Monday, June 15, 2015

Just Sit Back and Watch the Fireworks Begin!

As I was leaving an event this past Saturday night, I could hear the crackle and pop of fireworks in the distance. I love fireworks, and I thought about chasing them down, but it was late and I knew my family would be looking for me at home. They were indeed... they'd run out of humus. I have traveled for over two hours just to see fireworks. There is something about blankets lined up on what was once a vacant stretch of sod, and voices just above a whisper wafting through darkening landscape, that suits the anticipation and awe of random color bursting from a black sky. In a couple of weeks I will be scanning the internet for the schedule of fireworks displays nearby. We will pack snacks, drinks, paper towels, bug spray, light jackets, camping chairs, and of course, a blanket. The jackets, of course, will be packed in the optimism that there will be a cool breeze anywhere within a six mile radius. The reality is, once we are within walking distance of the proposed location, we will not only abandon them in the eighty-four degree heat and seventy-two percent humidity, but we will abandon much of the other gear as well: no way I'm carrying a blanket in this heat, and -- trust me -- there isn't a mosquito alive that can penetrate the pea soup that is masquerading as troposphere right now. We will trek through the encroaching darkness for the most unobstructed, most elevated, most level vantage point available, and we will settle in to watch.

All of this came to mind this morning as I was reading 2 Chronicles 20. Some of the neighboring populations were looking to make war against the Kingdom of Judah. God had instructed the nation of Israel as they were leaving Egypt, to go around these people and not chase them from the land they were occupying; these people now, however wanted what was not theirs. As Judah's king, Jehoshaphat stood before his people praying for instruction and seeking a word of wisdom, one of the men, Jahaziel, began to speak:
“Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s... But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you ~ 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17
"Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness," (v. 20) with their king encouraging and leading them, confidently resting in God's promise of victory. I'm going to skip a couple of verses and get to the exciting conclusion:
"So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped." (v. 24)
He wasn't kidding. When God says "Watch," that's exactly what He means. When the Israelites had their backs against the Red Sea, and Pharaoh's army was closing in fast, they panicked and blamed -- "Moses and God have conspired to lead us out here to die!" But Moses told them to "Stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today!" (Exodus 14:13) The nation of Israel was eye to eye with their trouble, and couldn't even catch a glimpse of victory for the foe they had their eyes on; they were not directed to the cheap seats, perched high atop the fray. The army of Judah, however, was spared that anxiety, and directed straight to the lookout to see what God had done. The difference? The army of Judah took God completely at His word. They marched into battle that day singing praises to the Lord. In fact, it was the chorus, armed only with the voices and the promise God had given them, that moved out even before the troops. Such faith. And God took them straight to the best place to watch the grand finale!

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