The most common action taken preceding biblical revivals was that of the solemn assembly. This was whenever the people of God GATHERED together, CONFESSED their sins, REPENTED of them, RENOUNCED their wicked ways and their idols. They then RENEWED THEIR FAITH in God and His covenant promises and SURRENDERED IN OBEDIENCE to Him. This is how we as the church need to posture ourselves as we seek God’s face for breakthrough and awakening in our nations at this critical time in history.
We see this pattern in 2 Chronicles 20. As we gather together in our homes on Sunday and subsequent days, let’s follow some pointers from Jehoshaphat’s example.
A Great Enemy was Faced with the Spiritual Weapons of Fasting and Prayer
Jehoshaphat King of Judah led by example, repenting of His sins and humbling himself through fasting (v2). His example inspired the nation to do the same. Repentance is vital at this time. There are many wonderful prayer initiatives that have been established at this time, which is tremendous of course, but we need to lay the correct foundation for answered prayer and that is the foundation of repentance from our “wicked ways” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Prayer is not all about getting God to do what we want but rather about us complying with His will and ways.
Whatever else fasting is, it is a humbling of ourselves and a demonstration of our desperate need of God. Today, “A great multitude is coming against (us) from beyond the sea” (v2), not in a physical army but a killer virus. Many have also succumbed to the monstrous pandemic of fear like Jehoshaphat did (v3). But though he “feared” he turned to the Lord and sought His face to “ask help” (v4). We as the church need to humble ourselves and confess how we have embraced wickedness in our ranks. We have condoned evil and even celebrated it! We have not stood up for truth but been silent when we most needed to raise our voices. Also, we have been proud and self-confident in our knowledge, abilities and traditions. A great stripping away is taking place right now and our response should be one of humility. Fasting (provided it is not done ostentatiously) is a good place to start in brokenness; humbling ourselves before the Lord. Fasting is a momentary suspension of natural concerns because spiritual concerns take precedence. My spiritual hunger becomes greater than my natural appetite and I am channelling all my inward desires toward God in prayer!
They Prayed Intentionally and Specifically
They appealed to:
Who God is – His Character v6 “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” Let us exalt God as being able and all-powerful before any enemy!
What He Did in the Past – His Record v7 “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” God had come through for them before! Let us remember ourselves and remind God in faith of His direct interventions in the Bible, in history and in each of our lives!
What He Promised in the Future – His Covenant v9 “If disaster comes upon us – sword, judgement, pestilence, or famine – we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.” Judah was in covenant with God and we now in Christ are partakers of a better New Covenant! Let’s plead the promises of God and the blood of Jesus before the throne of grace!
Notice, when they repented, humbled themselves with fasting and prayed in this particular way…
A Revelation was Given by the Holy Spirit
V14 “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel”. God will give us insight and direction on what to do when we seek His face in this way. He may even give insight to a scientist to find a cure for COVID-19. What a message the Spirit gave them and it is still applicable to us now. V15-17 “King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S. Tomorrow go down against them…You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you”.
When we fast and pray in this way God speaks from heaven and acts for us in great breakthrough! So as we fast and pray let us look in faith and anticipation for what God will do. Stand still and see His salvation which He will accomplish for us! V20 “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
Breakthrough Came Through Praise and Worship
This was a strange army that Judah sent out against the enemy – it was more of an orchestra than an army! The worshippers led the way! Isn’t that always the way? There is great power when we repent, humble ourselves in fasting, pray pleading God’s character, deeds and promises, wait for the word and then praise Him into the battle!
Of late we have listened to so many real reports of tragedy and heartbreak around us. Also, at times we have been prey to some excessive scaremongering. It is easy for unbelief to grip us. Questions arise within us: “Can God?” “Is God able?” “Will God answer?” One of the best ways to increase our faith and dispel unbelief and heaviness is to put on the garment of praise (see Isaiah 61:3). When Judah did this (and it’s interesting, Judah means ‘praise’), the amazing result was v22 “…when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against” their enemies. V23 tells us that the enemies of Judah actually turned on each other in confusion and slew one another! This was not expected and it is not for us to presuppose how God will work in the coming days. Let God be God and do as He wills but let us do our part and seek His face for Him to work!
Great Blessing Followed!
The spoil from this battle was so great that it was “more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much” v25. God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
V26 says that “on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the LORD…”. Berachah means “blessing”. Even a valley can become a place of blessing and abundance when the LORD breaks through like this in answer to fasting prayer! But the blessing was not reserved to that valley but v29 says “And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.” I believe God intends to bless us beyond our wildest imaginations and that blessing is coming soon! I don’t for one moment want to underestimate the tragedy of what is happening daily in our midst as we lose incredible numbers of our fellow citizens, loved ones and friends, but let us choose to believe God and lift up our eyes to seek His face for better days are yet to be! The nations round about will see a demonstration of the greatness and goodness of God that will cause them to fear Him! However, “judgement must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). So let’s heed this call to pray and FAST and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then the LORD will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. We all want COVID-19 to die and disappear but what we need more than anything is God’s presence and power in a mighty revival!
During the Isle of Lewis Revival, Duncan Campbell and about thirty people gathered to pray. He recalls the story:
“While the hrs were passing by, I found myself fighting and not getting anywhere. After midnight I turned to a young man and said, “I feel led by God to ask you to pray.” This dear man got up and said, “O God, You made a promise to pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground, and, Lord, it’s not happening.” He paused, and then continued, “Lord, I don’t know how the others here stand in Your presence; I don’t know how the ministers stand, but, Lord, if I know anything about my own heart I stand before You as an empty vessel, thirsting for You and for a manifestation of Your power.” He halted again, and then after a moment of tense silence cried, “O God, Your honour is at stake, and I now challenge You to fulfil Your covenant engagement and do what You have promised to do.” Believe it or not – and you can check it if you want to – the house was shaking like a leaf, the dishes were clappering on the sideboard, and an elder who was standing next to me remarked, “Mr Campbell, an earthquake.” I said, “Yes” and gave the blessing right away. We went outside and found the community awake with an awareness of the presence of God. Men and women were carrying chairs and stools and asked: “Is there any room for us in the church?”
As we pray and fast, let’s engage God upon His covenant promises like the people of Lewis and King Jehoshaphat did, and may the LORD shake us also, to see another Great Awakening in our day and generation!