Thursday, August 5, 2010

When Your Back is Against the Wall

When Your Back is Against the Wall”

Have you ever had one of those unnerving experiences where you felt like you were backed up against a wall with an army of trouble coming straight towards you? Did you cry out to God and wonder where he was and how he was going to rescue you from this impossible situation?

Interestingly enough, this experience is not just familiar to us in the 21st century: the back against the wall phenomenon is a regular experience for people throughout the Bible. Take Jehoshaphat for example. He was a king in Judah that found out the bad news that “A great multitude of armies are coming after us.” The next sentence reads, “Jehoshaphat was afraid.”

His back was against the wall.

The good news is that he turned towards God and he received a strategy that helped Judah to come out on top as the victor in such a great way that they became much more prosperous as a nation as a result of it. King Jehoshaphat’s strategy will also help us in our daily struggles and in the big kairos events of crisis.

Read about the process that God and King Jehoshaphat partnered together for victory in 2nd Chronicles 20:

1. King Jo (for short) acknowledged who God is by stating “O Lord God of our ancestors, are you not the God of Heaven?” (vs6)
2. He also remembered God’s faithfulness in the past: “Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to your friend Abraham? (vs. 7)
3. After acknowledging God’s character and remembering his former miracles, King Jo then asked for what he needed: O our God, will you not execute judgment on these armies invading us? (vs. 12)
4. Next King Jo acknowledged his dependence on God: “For we are powerless against this great multitude, we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (vs. 12)
5. King Jo did not try to fight the battle on his own, he gathered his important counselors around him for discernment, including the prophets of the day. (vs. 13-14)
6. He listened for the strategy that the Lord gave him through the prophets: those with keen spiritual insight. (vs. 15-17)
7. After receiving the strategy, King Jo responded in a counter-cultural way to his fear: he bowed low, acknowledging his dependence once again on God to prevail and then he worshipped, along with many others. (v. 18)
8. Now it was time to act! King Jo led the people, not just the armies to move worshipping into the battle. They moved not just in force, but in faith and power of the Lord. (vs 20-23)
9. The victory came to King Jo and the people he led. They went up onto a watch tower and were absolutely amazed at the scene. They saw corpses lying everywhere and an overflowing amount of plunder: animals, clothing, tents: you name it. It took them 3 days to carry out the booty. (vvs 24-25).
10. King Jo and his followers celebrated! They threw a big party to celebrated that the Lord had brought victory to them over their enemies, and the news of it went out throughout the land. (vv27-29)
11. Finally, King Jo rested. This passage ends by stating that “the realm of King Jehoshaphat was quiet, for the Lord gave him rest all around. (v 30)

We have a choice in everything we do.

We can move in with our own plans, often consumed by fear, anxiety and doubt. Or, we can follow King Jo’s lead and turn towards God and others who are faith filled people. When we reach out for help, God is always there to show us the way. Often he does that through the wise friends we gather around us.

We also underestimate the power of worship in the midst of battle. We need to learn to discipline ourselves to worship in the face of danger because this is the Lord’s way of bringing victory through scrambling the plans of our enemy. When we worship the Lord, all the plans the enemy has against us fall down because he can’t stand in the midst of our worship.

Finally, the celebration piece is a non-negotiable after seeing God bring about a victory. When our back is no longer pinned against a wall, or like the Israelites pinned up against a mighty sea, our response is to celebrate and give God the glory and praise he deserves. When we pass it off as “it all worked out” we are robbing the Lord and ourselves of the opportunity to revel in his mighty power to save.

When we go through this whole process of finding ourselves in an impossible situation, looking to God and others, seeing him bring a miracle, celebrating the final piece is rest. Our natural rhythm of life is to have challenge and then rest. When we follow this natural rhythm we experience the fullness of how God specifically created us and how he desires to partner with us.

So, next time your back is up against the wall, who are you gonna call?

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