12 O our Elohim, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

Seeking God's presence in prayer

The time had come for national prayer, and it was the king who would lead them, in a magnificent outpouring of pleading and praise. Standing in the great court, 13 and perhaps upon the brazen platform of Solomon, brought forth for the purpose, 14 Jehoshaphat stood up before the congregation and led them in earnest entreaty.

His prayer would reveal just what type of man he was, as the congregation stood in silence and heard his words. Here was a time of crisis, where both king and people feared for their safety, and yet his prayer was a superb example of God-centred thinking and petition.

Here was no 'me, my, mine', but instead 'Thee, Thy, Thine'. All was attributed to God, for everything rested upon Him. His was the sovereignty that Jehoshaphat acknowledged, and none else besides. It was not just that with Him resided all power, but that in Him rested all purpose. That immutable purpose lay with His chosen people, the seed of Abraham, and the king reminded God that the conflict therefore rested ultimately with Him, and not with His people.

Jehoshaphat came to seek Yahweh, in conscious echo of the psalm of the House of Asaph since, like them, he believed in the power of His presence, as he prayed earnestly before the ark in the new court of the sanctuary. 15

And yet, the king's plea was not his own, for in this time of crisis, Jehoshaphat addressed God in the words of Solomon, when he stood upon his brazen platform, and uttered his special prayer on the very day the ark was brought into the Most Holy. What better prayer could Jehoshaphat echo, in this, his own hour of need, than the one Solomon offered in the same place?

And there was more besides, for his final thoughts were in the very spirit of his father's prayer, when faced with the crisis of an overwhelming multitude. 17 Jehoshaphat understood the supremacy of God, and pleaded the divine help, but for the honour of God's own integrity. He asked God to take up their cause, but for the defence of His own name.

How beautifully did the king place their need alongside the purpose of their God. In total humility, he declared their true state, when he cried:

"for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee."

Here was the glorious spirit of complete surrender. A simple confession of their complete inadequacy was followed by a declaration of His absolute sufficiency. Both their dependence and their trust were upon Him, but there was no presumption in the prayer, for Jehoshaphat left the cause with God. His prayer, even in distress, was a model of God-centred, God-focused entreaty.

13 There were only two courts in Solomon's temple, the great Court of the people, and the court of the priests (2 Kings 21:5; 23:12). Jehoshaphat was probably stationed in the great Court with the people, but directly before the entrance to the Court of the priests (2 Chronicles 4:9).

14 Solomon's brazen scaffold was like an inverted laver, which provided a metal platform on which the king could stand that his prayer might be heard by all. Given the similar circumstance of national prayer convened at the temple (cp. 2 Chronicles 6:3,12,13; 20:5), the platform might have been recovered from a temple storeroom, and used by Jehoshaphat.

15 The word paniym was the key to the family psalm (1 Chronicles 16:11,27,29,30,33,37) as the House of Asaph in singing before the ark came into the presence of Yahweh. Jehoshaphat understood this, and sought the help of his God with the same cry (2 Chronicles 20:9,13,18).

16 The brief words of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:9) were a splendid summary of Solomon's plea for the divine help when Israel (in desperate need) prayed toward His house, and toward the place of His name (6:20,21,26-28,34,35,40,41).

Jehoshaphat knew his Bible!

17 Asa keenly felt that same sense of inadequacy, and the same dependence on Yahweh to vindicate His own name in saving them (2 Chronicles 14:11). And his prayer resulted in a wonderful victory!

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 5

14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of Yahweh in the midst of the congregation;

"God . . . spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (Heb. 1:1).

Not only have we these general declarations of a divine authorization of the words of the prophets, in a sense excluding literary authorship on their part, but we have express instruction as to the method by which those words became the words of God. And this instruction fences off all idea of those words being the words of the prophets in any sense of natural gift. Natural gift could not produce most of them. They are carefully discriminated from the words that a man might speak from natural impulse, and are expressly attributed to a divine impulse with which the prophet had nothing to do.

"Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). "Thou testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets" (Neh. 9:30).

When this divine impulse was on a man, he could not resist it, as we learnt from the case of Jeremiah, already referred to (Jer. 20:9). In the case of Ezekiel, its action is described circumstantially thus:

"And the Spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet . . . And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them . . . When I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God" (Ezek. 2:2; 3:4, 27).

A prophet might therefore be compared to an electric lamp with the electrical current turned on. Detached from the current, he was as dark as any other man; but with the power of the Spirit aglow, he showed the brightness of the mind of God in words which were the words of God, and not the words of the prophet. God alleges His connection with the matter thus:

"I have spoken by the prophets, I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets" (Hos. 12:10). "I have hewed them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of my mouth" (Hos. 6:5). "The Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

The operation is illustrated in the case of the seventy elders appointed to assist Moses in the administration of the law in the congregation.

"The Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy of the elders of Israel . . . and I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee and will put it upon them. And Moses went out and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And the Lord . . . took of the Spirit that was upon him (Moses) and gave it unto the seventy elders.

And it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them that they prophesied. But there remained two of the men in the camp . . . and the Spirit rested upon them. And they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle, and they prophesied in the camp" (Num. 11:16-26).

Here was a simultaneous touching of seventy men by the Spirit, irrespective of locality, and being touched they were affected and could not but speak,

"as the Spirit gave them utterance."

The Christadelphian, June 1898

20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in Yahweh your Elohim, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

Proclaiming a national fast

In all the history of the kings of Judah, there were but a few who could be counted as true spiritual reformers. Jehoshaphat was among them, for his reign was marked by strong initiatives to bring his people "back unto Yahweh Elohim of their fathers". He knew the power of the Levites to help establish that state, and enlisted their help to enliven the nation.

In all Judah, therefore, and throughout all its cities, he introduced teachers of the Levites who faithfully taught matters of principle from the book of the law, and judges from the Levites who impartially judged issues of practice from the statutes of Yahweh. 5 The result was a kingdom with a deepened awareness of the divine standards; and, although not mentioned directly, there was every reason to believe that the song of praise sounded daily in the sanctuary during his kingship. 6

One day, however, there came an event which propelled the House of Asaph yet again into national prominence. It began with a crisis in the kingdom, for a report came to the king of an enormous host massing on his border, from the region of Edom. 7 There was a season for war, 8 and a time when kings went forth to battle. 9

Such military engagements were commonly conducted in the spring, when the land had dried from the winter rains, and the earth could bring forth provision for man and provender for beasts. When the nation should have been rejoicing in the memorial of Passover deliverance, they faced instead the threat of attack from an enemy who had already gained an entrance into Jehoshaphat's realm, being stationed at Engedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

The confederacy gathered against him was large indeed, for beside the children of Lot, who led the enterprise, were others who had joined their cause, until there was a great multitude. 10 Its very size filled Jehoshaphat with trepidation, and he set himself first to seek Yahweh in his own life, and then to invite the nation that they might join him. 11

To seek God, was to come before Him, and it was in Jerusalem, at the house of Yahweh, that the king came to stand with his people, in this time of desperate crisis, when their nationhood was threatened. The circumstances engendered distress, but the calm resolution of a wise king brought stability and confidence to the people who looked to him for leadership. Jehoshaphat, recognising how' serious the matter was, proclaimed a special fast, in which the nation might come together to acknowledge their need and enquire of their God. 12

5 2 Chronicles 17:7-9; 19:5-11.

6 The records of Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa, would certainly suggest that they upheld the system of sanctuary worship, including the courses of the singers, a standard Jehoshaphat would continue.

7 The phrase "beyond the sea on this side Syria" (2 Chronicles 20:2) is rendered by RSV: "from Edom, from beyond the sea", and this is the more likely direction the host came from.

8 Ecclesiastes 3:8.

9 'The phrase "after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle" (2 Samuel 11:1) relates to the return of the year, hence RSV: "in the spring of the year." With the commencement of Abib, the ground was fit for soldiers to march, and spring warmth gave fresh growth.

10 The record emphasises this (2 Chronicles 20:2,12,15,24).

11 This action of Jehoshaphat was itself a fulfilment of the psalm of the House of Asaph, which asked the nation to "seek Yahweh and his strength, seek his face continually" (1 Chronicles 16:11). The two words for "seek" (baqash, darash) are both repeated here (2 chronicles 20:3,4).

12 The only designated fast was the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29; Isaiah 58:3; Acts 27:9). But there were instances of special fasts, which might be held at any time, but which were proclaimed with similar objectives (Ezra 8:21; Nehemiah 9:1; Jeremiah 36:9; Joel l:14).

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph 5