20 1Some time later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: “A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste—they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.” 3Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. 4The country of Judah united in seeking God’s help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God. 5Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard 6and said, “O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! 7And didn’t you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, 9saying, ‘When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.’ 10“And now it’s happened: men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir have shown up. You didn’t let Israel touch them when we got here at first—we detoured around them and didn’t lay a hand on them. 11And now they’ve come to kick us out of the country you gave us. 12O dear God, won’t you take care of them? We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.” 13Everyone in Judah was there—little children, wives, sons—all present and attentive to God. 14Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.)15He said, “Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat—God’s word: Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. 16Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. 17You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.” 18Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. 19The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs! 20They were up early in the morning, ready to march into the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were leaving, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen Judah and Jerusalem! Listen to what I have to say! Believe firmly in God, your God, and your lives will be firm! Believe in your prophets and you’ll come out on top!” 21After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give thanks to God, His love never quits. 22As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. 23The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed. 24As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them. 25When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! 26On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, Valley of Blessing). 27Jehoshaphat then led all the men of Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem—an exuberant parade. God had given them joyful relief from their enemies! 28They entered Jerusalem and came to The Temple of God with all the instruments of the band playing. 29When the surrounding kingdoms got word that God had fought Israel’s enemies, the fear of God descended on them. 30Jehoshaphat heard no more from them; as long as Jehoshaphat reigned, peace reigned. 31That about sums up Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah. He was thirty–five years old when he became king and ruled as king in Jerusalem for twenty–five years. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 32He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa—no detours, no dead–ends—pleasing God with his life. 33But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex–and–religion shrines—people continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous god shops. 34The rest of Jehoshaphat’s life, from start to finish, is written in the memoirs of Jehu son of Hanani, which are included in the Royal Annals of Israel’s Kings. 35Late in life Jehoshaphat formed a trading syndicate with Ahaziah king of Israel—which was very wrong of him to do. 36He went in as partner with him to build ocean–going ships at Ezion Geber to trade with Tarshish. 37Eliezer son of Dodavahu of Mareshah preached against Jehoshaphat’s venture: “Because you joined forces with Ahaziah, God has shipwrecked your work.” The ships were smashed and nothing ever came of the trade partnership.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About