Jesus Works and I Watch: A Lesson from Jehosaphat

In the days when Jehosaphat was King (see II Chronicles 20), neighboring armies marched against Judah. The people gathered to pray for the LORD to defend them. The King stood and prayed, “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.” At that moment, the Spirit of the LORD came upon the prophet Jahaziel, who declared to the people, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s… You will not have to fight this battle.” In response, the people bowed in reverence and began to worship the LORD. At the end of the next day, Judah’s enemies had turned on each other and destroyed each other. The men of Judah went to the scene of the battle. Not only were their enemies dead in the field, there was so much plunder for them to carry away that it took them three days to collect it all. Again, the King led the people into Jerusalem with festive music and rejoicing as they worshipped the LORD. Furthermore, since the surrounding nations heard of this event, they were now in fear of Judah’s God and there was peace in the land.  The King Jehosaphat knew that the people needed more than a human king. He knew that he, in himself, was powerless. So, in his wisdom, he pointed them  beyond himself to the ultimate King.

Of course, we could apply this story in many ways. We all face battles in our lives that we can’t win ourselves. The marriage problems. The conflict in the workplace. The mountain of debt. The looming mid-terms. The addictions.

But ultimately, this passage does not set our eyes on temporal enemies, but on our eternal enemy—my own sinful condition that stands before the judgement of the law. My sin in one enemy that I have no power to defeat. So the gospel calls me to set my eyes on him—on Jesus.

Hebrews 12 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame.” Jesus has fought the battle against sin and death through the cross. He was condemned so that we could be set free, and the plunder he provides is the perfect righteousness of his own moral record. And like those delivered in Jehosaphat’s day, we worship the One who has delivered us. I, in myself, am powerless. This is why in the gospel Jesus works and I watch… and believe.