2 Chronicles 20 verses 17 & 15 are the basis for a Patti Vaillant scripture song I’ve had for at least two decades – on CD first, and now in iTunes. Here–I’ll type the words out for you from memory. (Because that’s what happens when you listen repeatedly to scripture songs – or any songs. You learn the words. You learn them indelibly. I wish someone had explained that fact to me before I listened to those James Taylor and Beatles albums so many times during high school. Because….really?)
“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves,
stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you,
O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not nor be dismayed.
Tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.
For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
I got all the words right. After typing, I felt the need to check myself only to insert the correct punctuation!
Who was it that didn’t need to fight?
King Jehoshaphat was being pressed upon by a great army. Take “pressed upon by a great army” and relate it to what you are up against just now. A great army of what? Worries? Check. Undone tasks? Check. People depending on you? Check. People that seem intent on undermining your work? Budget woes? Health concerns? Family unrest? Etc. So, this Old Testament account has a general relevance or application, here and now.
Tomorrow? Why not today?
What about that word “tomorrow”? Tomorrow go out against them. Why not tonight, today, or right now? Isn’t God a God of action? A God of power? Our God’s word – His very thought – creates worlds and removes mountains…instantly. Then, shouldn’t our faith response to such a God also be immediate? Some of the Bible’s accounts suggest that hesitation demonstrates a lack of faith (which basically amounts to a lack of obedience). The “rich young ruler” described in Mark chapter 10 wasn’t ready to act on Jesus’ command, and he went away sad as a result of his inaction. Abraham’s wife Sarah wasn’t ready to believe the message that she would conceive a child. It appears God would have preferred she believe then and there; same with the disciple Thomas about Jesus having been seen alive and in the flesh after the crucifixion and burial.
The practical and perhaps obvious answer to “why tomorrow?” in this Chronicles passage is that it may have been too late in the day today to “go out.” Our omnipotent God deserves faith and He requests faith from us – faith that may require actions that feel impractical. But, in certain circumstances, God is also a realist, so to speak. This “wait until tomorrow” situation with King Jehoshaphat doesn’t appear to be about procrastination. It might not have been that God was allowing the king to stall for just a little while, to muster up courage. I think it’s safe to say God knows that sometimes our greatest challenge upcoming (and that challenge may be nothing more scary than plodding through another ordinary day) is best faced after a good night’s rest.
For me, forging onward against my particular “vast army” tomorrow instead of right now often is about getting a good night’s rest first. Almost every time an unnameable fear or a general feeling of despair sweeps over me, these days, I decide that the first and best counterattack is, “I am tired. That’s all. Because God hasn’t changed. There is no acceptable reason to let this sudden feeling sap my motivation nor steal my joy nor burden me with fear.” So, I generally push back against that vague despair by seeking rest.
Waiting until morning to gear up and to feel brave again isn’t only about restoring physical and mental energy; it’s also about the strategy of our adversary. Like me, do you find that most of your irrational fears seem worse at night? Dark; uncertainty of what might happen while you’re asleep (will the smoke alarms really work?) – yes, nighttime often is when we are most vulnerable to worry and to incorrect thinking. Night seems to be when we are most apt to forget all about Whose wings shelter our spirits. Do you think our adversary (that one-“man” vast army named Satan) doesn’t know this? Believe me: he knows it.
“Tomorrow go out” reminds us of another Bible command, found in Psalm 27:14. “Wait on the Lord.” If our Lord is saying tomorrow, then tomorrow it is. Not today.
One. Scripture songs minister. Get some. They not only minister; they write scripture on your brain word for word. Because of another Patti Vaillant song, I can quote Psalm 119:1-8. Catch me in the hallway sometime and I’ll do that for you. (I’ll say it, sparing you the “enjoyment” of “Blessed Are the Undefiled” in what I wish was a soloist’s singing voice!)
Before 20th- and 21st-century scripture songs ministered, scripture ministered – and still does. Read some. Listen to audio Bible on Bible Gateway until you fall asleep – or when needing to drown out the noises wafting over from the next cubicle. It’s a refreshing change from music, and with repetition comes memorization.
Two. Become aware, and stay aware, of your vulnerable times. Deal with them in the power God makes available. We need not succumb. We shall not need to fight in this battle. The battle is not ours, but God’s.
Three. Get your rest.
My husband was out of town for two nights when I started this article. I kept four additional outside lights on, and three lights on inside. This tells me a couple of things:
- Clearly, Jeff is the light of my life! 🙂
- Light has a lot to do with feeling secure. But that is a subject for a whole ‘nother e-devotional!