Still, God is silent, He cannot be found. The Holy Spirit is hushed and the Scriptures do not seem to be a consistent guide. Waiting on God for a short time can be somewhat annoying, but protracted months, or longer, are a hollowing insertion which can be endured by none. It is in these dark spheres when every inclination of the heart lends itself to thoughts of being forsaken. This is truly a state when the children of God are immersed in indecision and confusion.
“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” This elongated searching at times is apparently harmful to sight. It will increase the passion for God’s mercies and grace, and cause the flames of affection to multiply with intenseness. “My God, thou hidest thy treasure to kindle my desire! Thou hidest thy pearl, to inflame the seeker; thou delayest to give, that thou mayest teach me to importune; seemest not to hear, to make me persevere. (John Anselm).
I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me… And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. (Song of Solomon 5:6-7; Lk. 18:7-8).
The kind of seeking that is wrought of God cannot cease from seeking until it finds the object of its affection, regardless of the difficulties it must overcome. “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:1-2). Note the reward of those that fervently seek Him.
But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him… It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go… I am my beloved’s, and his desire is, toward me. (Heb. 11:6; Song of Solomon 3:4, 7:10).
“For every one that asketh receiveth.” “And Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord:” When the children of God ask for help, and pray for mercy and grace, there are difficult conditions that obviously exist. The one praying confesses his utter weakness and complete dependency upon the all-powerful and self-sufficient God. This was seen in Asa in 2 Chronicles 14:11, when he cried unto the Lord, “and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God.” Jehoshaphat also attributed this same power unto the Lord. “Art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? (vs. 6). The once arrogant, but now humbled, Nebuchadnezzar also bows before the almighty power of Jehovah. “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does 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. 4:35).
The Lord’s children must ask in faith. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering …” (James 1:6). To pray without believing is a bloodless substitute. The motions of prayer are as useless as saying the rosary. If thy prayer be without trust in the one to whom you direct your supplication, there will be no answer from God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him.” If we doubt, we are damned (judged) if we pray, because we pray not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Rom. 14:23 paraphrased).
It is no doubt safe to say that much of the prayers offered are sin and not true supplication. Oh! God, how man needs to consider who he asks and how he asks, least it be offensive to the Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jehoshaphat asked in faith. It may have been little faith, weak faith and staggering faith, but it was real faith and that is what defined its origin. Faith is a gift of God. He knows what is from Himself and that which is spurious. The pleadings of illegitimate nature bring on wrath and anger, while genuine faith touches the heart of our benevolent and loving Father. To the false petitions, God declares He does not want them and He is not honored by them.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord… When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring me no more vain oblations… When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. (Is. 1:11-13; Ps. 109:7).
These condemnations of bogus faith and prayers ought to shake the “easy believeism” propagators to the very root. It is not just a confessing with the mouth that is necessary, but a belief in the heart that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Then is salvation authentic.
Look now to the faith that is from God. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2) – Faith that is of the Lord, believes God, and is able to move mountains. (Matt. 17:20, 21:21-22; Mk. 11:23). The Gospel of John magnifies true faith, and the redeemed can glory in the wonderful pledges of grace.
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee… And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it… If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you… Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you… And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full… At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you.” (Jn. 11:22, 14:13-14, 15:7 & 16, 16:23-24, 26).
God-wrought faith caused Jehoshaphat, notwithstanding the evil multitude that came against Judah, to believe his God. “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall be ye established…” It makes no difference to faith in the inner man, whether God answers now, or much, much later. The flesh and our natural bent towards unbelief may stumble, stagger, and fear beyond reason, but faith and the spiritual man are welded to the author of our salvation with eternal abundance.
O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever? … O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chron. 20:6-7, 12).
When seeking and asking help from God, the absolute condition is that the supplicant must believe in the Lord God. The believer must, by grace, understand that the powers that be, whether good or evil, are of the Lord and under His sovereign control. (Rom. 13:1). We cannot believe that there are some things settled in heaven and other things left to chance and circumstances. It would be spiritually debilitating if God predestinated only many happenings, but not all. If there were some situations in life that the Lord “let the chips fall where they may,” Jehoshaphat could never, with assurance, have said, “and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? or that none was able to withstand Him.”
What power could possibly exist to which God must bow because it is stronger than Him? If the Almighty God can be overthrown in one purpose, He can likewise be defeated in another. Faith like that of Jehoshaphat, and a host of others, could never subscribe to such blasphemy. If we believe God, then we must trust what He says about His own power. “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand… This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Is. 14:24, 26-27).
To doubt the Lord and His word is to repudiate His strength, for JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. (Is. 26:4). If believing the God of truth is the way to be established (2 Chron. 20:20), then not believing of necessity will do the opposite… “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” (Is. 7:9).
The work of the Lord and righteousness begets peace, joy, and comfort. The effect of that work ushers in quietness and assurance forever. (Is. 32:17). This is a good test of our profession and belief in the truth. To trust the works of man and all created things is to trust in vanity and emptiness.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me… That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. (Is. 30:1-3).
Trusting in the Lord our God is strength, peace, assurance, wisdom, and trusting in His Christ, salvation. To have faith in any other principalities, powers, persons, or schemes is rebellion, sinful counsel, trusting in shadows, and the result will be shame and confusion.
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! (Is. 31:1).
Jehoshaphat believed God was the creator of everything and that by Him all things had their being and power. He also was convinced, by the Lord, that all powers created were as nothing, a drop in the bucket, to be weighed in the balances. These convictions are what caused Him to set himself, and seek and ask help from God. How much misery and despair would we omit if we did believe God at all times, and did not forget His sovereignty and power when facing troublesome days.
God can authoritatively declare unto the elect, “fear not,” “fear none of these things,” for the powers that be have their conception, duration, boundaries, and termination from me. (Note if you will the origin of all powers and dominions).
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Col. 1:16-17).
Now note God’s assessment of the strength of these same powers and dominions against Him.
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? (Is. 40:15-18).
Jehoshaphat’s prayer was the blessed effect of His first seeking and asking after God. Prayers of this nature are offered only when believers are taught of God to trust Him. “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust…” (Ps. 40:4).