Day 18: May 21, 2017: See the Salvation of the Lord
2 Chronicles 20:13-17: Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
I recently saw this quote: “The message of the gospel is not ‘Behave’ but ‘Behold.’” The point is not that the gospel doesn’t cause and require a profound change in our behavior (for it certainly does) but rather that the main point of the gospel is not our actions, but God’s actions. In the Gospel, and throughout the Bible, God’s actions take center stage.
In response to Jehoshaphat’s prayer “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you,” the Spirit of God inspired a man named Jahaziel to announce to the king and the people what God would do: “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s… You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’”
Instead of giving the people a battle plan, God spoke through Jehaziel to say to them: “Behold what God is going to do – see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf!” We need to hear and believe this same word from the Lord today.
We need to hear and believe “do not be afraid and do not be dismayed.” When attacks or trials come into our lives we quite naturally turn to fear. We imagine the bad things which could happen. We worry about how we will make it through. We allow the size and power of our enemies or problems to intimidate us. But God says to us “do not be afraid.” In Christ, all of our reasons for fear are gone, because “perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18). In Christ there is no condemnation – we are forgiven and accepted by God (Rom. 8:1). In Christ we are God’s own children and we know that God’s own Son – who was given for our salvation – is risen and is at the right hand of God interceding for us (Rom. 8:12-17 and 31-34). In Christ we have the confidence that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39).
Next, we need to hear and believe “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” On our behalf, Christ has already conquered sin, death, and the powers of evil (Rom. 6:9-11, Col. 2:13-15). He has fought for us by laying down his life on the cross and then being raised from the dead. As a result we can approach the storms of life with the confidence that Jesus is Lord of life and death. We can trust him to be our Shepherd and our Strength. We can know that the powers of sin and evil which attack us have already been defeated by our Lord.
Third, we need to hear and believe “stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” The role to which the people of God are called here is not passive. Rather, it is active, obedient faith. The people of Judah had to “go down against” the invaders and “find them” east of the wilderness of Jeruel and there stand firm in their positions in order to see how God would deliver them. In the same way we are not called merely to sit on our hands. But neither are we called to take the lead and rescue ourselves. Rather, we are called to follow Christ’s instructions and trust God to do what we cannot. Peter explained how Christians are to patiently follow Jesus and trust in God’s salvation through the midst of suffering:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).
Take time now to thank God for his incredible salvation. This prayer can help you get started: “Almighty God, you alone are the Redeemer and Savior. I thank you that you fought for and delivered the people of Judah. I praise you that through Jesus your Son, you have defeated the powers of sin and death and made us your own children. I thank you that nothing can separate us from your love – our inheritance is kept in heaven and you are guarding us by your power until Jesus returns. Help me not to fear, but rather to stand firm each day to behold your salvation. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”