When all is lost

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, June 10, 2023

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By R.A. Tea Mathews

They didn’t prepare for battle. They didn’t gather their weapons or plan their strategy. They didn’t do any of those things. Why?

Because all was lost.

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It wasn’t one nation coming against the Hebrews or two nations. Scripture says,…the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chronicles 20:1) 

Nor were these enemy warriors off in a distant land. Look at the details of the crisis. 

“Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea … they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).’” (2 Chronicles 20:2) 

From “beyond the sea” meant the Dead Sea, and Engedi was on its western side, which meant the armies had already invaded Judah and were closing in on Jerusalem!

This was roughly 850 B.C. and Scripture says King Jehoshaphat was afraid. So, if Jehoshaphat didn’t prepare for battle, what did he do?

  1. Fortified Jerusalem.
  2. Fled to Galilee.
  3. Proclaimed a fast.
  4. Fell on his sword.

Consider your choices and lock in your answer. Here’s the passage.

“Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and he proclaimed a period of fasting throughout Judah.” (2 Chronicles 20:3) 

The correct answer is No. 3, “Proclaimed a fast.” Jehoshaphat also brought his nation together at the temple.

“So Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord … Jehoshaphat stood in … the house of the Lord in front of the new courtyard; and he said, ‘…Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You…”  (2 Chronicles 20:4-6)

Jehoshaphat continued to pray and closed with these memorable words. “…we are before this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Scripture tells us a prophet then spoke for the Lord. What did God say?

  1. Don’t be afraid to fight; I will be with you.
  2. Stand still and do nothing.
  3. You will be taken into captivity for your sins.
  4. Flee to Galilee immediately.

Choose your answer. Here’s the passage.

The prophet told the people: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow, go down against them … You need not fight … stand and watch the salvation of the Lord in your behalf…” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

The correct answer is No. 2, “Stand still and do nothing.”

So Jehoshaphat took his army and went out. But how could the Hebrews possibly defeat these armies if they didn’t do anything? What happened?

  1. The enemy armies suddenly surrendered.
  2. The enemy armies captured Jehoshaphat and left. 
  3. The enemy armies saw the Hebrews and fled.
  4. None of the above 

Select your choice. Here’s the passage.

“(The Hebrews) rose early in the morning and went out … Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me … Put your trust in the Lord your God and you will endure …’ When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were struck down. For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, completely destroying them; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

“When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they turned toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and there was no survivor.” (2 Chronicles 20:21-24)

The correct answer is No. 4, “None of the above.”

I absolutely love this amazing event. The enemy warriors should have completely overwhelmed Jehoshaphat‘s men, but they suddenly fought one another until they were all dead.

There is an important message here. Remember what Jehoshaphat said to God: “We are powerless before this great multitude … nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 

The only way to navigate a crisis is to keep your eyes on God. Pray fervently, just as Jehoshaphat did, putting your focus on God, not your fear.

When all seems lost, know that the Lord is near. Confess your sins, seek Him with your whole heart, and God will help you.


The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” Contact her at Hello@RAMathews.com to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.

Copyright © 2023 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.