AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – August 21, 2005
A king displaying
BOTH COURAGE of HEART,
and CONTRITION WITH LEGS
Contrition with Constant Consorting with the Lord
II Chronicles 18-20
We believe in
the Reformation from Romanism, but also that from all other sin!
We believe in the performance in the power of the Lord of His purposes,
the answer of faith to challenge, not BECAUSE of faith but because of the One in whom it is placed!
While we await Christ’s return, let us not churn with ambiguity in living,
burn with misplaced and diverse desire, but turn to Him to lead:
if troops look to their Captain, how much more the redeemed to the living God!
There is a
war on (Ephesians 6): let us then rejoice in grace,
live in faith and work till the curtain drops, night falls,
and we are called to meet Him at His return.
This is duty ? yes, but privilege; it is obligation ?
of course, but exhilaration because of love and truth, and Him whose these are.
1. The Contrition with Legs – the doctrine in doing
Did those Australian troops clearing mines in Vietnam at risk of dismissal from life on this earth, do it with half-hearted ennui ? Do Christians treat the mine-fields of culture, education, society and this world with careless indifference, as though any explosion into our lives is of small account so long as money, pride, pleasure and comfort are satisfied ? In a mine field, that is death! It is the very antithesis of faith.
Jehoshaphat, great king that he was, was found in a foul position because of an alliance he had made with the crassly wicked Ahab, king of the corrupt northern kingdom of Israel.
What of this Jehoshaphat of Judah, who having instructed the people in the word of God, foolishly formed alliance with an idolatrous family, narrowly escaping death because of a mixture of pretence and treachery from Ahab, his partner in the battle ? (cf. II Corinthians 6:14). When he returned home, Ahab dead and himself near it from peril, to meet Jehu, the son of Hanani, the prophet, and hear his rebuke: did he sulk, or disobey ? Far from it. Hear some of those words now:
“Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord ? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.”
Then his good actions were noted by Jehu. It was not a BALANCE, but a BLAST!
Jehoshaphat’s response was not merely to heed, but to act with drastic discipline, changing evils in the land, teaching, ensuring justice was moved into practical living.
“Behave courageously,” he said, “and the Lord will be with the good”
II Chronicles 19:11).
Justice is not option, but obligation. Omit it from your dealings with
others if folly functions and furore beckons. The King however bound it on the
arm of the nation, like a blessed support.
2. The Challenge with Churning – the doctrine of testing
Soon challenge came to the nation of Judah, with a multi-national force descending on his land, as did many Moslem peoples on Israel, millennia later, in 1948. King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a national fast, and at prayer program, addressed the Lord, remembering how He had led them, the irresistible God, and given them the land, a Temple and with it promises (I Kings 8), including the power to call on Him in disaster, which the King did. He added this of the enemies:
“… we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do: but our eyes are upon You.”
Soon another prophet, called Jahaziel, was reminding them,
“the battle is not yours but God’s …,” and adding, “you will not need to fight in this battle.”
As they had temple promises, that site clothed in symbols, so we have them shown in Christ through the Cross of payment and the resurrection of power (John 16:23-24). Their national victory through faith becomes ours IN the faith! Action attests faith, and faith rests in the Lord, as do those who trust in His mercy, irrevocable in kind to His own kind, those born again through faith into His family (Titus 3:5-7, John 19:9,27-29).
Why resist ? why refrain from faith ? Its base is there, its basis clear, its word trumpeted for all who once drink, who never shall thirst again (John 4). This is part of the victory which, though it have a hundred forays, disregards clamour and trusts in the word of the living God, the profundity of the salvation of the only Saviour, who died, not for a spree or fee: it was to impart eternal life, removing the obstruction once and for all in eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12-14, 10:10,14).
Let us however return to the
military and national side of things of Judah of old.
3. The Answer with Faith – the doctrine of trusting
A confusion and internal strife had delivered the land of Judah – it was a commotion and a killing amid their enemies! “They helped to destroy one another.” Never under-estimate the capacity of the Lord to deliver! If we don't think of the way in some situation, HE CAN! NOTHING shall be called impossible with God.
At the outset, then, in that amazing battle against multiplied enemies, the army of Israel went, the people singing, priests first, rejoicing and praising God, only to find faith rewarded in an abandoned encampment.
What had preceded this ? What had the king told them ? It was this:
“Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established;
believe His prophets and you will prosper” – II Chronicles 20:20.
That is 20-20 vision: the battle was won, for it was the right battle in the right name. In this it was unlike the USA battle against Afghanistan, where prayer in the name of the non-existent Moslem ‘god’ (More Marvels ... Ch. 4) in alliance with that of the Father of Jesus Christ was sacrilegiously joined by those who should have known better (II Cor. 6:14)!
The result too differed! This cost
was in a major increase of the US external debt - an amount of increasing
significance and potential vulnerability; in Jehoshaphat’s case, however, they took great spoil.
The US has done many great things; this prayer combination was NOT one of them!
It is sad to see a once great nation so humble not only itself, but the name of
the Lord who gave them strength. Yet in this ever famed war of Jehoshaphat,
there was no such accommodation.
4. The Result with Rejoicing – the doctrine of answer
Thus, for that King, and the prophet, yes and those of the people who gladly believed the word of the Lord, a burning faith was shown a wholly miraculous deliverance. Faith alone (unmoved) in the living God, through grace alone (unhelped), thus operated on basis of the word of the Lord alone (untouched), to secure the result that is His alone. For what He is and what He does, we who know Him, praise Him. How could it be otherwise ? (cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24). If there be lapse, let it speedily be repented of, as one attends to rust which may be found in one's car!
The MANNER of the famed battle in ancient Israel was astounding. It has lessons for us today.
They rejoiced and praised God as they went to battle, and again on their return (II Chronicles 20:21-22,29-30): and what do we find for our own part ? It is this:
says Paul in I Thessalonians 5 in that great exhortation, adding,
“Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.”
Do you expect to lose the fight of life in Christ, for His glory, while you have the privilege of being on this earth, kept by the power of God ? (Psalm 43:3, I Peter 5:1-8). Why not then rejoice! Do you expect to fail ? then faith is dead! Faith without works is dead precisely because it does not believe, and so does not work (James 2). FAITH is the throwing of the switch, and the works are the pulse of power and He who brings them to pass is the Lord and THAT is merely ONE of the reasons why we should praise Him both in anticipation and in realisation.
The vitality of reality can neither be imitated nor lost when you have it! (cf. Romans 5:1-12). If you flag, He revives (Acts 3:19-21).
So was Jehoshaphat led, and so did he act. Doctrine does not steer your car, but it shows you which way to go, riding on the promises, free and full, of the divine master.
Here then from history you see the need to be CONTINUALLY reliant on the Lord – no exemption, no exceptions. This sounds harsh only if your heart is not already with and for Him. When it is, it is merely normal. How else would you, after all, expect to treat your Lord and your God! (John 20:28)
So does faith walk ahead in the Lord, as indeed attested in that amazing German-founded missionary work in Natal, in southern Africa, where farmer and pastor alike worked together to seek to testify of the Lord in word and deed to the whole area.
A vast establishment arose
with such a load of divine healings, for such numbers in such remarkable ways,
never made the focus, but merely a glowing, testimonial feature –
as the Lord healed many but not all
(cf. the book of Job, and Trophimus - II Timothy 4:19, with II Corinthians 12:7-10) -
and with such a provision for visitors and indigenous people alike in the farming:
that they too could praise God.
Let us all praise the Lord, trust Him, and seeing His works, then praise Him the more! And follow His word in all things, His way in life, and His truth in all heart and conscience, making no allowance for contradiction; for the contradiction of sinners was focussed, but neither begun nor ended, at Calvary, where salvation itself was attained and that once for all (Heb.9:12-28, Romans 3:23ff., 5:1-12).
Avoid clash, at whatever price, with His word in its truth, commands and specifications, and do not compromise its impact or neglect its provision in its power; for contradiction here is the very masterpiece for the illusions of confusion which rain like acid rain on the forests that should flourish in faith. If others do it, avoid their example, and give a better one; trust in the LORD ALONE, and do not mutilate the divine mouth that speaks, as if to ram back His words into His face.
Even Jehoshaphat erred in several events, but whether with him or another, follow the example that is right, avoid the one which errs, whether it be church or Christian who strays; and watch the way of victory by faith.
Let us therefore praise God for His works, but always precisely follow His words; for HIS is wisdom, His the truth. In Him it lives, and from Him it proceeds. Not for nothing does Peter exhibit the wonder of the divine effusion which gladdens the sheep who HEAR His voice and follow Him (Acts 5:31-32). Look this up and rejoice in it, knowing that God does not fail to provide for what He commands! As a Christian, a person does not lack the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9); but be filled with it (Ephesians 517-18).
Let us then act with LOVE (John 14:21-23), which loves the truth as well (I Corinthians 13:6): His the trumpet, ours the resonance; act in truth, His the call, ours the relay; in mercy, His the definition, ours the reflection in our ways and in our dealings.