SBC Banner


Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

February 25, 2015

Minister Tesfaye Tamrie

PART I: Worshipping God Guarantees our Unity in the Faith

2 Chronicles 20:1-19

  1. Biblical Background and Historical Contexts

    The stories of our faith develop in the history of our relationship with God. In God’s grand scheme of the Salvation Story, history is made in the battles between evil and good, in the victories and defeats, the gains and losses in people’s lives. History consists of countless decisions individuals make, the choices families make, and the positions nations take at critical moments in their lives. The Israelites made critical choices at various periods in their history! As the Bible indicates, most of their decisions were contrary to God’s will. Consequently, they suffered the consequences of the choices they made! However, during the times when they decided to follow God, observed His commandments, and worshipped Him in spirit and truth, Almighty God gave them peace, made them prosperous and fruitful! Our history is no different than theirs! Our history is connected to the history of the Jews! We are the descendants of Abraham and Sarah! The history of our faith began with God calling Abram and Sarai as recorded in Genesis, beginning at chapter 12.

    As you know, the formation of the Israelites as a nation began when God led the Twelve Tribes of Israel out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The Twelve Tribes of Israel actual became a nation after they entered Canaan, the Promised Land, under the leadership of Joshua as a united people of God. They successfully took possession of the land because they were spiritually united in the Lord and followed the leadership of Joshua according to the Word of God! Spiritual Unity was one of the major ingredients for their success. Spiritual Unity occurs when the people of God develop absolute trust in God and follow His Word in obedience. Unity in the Faith is the result of Total Obedience to the Word of God. Unfortunately, the Twelve Tribes of Israel didn’t continue to remain united as a nation for long. Succeeding generations after the Joshua Generation disintegrated into factions and competing entities because they lost Spiritual Unity! They lost Spiritual Unity as soon as some of them began to worship idols and turned away from following God! When they lost Spiritual Unity, they lost unity as a nation – as a people of God. When they stopped worshipping God, the idol worshipping nations around them were able to attack them, conquer them, take away their lands, and subject them into slavery as recorded in the Book of Judges.

    King David was the first king who succeeded in unifying the people of God as a nation. Their unity as a nation was the result of Unity in the Lord. King David, as a matter of first priority, brought the Arc of the Covenant and established it in Jerusalem as soon as he became king (2 Samuel 6). King David made God his first priority and focus even as he sought to regain all the territories the Israelites lost due to their persistent rebellion against God. Because of David’s faith action and devotion to God, the Lord gave him success and consolidated his kingdom. Unfortunately, his son, Solomon, didn’t remain loyal to God. Toward the end of King Solomon’s rule, the Israelites were divided due to idol worship introduced by Solomon (1 King 11:1-43). From that time on, the division between Israel and Judah worsened. After king Solomon’s rule ended, the Jews continued to have two kings, one in Judah, and one in Israel. The two kingdoms were unable to reunite because they were unable to achieve Spiritual Unity in God. The idolatry introduced by king Solomon continued to contaminate the spiritual life, cause division, and disrupt relationship between Judah and Israel throughout their history. Consequently, they even fought against each other. Because of their persistent rebellion, God allowed His people to be exiled from the land of Canaan. Because they despised His blessings and turned their backs on Him preferring foreign gods, the Lord allowed idol worshipping nations to defeat them and take away their lands!

    When we get to King Jehoshaphat, idol worship among the Israelites had become pervasive. Fortunately, the kingdom of Judah had kings who were dedicated to worshipping the Lord. King Asa, the father of Jehoshaphat, introduced major religious reforms which inspired spiritual revivals that turned people toward God. King Asa was the first spiritual leader in Judah who broke down many forms of idols, destroyed pagan images, and sought to eradicate idolatrous institutions began by king Solomon (1 Kings 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles chapters 14 & 15). When Jehoshaphat became king, he built on the foundation left by his father, as a man devoted to God. From the start, he demonstrated genuine faith in God [Read 2 Chronicles 17:1-13]. The Bible indicates that he was vigorous in uprooting the remnants of idol worship and diligent in spreading the Word of God across the land. Jehoshaphat earnestly sought the Lord and demonstrated dependence on God in his leadership (2 Chronicles chapters 17 & 19). In today’s lesson, we find King Jehoshaphat, confronted by a vast army consisting of two idol worshipping nations. It is instructive for us to note that being faithful to God does not exempt us from the attacks of the enemy! However, we must not allow the troubles of this world from worshipping our God in truth!

  2. The Lesson: Worshipping God Guarantees our Unity in the Faith

    1. vv. 1-2: The Threat – The Imminent Danger Facing God’s People

      The threat to Judah’s existence, the imminent danger came suddenly in the form of a vast army which arrayed itself at a place called Tamar. The vast army consisted of a coalition of idol worshipping nations, Moabite, Ammonite, and Edomite (inhabitants of Mount Seir) bent on stopping king Jehoshaphat from building a unified nation of people who worship the Lord! The enemies understood how powerful the Israelites can be if they become unified in the Almighty God! [Side Notes]: It is interesting to note that the Moabites and Ammonites were the descendants of Lot, the result of incestuous union between Lot and his two daughters, soon after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:30-38). Furthermore, the Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the estranged brother of Jacob (Israel). Lot and his daughters had lived too long among the people of Sodom and Gomorrah; they had picked up the horrible sexual behaviors of Sodom and Gomorrah – sodomy, homosexuality, rape, incest, and the like – what the Bible calls Sexual Immorality. Witnessing the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t prevent them from committing incest! Their children, in due time, became the Moabites and Ammonites; they became the enemies of the Israelites who fought against them at various times in their history. It is the Moabites and Ammonites who came in large numbers to destroy the Israelites during the time of King Jehoshaphat! These revelations are extremely important and relevant for us today. In our day and time, the lives of many families in our communities are drastically affected by terrible sins such as incest, rape, and adultery. Those who were the victims of sexual violence such as incest and rape at a very young age continue to silently suffer in our communities! Because they have been molested in their childhood by adults, their innocence has been violated and their souls have been traumatized! Some of them live with deep scars which have not healed! As a result, they grow up to hate, commit the same sexual violence, and perpetuate sexual abominations for generations. But, our God is able to change that! They just need God’s Grace, Mercy and Love! Those who have been the victims of sexual violence need the saving Grace of God through Jesus Christ!

    2. vv. 3-5: The Reaction of Jehoshaphat

      1. He Earnestly Sought God: Jehoshaphat immediately “set himself to seek the LORD.” The first thing Jehoshaphat did was to “set himself;” he resolved in his heart to earnestly seek God. He settled on the decision to seek God! He set out to enquire of the Lord! He was determined to seek counsel from God! He immediately turned to God. Though he was alarmed, he didn’t allow his fear to overcome his faith! He immediately controlled his fear by focusing his faith on God.

      2. He Proclaimed Nation-wide Fast: Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast involving all of Judah. He focused the attention of the entire nation toward God. He activated all channels of faith and prayer through fasting. He turned the attention of the people away from fear and toward faith in God! He humbled himself before the Lord! He led the people into humble submission before the Almighty God!

      3. He Mobilized the Nation: He mobilized the people of Judah to seek God as one people in times of crisis. “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek Him.” That is a great testimony of Jehoshaphat’s leadership in the faith!

      4. He United the People for National Prayer and Worship: He unified the people under the banner of faith! People unified in the faith will stand united as one nation when it matters the most! Spiritually United People will stand unified politically, economically, socially, and militarily. Spiritually united family will stand united under the pressures of life! Spiritually unified people will be able to remain united as they go through the economic storms, political upheavals, natural disasters, or wars! Jehoshaphat brought the people together to the Temple in Jerusalem where the Name of the Lord resides! He is an excellent example of a leader who united God’s people in worshipping the Sovereign God! Notice the temple in Jerusalem served as the center of Spiritual Unity as the church does for us today!

    3. vv. 6-13: The Corporate Prayer

      Jehoshaphat began his prayer by acknowledging that God is a Sovereign Lord who reigns over nations from Heaven. He recalled that it was God who brought their ancestors to the land; that it was God who destroyed and drove out the idol worshipping nations from Canaan. He reminded God that his ancestors built the temple that bears His Name so that when calamity comes upon them, they would have a place where they would assemble to call upon His Holy Name. He reminded God his ancestors cried out to Him in their distress believing that He would hear them and save them as they were doing presently (vv. 6-9). Jehoshaphat, then, reminded the Lord that the very people, the Moabites and Ammonites, whom God did not allow their ancestors to invade when they came from Egypt have now assembled in great array to attack and destroy them! Jehoshaphat said, “See how they are paying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. O 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 upon you” (vv. 11-12). In verse 13 the Bible shows how the people of God, from great to small, were assembled before Him. “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.”

      What an amazing picture of faithful people who humbled themselves before the Almighty God of the universe! On the one hand, a vast army has assembled itself relying on its military might and idols! On the other hand, a great multitude of people have humbly gathered themselves before the Almighty God by faith seeking His help! They chose to depend on His might, not theirs! What is God saying to us today? Can we see the great value of Spiritual Unity in His Church in our day? Do we see how God in His infinite wisdom provided a sanctuary called Second Baptist Church where we can assemble in unity to call upon our Lord? There is a profound and enduring value in the church, as a place of worship! When the people of faith, united in the Spirit, assemble themselves before God, it speaks volume! Worshipping God in Unity of Faith guarantees His favorable responses!

    4. vv. 14-17: God’s Immediate ResponseThe Holy Spirit Manifested Himself in the midst of God’s people! Immediately, instantly, God responded! “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeil, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

      1. 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. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.

      3. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions: stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you!

      4. O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you. Hallelujah!

    5. vv. 18-19: The Appropriate Response of God’s People

      "Jehoshaphat bowed 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 very loud voices!"

      2 Chronicles chapter 20 is an excellent text which reveals to us how we must put our faith in God, how we must pray, fast, worship and praise our Lord Jesus Christ, collectively. In addition, this text reveals to us how God responds to earnest prayer and petition. The Presence and Activities of God and the Holy Spirit are gloriously revealed! In this section, the Bible teaches how the people of God must worship and praise the Almighty God.

      1. Worship: Bowing down, falling on our knees to the ground is the least Believers must do in reverent worship! What we do with our bodies reveal the attitudes of our hearts! People of God must express what they feel inside on the outside! Our reverence for God, our love for Him, our admiration for the Lord must be expressed physically, vocally, and emotionally!

      2. Praise: Praising our Lord with shouts and loud music must be a natural part of our worship! We shouldn’t be passive in our worship and praise! Every believer should actively participate in praising God! Every believer must have a reason to praise the Lord! Since God saved each person individually, each believer must worship and praise the Lord for himself or herself! Since each believer has a personal relationship with God, his or her praise must be personal. A believer cannot expect another believer to worship and praise God on his or her behalf!

God’s people should pray, fast, worship and praise God with clean hearts and grateful spirits all the time. Earnest Prayer, Genuine Worship and Joyful Praise should be natural characteristics of believers who have a closer walk with Christ! As we enter the House of God, we must come with Praises of thanksgiving on our lips! Thanksgiving must flow out of the gratefulness in our hearts! We must come with a humble spirit expecting an encounter with the Almighty God! Every Sunday, as we enter the sanctuary, we must understand God is Present with us! We must not present ourselves to Him with attitudes that convey disrespect, disregard, or indifference! When we assemble before the Lord, we must realize that we are in the Presence of the Almighty God! We must remind ourselves that we are in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the Cross on our behalf! We must understand that the Holy Spirit is hovering in the Sanctuary examining our hearts and minds! For every believer who has a personal relationship with Christ, praising our Savior Jesus Christ should be a joyful natural thing! Standing before God with raised hands in His sanctuary should be the most natural thing to do! Rejoicing in the Lord with freedom should be the most natural thing for believers who have been freed from sin! Christians should worship and praise the Lord with freedom and joyful spirit! Our worship should be filled with excitement, joy, love, and anticipation! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!

click here to select another lesson