If I were to ask you right now whether or not you knew what it was like to fight an overwhelming enemy, what would you say? Perhaps, since we are living through the “2020”, you would simply look at me and laugh. You may not have ever been in a physical altercation but you definitely know what it is to fight an enemy that looks like it can’t be defeated. Maybe your life experience and list of enemies is bigger than just this year. Maybe, like most people, when thinking of overwhelming enemies you look back on a history of relationship challenges, health concerns, mistreatment, and brokenness. Whatever it is for you I would guess that recently or in the past, you can relate to fighting an enemy that did not go down easy.
As I consider the enemies that I have had to fight in my life I am comforted by the belief that the days ahead will not have the same struggles as those behind. But then, as you know, another enemy presents himself and I once again must prepare for a fight. It can all be a bit exhausting and discouraging but life has as many difficult days as good ones. The real question is: “When the inevitable ‘enemies’ in the future present themselves, will you know what to do?”
Since it can be helpful to think about what you will do before you actually need to, I want to share a brief story from the Bible that provides some insight into how we should fight an overwhelming enemy. There are many but this one really jumped out at me as I read it again a few weeks ago. Our story is found in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter 20.
There is quite a bit to this story but I will sum up so that we can get to our main points. At this time the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms: The northern kingdom was called Israel (they largely rejected the leadership of God) and in the south was Judah which, although not perfect, had kings which sought out God’s direction. The king of Judah was a man named Jehoshaphat who followed God for the majority of his life. Crazy story but he lived honorably for all but the very end. At this time, however, he understood his clear need for God. Judah was a small nation and ripe to be occupied and plundered by other more powerful kingdoms. At the beginning of this chapter, we are told that several of these kingdoms came together to destroy Judah and divide both land and goods between them. Needless to say, this was a very dark time for Jehoshaphat and the people that he led. So what did he do? He taught us all how to win a fight against an enemy who is bigger, stronger, and super motivated. Here’s what he did.
He Looked in the Right Direction
Instead of focusing on the overwhelming odds against him or asking what those that he led would think of him if things did not go well, he looked to the only one who could actually do anything. Check out this verse:
2 Chronicles 20:12 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.
In my life, I often struggle with looking in the wrong place when the enemy starts to get close. I am distracted by my own insecurities and fears while looking away from the only one who can actually make a difference in the coming fight. Jehoshaphat, with no show of pride, acknowledged that he did not know what to do and that he was going to simply keep his eyes on God.
He Remained Calm
This story is crazy for several reasons, but one of them is that God responded to Jehoshaphat. Here’s what he said:
2 Chronicles 20:15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, 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.
God told the nation of Judah to calm down! Have you ever had anyone tell you to “calm down” when you didn’t feel calm? Normally that doesn’t go so well but when it is God, there can be great confidence that everything is going to be ok. God said that as long as the nation was looking to Him, he would take care of the enemy. In our own lives, we can remain calm even when it does not make a whole lot of sense as long as we start by looking to the one who can actually win the fight.
He Visualized the Win
This is the part that seems the craziest to me. Let me ask a question: “When do you normally throw a party-before or after the victory?” Jehoshaphat decided that since God said He would win the fight, that the only thing left to do was celebrate. As the enemy continued to march or Judah, here’s what they did:
2 Chronicles 20:21 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 for ever.
I think that sometimes even when we say we are trusting God we live like we’re just not sure. We know what He said He would do but we are still holding our breath to see if He will pull it off. Do you know what real faith in God looks like? It looks like praising Him for what He said He would do as if it had already been done. It is living in light of the victory He has secured instead of waiting for a victory that we are not too sure will actually come.
He Trusted what he knew to be true
As they continued to praise, God did exactly what He said He would do.
2 Chronicles 20:22 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.
I like the old English word “smitten”. What a great word picture. God did what he promised while Jehoshaphat celebrated what he knew to be true. God is God and He always keeps His word.
How do you win a fight? Trust God, rest in His promise, rejoice in what He says He will do, and keep on praising. In this world, we will never get to the place where the enemy stops coming but we can decide, before he shows up, how we will both fight AND win.