Although we don’t like to hear warnings not to do things, our devotion and responsiveness to God’s commands is preparation for the main events in our lives. When we face giants and need to call out to the Lord, we don’t want to be found ignoring him in the day-to-day.
5 [Jehoshaphat] appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 7 Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
9 He gave them these orders: “You must serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord. 10 In every case that comes before you from your people who live in the cities—whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or regulations—you are to warn them not to sin against the Lord; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your people. Do this, and you will not sin.
1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:
“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. 7 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? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
21 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.”
2Chronicles 19:5-7, 9-10, 20:1, 5-9, 21
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was a follower of the Lord and a reformer in leading the people. He appointed judges to deliberate on matters of law and conflict. Yet what set him apart was Jehoshaphat’s commitment to the fear of the Lord being upon his servants as they fulfilled their duties. He knew that with the Lord there is no injustice or partiality or bribery. And so Jehoshaphat expected his judges to lead with solid ethics and morality.
They were charged with warning the people to not sin against the Lord, otherwise they would experience God’s wrath. Now, we don’t like to hear warnings from anyone not to do things. So we can see that the judges would be passing on tough messages to the people.
All of this leads up to the main event. Our devotion to God and our responsiveness to his commands is preparation for the main events in our lives. In the case of Judah, the main event was the attack of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites. These foes were trouble all the way back to Israel’s entry into the land. Now they were coming to attack God’s people.
Judah needed God’s help more than ever. And so, Jehoshaphat called out to God for his help. When was the last time you faced a giant and called out to the Lord? Giants come in all forms and struggles these days, and the Lord wants us to call out to him in our times of need. Jesus said in John 16:33,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
No matter what we face, we can turn to God who has our backs and has been victorious already.
Imagine, however, that you dismissed the warnings of the judges and disregarded God’s commands to not sin. Imagine you are flirting with the world and cheating on God with pursuits which are not pleasing to him. Imagine that your main event comes along and you are calling on God when it suits you, yet from a position of disobedience and self-centredness.
God’s answer likely wouldn’t be “Do not be afraid.” In order to have confidence in God providing for you against the giants of this world, don’t test him by ignoring him in the day-to-day.
When Jehoshaphat says to serve wholeheartedly (vs 9), we see that God wants our whole hearts. Not half hearts.
Let the fear (reverent respect) of the Lord be upon you… and me…