And Fell Down in Worship
In our reading from 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was having one of those days when it was not fun to be king. There was an alliance of Edomites, Moabites and a bunch of other-ites were massing to attack Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat knew he was totally out-manned and out-gunned. True to his character, Jehoshaphat (no he didn’t jump) bowed down in prayer and praise. His Temple prayer (see 2 Cron 20:6-12) was pretty basic stuff--
- He recognizes the past and God's power to save
- He explains the distress being suffered in the present,
- He asks God to intervene and rescue his people.
There is nothing earthshaking about the form and format of this prayer. What is powerful is his faith, and faith seen most clearly in his last line, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (20:12)
Have you ever prayed like Jehoshaphat? You don't really know what to do, so you pray? You don’t really know what to say, but you pray anyway? You just pray and let God be God. When the going gets tough, we're more apt to do something-- figure it out, call a meeting, commission a study. Don’t just stand there, do something. Well Jehoshaphat does something. He prays.
Jehoshaphat gets his answer through Jahaziel, a descendant of Asaph (the writer of many of the Psalms). Jahaziel told Jehoshaphat that the battle belongs to the Lord (see 2 Chron 20:15-17). God, not Jehoshaphat, would fight and win the battle. Oh, the king wouldn’t be sitting around twiddling his thumbs-- he must bravely march out to face the enemy. But Jehoshaphat would not be the power that would secure victory. He was to rather look to God and God would fight the battle. And as it happened, God threw the enemy into a great confusion and they destroyed each other. Jehoshaphat and his men simply walked in and picked up the spoils of war. And what was the response of Jehoshaphat and Judah to the goodness and graciousness of God? Worship!
Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. (2 Chron 20:18–19)
Worship! It was immediate and unplanned— they just fell down. It was also planned and liturgical— led by the Levites. The form and format wasn't what made their worship powerful; it was their heart of gratitude for the goodness and salvation of God.
Like Jehoshaphat, we cry out overwhelmed and powerless as we face an enemy we are too powerless and puny to defeat. Like Jehoshaphat, God fought and defeated that enemy for us, making him a spectacle at the cross (Col 2:15). And our only response is worship! Think of the last time that you were incredibly moved by worship. Was it songs? Prayers? Sermon? Or was it what God had been doing in your life? If we really realize how lost we are without God and how victorious we are because of God-- we worship. We don’t talk about worship; we don’t worry about the forms and formats. We just fall down and worship.