2 Chronicles 20:20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”
Jehoshaphat’s advice to his people was excellent, and the Japanese puts even more of a point on it. Where the NIV says, “Have faith in the Lord,” the Japanese says, “Believe and show faithfulness.” We tend to make faith an ephemeral thing, just a feeling, but Jehoshaphat is calling for concrete, observable action. James goes on at length about the necessity of demonstrating faith with action, and I think that’s what Jehoshaphat is talking about here. I have loved this chapter for as long as I can remember, precisely because Jehoshaphat himself, as well as the people, did exactly what he says here, acting on the basis of an unexpected prophecy by someone who is otherwise not recorded as a prophet (verses 14-17) but which rang totally true in their hearts, as “illogical” as it might have seemed. That obedience brought them a victory so astounding that the surrounding nations, that had been ready to pounce on them, were shocked into docility. (verses 29-30) Faith that is just words doesn’t produce the results we desire! The flip side of this is that the devil is a liar, and he loves to appear as “an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) We need to be sure we are listening to the Holy Spirit, and not some lying spirit! I was reading just yesterday of someone whose father, many years ago, had abandoned the iron lung that was keeping him alive, in faith that God would heal him, and died in short order. The person who had encouraged him to do so was shown to be a false prophet. The person who was reporting this was very damaged in her faith, and had trouble trusting God for anything after that. The man himself doubtless went to be with the Lord and so was healed in that sense, but his family was devastated. Occasionally God does tell us to step out in faith when it looks like we’re stepping off of a cliff, much as happened with Jehoshaphat and crew, but we need to be sure what we’ve heard and from whom, so that He alone may be glorified.
I’ve not had anything as dramatic as this story, but I’ve had various exercises in faith. Sometimes things have turned out as I hoped and expected, and sometimes not. The times when they didn’t have included many factors. Sometimes it was that others involved didn’t have faith. It would have done no good if Jehoshaphat himself had been the only one fully trusting God here! Sometimes things not turning out as I expected have been part of God preparing me for something greater. I have had to learn that God’s plans are best, period, whether He uses me directly in them or not. That’s not always been easy to accept! Dramatic victories are lots of fun, but I need to look forward to the ultimate victory when God makes all things new, and be at peace whatever is going on at the moment.
Father, thank You for this reminder. You are doing all sorts of things all around me, and I am eager to see what You are going to do next. Help me be fully yielded to You, trusting You in practical terms and being faithful in all things, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!