Shabbat Shalom everyone, blessed be Yahweh our Elohim who has given us His rest that we may truly enter in to His promises through the life, death and resurrection of our Saviour Yahushua Messiah, Aměn!
The theme of this week’s Torah reading, which we will go through tomorrow, from Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 26:1-29:9 is ‘when you enter in’ and we will look tomorrow at what this entails as we enter in to and take possession of all that Yahweh has given us in our daily walk of faith. As we look at the instructions of entering in to the promises of Yahweh, we know that from the lessons of the journey that Israel took from Mitsrayim/Egypt to the Promised Land is that the Promised Land was a land of hills and valleys, unlike Mitsrayim/Egypt that is very flat. This further shows us that they could not do as was done in Egypt in trying to rely on the ingenuity of man to channel water from the Nile to the farms due to the lack of rain, but had to rely on Yahweh sending rain in a land where the terrain does not allow for such practices of relying on man to provide water. The rain Yahweh would send would be the result of obedience to His Torah and would further result in giving the Israelites rest while those in Mitsrayim/Egypt would slave away digging water trenches in a desperate effort to provide water to their crops. The Promised Land is a land of hills and valleys, in other words, highs and lows and in order to be sustained through the highs and the lows, one had to put their trust and faith in Yahweh alone. It is with this thought in mind that I want us to realise that as we, by grace through faith in Yahushua, have made the choice to enter in to an abundant filled life, we are to realise that even though there will be highs and lows, we are to continue to trust and put our faith in our Saviour. David, in Tehillim/Psalm 23 proclaimed exactly what we are talking about here when he said when he walks through the valley of the shadow of death he will not fear evil, for Yahweh is with him. This is faith in the valleys!
When we ‘enter in’ we are entering in to His rest and His peace and with that comes the assurance of protection and provision. Entering in to His rest calls for a daily faith walk that fixes our eyes on our Saviour Yahushua! We are told in Hebrews 12 that we are to throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and fix our eyes on Yahushua Messiah, the Prince and Perfector of our faith. So as we live in His Promises walking in his ways we cannot take our eyes off of our Saviour, whether we are on a mountain top or in a valley!
How many of you have been through some pretty tough valleys, or are in one right now? Being in a valley can easily overwhelm you and cause fear and worry to grip you on all sides, where it feels like the enemy is about to crush you totally – ever been there? Well tonight I want us to look at how we can overcome the valley moments as we strive to walk in His Promises for our lives in obedience to His Word. We will have trouble in this world – Yahushua told us so, yet He encourages us to take heart and put our faith in Him for He has overcome the World and so this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith in Yahshua - faith that works out our salvation with fear and trembling in obedience to His Torah.
So what do we do when the enemy is closing in on our territory and puts us under siege, for he is like a roaring lion seeking those he can devour?
I want us to look at a great account of victory that was won as an account of active faith, when the Yehuḏah was surrounded and outnumbered by their enemies. My message tonight is called, “Turning the valley of struggle into the valley of blessing through praise”. Please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bět 20 / 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 (Read).
Yehoshaphat had done much, as king, to bring reform – he fortified Yehuḏah against Yisra’ĕl and their notorious leader, king Aḥaḇ, and he set himself the task of ‘cleaning up’ the land form idolatry. In the third year of his reign he sent out the priests to instruct the people of Yehuḏah in the Torah, and as a result of his actions he enjoyed great peace and prosperity and the blessing of Yahweh on the people. This passage we have just read must be read against the background of chapter 17: 3, 10 which distinguishes between the earlier and later years of Yehoshaphat. In 17:3, 10 tells us that Yahweh was with Yehoshaphat and he walked in the ways of his father David, he did not seek the Ba‘al’s, and the fear of Yahweh fell on all the surrounding nations and they never came against Yehoshaphat. His obedience brought protection, then in chapter 18 he allied himself with Aḥaḇ in disobedience and was condemned in chapter 19:1-3. His kingdom was protected from attacking enemies by the fear of Yahweh on all the surrounding nations and now through his disobedience in allying with a wicked king we see here in chapter 20 that Mo’aḇ and Ammon, enemies of Yehuḏah came to attack from 3 sides. After the response of faith as recounted in this chapter we see how the protection of Yahweh was renewed and they enjoyed the peace again given by Yahweh on all sides.
This account is a great encouragement to us as to how to respond to imminent fear or any danger that seems to be encroaching. I love how this is once again the picture of the Sovereignty and grace of Yahweh! He is a just Elohim and as a result of disobedience by Yehoshaphat a door was opened for the enemy to bring an attack against Yehuḏah and in faith as Yehoshaphat and the nation called upon Yahweh, He responded and remained faithful to His Word of promise given to Shelomoh/Solomon, for when Shelomoh/Solomon issued a plea to Yahweh in 2 Chronicles 6:28-30, Yahweh responded and agreed to his request in 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, saying that if His people, who are called by His Name would humble themselves and call out and seek His face and turn from their sin then He would hear them, forgive them and deliver them, which is in a nutshell what happened here in this account.
But what can we learn from this? We can learn how we are to live by faith and praise our wonderful Creator and how we are to respond in those valley moments and see Him deliver us from the trouble and bring us great blessing as we stand firm in faith in Him.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where Yahweh has asked something of you and started out in great faith only to give up when the going got tough and you ended up throwing in the towel? Today, many believers often feel called to do something and then it all seems to fail, either due to doubt in their ability to accomplish the task and so do not even try, or they go ahead only to find that when the first sign of trouble or struggle comes they give up! It is often the case that when a believer finds themselves struggling with their walk in Yahushua that it is a result of disobedience in worshipping Him and keeping their eyes fixed on Him!
We are to keep our eyes fixed on Him who saves and protects us, and keep our faith stirred and encouraged through His Word and fellowship that our attitude towards life’s battles are full of faith and reliance on Yahushua! If we take our eyes off of our Creator we can in fact find ourselves wallowing in worry and fear and allow our days to be filled with grief and sorrow instead of joy and peace.
It has been said that we set our mood for our entire day within the first 3 minutes of waking up! Who is not ‘a morning person’ here? I want to ask you – well just think about it – how are the first 3 minutes of your day? How about beginning it with a victory shout to Yahweh! Why do I say this? Well we would do much better if we begin to praise Yahweh declaring his love over us and be able to set our mood for the day praising Yahweh despite difficulties and troubles that we may face.
What can we learn from Yehoshaphat? Let us learn some valuable faith lessons here tonight and so be stirred to call on the Name that saves, aměn! When the enemy is on the attack or we find ourselves in the valley of struggle – this is what we do:
1 – SEEK YAHWEH (v3)
We know the promise that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all else will be added. It all begins with us seeking. Some problems are worse than others we know, but why does Yahweh permit us to go through difficulties? Well when we find ourselves inadequate to the task at hand, we are driven in urgency and expectation to Him – Yahweh wants us to learn how to hold fast to and rely totally upon Him. Scripture repeatedly reiterates that Yahweh is a strong rock, a strong tower, a frim defence and a safe refuge for the righteous who run to His Name, and we learn more and more from the Word how we, in and of ourselves, are weak both mentally and morally and we dare not trust in ourselves in finding our way on our own for we will certainly end up lost! We are to be daily seeking His face, but sadly it happens that when things seen ‘fine’ that there is always a danger of relying upon self and seek Him less, until crisis comes and we are stripped of all hope and strength; find ourselves in the dark that we turn frantically to Him, where He will always be found.
May we learn not to let ourselves take our eyes of Yahushua and cease to seek Him until a crisis hits, but that we will be ever seeking, ever finding His strength. But what happens when we do find ourselves in that valley?
Yehoshaphat were facing some serious trouble as these powerful enemies came up against them, and yes at first Yehoshaphat was afraid, and it is no wonder – he was outnumbered and out powered by the enemy, it is a natural response in seeing the danger coming. But He didn’t stay there! He didn’t wallow in fear and stress about the ‘what ifs’!
He immediately ‘set his face’ to seek Yahweh and proclaimed a fast!
Yehoshaphat knew where his help comes from and he knew that this called for earnest seeking. Sometimes the breakthroughs we are seeking will only come through prayer and fasting as we seek Yahweh, our deliverer with our all!
In him seeking Yahweh he also called a prayer meeting – this was a national crisis and everyone was to be praying and fasting. We would do very well to learn from this – in dropping pride and calling others to pray with us in times of trouble. It was customary for Hebrew kings to call a fast in perilous times, getting the nation to humbly seek Yahweh that He may hear and deliver them! We must never underestimate the power of corporate prayer and should never hesitate to call others to pray with us in perilous times. The enemy has a way of trying to isolate you, don’t be!
In times of trouble we must know where our source of strength comes from!
How often people try to find solutions to their problems and struggles in every other place but Yahweh and are simply wasting their energy and time! We must develop a good daily habit of seeking our King that in trouble we will not have trouble hearing His voice!
2 – ACKNOWLEDGE THE POWER OF YAHWEH (v5-7)
Yehoshaphat prayed and acknowledges the power and might of Yahweh! He rested in the frim knowledge that Yahweh was more powerful than any problem he might face. We must acknowledge His power; we often go and tell Him how big our problems are without, acknowledging just how great and awesome is He!
You may ask well why we must pray what Yahweh knows anyway – here Yehoshaphat was declaring what Yahweh knows, and He knows everything anyways. Yahweh wants us to talk to Him and tell him what is going on because there is a devil and through prayer we can resist him and It is through prayer that we can find grace to help in time of need and according to Philippians it is a way for us to obtain freedom from anxiety and receive the peace of Elohim! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing and Yahweh is all-knowing but wants us to fellowship with us and when we seek His face in prayer and acknowledge His strength we are strengthened in our relationship with Him.
3 – ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROMISES OF YAHWEH (v8-10)
Yehoshaphat reminds Yahweh of His promise to Shelomoh’s plea we spoke of earlier in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7. True faith and praise have as their basis, and Almighty El who has never failed to fulfil even one of His promises!
When we can acknowledge his promises, we can be strengthened to know how we can trust in His unfailing Word!
4 – ACKNLOWEDGE THE PROBLEM (v10-11)
When we face a problem, we cannot ignore it and hope it will go away. It must be dealt with, and in order for that to happen we must acknowledge the problem. Yahushua tells us that we are to give our burdens to Him, to cast our cares upon Him and take His yoke which is easy and light – His yoke, that which directs and guides our way is His Torah, His instructions. As we take off the weight of our worries and problems and give it to Him, we are able to freely walk guided by His Torah. Do not hide from your problems, give them to Yahushua and then stand firm in Him and watch Him give you the victory as He fights for you!
5 – APPROPRIATE YAHWEH’S PROTECTION (v12-13)
Yehoshaphat praised Yahweh for His great power, reminded Him of His promises and shared with Him the problems they were facing, and in a sense says the following, “O Yahweh, will you please intervene, we are helpless here in this situation, we don’t not no anything else to do but call upon You and look to You alone for help.” – does this sound kind of a familiar and often repeated plea many of you make to Him? Good, because when we can confess our weakness and also confess His strength, we are able to appropriate correctly His great protection available to us who will call on the Name of Yahweh! His Name is a strong tower and the righteous run to it and are safe!
6 – RECEIVE THE PROCLAMATION OF VICTORY FROM HIS WORD (v14-17)
The Spirit of Yahweh came upon the priest and spoke to the Assembly confirming Yahweh’s protection and that they were not to be afraid, for the battle is Elohim’s and not theirs! Once we understand and appropriate His power, then we need to engage our faith in the hearing of His Word and believe that which He has promised in His Word. If Yahweh has said it then we can be sure of it, and believe that he will fight for us and bring us the victory we hope for and have not yet seen – that is faith, for faith is always based squarely on the revealed will of Yahweh in His Word! Yahweh plainly revealed what He was going to do for Yehoshaphat and Yehuḏah, and their responsibility was to believe His Word, despite the circumstances they were facing! The point is simply this – “We can believe it is so when it is not so, in order for it to be so, because Yahweh has said it so!”
When we have faith from His Word, we are to stand firm in Him, stand still and see the deliverance of Yahweh with us!
The big question is will we believe His Word? We need to if we are to stand in victory! Realise afresh tonight that Yahweh grants us the victory – it is His battle, if we will give it to Him that is, and so we do not have to try to win any fight by ourselves through our own efforts. It is important for us to realise that we are to simply stand firm and let Yahweh fight for us because as Ephesians tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but that it is spiritual, even though it manifests in the flesh! Let Him fight for you and see the victory!
7 – WORSHIP AND PRAISE YAHWEH (18-30)
Yehoshaphat bowed his head and the people fell down before Yahweh in reverent worship – oh how we need to see more of this today in the body of Messiah! Let me tell you – when you find yourself in the midst of the battles of life, and you are walking in the valleys of struggle - then it is time to worship and not worry! Worship Him in faith and praise Him and see how he will give you unspeakable joy in the midst of your valley. The priests praised with an exceedingly loud voice! It is so sad today when we see many believers too ‘shy’ or afraid to praise with a loud voice. Now I am not talking about putting on a hypocritical show, but praising him from deep within expressing it in the fullest form! Faith carries a definite sound – let it be heard!!! How do you praise Him when you are on your own and He has brought you victory? I am sure you give a great shout of praise when on your own and nobody looking!!! Why then be afraid to worship Him with a loud voice when with others?
And active faith can and will give thanks for a promise, even though it has not yet been performed, because we know Yahweh is faithful! What victory are you expectant for right now? Can you give a loud shout of praise and thanks? Go on … do it right now!!!
Praise and declaration of thanksgiving is contagious, the priests had now prompted the people to trust in the Word of Yahweh and to be steadfast in Him. They then appointed those who would sing and sent them out before the army. Praise leads the way to victory in Yahushua! We, the body of Messiah, need to praise Him more and let the critics out there that are trying to say we are being ‘legalistic’ by simply obeying our Creator in loving Him, let them be scattered as they see our joy, His joy in us strengthening us to praise – we must restore true praise in the body!
What happened when the enemy saw all the praising? They went berserk and were smitten and ended up killing each other! Praising Yahweh will cause the enemy to get in to a flat spin, because he cannot steal your joy and will find himself on the wrong end of Yahweh’s wrath!
When Yehuḏah came to the lookout, what they saw was dead bodies and they took for themselves all the spoils of war they did not fight – they praised! On the fourth day they assembled in the valley and it was called the Valley of Beraḵa, which means valley of blessing, and returned to Yerushalayim with joy.
The fear of Elohim once again was on the nations around Yehuḏah and Elohim gave Yehoshaphat rest on all sides!
From a valley of struggle to a valley of blessing – by applying their faith in Yahweh and worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth, giving Him praise in the midst of the valley! We will do very well to learn from these events as to how we can put our trust in our Wonderful Saviour and give Him praise, despite our circumstances; for we know He fights for us who love Him!
And He brings us the blessing of walking in faithful obedience to His Torah, it is time to lift up our voices in praise and see his deliverance with us and walk in the abundant blessings He lavishes upon us, even in the struggles we face, for He has us covered on all sides!
The result of walking in obedient faith:
Yahweh gave rest on all sides. Let me remind you, children of Elohim, that Yahshua has given us rest on all your sides:
1 – He is before us for He leads us- Yeshayahu/Isaiah 48:17 “Thus said Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, “I am Yahweh your Elohim, teaching you what is best, leading you by the way you should go.”
2 – He is behind us – Yeshayahu/Isaiah 30:21 “and your ears hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the Way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right, or whenever you turn to the left."
3 – He is on our right – Tehillim/Psalm 16:8 “I have set Yahweh always before me; because He is at my right hand I am not shaken.” He is our strength – ‘right hand’ is a picture of strength and the working of our salvation!
4 – He is on our left – Iyob/Job 23:9 “to the left where He is working, but I do not see; He turns to the right, but I do not see.”
5 – He is above us – Tehillim/Psalm 36:7 “How precious is Your kindness, O Elohim! And the sons of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”
6 – His arms are underneath us – Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 33:27 “The Elohim of old is a refuge, and beneath are everlasting arms. And He drives out the enemy from before you and says, ‘Destroy!”
7 – His Spirit is within us – Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are a Dwelling Place of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you?”
In Him we have TOTAL protection – we are to acknowledge His power and protection and praise Him!
What we can learn from this chapter is clearly the value of faith and praise toward Yahweh, especially in the midst of those valleys of struggle! May we learn to turn the valley of struggle into a valley of blessing through a life of praise!
Before we close let me simply share with you scripturally how we are to worship and praise our Maker:
1 – From the heart – Yohanan/John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father also does seek such to worship Him.” If it is not from the heart then it is not authentic!
2 – According to the Scriptures – Yohanan/John 4:23! We worship in Spirit and in Truth – His Torah details for us how Yahweh is to be worshipped and we are not to worship Him like the pagans worship their gods for that is an abomination to Him!
3 – In Song – Tehillim/Psalm 149:1 “Praise Yah! Sing to Yahweh a new song, His praise in an assembly of kind ones.”
4 – Clapping our hands – Tehillim/Psalm 47:1a “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! ...” If you can clap for a sports team or for an award ceremony then surely you can clap for Yahweh!
5 – Shouting – Tehillim/Psalm 47:1b “…Shout to Elohim with a voice of singing!” – Give a victory shout, the sound of triumph. Many will easily lose their voice screaming for their favourite team – how about using that voice in praise of Yahweh!
6 – Bowing – Tehillim/Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us bow down and bend low, Let us kneel before Yahweh our Maker.” – if you do not know how to bend your knee in worship – then learn very quickly and show reverence in worship for our Maker!
7 – Lift our hands – Tehillim/Psalm 134:2 “Lift up your hands in the set-apart place, and bless Yahweh.” – Sha’ul (Paul) tells us that he wants to see men everywhere lifting up their hands in praise to Yahweh. When we lift our hands we are in effect declaring our inadequacy and declare our surrender to His authority, mercy and grace!
8 – With thanksgiving – Tehillim/Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His Name.”
9 – Joyfully – Tehillim/Psalm 100:2 “Serve Yahweh with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.”
10 – In Dance and with instruments – Tehillim/Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise His Name in a dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the tambourine and lyre.”
Tehillim/Psalm 150:4 “Praise Him with tambourine and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!”
David danced and so should we, even if we think we have two left feet!
11 – Sacrificially – Ib‘rim/ Hebrews 13:15 “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a slaughter offering of praise to Elohim, that is, the fruit of our lips,1 giving thanks to His Name.”
David said, when buying the threshing floor of Ornan that he would not offer to Yahweh something that cost Him nothing!
This is how we worship in Spirit and in Truth, even while walking in the valley of struggle. May we learn from the account of Yehoshaphat that we too can have our valley of struggle turned in to a valley of blessing through praise as we put our faith in Him who fights for us and has us covered on all sides!!!
Perhaps you are going through a valley of struggle, do not be afraid, seek Yahweh, acknowledge Him, acknowledge His promises, acknowledge the problem and cast it upon Him and receive the proclamation of victory from His Word and by faith begin to praise His Holy Name and see the victory come to pass as you continue steadfast in worshipping Him, Aměn!
IT IS TIME TO TURN THOSE ‘VALLEY’S’ OF STRUGGLE INTO ‘VALLEY’S’ OF GREAT BLESSING THROUGH PRAISE TO HIM WHO FIGHTS FOR US AND GIVES US THE VICTORY
Yahweh bless you and guard you, Yahweh make his face shine upon you and show favour to you, Yahweh lift His face upon you and give you peace, and now His Name is upon you and He shall bless you, in the name of Yahushua, Aměn!