The Expository Files


The Battle is Not Yours, But God's

2 Chronicles 20:1-29

Sometimes, if we are to succeed and win victory, the Lord has to be the One to fight the battle. This is the way it must be to win the victory over sins. Only through what God has done can we win the victory. We cannot redeem ourselves from our sins. We have no price we can offer. That battle must be the Lord's! There are many examples of this principle throughout the pages of Scripture.

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat
"So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, and he said, '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.'" (2 Chronicles 20:4-6).

An alliance of Moab, Ammon and others had invaded Judah. It was a matter of mathematics; the enemy by far outnumbered the people of Judah. There seemed to be only one possible outcome; the defeat of Judah.

Jumping up, Jehoshaphat stood in the temple and prayed. There was only one place to turn. Sometimes life is like that. And with reference to death, and eternity, God is the only One who can make a difference!

The Lord responded through His prophet, Jahaziel. "...and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, "Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's." (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Yes, here was a case where the battle had to be the Lord's, or it would be lost. However, that the battle was the Lord's did not mean that the people of Judah were to sit and do nothing. They were instructed: "You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you." (2 Chronicles 20:17). They went out and faced their enemy, and the Lord gave them victory as they watched their enemy's alliance fall apart and the former allies attack one another.

The Lord's Strong Arm
"Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;
Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
"Here is your God!"
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him
And His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes."
(Isaiah 40:9-11)

This is what is known as a Messianic prophecy because it speaks of events having to do with the coming of the Messiah, all of which were fulfilled during the incarnation of the Word of God; Jesus of Nazareth, some seven centuries later. One cannot help but think of Jesus as these verses are read. Isaiah is talking about "good news" and in fact the word "gospel" as in "the gospel of Jesus Christ" means "good news".

Also, to be announced to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!" We are again reminded of Thomas' statement of belief made to Jesus following the resurrection, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28; cf. John 1:1-3;14).

And who can miss the figure of the Shepherd? Indeed, Jesus is the "good shepherd" who "lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

Previously in the text, Isaiah had also predicted the work of John the Baptist as he prepared the way for the Lord doing his preaching in the wilderness area of the Jordan valley; "A voice is calling, 'Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.'" (Isaiah 40:3).

But note especially the appeal to depend on the might of the Lord and His ruling arm (Isaiah 40:10). Our salvation is by what the Lord's might has brought to us through the sacrifice of the "Good Shepherd"! Like Jehoshaphat of old, as we face the overwhelming temporal and eternal consequences of sin, we have no where to turn but to the Lord. Note the optimistic conclusion of trusting in the Lord's power:

"Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

When We Fully Place Our Confidence in God
Can a God with that kind of power make a difference in my life? Consider that His power is directed by His love, and what His love motivated Him to give for us (John 3:16). Understand and comprehend that He is a God with whom all things are possible (Matthew 19:25-26). Recognize that He is a God who is able to know our needs even beyond what we know ourselves! (Ephesians 3:14-21) He is not limited by our lack of imagination, creativity, vision or power as we are.

Do you recall the ancient nation of Israel, after witnessing God's power in many ways; the ten plagues on their Egyptian masters, their deliverance at the Red Sea; water from the rocks of the wilderness and food from the sky; how that nation still, tragically, lacked confidence in God's power as they stood on the brink of the promised land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14)? God was able, but they were unwilling to believe. God would have given them whatever they needed to win the victory, if only they had believed.

That was then, now is now. We find ourselves in a very similar circumstance, and that is not by accident. The Lord caused the account of Israel's failure of faith to be recorded and preserved so that we might learn not to do likewise; "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Corinthians 10:11). God would have blessed them with whatever strength they would need. He will us as well. We are yet in the wilderness, and God will bring us home if we have the trust and humility to submit to Him (1 Peter 5:6-7).

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 13.7; July 2006