1 Chronicles 1:1 Adam, Seth, Enosh.
First and Second Chronicles were originally one book, and it begins with an extended genealogy of God’s people. The author is not identified, but it may have been written by Ezra the priest, around 450 BC, for those who returned from Babylonian exile. It was a difficult time, and the Chronicler wanted to assure God’s people that God was still with them.
Much of the content of First and Second Chronicles is also found in First and Second Kings, so is not repeated here. What follows is unique to Chronicles, and reveals God’s remarkable faithfulness.
2 Chronicles 20:1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.
It was an ordinary day when Jehoshaphat awoke, but he suddenly learned that a vast army was marching toward Jerusalem, and was only a day away. Most kings would have used that time to get their army ready, but Jehoshaphat thought of something even more important. He proclaimed a fast and turned to God in prayer.
Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? . . . Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 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 on you (2 Chronicles 20:6-13).
This was not the first time Jehoshaphat prayed. The depth, sincerity and spontaneity of his words show his familiarity with prayer, and with the God who saves. Jehoshaphat did not wait for disaster to strike before he learned how to pray. He knew how to pray when disaster was at his door.
2 Chronicles 20:14-17 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah . . . . This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.
Jehoshaphat may have slept lightly that night, but the following morning he set out with his army and a choir. He put the choir in front of the army, and as they marched they sang: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever (2 Chronicles 20:21). If the army joined in, it was an amazing time of worship.
2 Chronicles 20:22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir.
It is not clear who was doing the ambushing, but all three armies turned on each other and completely destroyed each other. By the time the choir arrived, not a man was left standing. And the plunder was so great, it took three days for it all to be gathered.
From this we learn that praise is a powerful weapon. The people of God praised the Lord on their way to battle, and did not have to lift a sword against their enemy. We can fight our battles alone, or enlist God’s help through prayer and praise. When we enter God’s presence with praise, he enters our battles with power. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever (Psalm 106:1).
2 Chronicles 36:23 This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.
Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC, and the Jews were taken into exile there because of their sin. But through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised to bring them back home. When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back (Jeremiah 29:10), he said.
Cyrus king of Persia defeated the Babylonians in 539 BC, and allowed God’s people to return their homeland. The God who brought his people out of Egypt, and gave them the Promised Land, now brought them out of Babylon, and gave it back to them. God is the one who saved them. God is the one who kept them. And God is the one who brought them home.
This is what God is doing for the church as well. We are foreigners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11) living in a world that is not our home. The world opposes the church, and even hates the church (John 15:19), but it has not overcome the church. God is the one who saved us. God is the one who keeps us. And God is the one who will bring us home.
Reflection and Review
How can we learn to pray better?
Why is praising God important?
How is God keeping you in the faith?