Day 9 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 ... Meanwhile in Jerusalem

So far our reading have sampled the 200-year history of Israel, which began sliding away from God from the very first days of its birth of a nation. But the Bible devotes far more space to the kings and prophets of the Southern Kingdom, Judah proved more faithful in living up to the covenant with God, and chiefly for that reason it outlasted Israel by nearly a century and a half.

With a corrupt government in place, presiding over a population barely one-fifth the size of Israel's, Judah at the time of partition faced formidable obstacles. But the Southern Kingdom held certain advantages as well. Its rulers, all descendants of David, were mostly immune from the assassination plots and political intrigues that plagued the North. The temple in Jerusalem provided a strong unifying force. And, of the nineteen men and one woman who ruled Judah, at least some demonstrated a quality of spiritual leadership unmatched in the Northern Kingdom.

This chapter, for example, tells of the extraordinary king named Jehoshaphat, one of Judah's early rulers. No ruler of Judah had a wholly peaceful reign, and as a result much of the action in 2 Chronicles takes place, like this story, on a battlefield. Here is the book's philosophy of war in a nutshell: If you trust in your own military might or that of powerful neighbors, you will lose. Instead, humble yourself and rely totally on God- regardless of the odds against you.

As the kings of Judah demonstrated with monotonous regularity, it took uncommon courage to rely on God alone at a moment of great peril. Even the best of them dipped into the royal treasury to purchase help from neighboring allies. But King Jehoshaphat provides a textbook example of the proper response. When invading armies threatened, he called the entire nation together in a giant prayer meeting. On the day of battle, he sent a choir in front of his army to sing praises to God.

Jehoshaphat's tactics may seem more suitable for a summer camp meeting than a battlefield, but they worked. The enemy forces all turned against each other, and Judah's army marched home victorious.

This bright moment of national faith shines out from a very mottled historical record. By his public prayer and personal example, King Jehoshaphat showed what could happen when a leader placed complete trust in God.

Point to Ponder: Have any modern leaders demonstrated inspiring faith?