Jehoshaphat’s Prayer and Victory
Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham? They have lived in it, and in it have built you a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before you, for your name is in this house, and cry to you in our distress, and you will hear and save.’ See now, the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession that you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment upon them? For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!
It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul… but they are much more than that. Our eyes direct us. They direct our hearts. We look to the desires of our hearts. They direct our wills. We set our eyes upon on our goals. They direct our feet as most of the time we have to watch where we are going. Because they do all of these things, they direct our souls as well. Even the blind often direct unseeing eyes towards these things.
In our 3 dimensional world, we have many ways of leaving a path. One step just one degree to the right or left is not much and might pass unnoticed. That same shift kept up for 50 steps though can move us entirely off the path. Perhaps after 100 steps we are lost and can no longer see the path at all. We measure these turns and navigate the paths we take with our eyes.
Israel, in their near-sighted hindsight believed that it was God who commanded them not to destroy the nations that surrounded them in their 40 years in the wilderness, and therefore, in the days of King Jehoshaphat, those nations had amassed armies great enough to wipe them out. That is a bit of a twisted perspective of what had happened there, and perhaps a little bit of a political maneuver by the leadership – throwing the blame and responsibility upon God rather than taking any responsibility themselves.
The book of Numbers tells of 40 years that Israel wandered the wilderness among these nations, not because God would not let Israel conquer them, but because Israel had refused to conquer the Canaanites in the Promised Land and did not trust God that He would help them do it. It was not God, but their own fear that held them back. In the wilderness, they were to re-learn to trust God again… every day, for forty years. Each day, God fed them bread from heaven and quail to eat. He gave them water in the desert. He did everything to take care of them, until the children of the wilderness grew up and trusted God enough to conquer the Promised Land. They had their eyes on God.
Generations later, those nations were still there and rising up against Israel, just like they had in the wilderness. If Israel had learned their lesson and passed it on to the future generations, they would have realized that nothing had changed about their situation. But until the enemy started knocking on their doors, Israel did not realize how far off the path they had gotten themselves. It was then, Chronicles tells us, that they turned their eyes back on God, where they should have been all along.
Paul struggled immensely with this same problem in the Early Church. He started these Christian communities on the foundation of God’s grace as a free gift offered to all. But not long after he left these communities, others would come and convince them that they were not good enough… that more needed to be done to earn God’s favor. They took their eyes off God and put them on themselves and their own selfish desires. In doing so, they began to leave the path, step by step, until they could not find it again. It broke Paul’s heart to hear of these things, and much of his writing in the New Testament is there to remind those first Christians, just like the prophets reminded Israel, to turn their eyes back to God.
Where are your eyes today?
What do the places you are looking say about the state of your heart, mind, soul, and places you are going?