I had heard of this 'word for the year' meme for several years and thought I would like to try it but last year was just a blur. I honestly do not know how it went by so fast but in retrospect it was a good thing that it did.
I had planned to do a formal Bible study and I still might but for the moment I am studying all the passages in the Bible that reference faith. The first one in my NIV concordance was 2Chronicles 20:20.
I confess that I get bogged down by some of the books in the Old Testament. I have read through them as part of the Disciple Bible studies but I don't think I absorbed them. But this passage - in context - is very powerful.
Jehoshaphat is the King of Judah and he is favored by God because 'he walked in the ways his father David had followed'(2Chronicles 17:3). Jehoshaphat has been given much power and riches because he obeys God and spreads his Law all over the land. When he and the king of Israel - Ahab - go to war against another tribe he is spared because he calls out to God. Eventually the Moabites, Ammonites and some Menunites form a vast army to try and conquer Jehoshaphat. He is warned of this and seeks the Lord's guidance, having Judah fast with him as they seek the will of God.
Jehoshaphat stands before the temple with the people of Judah and asks God why he refused to let the Israelites take care of this problem when they came to Israel. It seems they are coming to destroy Israel because they were spared back then. He then asks God to judge them because Judah cannot stand against such a large army. A prophet of the Lord tells them they must go and stand, but not fight. God will deliver them. Jehoshaphat and the people worship the Lord and then go and do as the prophet says. Before they set out, he says this to his people - (2Chronicles 20:20) "Early in the morning the left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, 'Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
He then instructs certain peoples to sing praises to the Lord as they march out to meet the enemy. God has ambushed the invaders and instead of a vast army all Jehoshaphat sees are dead bodies. It takes them three days to collect all the things left behind as the result of the battle. After this they go and worship the Lord and give thanks. Because of this the fear of God spread through all the other kingdoms and Jehoshaphat was at peace. No one dared stand against him because they knew God was on his side.
God did not send Jehoshaphat into battle. He required him to stand while the Lord fought the battle. Perhaps that is the message from this passage - sometimes we are to stand with full faith in the Lord and trust Him to win the battle because we can do nothing on our own strength. A very good passage to start a new year with. I am going to reflect on this for awhile.