“The Battle Is Not Yours, but God’s”
“Put faith in Jehovah . . . and so prove successful.”—2 CHRONICLES 20:20.
1. In what ways does Jehoshaphat picture the enthroned Jesus?
JEHOSHAPHAT of Judah was a good king. “He did not turn aside from . . . doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes.” (2 Chronicles 20:32) His name means “Jehovah Is Judge.” He magnified Jehovah’s name, looking to him for guidance in the way of righteousness and for help in judging His people. He saw to it that these were instructed in the law of Jehovah. He personally went out among the Judeans to encourage them to return to the true worship of Jehovah. He organized the kingdom for theocratic worship. In all of this, he aptly pictures the King, Jesus Christ, newly installed on his heavenly throne in 1914 and now gathering Jehovah’s people for survival, while demonic forces gather the nations to the final war of Armageddon.—Matthew 25:31-34; Revelation 16:13, 14, 16.
2. (a) What major crisis arose for the Judeans? (b) What similar situation do Jehovah’s Witnesses face today? (c) What elements of Satan’s world correspond to Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir?
2 After Jehoshaphat had given attention to restoring theocratic order in Judah, a major crisis arose. A powerful adversary, “a large crowd,” came from the regions of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, threatening God’s people with annihilation. (2 Chronicles 20:1, 2, 22) The situation today is similar. Jehovah’s Witnesses, being “no part of the world,” are hated by Satan’s world and are often cruelly persecuted by God’s enemies. (John 15:19; 1 John 5:19) Domination of the land of Jehovah’s people—Judah (meaning, “Praise”)—was the issue in Jehoshaphat’s time. But now, after the pattern of ancient Ammon and Moab, today’s political powers and big business (including the manufacturers of “doomsday” weaponry) are vying for world domination. In doing so, they invade also the realm that belongs rightfully, since 1914, to God’s Messianic Kingdom. (Revelation 11:15, 18) Ancient Mount Seir became the domain of apostate Edom, the descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau. Appropriately, then, the Mount Seirites foreshadowed the proud apostates of Christendom today.—Genesis 32:3.
3. How does the action of Jehoshaphat and the Judeans resemble that of loyal Witnesses today?
3 Threatened now by those invading hordes, what could King Jehoshaphat do? Well, what do loyal servants of Jehovah always do when faced with emergencies, persecutions or endangerment of lives? Jehoshaphat “set his face to search for Jehovah.” And from all the cities of Judah the people “came to consult Jehovah” at his house of true worship.—2 Chronicles 20:3-5.
4. (a) What situations may Jehovah’s people expect? (b) Where does an increasing “great crowd” look for salvation?
4 What a fine example for God’s people today! This age of violence is moving down toward its climax at Har–Magedon. Conditions in Satan’s world will not become less violent. (2 Timothy 3:1, 13) Often, the very lives of Jehovah’s people may be threatened. Where shall we find protection? It is to be found in our unity of worship. At our Kingdom Halls and other Bible study centers, we meet to partake of sustaining spiritual food and to organize our public service of praise to Jehovah. Happily, “a great crowd” continues to come forward, out of all nations, to join God’s people in their “sacred service.” These new ones are streaming up to the ‘mountain of Jehovah’s house of worship.’ It means their salvation too.—Revelation 7:9, 15; Isaiah 2:3.
5. What does Jehoshaphat’s “new courtyard” suggest with regard to Jehovah’s organization today?
5 Jehoshaphat took his stand “in the house of Jehovah before the new courtyard.” Evidently the king’s building program in Judah had included extending the facilities for worship at Jerusalem’s temple. Likewise today, under the direction of the now-reigning King, Jesus Christ, a grand spiritual building program has proceeded, so that in the earthly courtyard of Jehovah’s temple there is ample room for millions of the nonpriestly “great crowd.” How pleasant to be there!—Psalm 27:1-5.
Turning to Jehovah
6. (a) What matters were covered in Jehoshaphat’s prayer? (b) How may we find strength during times of trial?
6 At Jehovah’s house, Jehoshaphat laid the whole matter before his God in prayer. He acknowledged Jehovah’s Kingship, power and mightiness, and reviewed Jehovah’s works in behalf of his people. He referred to Solomon’s fervent prayer at the time of the temple dedication and humbly concluded by saying: “We ourselves do not know what we ought to do, but our eyes are toward you.” (2 Chronicles 20:5-12; 6:12-14, 34, 35) Have you ever been in a situation like that—when there seemed to be no way to turn? In apostolic times Paul was often in such straits. He had to rely heavily on Jehovah. But always he could say, “When I am weak, then I am powerful.” For when he felt altogether incapable in himself, his complete reliance on Jehovah became a source of unconquerable strength. You, too, can be strong!—2 Corinthians 12:10; Proverbs 18:10.
7. What instruction of Moses were those Judeans obeying?
7 Imagine, if you can, the scene there in Jerusalem’s expansive temple area: “All the while all those of Judah were standing before Jehovah, even their little ones, their wives and their sons.” (2 Chronicles 20:13) No doubt they recalled Moses’ pointed instruction on the purpose of such gatherings, as recorded at Deuteronomy 31:12. There was only standing room in that vast assembly as those families waited respectfully on Jehovah, alert and ready to do his bidding.
8. Identify Jehovah’s channel of communication (a) in Jehoshaphat’s day (b) in our day.
8 How would the Sovereign Lord Jehovah answer Jehoshaphat’s prayer? Jehovah provided a channel of communication. This was in the person of Jahaziel, of the tribe of Levi. Though Jahaziel was not a priest, Jehovah chose him to proclaim one of the most stirring messages of encouragement in all Scripture. The important thing was that “the spirit of Jehovah came to be upon him in the middle of the congregation.” (2 Chronicles 20:14) Has Jehovah provided a corresponding channel in the midst of his people today? To be sure, he has! Jesus made mention of this in his prophecy on “the conclusion of the system of things” in referring to the anointed “faithful and discreet slave” class, to whom the Master entrusts all his “belongings” here on earth.—Matthew 24:3, 45-47.
9. (a) How was Jahaziel’s name appropriate? (b) What was Jehovah’s message, and how does this encourage us now?
9 Jahaziel’s name means “God Sees.” God could indeed see all that was involved in that crisis. He could foresee the course God’s people should take. He could see the final outcome. So, what message did Jehovah convey through Jahaziel? Listen! It was this: “Pay attention, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat! Here is what Jehovah has said to you, ‘Do not you be afraid or be terrified because of this large crowd; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15) How that united throng must have rejoiced! And how we rejoice today to know that, no matter how Satan and his cohorts may assault us—no matter how our faith and integrity may be tested—we, as a united people, can place our full reliance on Jehovah, confident that he will fight the battle for us!—Exodus 15:2, 3; Psalm 24:8; 37:3-7; Zechariah 14:3.
United Action Required!
10. (a) Those Judeans had to face what test of integrity? (b) What work leads up to Jehovah’s ‘strange deed’?
10 However, those Judeans were not to stand idly by, waiting for whatever deliverance Jehovah might bring. They were to be a people of action! They must demonstrate obedience to Jehovah and do things his way if they were to survive. No doubt many of them felt that the instructions that came from Jehovah were rather unusual. These tested their integrity. In the same way, before Jehovah performs his ‘strange deed, his unusual work,’ in destroying Christendom at the beginning of the “great tribulation,” he requires his witnesses to share unitedly in a work that may seem unusual to many. It is their sacred service of going to the homes of the people, time and again, to warn them of the impending destruction.—Isaiah 28:21; Matthew 24:14, 21.
11, 12. (a) What unusual command was given by Jahaziel, but how did the Judeans react? (b) How can we, too, show reliance on Jehovah?
11 This is foreshadowed by the orders given by Jahaziel to the people of Judah. Referring to the enemy hordes, he said: “Tomorrow go down against them. . . . You will not need to fight in this instance. Take your position, stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah in your behalf. O Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid or be terrified. Tomorrow go out against them, and Jehovah will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:16, 17) That unarmed throng of men, women and children was commanded to move out against the combined armies of the adversary!—Compare Psalm 148:12, 13.
12 Jehoshaphat and the Judeans were deeply appreciative of the direction that Jehovah provided through Jahaziel. “At once Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the earth, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem themselves fell down before Jehovah to do obeisance to Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 20:18) The Greater Jehoshaphat, Jesus Christ, displayed such submissive reliance on Jehovah while he was on earth, and we can be sure he will be looking to Jehovah for battle orders when ‘Jehovah at his right hand breaks kings to pieces on the day of his anger.’ (Psalm 110:5, 6) In like fashion, Jehovah’s Witnesses today are happy to “do obeisance” to the God in whom they trust, while serving in his courts.—Psalm 84:10-12; 122:1-4.
13. Who, today, are praising Jehovah “with an extraordinarily loud voice,” resulting in what?
13 According to 2 Chronicles 20:19, temple singers “rose up to praise Jehovah the God of Israel with an extraordinarily loud voice.” And who, today, under the direction of the anointed remnant, are using “an extraordinarily loud voice” in praising Jehovah before his enemies? Certainly in the forefront of Jehovah’s people is the constantly expanding group of pioneer ministers. Auxiliary and regular pioneers, special pioneers and missionaries—those who take the lead in praising Jehovah out in the field—enjoyed a 19-percent increase during 1983. Their ‘singing’ made an extraordinary contribution to the astounding total of 436,720,991 hours—a 13.5-percent increase—devoted to the Christian ministry last year.
14. Following the example of the Judeans, how are many now showing faith by works?
14 Back in Jerusalem it was no time to be a sleepyhead. Obediently, the people “proceeded to rise early in the morning and go out to the wilderness of Tekoa.” (2 Chronicles 20:20) They were keen to show their faith by works. (Compare James 2:14.) Likewise, God’s ministers today often need to be early on the job. Housewife pioneers and others have to arise early to take care of household chores so that they can devote a full morning to Jehovah’s service. There are people out there in Satan’s world who are ‘sighing and crying,’ and who must be marked for salvation through the “great tribulation.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are determined to find them.—Compare Ezekiel 9:4.
Forward to the Battle!
15. (a) In whom were the Judeans to put faith? (b) How may we “prove successful” today?
15 The record in 2 Chronicles 20:20 continues: “As they went out, Jehoshaphat stood up and then said: ‘Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Put faith in Jehovah your God that you may prove yourselves of long duration. Put faith in his prophets and so prove successful.’” Similarly, the head of the Christian congregation, our now-reigning King, has given his people much encouragement to faithfulness. We find it in passages such as the following: Matthew 10:27, 28; 24:9-13; John 16:33. Faith in Jehovah, faith in those whom he is using as spokesmen, yes, faith in his organization! As we ‘go out’ to Jehovah’s service today, how important it is that we exercise such faith! This is the way to sure success—to be attained by all dedicated, baptized Witnesses who exercise faith in Jehovah and his arrangements. These include his marvelous provision of everlasting life, made possible through the sacrifice of his Son.—John 3:16; 17:3.
16. (a) Which “singers” often lead out in service? (b) How do all praise Jehovah “in holy adornment”?
16 Further, Jehoshaphat “took counsel with the people and stationed singers to Jehovah and those offering praise in holy adornment as they went out ahead of the armed men, and saying: ‘Give praise to Jehovah, for to time indefinite is his loving-kindness.’” (2 Chronicles 20:21) Here the temple singers took the lead in going out to battle. Likewise, under the direction of the anointed remnant there are the pioneers and missionaries, traveling overseers and their wives, also those serving in Bethel homes, as well as congregation elders and ministerial servants, who often are to the forefront in doing sacred service, stimulating all those associated in the congregations to activity. All of these offer praise to Jehovah “in holy adornment,” marching out in theocratic order. Their spiritual adornment includes also ‘the new Christian personality, showing forth true righteousness and loyalty.’ (Ephesians 4:24; Galatians 5:22, 23) What a privilege it is today to be a part of this global movement, magnifying Jehovah’s name and loving-kindness!—Psalm 144:1, 2; 136:1-26.
17. (a) Why did God’s people “not need to fight”? (b) What “thought” of Jehovah spells doom for false religion?
17 Jehovah had told his people: “You will not need to fight in this instance.” So it proved to be. “At the time that they started off with the joyful cry and praise,” Jehovah set an ambush against the invading hordes, so that “the sons of Ammon and Moab proceeded to stand up against the inhabitants of the mountainous region of Seir to devote them to destruction and annihilate them.” (2 Chronicles 20:17, 22, 23) How vividly this illustrates what is about to happen in Satan’s world! As Revelation 17:16, 17 indicates, Jehovah has a “thought” about Babylon the Great, Christendom being the most reprehensible part thereof. He will cause militarized member nations of the UN to have this same “thought,” by turning upon false religion, to devastate and destroy her. The great apostate system of Christendom, like those Edomites from Mount Seir, will be crushed!
18. How will the modern Ammon and Moab be disposed of at Har–Magedon?
18 However, that is not all! The modern-day Ammon and Moab remain! (Compare Revelation 18:9, 10, 15-17.) They are still intent on destroying the praisers of Jehovah, the Judeans of today. But it is Jehovah’s time for execution of judgment. As Revelation 19:11-16 describes it, the King, Jesus Christ, will go forth to ‘tread the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty,’ destroying the remaining parts of Satan’s world system. At the height of that great battle, the crazed remnants of the political nations and their militarized cohorts will no doubt strike at one another with their weapons of annihilation. It was so with Ammon and Moab, when “they helped each one to bring his own fellow to ruin.” But never will Jehovah permit them to use their nuclear devices to the extent of ruining God’s people or his handiwork, our earth.—Revelation 11:18; Isaiah 45:12, 18; Psalm 115:16.
19. (a) How will modern Judeans then react as they survey the battlefield? (b) What is foreshadowed by ‘congregating in the Low Plain of Beracah’?
19 “As for Judah, it came to the watchtower of the wilderness. When they turned their faces toward the crowd, why, there they were, their carcasses fallen to the earth without anyone escaping.” When the modern-day “Judeans,” together with their companion worshipers, survey the results of Har–Magedon’s war, they will praise Jehovah for that grand victory. They will not need to take literal plunder, but they will rejoice to congregate in the symbolic “Low Plain of Beracah”—Beracah meaning “Blessing.” Joyfully, the nonpriestly “great crowd” will enter into a cleansed earth, under Kingdom rule, with keen anticipation of their coming privilege—to make earth into a garden paradise. For a thousand years the royal realm of the Greater Jehoshaphat, Jesus Christ, will have no disturbance, and his God, Jehovah, will continually give rest all around.—2 Chronicles 20:24-30.
Reviewing 2 Chronicles 20
□ Who today correspond to the hordes of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir?
□ Who are pictured by Jehoshaphat, Jahaziel and the Judeans?
□ How have modern-day Judeans made a fine response?
□ What gives us confidence in the outcome of the “great tribulation”?
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
Like Jehoshaphat, the enthroned Jesus now helps God’s people to “prove successful” in praising Jehovah