The Power of Praise

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 20:1-21
Date: 02/26/2005 
The Bible story of Israel repelling an attack with a choir singing to God teaches us the power of praise. When enemies attack, we need to remember to fast, pray, and be where God is. The battle is not ours but the Lord's.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Psalm 113:1-3 “Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.”

Thank you, Rich. It does make a big difference to our family to know that our church family will be praying for the Batchelor’s as we go back to Washington, D. C. and we ask that you bless please, ask that you pray that the Lord will bless the overall effort, that many will tune in and not only during the actual live broadcast but we’re hoping that the programs are something like the NET99 programs that can be used for years to come as a witnessing tool that people can share. A lot is going on back in Washington. For those of you who may not know, this program is going to be uplinked from the General Conference Office which is the headquarters for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and it is going to be the first global program, evangelistic program like this broadcast there and so we pray that you’ll keep us in your prayers. It’s kind of intimidating a little bit for yours truly to be surrounded by all of these leaders and theologians and so pray that I can preach unencumbered. I also want to thank our staff here. You know I normally couldn’t do this where once a year I just leave the church and go somewhere and do a series of meetings, but every one of our pastors here, they’re not just good, they’re excellent. And we are just so thankful to the team and Junie of course, the whole team here that just I don’t lose any sleep at night worrying about how the flock is doing because I know first of all they’re in the hands of the Lord and good shepherds. I’m very grateful for that.

A wonderful story in the Bible, turn with me II Chronicles please. II Chronicles chapter 20. I’ll start with the first verse and for those of you who are trying to pace how long the sermon will be by the time I get to verse 21 I’ll be done. We don’t know how long it’ll take to get there but that’s my stopping point according to my Bible. The sermon title is “The Power of Praise.” Now I hope for those of you who are visually oriented you’re not going to feel robbed today because we have no pictures on the screen. I actually prepared a few but the equipment that we use for putting the pictures on the screen, it’s called the Globecaster, I hope you’ll forgive us. We need it for our broadcast in Washington. It’s been shipped back east. So we don’t have that this week so use your imagination. We’re going to go back and do it the way they did in Bible times, okay? You’re going to have to get through a sermon with no pictures. Can we do that together? Okay? Alright. Pray for each other. “It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar’ (which is En Gedi).” Now giving you the background, picture in your mind the land of Israel. You’ve got the Mediterranean Sea to the west of Israel. To the east of the land of Israel you have three nations that were principally a thorn in their side for many times. You’ve got the people of Edom, Moab and Ammon. Now they’re different from your typical run of the mill pagans. I mean the Israelites had a lot of problems with the Philistines and the Babylonians and the Egyptians and some of these other countries, but Edom, Moab, and Ammon were enemies of a different sort. You know why? They were related. They were kin. Where did the Ammonites come from? Children of Lot as were the Moabites, children of Lot and the Edomites they were the descendants of Esau. Sometimes they’re called the people of Mt. Seir because that’s where they lived. They believe that’s in the area of modern day Petra. You know it’s often true that the biggest challenge that God’s people have is not so much with the outright pagans as with those they, you might call it friendly fire, those that claim to be part of the family. And often when they referred to the Philistines David and others would call them “the uncircumcised Philistines” they never said that about the Moabites, Edomites and Ammonites because they claimed to believe in the same God of Abraham to some extent but then they would commingle that with other religions. By the way, you know when you’re reading about the last days in the book of Daniel chapter 11 one of the things it talks about is Edom, Moab and Ammon. They were symbols of sort of a threefold union of apostate Christianity. Some have wondered if that would be the same threefold union of apostate protestants and of course we’re technically protestants but there are some who are not following the Bible and the orthodox churches of Catholicism and charismatic or spiritualism and it seems like even religious leaders group major Christians into one of these three categories. And that there’s going to be an alliance of those three that are going to weld together this one world religion that will end up persecuting God’s people. So this story is important for us because it talks about that. They’re coming from the east and they’re camped by En Gedi and En Gedi was, by the way, En Gedi is the lowest point on the planet. Think about that. You ever heard the story, there’s a passage in the Bible that talks about the Valley of Jehoshaphat. That’s where this battle took place. It was a unique battle for a number of reasons. This alliance of these three nations wanted to eradicate Israel and take possession of their land. They resented that they had the best of the land, but God had given it to them. Also keep in mind that when Moses entered the Promised Land, I should say when Joshua led them over into the Promised Land because Moses died just before it happened. They were instructed, they had the permission to attack the Canaanites and the Hevites and the Jebusites and all of the other pagan nations but they said, “Don’t attack Edom, Moab and Ammon. They’re your relatives. They’re descendants of Abraham.” So they didn’t. They went through their land and you know they were very mean to the Israelites. The Israelites said, “Can we pay you for some water and pasture for our flocks?” And they said, “No!” They said, “If you leave the road it’s going to mean war!” And so Israel when they went through the land of Edom, Moab and Ammon they just had to mind their business and leave them alone and God was very nice to them. Giving you a little background history. So now you’ve got all the people of these three kingdoms are going to assemble not to fight against the ten northern tribes. They were given over to Ahab’s son Ahaziah and Jezebel’s son. They were pretty much apostate. Now they’re coming against Jehoshaphat who was worshipping the God of Israel. Now let’s learn a little bit about Jehoshaphat. First of all the name of Jehoshaphat means “Yahweh establishes justice”. Good name. When he first took the throne he began to affect a number of reforms. He wanted to bring the people back to God. It says, “In the third year of his reign” and you can read this in chapter 17 of II Chronicles, verse 7, “In the third year of his reign he sent out… the priests to instruct the people in the Law.” He wanted them to be taught the word of God again. They had neglected that for hundreds of years. That brought about a revival. It says, “He cleansed the land of idolatry,” I Kings 22:43. There was a great revival under the leadership of Jehoshaphat and you know it was based on following the word of God. He brought the people back to the word of God. He brought them back to a revival of worship in the temple of God. As a result of this they enjoyed several years of God’s blessing and great prosperity and you know what? When God blesses his people it makes their neighbors angry. Unfortunately it’s true that when you’re blessed your neighbors may smile but in many cases they’re jealous and they resent it. Have you ever noticed that? The Christian attitude is we’re to rejoice with those that rejoice, we’re to praise God for our neighbors and our brothers that are blessed and rejoice for them but the carnal heart, the unconverted heart, when you see someone else being blessed you might smile and say, “That’s wonderful!” and you’re thinking, “Why couldn’t it happen to me? Why has it happened to them?” And you begin to covet and resent and jealousy and all these things. And so they began to be jealous of the way God was blessing his people so they wanted to attack and take all that was theirs, take their land, take their lives. And it says that in II Chronicles 19:4, that’s the previous chapter, “So Jehoshaphat… he went out again among the people… and he brought them back to the Lord God of their fathers.” He brought about a revival okay? Now what does the devil do when God’s people experience revival? Does he stand still or does he send enemies against them? When God’s people are turning back to the Lord the devil will rally. All that live godly will suffer persecution. The more devoted, the more focused on God his people are the more the devil attacks. When is it that the devil came after Jesus? I had prayer with Carol just before the baptism and I went through the baptism of Jesus and all the wonderful things that Christ experienced. The heavens opened, the Spirit coming down, his being adopted as the Son. I said, “This is what you can count on,” and I said, “Also remember that after Jesus’ baptism not only did he begin his ministry but the devil came after him.” And when there is a revival and when people are committing themselves to God the devil gets angry. When the children of Israel started heading for the Red Sea the Pharaoh chased after them even though his kingdom was in ruins. The devil is like that. He’s ruthless. And so this is what was happening here. And it says in II Chronicles 20:2, “Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying ‘A great multitude is coming out against you from beyond the sea,’” and it says “And Jehoshaphat feared.” Is it wrong to be afraid? Well, not if it drives you to God. Sometimes the devil does things that will trouble us, cause us to fear, cause us to fret, worry us and what it ought to do is send us to our knees. The Bible goes on to say he didn’t just fear. It says he “feared, and he set himself to seek the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast throughout all” the land. So as a result of this threat he hears about this great multitude that could have numbered 900,000 soldiers coming against him and he knew that his forces could not manage that. It was going to take supernatural intervention for him to survive this battle. He decided the only thing we can do is trust in God. When your enemy comes against you and there is no other way of escape you better pray. “And Jehoshaphat feared, and he set himself to seek the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah.” Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” What are we supposed to do when we’re afraid? Turn to God, pray for deliverance. And II Chronicles chapter 20, verse 4 and 5 it says the people listened. “And Judah” that’s the kingdom under Jehoshaphat. There was the Levites, some of Benjamin and Judah, they “gathered themselves together to ask the Lord for help; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. Then Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah in Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court.” You know one of the best things is… Sometimes people have a hard time and they stay away from church. The best thing to do is go to church when you’re having trouble. I’ve actually met people that say, “I’m not good enough to go to church.” That’s when you ought to go. Oh but there’s hypocrites in the church! Well, there’ll always be hypocrites in the church and there’s always room for one more so you should still go. Right? Not only do we have our share of publicans, we’ve got our Pharisees but God hears prayers when his people gather together in his name. When the enemy came against Hezekiah and they wrote a letter saying, “Surrender. We’ve defeated everybody else. There’s no hope.” What did Hezekiah do? Took the letter to church, opened it up. I hope she doesn’t mind my saying this, but just this morning Jeannie got tragic news that she lost her son. Took care of things. Came back to church. That’s mind-boggling. How many of us would do that? But she said, “I couldn’t stay away.” When you’re in trouble you want to come to where God is. He said, “Where two or three gather together in my name, I am there.” And when you’re in trouble you want to be where God is, amen? Now someone asked me a question I wasn’t sure how to answer but I’m going to try. Is there, does God hear the prayer of one person? Alright I’m just going to lead you along logically here. Does the Bible tell us that if any two of you agree upon anything, touching upon anything I will hear? Does it seem that there is added potency to the prayers when we pray collectively? He says “two or three.” Why would he mention that? The Lord seems to indicate that when we gather collectively, when we agree, when we pray collectively and if it’s true that the collective prayers of two or three seem to be getting God’s attention in some way, and I don’t want to make it sound like your individual prayers don’t matter, but the Bible does seem to teach that when joined together in prayer it’s more powerful. I’m just telling you that’s what the word says. And if the additional prayers of two or three seems to have some impact on moving the hand of the Almighty then when the whole congregation comes together for prayer would you think that you’ve got a more substantial audience? I’ve got some theories. First of all, do we all have guardian angels? Do we all have recording angels? Evidently maybe there’s two angels. Maybe the guardian angels also take records. I don’t know. We’ll find out someday. There’s a lot more I don’t know than I do know. But I kind of in my mind can picture in heaven when God has roll call in the morning and some angels are missing and he says, “Where are they?” They say, “They’re all with your people at a prayer meeting.” Now this is a primitive illustration. It has flaws, but you know what I’m saying? I think when this many angels are together and they know about our prayers does the Spirit of God join in our prayers? I think in heaven it turns up the volume somehow. I don’t know how it works, but I think we miss a lot of opportunities. In a couple of weeks we’re going to have a twenty-four hour prayer time. I’ll be one of those who will sign up for 3:00 p.m. I’m hoping there will be some here who will sign up for 3:00 a.m. Some of you don’t sleep well at night. By 3:00 p.m. that’s when I finally got to sleep. Can you imagine? Is it going to have an impact? Are we going to see God bless as his people get together with a common goal and we join together and say, “Lord, lead, guide, bless in this project of your church.” I believe he will. Don’t you believe that? Hasn’t he every other time in the Bible. Matter of fact, I’ll challenge you. You name one time in the Bible, name one time when God’s people humbled themselves and came together to pray that God did not act. I can’t think of one case. That’s good news, isn’t it? Ought to do it more often! Now he hasn’t done it yet, but I believe he’s going to. Now the message is on praise and I haven’t gotten there yet. They fasted and they prayed and then it tells us in the midst of this, go back to II Chronicles chapter 20. Jehoshaphat stands in the congregation, verse 5, and he says, “O Lord God of our fathers.” Here the king is leading them in prayer. This often happened. “Are not You God in heaven, and do You not rule over the nations, and the kingdoms in Your hand and there is no power and might, so that none is able to withstand You? Are you not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of the land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it in Your name saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us-- such as the sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine-- we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’” Now you know what Jehoshaphat is doing? Who knows what he’s doing? Jehoshaphat is quoting from his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather by the name of Solomon who built and dedicated the temple and in his dedication prayer he said, “If we’re in dire straights and we come to this place and the sword comes against us and we pray, hear in heaven and answer.” He is doing what the word says and then he is claiming the promise. Jehoshaphat has got the scroll open there in the temple and he says, “Lord, you’ve said if we come to this place” as Solomon prayed. Oh, by the way, when Solomon got done with his prayer the glory of the Lord filled the place, fire came down from heaven, God showed his approval on the prayer and the temple, right? And he says, “I’m claiming this promise.” You know sometimes when you’re under attack… This message is applicable to all of us. If you are ever attacked and the enemy is coming against you, it might be a pagan enemy, it might be part of the family, you bring it to the Lord, you open his word, you claim his promises and then praise him for hearing your prayer even before you get the answer. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Verse 8, “And we dwell in” the land, and we’ve “built You a sanctuary in it for Your name.” And back here in verse 10, oh I’m sorry at the end of verse 9 he says, “When we pray this prayer and we cry out to You in our affliction, You will hear and save.” Hear our prayer and answer it. Verse 10, “And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir-- whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt…” Remember Moses was told and Joshua, “Don’t bother them. They’re your relatives.” You wouldn’t let us invade them, “but we turned from them and did not destroy them-- here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming out against us.” In all these Old Testament stories and battles in the Bible who does the enemy army usually represent? The devil. Who is our enemy? It’s the devil. Do we have in our own strength any power against him? This was the highest creation of God just underneath Christ in power. In our own power we’re a pushover. The good news is you and God are invincible. You and God are a majority. Amen? I wouldn’t want to go into battle against the devil in my own strength. It would be futile. I would be so quickly overthrown. I wouldn’t want to go to battle against Goliath. Anyone here want to take on Goliath? I wouldn’t mind with David. Right? In the same way I don’t want to go against the devil but I’m not afraid with Jesus the Son of David. So he said this enemy is bigger than us. We have no power. And he says in the end of verse 12, “Our eyes are upon You.” You are the source of our trust. “Now all of Judah, with their little ones, and their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.” Here they are standing in the temple of God. They’re praying. They’re fasting. “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph.” Asaph was the one who worked with David in writing songs and he was sort of the choirmaster and it’s telling us this man is a Levite. He’s probably part of the church choir. And there’s a reason that God gives this vision of prophesy to someone from the choir because the answer to their prayer is going to come from the choir. You don’t usually expect it from there. You expect it from the army not from the band, right? This is Jahaziel. Oh, by the way, all these names mean something and the name Jahaziel means “Yahweh looks”. He was from the sons of Asaph. And he said, “Listen, all of you O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord, to you.” Be very careful if you’re ever going to say “Thus sayeth the Lord” that you make sure you’ve got a thus sayeth the Lord. I sometimes scan through the religious programs and a lot of ministers have the audacity to say, “I’ve got a message from God.” About the only time you’ll ever hear me say that is when I’m reading you a scripture. It’s pretty outrageous unless you know the Holy Spirit has come upon you and given you the gift of prophesy to say, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” God judges the prophets very severely in the Bible when they say, “Thus sayeth the Lord” and He hasn’t spoken. And they run and He did not send them. So when someone says “Thus sayeth the Lord” back then they took it very seriously because nobody did that lightly. He says do not be afraid. “Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid.’” Does that sound like Jesus? How many times did Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid”? “Do not be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” You know we often forget when we’re under attack because of our beliefs, because we’re Christians. They’re not attacking us. They’re attacking Jesus. Sometimes when people criticize our beliefs or criticize our experience with the Lord we take it personally and we forget it’s not us that they’re attacking. It’s the Lord. And we get defensive and we defend ourselves. We shouldn’t be defending ourselves because they’re not really attacking us unless it’s you you’re thinking of. If you’re living as a Christian and you’re persecuted for righteousness sake they’re attacking God. And when they attack God it’s not your battle, it’s his battle. So if you’re being persecuted for righteousness sake you can rejoice and say, “Well, the battle is not mine. It’s God’s battle. They’re taking Him on.” I find real relief sometimes when a person challenges what we believe and they say, “Pastor Doug, you say such and such and you believe such and such.” And I say, “No, I don’t. Your issue is not with me. It’s with the Bible. I’m just telling you what the Bible says. Your issue is with God. Take it up with Him.” The battle is not yours. It’s the Lord’s. When Samuel, a good man of God, they said, “We don’t want you to be the prophet anymore. We want a king like the other nations.” Samuel went around wringing his hands and he felt rejected and God had to remind Samuel, “They haven’t rejected you. They’ve rejected me.” We often forget that the battle is not between you and the devil. It’s between Christ and the devil. The great controversy is between truth and error and we happen to be on the winning team (I hope you are!), but we’ve got to remember that it’s really an affront of our general. He said “the battle is not yours,” it’s the Lord’s. “‘Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 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; go tomorrow out against them, for the Lord is with you.” Don’t be afraid. God is with you. Over and over again he tells us this. Stand still. It’s hard to get a victory standing still. Kasheus Clay, Mohammed Ali kind of made the term famous called “rope-a-dope”. In his famous boxing match, I know none of you ever know anything about boxing, but my mother dated a boxer for twenty years. Kind of wish she had married him. He was a nice guy except he was married to someone else the whole time she dated him. They’re all gone now so I can share that with you. But nice guy anyway so I have a little history in boxing. And Mohammed Ali got on the ropes there in Africa in this fight they called “The Rumble in the Jungle” and he just basically stood still and let George Foreman exhaust himself swinging at him so by the time that the round was over he had no more swing left and as Bob used to say Mohammed Ali went out and cleaned his clock after that. Sometimes you win by standing still. Do you remember the time in the Bible when the children of Israel had the enemy coming against them, they were defenseless? Pharaoh and all of his soldiers were charging against them. Exodus 14:13, “And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show you today.’” Is there going to be another time in the future when we’re going to just have to stand still and watch God? You know when Jesus comes back and the world is gathered in the Valley of Jehoshaphat so to speak our defense is just going to let God stand still and get the credit for the victory. Do you think we’re going to be fighting against the beast and the dragon and the false prophet in our power? This is an important verse for me because sometimes it’s hard when you’re a workaholic to stand still. You know that other verse that goes along with this Elijah, a man of action, God said to him to “be still.” Listen to that still small voice. God is not always in the fire. He’s not always in the wind. He’s not in the earthquake. Sometimes God is in the still small voice and it’s so hard to just be still and trust God. When you think that you’re doing what God wants you to do and you run into opposition you want to plan how to make things happen and sometimes I hear God say, “Doug, I’ll take care of it. You just keep doing what you’re doing, trust me, and I’ll take care of it.” You know what is a… Now maybe I’m saying more than I should say. What’s a battle for me? You know I come from a family where Christianity is not in our background and your inherited, cultivated response is often retaliation or to use the devil’s tactics to accomplish God’s means and you have to keep reminding yourself you can’t operate like the world operates because we’re not fighting physical battles; we’re fighting spiritual battles and you must use spiritual weapons in spiritual battles and you can’t resort to these carnal manmade methods of trying to achieve what you want. You’ve got to just let go and give it to God. We are the most powerful when we pray. What’s the best way to get even with your enemy for a Christian? Slander them? Pray for them. You overcome evil with good. Just stand still. Oh, that’s hard to do! And then the instructions he gives, there’s only a couple of other parallels in the Bible for this that are anywhere near this. The battle marching orders are kind of bizarre. You’ll not need to fight. Do not be afraid. Now verse 18, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, and worshipped the Lord. Then the Levites and the children of the Kohathites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with loud voices.” So the choir begins to sing. “And they rose early…” Oh, you notice they prayed, they worshipped. “And they rose early in the morning and they went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem.’” The people of Judah and the capitol Jerusalem. Here is the king’s special… You know sometimes before a battle the coach gets the team together in a huddle or the coach will get the basketball players aside, you know, just before the last few seconds of the clock, time out. Pulls them together, gives them some last orders, special plays. The general assembles the troops. Before pilots take off on a mission the captain or the commanders bring them in and say, “Here is what our tactics are going to be in this battle.” Listen to what Jehoshaphat, who is the general of the people, he’s the chief commander, listen to what his battle plans are. He stops them. He’s preparing them to go into battle. He says, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will prosper.” So what is the battle plan for victory? Faith. Now I want you to notice this here. Typically you know we want to think about a strategy that makes something happen and we think about our tactics and our armaments and our weapons and you know we think we’re going to sharpen the spear, put an extra stone in your sling. I mean, even David had a sling. Jehoshaphat doesn’t bring any attention to anything earthly in the battle. Neither did David. He said to Goliath, “You come against me with a sword and a sling. You’ve got all your plans. My trust is in the Lord.” Now did he use the sword? Yeah, he did and he used the sling, but his trust was in the Lord. How many of you remember a minister named Glenn Coon who had a book that became fairly popular called The ABC’s of Prayer? Did anyone here read that book? It’s still a good book. You can probably find it in print. And the ABC’s he talks about the keys to answered prayer and A was what? Ask and B? Believe and C was? Claim. You can also make that out to be ABA which is you know papa in the Bible. Ask, believe, Accept. Now notice they’re about to get a victory, in case you haven’t read the whole story yet. I hope I didn’t ruin it for you. They’re about to experience a phenomenal victory. What were the keys to victory? They came before the Lord, they fasted, they prayed, humbled themselves before God. That’s what part of fasting is. Jehoshaphat says “believe” and he claims, they accept the promise of God that if they bring these things before the Lord they will experience victory. Oh, by the way, did I tell you Jahaziel means “Yahweh looks,” he sees what’s going on? He tells them to stand still and to receive the victory. Now as they go into battle, I’m back in chapter 20, when he had consulted with the people, he had his soldiers get together, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord and who should praise the beauty of holiness and they went out before the army saying, “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.” By the way, this was one of the psalms of David and Asaph, Psalm 136:1. One of the more common phrases that they would sing, “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.” God’s got some really strange battle plans. I mean can you imagine when the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River and first began to conquer take their first battle in the Promised Land is Jericho and God tells Joshua, “Here’s what the strategy for battle is: We want you to march around the city. Don’t say a word. Seven trumpets blowing. Take the Ark before you. Have the priests lead the way.” I mean that didn’t seem like any way to conquer another nation. Not only that, you’re to do that for six days and on the seventh day you march around the city seven times, on the seventh day blow those seven trumpets, shout, and it was a shout of victory. The enemy is still safe and fortified in the city and they were to give a shout of victory and when they gave the shout of victory and blew the trumpets the last final blast the walls would come down, the enemy would be quickly subdued and they would take possession of the Promised Land. They got their foothold, their beachhead at Jericho. Is that right? By the way, when you read in Revelation about the seven trumpets, there may be a last day application to the seven trumpets because the way I read my Bible those seven trumpets were blown by the priests just before they took the Promised Land, isn’t that right? And so there may also be a Last Day application. Don’t forget they marched around the city six days once, seven times on the seventh day. You can still have your historical application but there may be a last day fulfillment to that. Anyone else think that’s true? I’m just wondering if I’m all by myself out here. Six of you. Okay, well, I’m not alone anyway. Those of you who never raise your hand for any question I ask show me who you are. We got a few of you, okay. Of course they didn’t raise their hand then either. Now I need to issue a disclaimer here, an apology. I told you that this sermon was going to verse 21. That was incorrect. And some of you thought I was almost finished. The sermon actually goes to verse 28. It was just I misspoke. Please forgive me. So they consult together with the people. He appoints those who should sing to the Lord. They praise the beauty of his holiness and they go out and they’re going to fight this battle with praise. Verse 22, “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mt. Seir, who had come out against them; and they were defeated.” Now I’m going to go into more detail about how that happens, but when they began to praise then the enemy was defeated. Are there times the Bible where the people of God praise the Lord for victory? When the Egyptian bodies washed up on the shores of the Dead Sea Miriam led the ladies in singing praises “for the horse and rider he is thrown into the sea.” They praised the Lord for the victory after the victory. When David brought back the head of Goliath the people praised the Lord for their victory. And when David and Saul came back from battle against the Philistines the women came out and sang and they praised the Lord for the victory. A lot of us praise God for victories after we win. After we get what we want we praise Him for victory. It’s difficult to praise God for victory when you look defeated. When is it appropriate to praise God for victory when you don’t have the victory in hand? Well, the same situation Jehoshaphat had. He said, “Lord, this is called the Promised Land because you promised to give it to us. We did not start a fight with Edom, Moab and Ammon. Matter of fact, we left them alone when we came. You promised when you dedicated this temple with your presence that if we prayed when the sword comes against us that you would answer our prayer and deliver us. We are claiming these promises and based on those promises and that your word never fails we’re humbling ourselves for our sins.” They had already done that during the early part of Jehoshaphat’s reign. “We are doing what we can do here on earth. We know You’re going to do Your part so we’re going to praise You in advance.” When you do what you know what God wants you to do and you find his promises in his word you can lay your finger on those and say I am going to claim God’s promise, praise him in advance and then realize it and there’s great power in that. There is power in praise. Another New Testament example of this dynamic would be Paul and Silas are in prison. They’re there because they were just doing the work of Jesus. They’re being persecuted for righteousness sake. While they’re there in prison at midnight this is Acts chapter 16 during the darkest hour they’re suffering from this intense agony of being beaten with rods, not a whip, with rods. I remember a few years ago a young American got in trouble in was it Singapore? He had sprayed some graffiti on some buildings or cars or something like that and he was arrested and the penalty there was to be beaten with a rod three times. Any of you remember that? And we were so outraged! Of course that could be why our cities are covered with graffiti. And I’ve been to Singapore and it’s clean. And we were so outraged that how barbaric and how brutal that you would whip this boy three times with a rod. Of course the rod is a long bamboo rod and it really smarts I understand, but you don’t die. And they were going to whip him three times. And they had American diplomats and ambassadors and letters and all this stuff and Singapore said, “Look, we’ve seen what your cities look like and we’ve seen what our city looks like. We’re going to whip him, and go home and maybe it’ll teach him a lesson.” And so they did. I mean there was a lot of pressure on them not to do that. They said, “Look it’s our law. If you come here, you’re going to keep our laws.” And they’ve got laws about chewing gum there. Did you know that? Yeah because everyone was spitting chewing gum on the streets and they said hey it’s just making the streets filthy. They said, “No chewing gum.” Didn’t bother me one bit. I don’t chew gum. But the streets are clean. Now I’m getting into political issues. Anyway Paul and Silas are not beaten three times. They’re beaten until their beaters get tired of hitting them. They’re thrown in this dungeon this stink, stifling. Everything about their circumstances are negative, but you know what? God had told Paul he still had work for him to do and he didn’t know how he was going to get out of jail but he knew he was going to get out and Jesus said, “When you’re persecuted for righteousness sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad.” So even though they didn’t feel like it they believed it and they began to thank God and to praise the Lord and to sing during this time of persecution. What happened? There was an angel that came down when they praised God. God is looking for people who will have faith in advance. You know when Abraham offered up Isaac he did that believing in advance that God would raise him up if he needed to. He was only able to do that because he had faith that God promised that a great multitude was going to come from Isaac and if I kill him God is going to have to raise him up from the dead so he was willing to go through it having faith in advance of something that seemed impossible. God looks for people who would take him at his word and allow God to flex his muscles a little bit. And so they begin to pray and there’s a great earthquake and the foundations of the prison are shaken. All the other prisoners are listening to them sing and pretty soon everyone’s prison doors are opened and they’re liberated and their persecutor is converted because they had faith and they prayed in advance. Praising God. And this is one of those messages that is for me. First of all praise is very important because everybody wants approval. I think it’s important to show encouragement and appreciation for other people. You know one of the more common things that becomes a problem in marriages is where one spouse feels the other is taking him for granted. I work and I slave all week long and I pay the bills and provide this home and do all this stuff and I never hear a muttering of thanks. Or the wife says a similar dialog. Never get any appreciation. Just taken for granted. Even in those relationships it’s important to say that you appreciate things. How many of you like appreciation, when someone says something nice, praise? Now praise is not flattery. You know what the difference is? The Bible says you shouldn’t flatter people. That’s sinful. Flattery is when you’re slobbering compliments on a person because you want something from them. And some people think that they can flatter God. That’s sleazy. You don’t want to try and act like you’re going to get a favor from God and concoct this artificial gratitude. It ought to be from the heart and he deserves it, right? Why does God ask for our praise? Now I know none of you have ever heard or seen Snow White so you won’t know what I’m talking about but there’s this story called Snow White where this wicked witch looks into this mirror and says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest?” And the mirror feels obligated to say, “You’re the fairest.” And that self-centered conceited witch just wants to keep hearing, “Oh, you’re the fairest. You’re the fairest!” And once she hears there’s someone more fair she’s outraged and wants to destroy Snow White. God is not like the wicked queen up there in heaven who is saying, “Praise me! Praise me!” Why does God want our praise? Well, first of all because He is the fairest in the land. So it’s true. But even more than that it’s not what praise does for God, it’s what praise does for you. You are created for the glory of God. When you fail to praise God you are not fulfilling part of your purpose for existing. You’ve got, you’re wired to worship. Matter of fact, I’ve heard, I can’t remember where I heard it. I apologize, but I heard on the news a report, a scientific report that says there is something in our DNA they’re trying to find out what this gene is. There’s something about humans that are predisposed to find and worship a God. They keep wondering why all over the world people completely independent from other nations all seem to have religion and worship this God. And they’re thinking it must be physical. Maybe they’ve hit on something. We were designed by the Lord to worship him, to praise him and when we fail to do that we are not fulfilling our purpose. When you do it you are blessed by praising God. Now there are counterfeit versions of praise. I used to worship with a congregation where all through the service people would be blurting out, often in repetition, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” And you’d say, “What are you doing?” “I’m praising God.” That is not praising God. It would be like praising anybody. I mean you know you could praise a pet. Your dog or cat does something nice or right you can stroke them but I mean what even a dog what would they get out of going, “Praise you, Spot! Praise you, Spot! Praise you, Spot!” That’s not praise. Praise is being a little more specific than that. I was listening to this account of a little girl was in church and they were singing one of these praise songs that repeats a verse over and over again. They call them praise songs because they’re often repetitive. Isn’t that interesting? And it was a song called “We Exalt Thee” and I’ve heard it before. “We exalt thee, we exalt thee, we exalt thee O God. We exalt thee. We exalt thee.” And the little girl didn’t get it right and she was singing, “We exhaust thee, we exhaust thee, we exhaust thee O God.” And I sometimes think that may be more accurate because Jesus said we should not pray in vain repetition like the heathen do thinking that God is going to somehow be, we’re going to build up his ego by saying, “You’re the man! You’re the man! You’re the man!” That’s not what he, that’s not what it’s for. It’s sort of an insult to him. He knows what things we have need of before we pray. Real praise is being specific about the attributes of God. What are some of the reasons to praise God? Well it gives it to you. You can look at the psalms. Psalm 56:10, “In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word).” We can praise him for his word. Be specific when you praise God. Psalm 7:17, “I’ll praise the Lord according to His righteousness.” You know my grandfather would always tell my grandmother, “Lily, you’re the greatest!” and I’m sure she enjoyed hearing that, but that was it. He never said why she was the greatest. He’d just say, “Lily, you’re the greatest!” And she it finally got to where you know I think it might have given her a little bit of sentimental satisfaction but it would have been nice if he said, “Because of this and this and this and this.” You understand? When you praise God be specific why. What are the things? And you know what’s happening? When you’re praising God for the specific it affects you. That’s why God tells us to pray specifically because when you pray for specific things you get specific answers. You’re an intelligent creature. He wants to reason with you. He wants you to know when you’ve got the answer. What was it that was answered? That’s why this idea of praying in tongues where you don’t know what you’re praying you don’t know when you’ve been answered either, do you? Praise him, Psalm 106:1, “He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 117:1, “For His kindness is great for us.” Jeremiah 20:13, “Praise the Lord! For He has delivered your life from the hand of evildoers.” And this is just a sampling. You go through the Psalms. I typed in the word “praise” and I forget, there’s hundreds of times that the word praise appears in the Bible and you look through the Psalms. There’s a lot of good reasons to praise God. Can you say amen? And so how do we praise God? Psalm 109:30, “I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth. Yes, I will praise Him among the multitude.” Publicly. So should we praise God collectively? “I will praise Him among the multitude.” Not only that, Isaiah 12:4, “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples.” And the word peoples there means the non-members. You know I’ve noticed that there are some people who when they are in church and they’re surrounded with the brethren they’ll say, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” And there’s only a few of you here that do that. I wish there were a few more but do it sincerely and but when we’re out of church when I’m around nonbelievers and God blesses or something wonderful happens I mean I might be at the DMV and when I pass my test and I’ll say, “Praise the Lord!” I mean and then sometimes I’ll run into because I’m not afraid to do that other people will say, “Amen!” there at the DMV. And so there are other believers out there; it’s like we’re living in secret. And so don’t be afraid to praise the Lord among the multitude because we’re trying to reach them. Now keep in mind Israel had more enemies than Edom, Moab, and Ammon. When Jehoshaphat went to battle with these nations the other nations were watching on satellite what was happening. They stayed tuned to what was going on with these battles. And through this whole experience the other nations became impressed. Matter of fact, I’ve got to get back to my story. I’m almost out of time and I do want to, I want to get him back to Jerusalem. And so it says, “When they began to sing and to praise, the Lord,” verse 22. I’m still in II Chronicles 20, “The Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.” Now evidently what happened, I read the commentaries on this. The Lord set ambushes. The commentators aren’t sure. Some of them thought that this meant angels went in and fought for the children of Israel. Some of the commentators say evidently what happened is the people of Mount Seir because their country was the furthest south and they probably went around the north of the Dead Sea they were thinking they’re going to get ahead of us and get more of the booty because they were certain of their victory. The threefold union of Edom, Moab and Ammon they were sure they were going to defeat them. They had much bigger forces and they were thinking about the treasures in the temple that they were going to ransack. And they began to say, “We don’t need these other armies. Let’s ambush them and we’ll take the treasure for ourselves.” And they turned on each other. We don’t know exactly what happened but they did turn definitely turn on each other. Verse 23 “For the people of Ammon and Moab they stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” And when Judah, Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel, when they came to place where this battle was, the Valley of Jehoshaphat overlooking the wilderness they looked towards the multitude and there were dead bodies fallen to the earth. No one had escaped. Not one. Which evidently means that as they’re all fighting each other off finally you’ve got two soldiers left standing and they’re slugging it out and they stab each other at the same time and fall over. Something like that. Because none of them survived. Now keep in mind the wicked that come against God’s people in the end how many of them survive? Zero. Keep going. And it says “no one had escaped.” Verse 25, “When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah,” and that means the valley of blessing, “for they had blessed the Lord there; therefore the name of that place is called The Valley of Berachah until this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them...” Who is marching in front of the army? Jehoshaphat. “…to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord.” Oh, friends, this is a wonderful story. This is a story that helps to itemize the battle in the last day. You know I’ve run out of time here but I was thinking about the verse in the Bible where it talks about the battle in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Oh, pardon me one second. I want to read that to you and just tie this off. You know I think I did something that’s called paste/delete in my notes. Oh bummer. Hang on here. Sometimes I get excited when I’m preaching and I can’t read and it’s right in front of me. No, I did. I cut it out. I’m sorry to do that. Anyway you can read in the Bible about the battle in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I think it is synonymous with the battle in the last days. Notice how this story just ended. They praised the Lord. The enemy thought that they were going to take from them. The tables are a hundred, not just a little bit turned, it wasn’t sort of a victory, it is an absolute rout. How many of the enemy survived? Zero. How many of the people of Jerusalem and Judah, Jehoshaphat’s army survived. A hundred percent. How much of the booty did the enemy get to keep? Zero. Who ended up taking everything that was valuable? God’s people. They go back with the king in front of them to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord rejoicing with trumpets and harps. Does that sound like Revelation to you? Isn’t that how after we’re rescued in the last days we are going to go back? How did they get the victory? Praising God. The power was in praise. They set the Lord before them and they sang praise to God and they got their victory through just trusting in his word and claiming the promises. Now if your life is anything like mine or other lives there are battles. The devil comes against us. Sometimes it looks like there is no way out and we get discouraged and we think that we just need to throw our hands in the air. Why don’t we try what Jehoshaphat tried? Notice he prayed and he fasted. He read the word; he claimed and believed the promises… I’m sorry, he read the promises of God and he believed them. “Believe his prophets and you will prosper” and then he claims them. He accepts them. He tells the people in advance, “We’re going to get the victory.” Then what happens? “Stand still.” Trust the Lord and you will end up going back. How did they go to Jerusalem? With joy rejoicing. This is a formula for victory. This is good news. Isn’t this good news? If we know that we’re doing what God wants us to do and we’re where he wants us to be he promises to give us the victory. Now we get a chance to praise the Lord in advance. Why don’t we go ahead and sing 249 “Praise Him! Praise Him!” and let’s stand together. Keep in mind when you sing, sometimes we sing these songs of praise we don’t even think about the words. Amen? We’re thinking about, “How many more verses are they going to sing before we get out of here?” We want you to sing from your heart because God wants us to praise him sincerely from our hearts.

Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer! Sing, O earth-- His wonderful love proclaim! Hail Him! Hail Him! highest archangels in glory; Strength and honor give to His holy name! Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children, In His arms He carries them all day long; Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness; Praise Him! praise Him ever in joyful song!

Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer! For our sins He suffered, and bled and died; He-- our Rock, our hope of eternal salvation, Hail Him! hail Him! Jesus, the crucified. Sound His praises! Jesus who bore our sorrows, Love unbounded, wonderful, deep and strong; Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness; Praise Him! praise Him ever in joyful song!

Now before we sing the last verse I thought it would be appropriate to give you an opportunity to practice what we just preached. Maybe some of you have sensed the enemy coming out against you and the odds looked insurmountable and overwhelming. God has promises in His word where whatever those attacks might be “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Amen? And maybe the answer is to just be still and know that he’s God. Claim his promises and praise him for the victory. Would you like to come forward at this time? We’ll sing verse three. Bring that to the Lord. Come before him, stand still and say, “Lord, the battle is yours. It’s not mine. I want to hand this to you.” As we sing verse three.

Praise Him! praise Him! Jesus, our blessed Redeemer! Heavenly portals, loud with hosannas ring! Jesus, Savior, reigneth forever and ever; Crown Him! crown Him! Prophet, and Priest, and King! Christ is coming over the world victorious, Power and glory unto the Lord belong; Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness; Praise Him! praise Him ever in joyful song!

Amen. Loving Lord, we just want to thank you and praise you for this inspiring story. We’ve seen in the picture today a little scenario of what will happen in the end. We know that the forces of evil in the world will marshal themselves against God’s people seeking to eradicate us from the planet. And from an earthly perspective things are going to look hopeless, but we know that if we claim your promises and look to Jesus, if we fast and pray and trust and then just praise you for the victory, stand still because the battle is not ours, it’s yours that we will see an entire complete reversal that you will gain the victory and the enemy will be defeated. Lord, we have battles now before that great day. I pray that we can put this into practice in these little wars that we fight. Sometimes there may even be struggles in our family or people within the flock that rise up against us. Lord, we want to just place these things in your hands and know that the battle is not ours, the battle is yours and trust you that you will give us the victory. Help us to humble ourselves before you, to fast and to pray, to claim your word and then to praise you. Lord, I pray that we can praise you in sincerity and truth because you are worthy and you inhabit the praises of your people. Be with these people who have come forward and bless them. Be with Jeannie in a special way today and comfort her in the loss of her son. And we pray for your Spirit to rest on this congregation. Help us to put into practice this week the things we’ve learned today. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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