WORSHIP AND PRAISE – IMPLEMENTS OF WAR! - 2 Chronicles 20:1-30

25th of the 10th month 2014/2015

Shabbat Shalom,

Yoḥanan/John 4:23-24But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father also does seek such to worship Him. 24 “Elohim is Spirit, and those who worship Him need to worship in spirit and truth.

What hour? The hour of the true identification of the true worshippers amidst a depraved world! The Greek word used here for ‘hour’ is ὥρα hora – Strong’s G5610 which means, a time or period, hour, moment, right time, and what יהושע Messiah was saying to the Shomeroni woman He met at the well was that the time is now right for true worshippers to be identified! The harvest is ripe and the time is now – for true worship to be clearly identified by those who worship in spirit and truth! How is our life of worship and praise identifiable against the many false acts and systems of worship in the world today? The answer is very simple – it is through our obedience and loving-commitment  to The Word of יהוה our Elohim, and our complete surrender to His instructions that we lovingly obey, while forsaking all falsehood and compromise, and throwing off all that entangles and hinders! While saying that we are certainly able to recognise that the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of Elohim, are constantly battling for our attention and even our worship. While recognising that we are to be steadfast in standing firm against the fleshly battles we face, we also recognise that the real threat of persecution against true worshippers grows daily and our need to be armed in the Truth is of vital importance, and so tonight I want is to consider a very critical part of how we are able to stand and face the many battles we need to endure on a daily basis. Our ability to stand and be steadfast in our Master who fights for us is strengthened as we arm ourselves with the Truth, and a major part of being armed with the truth is seen in our ability to be identified as true worshippers of Elohim. In a message tonight called, “WORSHIP AND PRAISE – IMPLEMENTS OF WAR!”, I want us to be reminded of the critical need for us to be properly armed with a pure worship and praise for our Mighty Master and Elohim! In case you did not realise it, let me remind you that we are in a war! Life and death decisions are at stake each and every day, or rather in each and every moment of our lives, and how we live out and express true set-apartness amidst a wicked and crooked generation and be led to overcome in Messiah is by ensuring that our worship and praise of our Great King is in spirit and truth! Tonight I want us to look at a great account of a victory that was won as an account of active faith, when Yehuḏah was surrounded and outnumbered by their enemies. Please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bět 20 / 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 (Read).

Yehoshaphat had done much, as king, to bring reform – as he fortified Yehuḏah against Yisra’ĕl and their notorious leader, king Aḥaḇ, and he set himself the task of ‘cleaning up’ the land from idolatry. In the third year of his reign he sent out the priests to instruct the people of Yehuḏah in the Torah, and as a result of his actions he enjoyed great peace and prosperity and the blessing of יהוה on the people. This passage we have just read must be read against the background of Chapter 17: 3 & 10 which distinguishes between the earlier and later years of Yehoshaphat. In 17:3 & 10 we are told that יהוה was with Yehoshaphat and he walked in the ways of his father Dawiḏ, and he did not seek the Ba‘al’s; and the fear of יהוה fell on all the surrounding nations and they never came against Yehoshaphat. His obedience brought protection, and then in Chapter 18 he allied himself with Aḥaḇ in disobedience and was condemned for this in in Chapter 19:1-3. His kingdom had been protected from attacking enemies because the fear of יהוה fell on all the surrounding nations and now through his disobedience, in allying with a wicked king, we see here in Chapter 20 that Mo’aḇ and Ammon, enemies of Yehuḏah, came to attack them from 3 sides. After the response of faith, as recounted in this chapter, we see how the protection of יהוה was renewed and they enjoyed the peace again given by יהוה on all sides.

This account is a great encouragement to us as to how to respond to imminent fear or any danger that seems to be encroaching. I love how this is once again the picture of the Sovereignty and favour of יהוה ! He is a just Elohim and as a result of disobedience by Yehoshaphat a door was opened for the enemy to bring an attack against Yehuḏah, and being afraid they responded in faith as Yehoshaphat and the nation called upon יהוה , to which He responded and remained faithful to His Word of promise given to Shelomoh, for when Shelomoh issued a plea to יהוה in Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 6:28-30, יהוה responded and agreed to his request in Diḇre haYamim Bět/2 Chronicles 7:13-15, saying that if His people, who are called by His Name would humble themselves and call out and seek His face and turn from their sin then He would hear them, forgive them and deliver them, which is in a nutshell what happened here in this account. But what can we learn from this? We can learn how we are to live by faith and engage in bringing the proper worship and praise that is due to our wonderful Creator; and how we are to respond in those valley moments and see Him deliver us from the troubles that we face and bring us great blessing as we stand firm in faith in Him.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where יהוה has asked something of you and you started out in great faith only to give up when the going got tough and you ended up throwing in the towel?

Today, many believers often feel called to do something and then it all seems to fail, either due to doubt in their ability to accomplish the task and so they do not even try, or they go ahead only to find that when the first sign of trouble or struggle comes they give up! It is often the case that when a believer finds themselves struggling with their walk in יהושע, that it is directly due to the  result of disobedience in worshipping Him in spirit and truth and their inability of keeping their eyes fixed on Him! We are to keep our eyes fixed on Him who saves and protects us, and keep our faith stirred and encouraged through His Word and not neglect fellowship so that our attitude towards life’s battles are full of faith and reliance on יהושע! If we take our eyes off of our Creator we may find ourselves wallowing in worry and fear and allow our days to be filled with grief and sorrow instead of joy and peace. It has been said that we set our mood for our entire day within the first 3 minutes of waking up! Who is not ‘a morning person’ here? I want to ask you – well just think about it – how are the first 3 minutes of your day? How about beginning it with a victory shout to יהוה ! Why do I say this? Well we would do much better if we begin to praise יהוה declaring His love over us and be able to set our mood for the day praising יהוה despite difficulties and troubles that we may face. What can we learn from Yehoshaphat? Let us learn some valuable faith lessons here tonight and so be stirred to call on the Name that saves, aměn! When the enemy is on the attack or we find ourselves in the valley of struggle – this is what we do:

Seek יהוה: In verse 3 we are told that Yehoshaphat set his face to seek יהוה! The Hebrew word used here for seek is דָּרַשׁ darash – Strong’s H1875 meaning, ‘to resort to, to seek with care, consult, investigate, search carefully, study, seek after with application, to practice, follow’. This word carries more than simply just take a quick peek and emphasises the need to be digging deep in seeking out carefully with great diligence, through consultation and asking.

 If we are not seeking יהוה with the intensity as we should then our ability to worship and praise Him as we should will be greatly hindered! We know the sure promise that יהושע gives us in telling us that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all else will be added. It all begins with us seeking!!!

Yehoshaphat and Yehuḏah were facing some serious trouble as these powerful enemies came up against them, and yes at first Yehoshaphat was afraid, and it is no wonder – he was outnumbered and out powered by the enemy, and it was a natural response in seeing the danger coming. But He didn’t stay there! He didn’t wallow in fear and stress about the ‘what ifs’! He immediately ‘set his face’ to seek יהוה and proclaimed a fast!

Yehoshaphat knew where his help comes from and he knew that this called for earnest seeking. Sometimes the breakthroughs we are seeking will only come through prayer and fasting as we seek יהוה, our deliverer with our all!

In him seeking יהוה he also called a prayer meeting – this was a national crisis and everyone was to be praying and fasting. We would do very well to learn from this – in dropping pride and calling others to pray with us in times of trouble. It was customary for Hebrew kings to call a fast in perilous times, getting the nation to humbly seek יהוה that He may hear and deliver them! We must never underestimate the power of corporate prayer and should never hesitate to call others to pray with us in perilous times. The enemy has a way of trying to isolate you, don’t be!

In times of trouble we must know where our source of strength comes from! All too often most people try to find solutions to their problems and struggles in every other place but יהוה and are simply wasting their energy and time! We must develop a good daily habit of seeking our King so that when faced with trouble we will not have trouble hearing His voice! In verses 5-7 Yehoshaphat acknowledges the power of יהוה, and rested in the firm knowledge that יהוה was more powerful than any problem he might face. We too must acknowledge His power! Most will often go and tell Him how big their problems are without actually acknowledging just how great and awesome He is! How about you?

In verses 8-10 Yehoshaphat acknowledges the promises of יהוה and he reminds יהוה of His promise to Shelomoh’s plea we spoke of earlier in Diḇre haYamim Bět /2 Chronicles 6 and 7. True faith and our ability to worship and praise have, as their basis, an Almighty El who has never failed to fulfil even one of His promises!

When we can acknowledge His promises, we can be strengthened to know how we can trust in His unfailing Word! Acknowledging the promises of יהוה is vital, yet we also need to acknowledge any problems as Yehoshaphat did in verses 10-11. When we face a problem, we cannot ignore it and hope it will go away. It must be dealt with, and in order for that to happen we must acknowledge the problem. יהושע tells us that we are to give our burdens to Him, and to cast our cares upon Him and take His yoke which is easy and light. His yoke, that which directs and guides our way, is His Torah, His instructions. As we take off the weight of our worries and problems and give it to Him, we are able to freely walk guided by His Torah. Do not hide from your problems, give them to יהושע and then stand firm in Him and watch Him give you the victory as He fights for you! In verse 12-13 Yehoshaphat praised יהוה for His great power, reminded Him of His promises and shared with Him the problems they were facing, and in a sense says the following, O Yahweh, will you please intervene, we are helpless here in this situation, we don’t know anything else to do but call upon You and look to You alone for help. – does this sound kind of a familiar and often repeated plea many of you make to Him?

Good, because when we can confess our weakness and also confess His strength, we are able to appropriate correctly His great protection available to us who will call on the Name of יהוה!

His Name is a strong tower and the righteous run to it and are safe! The Spirit of יהוה then came upon יַחֲזִיאֵל Yaḥazi’ĕl who spoke to the assembly confirming יהוה’s protection and that they were not to be afraid, for the battle is Elohim’s and not theirs! His name means, El sees and He was the son of Zeḵaryah זְכַרְיָה – Strong’s H2148 which means, יהוה remembers, who was the son of בְּנָיָה Benayah – Strong’s H1141 which means, Yah has built up, who was the son of יְעִיאֵל Yeʽi’ĕl – Strong’s H3273 which means, El sweeps away, who was the son of מַתַּנְיָה Mattanyah – Strong’s H4983 which means, gift of Yah, who was a Lĕwiteלֵוִי – Strong’s H3878 meaning, joined to’; of the sons of Asaph אָסָף Strong’s H623 –means ‘gatherer’. Asaph was appointed as one of the chief musicians under Dawiḏ. Why I am mentioning these names here is to highlight the clear word of truth that was given through this priest. This was a priest whose brief genealogy is mentioned to emphasise the validity of the purity of the Word of Truth that the Spirit of Elohim brought to the people, and he was in no way a false priest! Looking at his name and the names of his family line we are reminded clearly that it is יהוה who sees all, and remembers His Covenant, as He is the One who builds and sweeps away, who through His gift gathers those who are joined to His Covenants of Promise by the Blood of Messiah! These words given here would greatly encourage Yehoshaphat and all Yehuḏah as their faith would be strengthened in hearing the Truth that it is יהוה who would fight for them!

Once we understand and appropriate His power, then we need to engage our faith in the hearing of His Word and believe that which He has promised in His Word. If יהוה has said it then we can be sure of it, and believe that He will fight for us and bring us the victory we hope for and have not yet seen – that is faith, for faith is always based squarely on the revealed will of יהוה in His Word! יהוה plainly revealed what He was going to do for Yehoshaphat and Yehuḏah, and their responsibility was to believe His Word, despite the circumstances they were facing!

When we have faith from His Word, we are to stand firm in Him, stand still and see the deliverance of יהוה with us!

The big question is will we believe His Word? We need to if we are to stand in victory! Realise afresh tonight that יהוה grants us the victory – it is His battle, if we will give it to Him that is, and so we do not have to try to win any fight by ourselves through our own efforts. It is important for us to realise that we are to simply stand firm and let יהוה fight for us because as Ephesians tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but that it is spiritual, even though it manifests in the flesh! Let Him fight for you and see the victory!

Yehoshaphat then bowed his head and the people fell down before יהוה in reverent worship! Oh how we need to see more of this today in the body of Messiah! Let me tell you – when you find yourself in the midst of the battles of life, and you are walking in the valleys of struggle - then it is time to worship and not worry! Worship Him in faith and praise Him and then stand and see how He will give you victory and unspeakable joy in the midst of your valley. The priests praised with an exceedingly loud voice! It is so sad today when we see many believers too ‘shy’ or afraid to praise with a loud voice. Now I am not talking about putting on a hypocritical show, but rather praising יהוה from deep within, expressing it in the fullest form!

Faith carries a definite sound – let it be heard!!! How do you praise Him when you are on your own and He has brought you victory? I am sure you give great shouts of praise when you’re on your own and nobody is looking!!! Why then be afraid to worship Him with a loud voice when with others and in the assembly? Let us make great His Name together in the assembly! An active faith can and will give thanks for a sure promise, even though it has not yet been performed, because we know יהוה is faithful! What victory are you expectant for right now? Can you give a loud shout of praise and thanks? Go on … do it right now!!!

Praise and declaration of thanksgiving is contagious!  The priests had now prompted the people to trust in the Word of יהוה and to be steadfast in Him. After having been equipped with the full assurance of the Word of Elohim because they set their faces to seek יהוה and acknowledged His great power and their imminent threats, and then recognised by hearing the Truth that יהוה would fight for them, they then appointed those who would sing and sent them out before the army. Once equipped in faith what led the way on the battle field? Worship and Praise – great implements of war!

Praise leads the way to victory in יהושע! We, the body of Messiah, need to praise Him more and let the critics out there, who are trying to say we are being ‘legalistic’ for simply obeying our Creator in loving Him, let them be scattered as they see our joy – that is His joy in us – strengthening us to worship and praise our Mighty Elohim! We must restore true praise in the body! What happened when the enemy saw all the praising? They went berserk and were smitten and ended up killing each other! Praising יהוה will cause the enemy to get in to a flat spin, because he cannot steal your joy and will find himself on the wrong end of יהוה’s wrath! When Yehuḏah came to the lookout, what they saw was dead bodies and they took for themselves all the spoils of war they did not fight – they praised!

On the fourth day they assembled in the valley and it was called the Valley of בְּרָכָה beraḵah – Strong’s H1293 which means, a blessing, benefit, blessings, generous and comes from the primitive root - בָּרַךְ  baraḵ – Strong’s H1288 and means, to abundantly bless, and they then returned to Yerushalayim with joy.

יהוה has come down and blessed them with a huge victory and caused them to return to Yerushalayim in peace! They went out to war with a faith filled worship and praise of Elohim, and I can assure you that they were returning with great praise too!

The fear of Elohim once again was on the nations around Yehuḏah and Elohim gave Yehoshaphat rest on all sides!

From a valley of struggle to a valley of blessing – by applying their faith in יהוה and worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth, giving Him praise in the midst of the valley! We will do very well to learn from these events as to how we can put our trust in our Wonderful Saviour and give Him praise, despite our circumstances; for we know He fights for us who love Him! He brings us the blessing of walking in faithful obedience to His Torah, and so we must recognise that now is the hour and time for us to lift up our voices in praise and see His deliverance with us and walk in the abundant blessings He lavishes upon us, even in the struggles we face, for He has us covered on all sides!

In verse 18 the Hebrew word that is used for ‘bowed down’ is שָׁחָה shaḥah’ – H7812 and it means, ‘to bow down, to prostrate oneself before another, to humbly beseech, to do or show reverence, and to do or show obeisance’.  Obeisance means ‘a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission as well as to acknowledge the superiority of another’.

This word is also translated as ‘worship’ on many occasions and reflects the true nature of our life of worship, which is in total submission to our Master and King, as we humbly bow our lives before Him in reverence and respect, acknowledging His authority in every way, as we walk in total obedience to His Torah/Word.

The Greek word used here in the LXX (Septuagint) for ‘bowed down’ is προσκυνέω proskuneō’ – G4352 which means ‘to kneel down before as an act of reverence’ and is from two words - πρός pros’ – H4314 to, at, toward, unto’ and κυνέω kuneō which means ‘to kiss’ and so proskuneō means literally, ‘to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage.  This is the same Greek word used in Yoḥanan/John 4:23-24 that we read at the start of this message for ‘worship’. In verse 21 the Hebrew word translated as ‘sing’ is שִׁיר  shir – Strong’s H7891 and simply means ‘sing’, meaning, ‘to use one’s voice as an instrument to sing musical tones, rhythms, and often words’. Using our voice to sing to יהוה is an attribute of giving thanks or rather that which should flow from giving thanks. So many people are too shy to sing, yet we should not worry what others may think of our voice as we sing to the One who causes us to be – He loves to hear you sing! Singing to יהוה is a great implement or tool for war!!!

The Hebrew word for ‘praise’ in verse 21  is הָלַל halal Strong’s H1984 which means, ‘to shine; to be boastful; to be clear; to make a show; to rave; be foolish; to celebrate; praise, cheer, brag or extol, i.e., extol the greatness or excellence of a person, object or event. The priests were appointed to go out first and sing and praise יהוה, giving thanks to Elohim for His great loving-commitment that endures forever! This they were to do with confidence and great joy, boasting in the greatness of our Mighty Elohim! What a great lesson we can take from these events!!! Let your singing and praise for Elohim shine forth as you face the war!!!

In verse 22 the Hebrew word for ‘singing’ is רִנָּה rinnah – Strong’s H7440 which means, a ringing cry, joyful shout, joyful singing, and comes from the root verb רָנַן ranan – Strong’s H7442 which means, ‘to overcome, cry out, shout for joy, give a ringing cry, sing aloud’. The Hebrew word used in verse 22 for ‘praising’ is תְּהִלָּה tehillah Strong’s H8416 which means, ‘praise, or a song of praise, psalm’, which comes from the root word הָלַל halal Strong’s H1984.

Why I am mentioning these words is to highlight the power of the pure worship and praise that we are to give unto our Master and Elohim, at all times, especially in times of war when facing threatening circumstances!

There are many Hebrew words in Scripture that are related to worship and praise, and for more on these you can see the message I gave a few months back called ‘A LIFE OF PRAISE – WORDS EXPRESSED IN ACTION!’ , where I highlighted 23 different Hebrew words that are related to worship and praise, which you can find under the sermons 2014 menu from our site (http://atfotc.com),  or by clicking on the following link:

http://atfotc.com/index.php/our-sermons/sermons-2014/554-a-life-of-praise-words-expressed-in-action

The point I am trying to make here is the clear importance for us to worship and praise our Elohim in Spirit and Truth and how it is vital for us to understand the need for us to be led forth in praise of our King who fights for us. This all begins with our proper seeking of Him and a true reverence shown in our worship and obeisance toward His Name and His Word that equips us in our ability to praise Him in the light of the fire!

The purity of complete worship that comes from an earnest seeking and meditating upon His Truth, along with joyous singing accomplishes much! I am reminded of Sha’ul and Silas who sang while they were chained in prison as we see in:

Ma’asei/Acts 16:25-26 “And at midnight Sha’ul and Silas were praying and singing songs to Elohim, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 And suddenly a great earthquake took place, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and all the chains came loose.

The Greek word used here for ‘singing songs’ is ὑμνέω humneō  - Strong’s G5214 which means, to sing a hymn.

Yonah gave thanks to Elohim from the belly of a great fish!

Yonah/Jonah 2:9-10 “But I offer to You with the voice of thanksgiving, I pay what I have vowed. Deliverance is of יהוה.” 10 Then יהוה spoke to the fish, and it vomited Yonah on the dry land.

The Hebrew word used here for ‘thanksgiving’ is תּוֹדָה toḏah – Strong’s H8426 which means, thanksgiving, confession, praise, and comes from the root word יָדָה yaḏahStrong’s H3034 which literally means ‘to throw, shoot or cast, to confess, laud with praise, extol, i.e., make a public confession of the attributes and acts of power of a person’, and comes from the word יָד yaStrong’s H3027 which means ‘hand’ and so the expression of giving thanks is understood in the Hebrew as ‘extending the hands in praise’ – that is why Sha’ul tells us in Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 2:8 that men everywhere should lift up their hands that are set-apart in prayer – our expression of giving thanks with the extended hands that are set-apart is in our willing obedience to working unto Elohim (extending the hand) in all we do – and at the same time giving Him esteem and praise. Giving thanks is not a silent matter and it must be seen in our work ethic too, as our actions may often speak louder than words!

Tehillah/Psalm 18:49 “Therefore I give thanks to You, O יהוה, among nations, and I sing praise to Your Name

Our giving thanks is seen in what we do, wherever we are – as we sojourn here as ambassadors of the reign to come!

A true life of praise is seen in what we do – whether in word or deed! Is your life of praise clearly visible in your daily actions?

 What we can learn from these various events we have briefly looked at tonight is the value of pure faith, worship and praise toward יהוה, especially in the midst of those valleys of struggle and intense war-like battles! May we learn to turn the valley of struggle into a valley of blessing through a life of zealous worship and praise – armed with true implements of war!

Before we close let me simply share with you Scripturally how we are to worship and praise our Maker:

1 – From the heart –If it is not from the heart then it is not authentic – and the Word of Elohim is not a worthless word – it is in our hearts and mouths – to do it!

2 – According to the Scriptures –We worship in Spirit and in Truth – His Torah details for us how יהוה is to be worshipped and we are not to worship Him like the pagans worship their mighty ones for that is an abomination to Him!

3 – In Song – Tehillah/Psalm 149:1 “Praise Yah! Sing to יהוה a new song, His praise in an assembly of kind ones.

4 – Clapping our hands – Tehillah/Psalm 47:1a “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! ... If you can clap for a sports team or for an award ceremony then surely you can clap for יהוה!

5 – Shouting – Tehillah/Psalm 47:1b “…Shout to Elohim with a voice of singing! – Give a victory shout, the sound of triumph. Many will easily lose their voice screaming for their favourite team – how about using that voice in praise of יהוה!

6 – Bowing – Tehillah/Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us bow down and bend low, Let us kneel before יהוה our Maker. – if you do not know how to bend your knee in worship – then learn very quickly and show reverence in worship for our Maker!

7 – Lift our hands – Tehillah/Psalm 134:2 “Lift up your hands in the set-apart place, and bless יהוה. – Sha’ul tells us that he wants to see men everywhere lifting up their hands in praise to יהוה. When we lift our hands we are in effect declaring our inadequacy and declare our surrender to His authority, mercy and grace!

8 – With thanksgiving – Tehillah/Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His Name.

9 – Joyfully – Tehillah/Psalm 100:2 “Serve יהוה with gladness; come before His presence with singing.

10 – In Dance and with instruments – Tehillah/Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise His Name in a dance; let them sing praises to Him with the tambourine and lyre.

Tehillah/Psalm 150:4 “Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

David danced and so should we, even if we think we have two left feet!

11 – Sacrificially – Iḇ’rim/ Hebrews 13:15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a slaughter offering of praise to Elohim, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.

Dawiḏ said, when buying the threshing floor of Ornan that he would not offer to יהוה something that cost Him nothing!

This is how we worship in Spirit and in Truth, even while walking in the valley of struggle. May we learn from the account of Yehoshaphat that we too can have our valley of struggle turned in to a valley of blessing through praise as we put our faith in Him who fights for us and has us covered on all sides!!!

Perhaps you are going through a valley of struggle, do not be afraid, seek יהוה, acknowledge Him, acknowledge His promises, acknowledge the problem and cast it upon Him and receive the proclamation of victory from His Word and by faith begin to praise His Set-Apart Name and see the victory come to pass as you continue steadfast in worshipping Him, Aměn! Are you properly armed to worship in spirit and truth? “WORSHIP AND PRAISE – IMPLEMENTS OF WAR!”

Let us go out and begin singing and praising, and see the deliverance our Master brings!!!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you; יהוה lift up His face to and give you shalom!