There has been a recent uprising of enemy activity in our community. In the last few weeks we have seen violence increase: a large public fight of teenagers with three being arrested; the beating and carjacking of a delivery driver and more visible gang activity. We have seen an increase in demonic activity and witchcraft in the form of a new psychic at a very strategic spot entering the city and the approval of another “mystic” shop on one of the main thoroughfares. At the same time we have begun to see an increase in agendas and influences that are clearly not from the heart or mind of God, in fact, most of these plans are completely Godless and bold about being so. This increase has brought us to a place of asking “what should we do?” This question is not asked in desperation or fear but rather in preparation and confidence. Isaiah 59:19 is meant to give us great courage, hope, boldness and confidence: “When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”
I know that God is calling us to action, to boldness and to an increased intensity in intercession and in deed. As I have been praying about this my mind was taken to Jehoshaphat and Saul. The thought that I want to share today is that Saul was a man of activity, Jehoshaphat was a man of action. I believe it is important to know the difference because the victory is not won by simply being active, it is won by those who will live and fight and serve with obedient action.
As the king of Israel Saul was very active. He was always doing. He fought battles, sent others out to fight, he did mighty deeds and won the affection of the people. It was that very affection that cost him the kingdom that God had given him. We find that Saul was not willing to wait for Samuel. The Philistines gathered together to fight against Israel and all of Israel trembled in fear. Saul was told by the prophet Samuel to wait for him, that he would come to Gilgal in seven days and make a sacrifice. Saul waited with all the fearful people, trembling and hiding. After seven days Samuel was not there, Saul could not wait any longer, he was the king, he had to do something, the people expected him to do something. Saul made the sacrifice that only Samuel was called to make. Saul’s activity cost him the kingdom, cost him his calling. He was not willing to wait for God to be obedient to his calling and God’s purpose. He felt it was more important to be seen doing something than to wait because God had commanded Him.
When Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah all the people of Ammon, Moab and other places gathered together to wage war against them. When Jehoshaphat found out he was afraid and did not know what to do. He called all the people together to fast and pray. At this time he led the nation in prayer, at the end of his prayer he said, “For 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.” From that prayer God spoke to the nation through a prophet. God told them “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah, and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” I am not sure this is the answer they had hoped for. Yes, God had promised that He would give them a victory but He had also commanded them to go out to battle. They were afraid because they didn’t want to go to battle, now God tells them to do the very thing that they feared. The next morning they did just as they had commanded. In fact, in an act of faith and obedience, Jehoshaphat ordered that the singers should go out in front of the army, they should lead the way and as the nation marched out, to war mind you, they were led not by shields and spears but by a song, “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.” Consider the sight, imagine it for a moment. They march to battle not with war cries that entail their great training, their massive weapons, their multitude that can overcome the enemy, they march singing, believing that their action is of obedience and God’s promise is of victory.
When the army of Judah, being led by the singers arrived at the place of battle, at a spot that overlooked the wilderness, they looked down expecting to see who they would be fighting and instead they saw “dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” They did not win the victory, God had won it for them. We must stop trying to win victories that we are not capable of winning and start trusting God to win them on our behalf. We only get to partake in His victories when we are willing to follow Him with obedient action.
In our community today our prayer must increase, our influence must increase, our urgency must increase, but all of it can only increase in obedience or else it will bear no fruit. Activity is not the answer, in the kingdom of God we should never be found crying out “just do something”, we must be willing listeners, followers and observers. We have to hear God’s will and heart for every situation. We must be willing to do whatever He desires no matter how it looks, what it costs or what others say about it. And finally we must be willing to watch God win victories that bring glory to Him and Him alone. Judah did not become known as a nation of great warriors that day, they became known as a nation possessed by a great God. That is all I want to be, that is all I want my family and church to be, that is all I want Burlington to be. It doesn’t need the reputation of a great community, it needs the reputation of a community possessed by a great God, a God of action!