Monday, September 27, 2010

When the hard times in life come, remember the character of God in your prayers.

When the hard times strike in life, we can learn from Jehoshaphat how to pray. He focused his thoughts on the character of God when the confusion of life seized. Second Chronicles 20:6-12 reveals the magnificent prayer of the King of Judah when three armies were imminent in their judgment. The best thing to do when the worst times in life come is to remember the “bigness” of God.

Jehoshaphat riveted his thoughts toward the following attributes:

1. The Sovereignty of God (6)

2 Chronicles 20:6 "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.

Amazingly, he remembered that God is the God of the heavens (cf. Ps 115:3; 103:19). God made the heavens, dwells in the heavens, and owns everything. Indeed, He is the ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations—including the three nations coming against him for war (cf. 20:1-2).

That all power and might are in God’s hand unequivocally suggests that God has all ability to deliver His people from the hand of the enemies.

2. The Power of God (7a)

2 Chronicles 20:7 Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel

This hearkens back to the entire conquest when God defeated the enemies before His people, Israel. They entered the land by the hand of God. They defeated their enemies by the power of God. They struck down city after city, king after king, idolatrous people after idolatrous people by the strength of God. God supplied the power for them to inherit the Promised Land.

3. The Faithfulness of God (7b)

2 Chronicles 20:7 and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

God gave the land to His people Israel just as He promised to Abraham (cf. Gen 12, 15, 17). God is a faithful God because He led His people through the wilderness to the Promised Land proving His utter faithfulness. God cannot—and does not—break a promise. He is faithful. The Lord’s mercies are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness!

4. The Holiness of God (8)

2 Chronicles 20:8 They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name

They lived in the land and built a sanctuary for God’s Name. That sanctuary was the Temple. By the hands of Solomon, Israel constructed a dwelling place for Yahweh among His people. The Temple was a physical manifestation of the holiness of God—no one can approach God on his own terms. Rather, by the stipulations and decrees that God Himself has ordained, this is how man can approach God; and even that is from a distance.

5. The Nearness of God (9-11)

2 Chronicles 20:9-11 Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.' 10 "Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them), 11 see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance.

Though evil, sword, or judgment come upon God’s people they resolved in their heart to “stand before this House and before God Himself and cry out to Him! Amazingly, they confidently asserted that God would hear and deliver. How different this was from the other ancient Near Eastern gods. Yahweh, the God of Israel hears prayer and He is able to answer prayer. He is near to His people when they call upon Him.

6. The Righteousness of God (12)

2 Chronicles 20:12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.

They recognize that God will judge them. The Sovereign Judge of all the earth must do what is right (Gen 18:25). Jehoshaphat says that God will judge them. The nation of Israel was unable to defeat the three invading nations by their own strength. Indeed, they are “powerless” before this great multitude. So, God and His righteousness will judge them and do what is right. This is a magnanimous prayer of faith and trust.

I love the concluding phrase in verse 12: “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” May we never forget this phrase. During times in life when the ocean waves crash upon our heads and seem to thrust us to the sandy, rocky, and sharp ocean floor, let us remember to look to God. When you don’t know what to do, look up and find the Lord. The best thing to do when the worst times in life come is to remember the “bigness” of God.

A fitting conclusion is how the author of Hebrews exhorts his hearers in a similar fashion:

Hebrews 12:1-2 ...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus...


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