Revivals Under The
Good Kings of Judah
Here is another stirring article on revival by Archie Naismith, formerly a missionary to India but now serving the Lord in the British Isles. Let us learn from these studies the ways of the Lord more perfectly.
2. Jehoshaphat (2)
Very true spiritual movement should have as a concomitant a revival of praise to God, for it is through the goodness of God in response to the faith of His people that revival comes. In the reign of Jehoshaphat a great wave of blessing rolled in on the crest of a sea of trouble. In 2 Chron. 20:21 we read of
The Appointment of Singers that should sing unto the Lord and praise the beauty of holines as they went out before the army, and say, “Give thanks unto the Lord, for His mercy endureth for ever” (Revised Version rendering).
A formidable army of Moabites, Ammonites and Edomites, encamped beside the vineyards of Engedi, was about to swoop down on the cities of Judah. Fear drove the king to his knees, and “he set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
In Romans 8:28 Paul related all the circumstances in the believer’s life to the eternal purpose of God in the assurance that things work together for good to them that love God.” So the godly when in adverse circumstances can be assured that
“Ill that God blesses is our good:
All unblest good is ill:
And all is right that seems most wrong
When it is His blest will.”
Not only did the king cast his troubles on his God, but all his subjects did likewise. They followed their monarch’s example and realizing the inadequacy of their own power and defences, “gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord.” In this dangerous crisis a whole nation assembled as one to implore the assistance of the Almighty. This chapter in Jehoshaphat’s history is marked by three characteristics. First and foremost is The Prayer of Judah’s Prince (2 Chron. 20:5-12). In his prayer he makes mention of the absolute sovereignty, omnipotence, redeeming grace and immutable promises of God, confessing his own powerlessness and committing the entire situation to God.
The king’s supplications received an immediate answer from God through a messenger endued with the Holy Spirit. God revealed through a Levite named Jahaziel, whose name means “God will reveal,” not only His will for His people but also His immediate purpose to prevent what might have proved an unmitigated disaster. Through this messenger the Spirit of the Lord calmed the people’s fears, counselled against panic, and reminded them: “the battle is not yours but God’s.” The exact position of the hostile force was indicated, far more accurately than the finest Intelligence Service could have done, and the army of Jehoshaphat was instructed to march to the entrance of the wilderness of Jeruel. Again, faced with a problem. God’s people were instructed to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”
Next followed The Praises of Jehovah’s Priests (2 Chron. 20:18-28). Monarch and men, ruler and ruled, sovereign and subjects, all prostrated themselves before the Lord in the attitude of worship. Such worship is the attitude of the soul bowing before God in adoring contemplation. The priests, standing in the presence of Jehovah, the God of Israel, raised their voices in praise and thanksgiving. Selected singers also offered their melodious tributes of praise, hymning “the beauty of holiness.”
Then the Power of Jehovah’s Presence was manifested on His people’s behalf, and the belligerent forces of Judah’s enemies were miraculously destroyed without a blow being struck by the army of Jehoshaphat. Rawlinson has described the event as follows:
“The army, marching south-eastward in joyful fashion, singing hymns of praise, came suddenly, at the edge of the high ground, upon a scene of carnage and confusion such as has rarely met the eye of one threatened by an assailant. All over the slopes of the rocks along the whole ascent of Ziz lay dead bodies fallen to the earth, heaps upon heaps, corpses piled one upon another. There was not a man left alive.”
Three days were spent gathering the spoils and the fourth in praising and blessing God for His mercy and deliverance. “Emek Berachah” — the Valley of Blessing — was the name appropriately given to the place where God blessed Jehoshaphat and the army of Judah. The king and people of Judah blessed God. In Psalm 84:6 “Emek Baca”, another valley with a very different significance, is mentioned. Its name means “the Valley of Weeping.” Judah’s forces and Judah’s king had assembled there in the initial stages of the encounter but, like the pilgrim host in Psalm 84, they entered the valley only to pass through it and to find it covered with blessings (Ps. 84:6 — R.V.). The word of the Revisers have rendered “blessings” is “berachah.” The pilgrim host of the living and true God, ever reliant on the God of Jehoshaphat, always emerges from the darkness and dread of “Emek Baca” into the sunlit “Emek Berachah.”
“We are passing through the Valley,
And the road is sometimes steep,
And the mountains all around us
Often make the shadows deep.
‘Tis the narrow Vale of Baca,
‘Tis the valley full of shade;
But we’re only passing through it,
So we need not be afraid.”
One could wish that the narrative of Jehoshaphat’s life had ended at verse 30 of 2 Chron. 20, with praise, victory and revival at their zenith; but, for our admonition and instruction, the Spirit of God records a final instance of Jehoshaphat’s weakness in again allying himself with the wicked. Commerce had revived: the country’s finances were in a flourishing state: prosperity seemed assured. But the Lord was not with the king of Judah in the venture that involved the unequal yoke of which He disapproved. The ships that were fitted out to go to Tarshish were wrecked, and the expedition ended in failure. Jehoshaphat died at the age of 60 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Jehoram, whose wife was the wicked Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehoram’s persistence “in the ways of the kings of Israel” brought the spiritual revival in Judah to an end.