We could easily have understood if he had panicked a bit at his circumstances. For by the time that word reached him in Jerusalem, the invaders had already come across the Dead Sea and arrived at the oasis of En Gedi, only 25 miles or so southwest of the city. What’s more, it was not just one army coming against him, but three.
Each of them had their reasons, of course. The Moabites were tired of paying an annual tribute of sheep and wool to Israel, and the Ammonites had been restless ever since David’s general had conquered them. We know very little about the third member of that Transjordan Coalition, the “Meunites,” but they lived somewhere along a mountain range near Edom. More to the point, however, is that when assembled together, those three enemies of Israel possessed an overwhelming superiority in forces indeed.
So according to 2 Chronicles 20, Jehosophat, the king of Judah, facing a life-threatening crisis and confronted with a decided numerical disadvantage, had nowhere else to look except to God. And so his prayer was a simple one, expressed in verse 12 of that chapter: “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 on you.”
And as Louie Giglio has thoughtfully observed in a recent article in Christianity Today, “every leader around the globe is in a similar predicament…faced with the three-pronged advance of a global health pandemic, a world economy that’s come to a screeching halt, and the personal crisis of anxiety and fear.”
It might be pretty easy for us to panic a bit too, thus. For especially when the way forward is not obvious to us, the default response for many is to go a little negative or pessimistic. But look instead at how Jehosophat responded to his circumstances. According to verse 20, as Giglio points out, the good king did three things, in fact, that made a difference: He set out in faith, He stood up in boldness, and he spoke out a word of encouragement: “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld.”
What happened next no one can really explain. For as soon as the Israelites began to sing God’s praises, the invading armies–perhaps given a vision of God’s unseen heavenly forces– became so confused and terrified that they actually attacked each other, and Judah never had to fight at all. It took them three days just to pick up the spoils, in fact, and when they got back to Jerusalem it was clear indeed that the battle had been the Lord’s.
And as we cautiously move forward into still uncertain days, waging our own battles against disease and discouragement, it is the same for us as well. For when you don’t know what to do, it’s never a bad strategy at all to simply put your eyes on God…and keep them there.