Summary: Just like Jehoshaphat, one of the first emotions that grip us in the midst of any sort of crisis is fear. If you are being challenged with those huge problems that seem to overwhelm you and are wondering as to how you will overcome them, I pray that this word from the Lord will encourage you.
We read in Psalm 91:16, “With long life will I satisfy him, and make Him to behold My salvation.” (JPS)
The last three verses in Psalm 91 are the very words of God. Our God is one who speaks to us. God promises that the one who trusts Him totally, will be completely satisfied in this life and God will also show such ones His salvation. In this study we will try to understand what this word ‘salvation’ means. The Hebrew word for salvation is ‘Yeshu’ah’ which could mean aid, deliverance, health and victory.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we read about a king named Jehoshaphat, who was the king of Judah. King Jehoshaphat was one who was totally dependent on God and wanted to please God in every way. During his reign there was a conspiracy of nations who rose against him, and Jehoshaphat was filled with fear. We will look at this incident to understand how the Lord showed His salvation to King Jehoshaphat, helped, delivered and rescued him from all his enemies.
• Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord
We read in 2 Chronicles 20:3, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (ESV)
When hard-pressed with dangers from enemies who were planning to attack Jehoshaphat, though he was filled with fear, set his face to seek the Lord.
Just like Jehoshaphat, one of the first emotions that grip us in the midst of any sort of crisis is fear. If you are being challenged with those huge problems that seem to overwhelm you and are wondering as to how you will overcome them, I pray that this word from the Lord will encourage you.
Let me give you an example to help you understand what it means to set our face on something. Just imagine that a family went to a huge fair or carnival, where there are so many attractive stalls, tents, entertainment rides, games and many shops selling various commodities. The place is filled with huge crowds, and in the midst of all the fun and frolic they miss their child. Just think about the mindset of the parents who are looking for that child. Suddenly, everything around them loses its appeal and their only focus and yearning will be to find the missing child. They have as we can say rightly, set their face to do all they can to find their child who was lost.
Sadly today, this kind of longing to set our face to seek the Lord is diminishing even among those who come to church to worship. There are so many who are so involved with their mobile phones, that even while the service is on, they choose to text, take calls and keep themselves distracted from hearing the word. Whenever, two or three gather together in the Lord’s name, He is present, and so we need to honor God when we come into His presence. Let us also decide to set our face on seeking the Lord just like Jehoshaphat did every time we get an opportunity to come together to worship the Lord and deliberately choose to turn off everything that hinders us from doing this.
• Jehoshaphat called for a fast
The next thing that Jehoshaphat did was to proclaim a fast all through the region of Judah.
Fasting as we all know is to abstain from consuming food for a period of time. However, there are some who wrongly believe that by observing a fast, they can manipulate God to give them whatever they ask for. I have heard some people say that if they fast for a certain number of days, they will get exactly the thing that they asked God for. Let me explain as to what this looks like from a day to day experience. As parents when our children ask for somethings that they want, we may refuse them for some good reasons. If the child were to tell us that they will not eat food until we gave them what they asked for, we would call that stubbornness and not fasting.
We read in Luke 18:12, “I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.” (WEB)
This was the prayer of the Pharisee in the parable that Jesus told about the Pharisee and tax collector who came to the temple. It was as though the Pharisee was updating God on all the good deeds he had done, including the fact that he fasted twice a week.
If we fast and pray this way, we too are likened to the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. Some people fast on certain days and also make sure that others can identify that they are on a fast by their sad countenance. We must understand the true meaning of fasting before we take up a fast. Our prayers should always be a personal conversation with God, and should never be done to impress people. Fasting is abstaining from physical food and spending time with God so as to receive His counsel and guidance. If we are on a fast and continue with our work as usual not spending time with the Lord, it is just starving ourselves, and is not a fast unto the Lord. Fasting helps us to overcome the temptations from the evil one and those fleshly desires that would otherwise overtake us. It is good for us to fast as prompted by the Lord, but our fasting should never become a mere ritual.