When God was grieved of all the evil on the earth, he saved it and humanity because of the one man–Noah. A man of righteousness. When God was grieved at all the Israelites were doing, he saved them because of the one man–Moses. A man of righteousness. And when the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom set out to deal with the kingdom of Moab but faced certain death, what would the LORD do?
The king of Israel, Joram, was wicked. The king of Edom was not righteous either. And Jehoshaphat, he followed the LORD but at times showed compliance instead of courage. But even with that, it was enough.
The three kings were heading to war against Moab who was rebelling against Israel. They took a circuitous route to get to their enemy and ended up running out of water for the men and animals. So Jehoshaphat suggesting consulting a prophet of the LORD. They did and that prophet was Elisha.
“Elisha responded, “As the LORD of Hosts lives, I stand before Him. If I did not have respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would not look at you; I wouldn’t take notice of you. Now bring me a musician” (2 Kings 3:14-15).
Upon the arrival of the musician, the LORD spoke to Elisha and to the three kings that they would be supplied with water and that they would get the victory they desired. The next morning water flowed in the wadis and they were able to go and defeat the Moabites. Just as the LORD had spoken.
Undoubtedly this would not have happened had Jehoshaphat had not been among them. But Jehoshaphat “walked in all the ways of his father Asa; he did not turn away from them but did what was right in the LORD’s sight” (1 Kings 22:42). He wasn’t perfect. He didn’t remove the high places and he still allowed sacrifices (1 Kings 22:43). He gave in to King Ahab instead of courageously standing firm (2 Kings 22). But in the big picture he followed the LORD. And because of it Israel was saved.
When evil abounds around us, it takes great courage to stand firm. But that standing firm even when alone may be the factor that moves God to spare a people. We are in an hour when courage is an essential, and yet it will cost a great deal.
It’s ironic reading this that I just received this story in an email:
Sabina Wurmbrand, wife of renowned pastor Richard Wurmbrand, once told her husband, “I do not need a coward for a husband.”
The Russian Communists had invaded their homeland of Romania and convened a “Congress of the Cults” to promote Communist ideology among the leaders of the major denominations. One after the other, pastors and priests pledged support for the Communists. Sabina then whispered in her husband’s ear, “They are spitting on the face of Christ. Will you not speak up?”
Richard answered, “If I speak, you will no longer have a husband.” To which Sabina replied, “I do not need a coward for a husband.”
Richard did speak up and told his fellow leaders that they should serve Christ and Christ alone. He was arrested shortly thereafter, and would spend 14 grueling years in prison for his Christian stance. Sabina lost her husband for 14 years, and was also arrested, forced into slave labor on the Danube canal. Neither were cowards, and both became my spiritual heroes and mentors.
This week I was studying the life of John Bunyan, and was equally inspired by his words (and actions) when he was asked if he agreed to stop preaching. Bunyan had spent three months in prison, which was the standard imprisonment for his offense. Now all he had to do was agree to refrain from preaching going forward. If he refused, he could face an even lengthier imprisonment, or even execution.
John Bunyan replied, “I will stay in prison till the moss grows on my eyelids rather than disobey God.”