The other day I was watching an old black and white movie about prospectors in the California gold rush. In one of the scenes an elderly man discovered gold, and his first response was, “Jumpin Jehoshaphat!”. I laughed out loud when I heard it because, let's be honest, it's not a phrase we hear very often these days. Actually, I wonder if it ever was a common phrase - or if it’s just something Hollywood made up for crotchety old men to say in movies. But after I got over the humor of the situation, it did get me thinking about the actual Jehoshaphat from the Old Testament, and so this morning I decided to look him up.
For those of you not familiar with him, he was a king of Judah who's story is told in the Old Testament - in 1st & 2nd Kings, and 1st & 2nd Chronicles. The part of his life that really stood out to me however is found in 2 Chronicles 20. In this chapter Jehoshaphat faced a real dilemma. He was at war, and greatly outnumbered by his enemies, who were on their way to destroy him. There was no way that he could fight the oncoming army with the troops he had, and so he was pretty sure he would be destroyed. In other words, from his perspective, the situation seemed hopeless.
But that’s when the real Jehoshaphat got “jumping”. Listen to 2 Chronicles 20:12, which tells us that he “set himself to seek the Lord”, and he prayed, “O God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” Then in verses 15-17 we read that God responded by telling Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid, and do not be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”
With that promise in mind, Jehoshaphat and his army went out to meet their enemies - but they did so with their worship team out front. And the Bible tells us that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, the enemy started fighting among themselves and destroyed each other - and Jehoshaphat and his army were saved.
This story has really struck a chord with me because, as I write this, I’m sitting in the empty grocery store that our church used to operate. And as I look to the future, and the needs of this community, it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed by the challenges, and by our lack of resources to meet those challenges. That's why I was encouraged to read how Jehoshaphat responded to his overwhelming situation. And it's why I'm encouraged to follow his example of focusing on praising and worshiping God, and then letting Him lead the fight for the battle going on in this neighborhood - because it truly does belong to Him.
I’m not sure where each of you reading this devotional is in life, but I’m confident that some of your are facing similar situations right now - situations that feel impossible, and you can't see a way out. If so, join me today in remembering the truth Jehoshaphat knew - God sees a way out. All we need to do is call on Him, and then follow Him as He gets to work.