Jumping Jehoshaphat

We love his name though I’ve never heard anyone name their son after him. Does it have something to do with being four-syllables long? Did his friends call him “Phat,” for short? Though there are no little Jehoshaphat’s running around, he does have a phrase named after him (“Jumping Jehoshaphat”). That’s pretty cool. Anyway; he was one of Judah’s better kings who sought to please the Lord. He reigned around 900 BC.

In 2 Chronicles 20, Moab comes to make war. Alarmed, King Jehoshaphat and the people prayed and fasted. At the Temple, Jehoshaphat begins their “National Day of Prayer” this way: “O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not the God Who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You” (2 Chronicles 20:6). That’s the makings of a good prayer right there! And it was. But when he got to the end of it, he and the people were still at a loss: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

Most of us can relate to the first part of that sentence; not so much, however, what comes after the comma. We often don’t know what to do. Even after much prayer, we still are unclear: “How should I parent my teen?” “We don’t have enough income—what should we do?” “How do I love someone who is so mean to me?” Insert your current example; I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.

But how can we get the “but our eyes are upon You” down better? The answer is in our narrative. The Spirit of the Lord begins speaking through a man in verse 15: “…This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army…the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” But even though it was God’s, they still had to do something: “Tomorrow march down against them…Take up your positions; stand firm…Go out to face them tomorrow” (vv. 16-17).

And this is what they do. The next day, as they head to war, Jehoshaphat reminds them: “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld” (v. 20). And He will uphold them. God turns the enemy upon himself; Moab and her allies destroy one another (v. 23). When Judah arrived at the battlefield—all her enemies were already dead (v. 24).

Judah didn’t know how they would be delivered; she just knew God would do it. Judah didn’t know what would transpire at the battlefield; she just knew she was supposed to go there. And therein is our answer. In the midst of our trouble and confusion, our eyes will be upon Him more when we, by faith, trust Him by doing what He has revealed. Rarely are we so in the fog that we have no idea how to faithfully respond.

Which brings us back to that funny little phrase—“Jumping Jehoshaphat”; where did it come from? Some believe it developed over the years to remind Christians that when unexpected or troubling news comes our way, we are to remember to “jump” into God’s arms. That’s what Jehoshaphat and Judah did. They called on Him and He answered; doing so in a way no man could.

We do have to “jump,” though. Not very high, either; He’s a God Who’s really good at stooping and catching.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
May 12, 2011

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