Next Sunday we will begin a Fall series on leadership, and how God structures leadership for His people. In last Sunday’s meditation, we actually saw a great example of Biblical leadership, as King Jehoshaphat led his people (Judah) in prayer, by praying. In analyzing this prayer, we find that Jehoshaphat openly addresses three tensions that exist for all believers living in a world where we believe in God, though we cannot see Him.
Jehoshaphat teaches us to tell the truth about God (that He is powerful), and about ourselves (that we are not). We live in a world of lies. We need leaders who will tell us the truth. But there is a kind of balance needed in the expression of that truth. Yes, there is the balance of truth and love, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Here I am talking about the kind of confession that focuses not only on our sins. We most often associate the idea of “confession” with confession of sins. But “confession” means “telling the truth.” And in a dazed and distracted world, we need to hear not only the truth about ourselves and our sins, but also the truth about God - who He is, and what He can do. Jehoshaphat prays both sides of this tension.
He also prays both the promises of God, and their own desperate predicament. He refers back to old promises, such as Abraham and the gift of the land. He remembers details, that Abraham is God’s “forever” friend. I do not believe that Jehoshaphat is using these promises as leverage so much as honoring God’s Word that He has spoken to His people. But then he also honestly states their present predicament. Our faith is not just a faith that lives in the past. It deals with contemporary realities, and brings the ancient promises to bear upon those realities. He does not sugarcoat it. They are in trouble, out-numbered, and so they come to the sanctuary and cry out to God.
This is not silly/sappy worship, but it is, nevertheless, worship. And this worship of God acknowledges both the certainties of who God is, and the mysteries of why God allows what He does. He is the LORD, Yahweh, the God who is what we need in any and every situation. He is the God of our fathers, no recent invention. He is the promise-making, covenant-keeping God upon whom we can depend, and thus, the God to whom we cry out. And yet, we do not have this God all figured out. His ways are mysterious, and parts of the path are exceedingly painful. And so Jehoshaphat prays both the certainties of God, and the mysteries. We do not know everything, but we know some things for sure. And that not allows us to pray, but it compels us to pray.
Of all the things that the king could have done in this situation, Jehoshaphat chose the proper path of prayer, and in so doing, demonstrated Biblical leadership.