Tuesday, May 4, 2010

what will be your epitaph?

This past Sunday we had a special speaker, Dr. Jerry Spencer, deliver a message during our church service. His message was based on 2 Chronicles 20. In this passage it speaks of King Jehoshaphat and his response to the bad news of a large army headed his way. Jehoshaphat did not run around ringing his hands with worry and fear, nor did he automatically command his army to go meet the enemy head-on. Instead, he called ALL of the people together and inquired of the LORD. One of my favorite parts of this passage is where he readily admits to God, "O our God... we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You." (verse 12) How many times are you faced with a situation and you just don't know to do? I'm facing one now. It's good to know we're not alone, isn't it? Anyway, that's not the point of my post today.

This morning I re-read 2 Chronicles 20. Actually I started in chapter 19 and read through to chapter 21. There is a stark contrast which is what I wanted to focus on today. I've already mentioned that King Jehoshaphat, facing a dangerous and alarming situation, called his people together to inquire of God. Verse 13 of chapter 20 says, "All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD." I meditated on that verse for a bit. ALL of the men WITH their wives, CHILDREN AND LITTLE ONES stood there before the LORD. Oh, the things that could be accomplished for the kingdom of God if only ALL of us TOGETHER stood before the LORD! God was faithful to give Jehoshaphat and the people an answer, (vs 14-17) "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel... as he stood in the assembly" (one quick observation about this verse - the answer came as he stood in the assembly), "He said, 'Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.'" The rest of the passage goes on to give details as to what the people should do. Surprisingly, they weren't told to take up arms and prepare for battle. God had already told them that the battle was not theirs, but His, so what He wanted them to do was to, "... stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." So "Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD."

Now, the title of my post is "What will be your epitaph". Let me get to that point. God took care of the armies that were advancing toward His people while King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites were worshiping Him with praise songs (vs. 18-28). Because Jehoshaphat was willing to humble himself and pray, the Israelites were protected and defended by God Himself! It is said of Jehoshaphat in chapter 20 verse 32, "he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD." In contrast to Jehoshaphat is his son, Jehoram. After the death of Jehoshaphat, the eldest son, Jehoram, was crowned king of Judah. He was not like his father. He did not inquire of the LORD. He had his brothers killed. He had high places built (high places were alters to false gods) and he caused the people of Jerusalem to worship these false gods (2 Chronicles 21). Jehoram got an interesting letter in the mail one day. It was from the prophet Elijah and it informed Jehoram that God was not pleased with him and because of his sinful, rebellious ways, God was going to inflict him with a deadly disease of the bowels. Jehoram died in great pain and in verse 20 of chapter 21 it says, "He passed away, to no one's regret..." So here is the contrast that really struck me this morning. Do I want my epitaph to be, "She did what was right in the eyes of the LORD", or "She passed away, to no one's regret"? I think we all know the answer.

Brothers and sisters, let me encourage you to daily stand before the LORD and wait for His answer to your questions. Let's be willing to stand before Him, sing His praises and worship Him while He fights our battles. We cannot do anything in our own strength, except bring about our own destruction. May our prayer be the same as King Jehoshaphat's,

"O our God... we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."


Mark (under construction) said...

I needed this, this day ... thankyou.

Anonymous said...

I needed this today, too. As I sit here with tears, I see that my current battle may look like mine, but in reality, it's God's. I plan to stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give me. Thanks for sharing God's Word here.


Mike said...

I like this, letting the Lord fight our battles. Now that is counter-cultural.