“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth”
The psalmist in the words of psalm 121 verse 1 confesses that he lifts his eyes up to the hills, from where comes his help. He is though looking beyond the hills, and lifting his eyes high, higher than the ancient hills of Judah through which he was passing on his way to pilgrimage at the temple. He confesses he is looking for help to the God who is above His creation, the Maker of heaven and earth. The one true God, the King of all creation. For help we too must lift our eyes above all other things, as nothing of human origin or invention can help us. Our eyes must be on the Lord alone.
Tonight at the prayer meeting we met together as a Solemn Assembly of God’s people , simply to pray about the forthcoming General Assembly of our church, and to seek God’s will and purpose for our congregation and for the wider church of Christ. It was indeed very gratifying to see such a healthy attendance of praying people, young and old coming together in common purpose and need to pray. We looked at a passage from 2 Chronicles 20 and focused especially what we read in verse 12 “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” .
“Our eyes are upon You”. Let that be our watchword now and in the future . I have long maintained that the trouble and strife we are currently experiencing in the church of God in Scotland is nothing less than a concerted satanic attack. A Church congregation or individual Christian’s response to the attacks of Satan will undoubtedly have an effect on the future health of the congregation and the wider body of Christ too.
This particular episode comes in the latter part of the book of Chronicles during the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Faced with an imminent crisis, the people came together in a common purpose and with a common desire and need. They seek the Lord’s help as they have no alternative.
Jehoshaphat’s response is resolution
Jehoshaphat’s response is one of resolution. He resolves that they can’t run away, they are trapped with Israel to the North , the tribes of Ammon, Moab, and Edom to the South and East. Jehoshaphat had nowhere to go, except to go to God. That is why I take such strength from Jehoshaphat’s resolution here. When we resolve to do something, we are setting our mind to it wholeheartedly. That is what we see in verse 4 ‘The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him’. So Jehoshaphat the king prays. He prays to God for the people, with the people, as one who knows God and is known by God (See chapter 17).
In verse 6 we read “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no-one can withstand you’. Jehoshaphat has plenty examples he can draw from . The God of Israel is the God who had destroyed the nations that had come against His people. Egypt , Amorites, Ammonites, Moabites, Philistines… They were historical, or even generational enemies of the people of God who had constantly harassed & harangued and had even enticed the fledgling nation of Israel and refused them safe passage. They were the slave masters of Egypt, the cousins with a grudge ( Ammon & Moab (Genesis 19:38-39) were the Grand sons of Lot (Abraham’s nephew).The People of Seir refers to Edom ( Genesis 32:3) – the people of Esau brother of Jacob . They were now the ones coming to attack – the people of God.
As we read these verses we can sense the pain Jehoshaphat is experiencing – He is amazed that God has allowed things to get to this stage. Why did God not allow them to deal with these enemies in the past? And now this is how they are being repaid ( verse 11 “See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance”.
Faced with an enemy of such Goliath-like dimensions what does the king do? He confesses his weakness before God “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you’. He could be speaking for me , he could be speaking for you & for all of us. We don’t know what to do , but our eyes must be upon God. There is nothing else for it but to pray . There is nothing better , nothing else than can be done except to pray. I go to the General Assembly with a sense of foreboding, yet in my heart, and in respect of the congregation of Tarbert I have a great peace about it all. I have great peace for the future , although I don’t know how that future will turn out. But then again when did God’s people ever know the future ?
When we read through the rest of the narrative of this chapter though we see that something happened God intervened .Then the Spirit of the Lord intervened as we see so wonderfully in verse 14 God came into the equation. That is so often the overlooked factor. God the Holy Spirit is so often the overlooked agent in the life of God’s people. God stepped into the situation when the outlook was bleak. As the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel years later ( Haggai 1:14) the Lord has His man to whom He gives a prophetic word. And what a word this was . ( verse 15) ‘He said: Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s’.
In so many situations at the red sea, versus Amelekites, versus Midianites, versus Goliath, versus Sennacherib and many other examples we see God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of His people. The truth of God’s word does not change over the centuries even when the ages and circumstances do, and our God is still able to turn the darkest of situations around to His Glory. In his commentary on John’s gospel and on the crucifixion of Jesus in chapter 19 the theologian FF Bruce remarks ‘ The crucified one is the true king, the kingliest king of all, because it is he who is stretched on the Cross, he turns an obscene instrument of torture into a throne of glory and reigns from the tree’ ( FF Bruce The Gospel of John page 369). How often God takes the fiery darts of Satan and bends them into an instrument of blessing , to quote Eric Alexander.
We must must never overlook God or leave Him out of the picture. Even in one as bleak as this. It is often the case that God deliberately weakens His own people for His purposes to be revealed. The apostle Paul knew this “ But he said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV). Knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for us in every circumstance is such a blessing and strength. We look to the Lord, knowing that all things are in His hand, and may we regardless of what happens continue to sing and live the words of verse 21 of this great chapter.