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Fast Days: Chronicles 2 Chapter 20: Engaged in the Process

1 And it came to pass after this, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them some of the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. 2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying: ‘There comes a great multitude against you from beyond the sea from Aram; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar’–the same is En-gedi.


3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek God; and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to seek help of God; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek God. 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of God, before the new court;

6 And he said: ‘O God, the Lord of our fathers, are You not alone Lord in heaven? and are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? and in Your hand is power and might, so that none is able to withstand You. 7 Did You not, O our Lord, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham Your friend forever? 8 And they dwelt there, and have built for You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying:

9 If evil comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house, and before You–for Your name is in this house–and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.

10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned aside from them, and destroyed them not; 11 behold, they render unto us [evil], to come to cast us out of Your possession, which You have given us to inherit.

12 O our Lord, wilt You not execute judgment on them? for we have no might against this great multitude that comes against us; neither do we know what to do; but our eyes are upon You.’

13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. {S}

14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite, of the sons of Asaph, came the spirit of God in the midst of the congregation;

15 And he said: ‘Hearken you, all Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you king Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord unto you:

‘Fear not, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but the Lord’s.

16 Tomorrow go down against them; behold, they come up by the ascent of Ziz; and you shall find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord is with you.’

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.

19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites, stood up to praise God, the Lord of Israel, with an exceeding loud voice.

20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said: ‘Hear me, O Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; believe in God your Lord, so you shall be established; believe His prophets, so you shall prosper.’

21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed them that should sing to the Lord, and praise in the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and say: ‘Give thanks to God, for His mercy endures forever.’

22 And when they began to sing and to praise, God set liers-in-wait against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, that were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.

24 And when Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked upon the multitude; and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and there were none that escaped.

25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches and dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Beracah; for there they blessed God; therefore the name of that place was called the valley of Beracah (Blessing), until this day.

27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy; for God had made them to rejoice over their enemies.

28 And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of God.

29 And a terror from the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the countries, when they heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel.

30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet; for his Lord gave him rest roundabout.”

Yehoshafat did not just fast and pray; he took numerous steps to prepare his prayer, to respond to God’s promise of salvation, and again after the great miracle to give thanks:

Prayer: 1) “set himself to seek God,” 2) “and he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah, “3) “to seek help of God.”

Response to God’s Message: 1) “stood before the Lord,” 2) “bowed his head with his face to the ground,” 3) “worshipping the Lord,” 4) “stood up to praise God,” 5) “believe in God your Lord,” 6) “believe His prophets,” 7) “he appointed them that should sing to the Lord,” 8) “praise in the beauty of holiness,” and 9) “say: ‘Give thanks to God, for His mercy endures forever.’ “

After the Miracle: 1) “they assembled themselves,” 2) “there they blessed God,” 3) “they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of God.”

I find the most powerful lesson in the fact that the most complex list is Yehoshafat’s response to God’s promise of salvation, not to the actual miracle!

Yehoshafat sees fasting as part of a complex process of steps, emphasizing Israel’s engagement in the process of salvation: Even after we receive the promise of salvation, we must be actively involved, and not simply sit back and wait for the promise to be fulfilled.

The practical key for us is to separate the fast day into the same stages as did Yehoshafat; 1) Fasting and Prayer: Morning of the Fast Day. 2) Responding to God’s Promises: Mincha, and to look forward to 3) Responding to the Miracle of Salvation: Ma’ariv.

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