Shabach! The battle is the Lords, and so is the victory
Nick Lunde // Worship Intern
2 Chronicles 20 & Joshua 6
The opening of 2 Chronicles 20 sets a grim tone for Israel: they are vastly outnumbered by an army seeking to destroy them. These tribes that set out to kill them worshipped the Baal gods, so this battle was more significant than just being taken over by a foreign people; it was a battle in which God was the Supreme One. This battle applies to a spiritual reality in all of life’s conflicts that we have even today. We do not wage war against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces in the world. Imagine for a second being an Israelite in this situation with no escape and an impending death. We all can relate to feeling overwhelmed and trapped, full of anxiety and true fear.
King Jehoshaphat goes into a prayer asking for God to save them, but the part I want to focus on first is in verse 12. Specifically the last 2 sentences, “we are powerless over this great horde that is coming out against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You”. Despite all the fear, we see an incredibly bold act of faith in how they handle this situation. They hold their ground by waiting on the Lord. Against every human instinct to run away or trying to muster up strength physically, Israel allows themselves to be vulnerable and weak at God’s feet. Notice the tone and posture that Israel has. They are not mad at God for allowing something bad to happen to them or become bitter towards God for abandoning them; but instead they lean in even closer to God. This is the same boldness that we pray for when we pray, “Thy will be done”. They had trust in whatever God’s plan was, that He would be faithful and see them through whatever trial. We are called to have that same trust toward God in our lives
In verse 21, King Jehoshaphat sends out the singers and musicians to go before the army to sing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever”. When they began to sing, God ambushed the great horde and delivered Israel. It was not their might that saved them, it was not how many singers or musicians they had or how well they sang. What delivered them was responding in faith through song to the promises of God of victory in Him. We, as Christians, are called to join that song even now amid very real and sometimes scary circumstances. We sing of the work the Lord has done on the cross even when it seems like the enemy has the upper hand.
We see the same kind of posture in Joshua 6 against another army but from the other perspective. Imagine being an Israelite in this circumstance. Impenetrable walls, which surrounded the superpower of Jericho, and an army that way overwhelmed the army of Israel — only this time Israel was the one attacking, not defending. Joshua looks to the Lord in faith to be faithful to His promise of victory. In the praying, God invites Israel out in faith to trust Him in the waiting. Six days of marching around the city once, and then on the seventh day seven times around the city. Despite our knowledge of a circumstance, we are called to be obedient, even if it does not seem like what we are called to be obedient to makes any human sense or difference to the situation we are in.
In verse 5 God commands Israel to let out a great shout. The Hebrew word being used here (Shabach) is not referring to a yell, but a Holy Roar. In the waiting, God is stirring praise in our hearts and God uses it as a weapon. When we worship, we are doing more than singing songs and having time to be intimate with God. When we reach out in song, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Music is a powerful weapon to combat the evil and the darkness of this world. When we are called to be the one who attacks the evil in this world, we have to remember that we are just as dependent on God to fight for us. God brings down the walls and lead us to victory!
In both offense and defense, our calling is the same: to look to the Lord and sing out with a Shabach of praise and know that God’s promises will never fail. Those battles we read in scripture and the battles we face now are not dependent on us but on Jesus. Both battles belong to God and the victory belongs to Him!