This is the third of four devotionals based on II Chronicles 20: 1-30. King Jehoshaphat has gathered all the people of Judah in the temple courtyard for a prayer meeting in the face of a massive army coming to annihilate them all. Now the Lord responds to this prayer.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (II Chron. 20: 14-17)
Who is this guy?
Jehoshaphat has just completed one of the most powerful and poignant prayers recorded in Scripture in front of all the residents of Judah gathered in the temple courtyard, and suddenly Jahaziel shouts out a word from the Lord.
The narrator tells us how stunned the crowd is to hear from him by tracing his lineage back five generations, all the way to Asaph (and even beyond, to Levi)! It’s as if the narrator is saying to us,
“I know you’ve never heard of him, but he’s in the line of Asaph and Levi, so relax. Lend him your ears.”
Isn’t that just like God? The king has publicly prayed that he is powerless and has no idea what to do; the high priest and priests are all standing near him, and the Lord uses no name Jahaziel to declare his presence and his promise.
Have you seen the classic 50s movie “Twelve Angry Men,” starring Henry Fonda? (Spoiler alert: skip this paragraph if you plan to see it for the first time.)
A murder trial has just ended, the jury has retired to its chambers, and the foreman declares that this is a slam dunk, let’s all just quickly vote guilty and go home. Eleven men vote guilty, and one does not. The entire movie takes place in that angry, divided room in conversation with the nay-sayer, and by the end, the other eleven join the twelfth and vote to acquit.
A survey of the Scriptures reveals that God does not operate through majority rule and he does not limit himself to the wisdom of the powerful and mighty.
Regularly, one voice seemingly coming out of nowhere declares the truth of the Lord (often in a whisper), and the community is called to be alert and discerning, especially amid declarative shouting that is unaware of such holy whispers.
No name Jahaziel couches the promise of the Lord’s deliverance within two themes that recur hundreds of times throughout the entire Scripture: “Do not be afraid or discouraged” and “Stand firm.” (Did you know that “stand firm” is one of the most repeated commands throughout the Bible?) Stand firm, as in, do not trust in your own perceptions and opinions and power and positions, do not be driven by your anxiety, but trust in the strength of the Lord.
I’ve been blessed by several Jahaziels in the last couple of years.
- A nurse who headed her congregation’s COVID response team and quietly affirmed that they would err on the side of caution for the sake of the elderly and vulnerable while all over town people were flocking to a megachurch that loudly declared it would ignore all precautions.
- A young gay man who committed to lifelong celibacy weeping on my deck after his denomination had discussed human sexuality at its synod, saying through tears, “I learned today that many of the people defending the conservative position I myself hold don’t know me at all, don’t know what I go through and don’t know how to extend hospitality to me.”
- The retired businessman who ignored the loud conflicts in his church community and quietly assembled a team that re-settled more than 100 refugees in five years.
Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, stand firm.
Thank you, Lord, for always finding new Jahaziels to summon us back to faithfulness.
Written by Syd Hielema
Currently serving the CRCNA as a Regional Pastor
Former Director of Faith Formation Ministries and the Connections project
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Liminal Space right now?
Am blessed by this devotion, may God raise Jahaziels in our churches. There is a need for God to speak to us in times of trouble through Jahaziels.