“These are the times that try men’s souls,” wrote Thomas Paine in December 1776, at the very beginning of the Revolutionary War. A war that would be seven long years of fighting for the freedoms we hold so dear today. Glorious? Yes, if you count empty bellies, frozen feet, lack of supplies, basics like clothing, blankets, and food, shelter, discouragement, intimidation, fear, lack of pay, complaints from the home front begging their men to return to take care of them, if you count those things as glorious, it was, but not because of those challenges . . . but in spite of them.
They were, indeed, times that tried men’s souls. Just as today’s times are, and for the same reason. . . . testing those very souls, as we are being tested today. And what form does that testing take today?
Our very allegiance to our identity in Christ is being tested as a hostile government administration and media seek to tell Christian Believers who they are. They boldly proclaim that Christianity is a mental disorder. They threaten to take our children from us. Our schools no longer teach our children to think independently and biblically. Our true History is being replaced with lies. They indoctrinate them in the latest propaganda and use intimidation to encourage fear, with pandemic hysteria to fall back on if all else fails. We have so easily given in to the lies, and to the loss of our liberties.
But lies and intimidation are age-old tactics of our enemy. Take a look in 2 Chronicles 20 and again in chapter 32.
In chapter 20, we find King Jehoshaphat and all Judah surrounded by their enemies, with no hope of escape and little hope of victory. It says King Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And all the cities of Judah came together to seek the help of the Lord. Just as what happened all over America prior to the last election.
First Jehoshaphat reminded God of His covenant with them, then of their history where God had rescued them time and time again. Finally, he reminded God of His promise to hear their prayers and to save them. He lays out his argument before God of the way they have been treated by their enemies. And then he asks if God will not execute judgment on them, with this admission, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
And God responds!
The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Jahaziel, a Levite in their midst and he said to them, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. . . . You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
Jehoshaphat and all Judah bowed themselves down and worshiped the Lord. And the priests stood up to praise the Lord with a very loud voice. On the next day, Jehoshaphat admonished the people to believe in the Lord, and set those who were appointed to sing to the Lord and praise Him in holy attire and to say’
“Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever.”
And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set an ambush against the enemy and every last one was killed. The men of Judah and Jerusalem did not lift a finger against them but continued to stand firm, to sing, and to praise the Lord.
And then, in Chapter 32, another time, another king, another human foe . . . the same real enemy! This time it was King Hezekiah, a righteous king, who spoke encouragingly to his people when the Assyrians came against them.
Verse 5 says he took courage and rebuilt all the walls, appointed military officers and said to them, “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.
So the king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem to mock and ridicule the God of Israel, and King Hezekiah, even writing letters insulting the Lord God of Israel and belittling Hezekiah. But Hezekiah prayed and cried out to heaven, and the Lord sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria returned home in shame and when he had entered the temple of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword.
Today, in our society, many are openly mocking God, and declaring Him unable to save His people. They are ridiculing mighty leaders who dare to speak truth. They are calling good evil and evil good. Many of God’s own servants are wavering in unbelief and making excuses for God not answering their prayers as they thought He should.
But we forget God is Sovereign. We have the privilege of praying and entering into His work with our prayers and activities, but we don’t have the power to declare how God will act, or what His timing is. Ours is the duty of waiting on Him patiently and faithfully with thanksgiving, knowing that He has the interests of His Kingdom uppermost in His heart and the good of His children who put their trust in Him. He promised He would never leave us or forsake us.
Do not be deceived. We serve the same God who fought Hezekiah’s and Jehoshaphat’s battles when the enemy became too strong for them. But He required something from them also. He required their belief, their trust, their obedience.
He requires the same from us today. Do not waver in unbelief. Continue to occupy your post, your assignment until He comes to relieve you, or sends another to take your place. He has not forsaken us. He is still on the throne. Our Jesus is seated at His right hand and ever lives to make intercession for us.
So, wherever you find yourself today, whatever calling, or job, or duty, do it unto the Lord, knowing that from the Lord, you will receive the reward. Do not forget to give thanks to the Lord, thinking that He has forgotten our prayers and our repentance. He has not forgotten. He is busy working all things together for our good.
Lest We Forget . . .
(c) Patricia H. Smith, 2/1/21