Look Up

blog.001Today we’re going to look at one of the great chapters of our faith found in 2 Chronicles. The authors are chronicling in First and Second Chronicles the acts of God on behalf of His people, primarily through the kings. These books show us God is always working. Even when things looked bad or there was a bad king, God was up to something. This chapter is going to show us what can happen when we lift our gaze to God in the midst of a storm in our life. In this story Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah. 

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat. Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar’ (that is, En Gedi).”  2 Chronicles 20:1-2

Jehoshaphat got news that a vast army was coming quickly, moving at a pace that he didn’t feel like he could control. Sometimes things larger than our ability to manage come at us with a rate and pace faster than our ability to stall or stop.

When Jehoshaphat first heard this news he was alarmed. We’re not promoting a faith where there are armies coming, and they are vast,  but we just shut that out and don’t take it seriously. It’s okay to be alarmed. Jehoshaphat is going to prove to be an amazing leader and he began by being alarmed.

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord…”  2 Chronicles 20:3

His alarm was then accompanied by resolve to seek the Lord. Now that may seem so obvious but that is often the last resort for the people of God. Typically, we inquire of everything and everyone else. We inquire of the internet, we google it. We text a friend and ask them to meet up with us. We ask people for opinions. We do everything else but look up.

Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he resolved to inquire of God. He asked God what was happening. When he did that, it was the key to his breakthrough. Breakthrough begins with us saying to God, “What is happening and what would you like to do?

“…and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.” 2 Chronicles 20:3

This fast was not a fly-by-night fad. It wasn’t a juicing, cleansing, liver detoxing, or losing weight. Rather he proclaimed that they had a big problem so we were going to cut out all other distractions for awhile so that they could put God first and hear from God. They had armies coming and desperately needed to hear from God.

“The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:”  2 Chronicles 20:4-6

The people came together at a high place.  For these people the mountains were real. The ark of Noah found its resting place on the top of a mountain, Mount Ararat. When Abraham was in the struggle of knowing there is a promise that a nation would come through his son but God asked him to take a radical step of willingness to let go of that son, and a ram appeared caught in the thicket, it was up on Mount Mariah. When Moses met with God and the earth quaked and a cloud descended and the glory of God couldn’t even be seen face-to-face, that all happened on Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai. When the prophets of Baal came against the people of God and Elijah declared that his God is greater and fire came down from heaven it happened on Mount Carmel.

Jesus eventually would give his life on what some would say is Mount Moriah. The lower regions of that same temple mount is where these events are happening in our text. God is inviting us to turn our eyes up and meet Him at a higher elevation. Our help comes not from these people, it might come through these people, but our help comes from the Lord. So they stopped and looked up. The things that happened for them as they stopped, fasted and looked up can happen for us. There are five things to look at. 


What Happens When We Look Up

1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.

Unassailable means unable to be attacked or defeated. God is seated in that place today. He is not pacing. He is not even standing. He is confidently sitting on a throne that cannot be threatened from any angle.  There is not one ounce of anxiety in God today. That’s what we can see when we look up.

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.”  2 Chronicles 20:6

He is seated on an unassailable throne of power and might. We know this, but when the storm comes and the pressure come we have to lift our eyes up and see there is a throne up there and so is our God.

2. We see that God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness

Immediately what Jehoshaphat remembers is that God has come through for them and defeated their enemies before.

“Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?”  2 Chronicles 20:7

We’ve all been knocked down but none of us have been utterly destroyed because we’re all here today, God came through. You might think He has not come through for you, because of the circumstances you are in right now, but the good news is it’s not the end of the day yet! God is not done with you yet. It’s three days in a tomb but there was a resurrection. Right now may look like your tomb but it’s not over. A chapter may have closed, but the next chapters of your life have not. 

God’s work in your life is not finished. 

God’s opportunity to continue to do what only God can do is still alive today. That’s the power of the resurrection. That’s why when all of the sudden we’re fixated on the wind and the waves and the when, the where and the why, God is saying you can’t, but I can. Just lift your eyes to a God who has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.

3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.

God-ability is so much better than self-dependency. Because self-dependency runs out and runs dry quickly. There are so many situations in life in which we have no control.

“Our God, will you not judge them? For 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.”  2 Chronicles 20:12

That’s a great confession. Instead of lying here all night until we figure it out, we can talk to God instead. We can confess we are facing something we can’t handle. Sometimes we just need to say the simple thing: I don’t know what to do.

Remember, Jehoshaphat was alarmed, but he did resolve something. He resolved to shut out all the other noise so he could hear from God. We might not be able to take on three armies, but God can. We may not be able to control our situation, but we can control our response and our resolve.

“All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.”  2 Chronicles 20:13

They have all gathered together, standing with lifted eyes. There are three armies coming quickly, but in faith they set their gaze on God. Then the Spirit of the Lord fell on a messenger.

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.'”  2 Chronicles 20:15

Whatever it is you’re facing you need to keep reminding yourself that you’re not fighting this battle, but God is fighting this battle. We will do whatever it is God leads us to do, but God is fighting this battle.

4. God gives a promise for deliverance.

He wants to give you a promise for deliverance as well. Again, the battle is not yours, it’s God’s. He gives them a plan.

“‘Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, [He knows this because He is the maker of heaven and earth.] and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:16-17

The battle is the Lord’s but He directs our steps and guides us to victory. These are the marching orders. If you have a protocol facing you, go and follow the ways that seem wise. But as you go remember the treatments aren’t the ultimate warrior. God is our warrior and our defender. God is fighting for us. He may be using the regiment or this treatment, but it is God who is doing it on our behalf. He never said turn your back and pretend the problems aren’t there. Go face them, because you know the Lord, your God is with you.

5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Pre-thanks is when you start thanking God for things He has told you He will do that He hasn’t actually done yet. God has promised that He has delivered me. I’m going to praise him and thank him as though He’s done it, because God’s promise is as good as the fact that He’s done it. If you thank God after you’ve got it, that’s gratitude. When you thank him in advance, that’s called faith.

“Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”  2 Chronicles 20:18-19

God has spoken, the people have stood and now they have bowed down and started praising God. Fear is loud and all consuming. Worry is loud. Loud praise displaces loud fear. Fear and worship cannot coexist in the same space. One displaces the other. 

Worry and worship cannot exist in the same space.

“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.’ After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’”  2 Chronicles 20:20-21

These people began to displace their fearful thoughts with faithful thoughts. They began to displace their worried thoughts with worshipful thoughts. The army begins singing give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.

The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” 2 Chronicles 20:22-30

That’s what worship does and that is God’s promise for us today. Our worship can displace our worry. His faithfulness displaces our fear. We need the peace that comes from Christ. We can fix our gaze upward to where our help comes from and receive that peace today.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions on the “One Person at a Time” message?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Chronicles 20

In 2 Chronicles 20, we see Jehoshaphat leading the people to look up to God. After getting word that three armies were coming against them, Jehoshaphat resolved to look up to God for help. Their response to the coming crisis made all the difference. When we look up…

  1. We see God seated on an unassailable throne.
  2. We see God has an unbroken track record of faithfulness.
  3. We replace self-dependency with God-ability.
  4. God gives a promise for deliverance.
  5. We respond with pre-thanks to God.

Application

  1. Have you ever been in a circumstance that alarmed you? Maybe it was multiple things coming against you. How did you respond? What did Jehoshaphat resolve to do when he was alarmed?
  2. Where do your eyes naturally go when a crisis is coming your way? What would it mean to look up to God as a first resort?
  3. Have you ever pre-thanked God for anything before?
  4. What promises of God are you clinging to right now?
  5. Is there a specific crisis or fear in your life to which this message applied?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage as a result of this message?

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