• Natalie Olson

Valley of Beracah "Worship and Praise"

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chronicles 20:2-4

Think about one difficulty you are facing right now. It might have to do with your family, your finances, conflicts at work or even an accident you recently had. All these things can be considered as armies coming against you. Any circumstance that has overpowered us is an enemy. We might come up with schemes and plans, but nothing is going to fix it. In desperation and anxiety, we cry out to the Lord.

Crying out to the Lord as a last resort is a lot different from "resolving to inquire of the Lord" from the start (as Jehoshaphat did). God honored Jehoshaphat's prayer and then Jehoshaphat honored the Lord by singing praises to God before the battle even begun.

Circumstances are difficult in life. Many times, we wonder what is really going on and why is the Lord allowing this to happen? All the Lord wants is for you to include Him. Circumstances are hard but His answers to your prayers are not. Go to God today first. Tell Him, "Lord, I don't know what to do but I am looking to You." He not only hears, sees and answers, but He assures the victory.

Let's pray: Dear Lord, help me to learn how to look to You for everything in my life. When my circumstances are hard, help me to keep my focus on You and not on myself. I need Your answers and I need Your guidance. Help me to discern Your voice and understand Your message to me personally. Most of all, Lord, help me to have a heart of praise and worship for You and for all that You are doing. You are truly an awesome God. Thank You for always being with me and for always taking care of me. Help me to learn from this study all that I need to learn from Your Word and how to apply it to my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Valley of Beracah

Read Second Chronicles Chapter 20

Second Chronicles chapter 20 tells the story of King Jehoshaphat, the threats of his enemies and the miraculous deliverance of God's hand. When Jehoshaphat was told of the enemy's intentions to invade them, Jehoshaphat sought help of the Lord, while he proclaimed a fast in the land and in the temple before the people. He prayed to God for His help, and was told by the prophet Jahaziel that God would fight for Judah the next day. When Jehoshaphat's army came into the wilderness of Jeruel the next day, their enemies had destroyed each other. Jehoshaphat and his people found the battlefield full of dead bodies, and gathered spoil for three days, and then on the fourth day, in the Valley of Blessing, they praised the Lord for His faithfulness. After returning to Jerusalem with great joy, they praised the Lord in the house of God for His help.

Read through the chapter to answer the following questions:

1. What problem is King Jehoshaphat facing?

2. How did Jehoshaphat respond to such overwhelming bad news?

3. Fill in the blanks from the NKJV:

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for _____ Judah. [4] The people of Judah came _____ to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from _____ town in Judah to seek him.

How would you have reacted to such news?

4. Write out the following verses and briefly describe how it applies to this story:

a. 2 Chronicles 7:14

b. John 17:22-23

c. Romans 12:5

d. 1 Corinthians 1:10

e. Ephesians 4:3-6

When we find ourselves in a dilemma, we need to seek the Lord first and then bring the problem to the assembly of believers. There is victory in coming together with one heart and one mind to seek the Lord in prayer. He hears the prayers of His people and delights to see us unified, even in the most terrible of circumstances. We worship a God who loves to rescue His people and whose ear is not dull in hearing our cries. We need to act together as one because God's intervention becomes a testimony to all the people involved as well as to the neighbors looking on.

5. Let's examine Jehoshaphat's prayer together:

Second Chronicles 20:5-12

Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard [6] and said: "O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. [7] O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? [8] They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, [9] 'If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.' [10] "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. [11] See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. [12] O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."

a. What does Jehoshaphat remind the Lord that He has done?

b. What reason does he give to the Lord for including Him in this situation?

c. He ends his prayer totally and completely honestly as he tells the Lord that they are totally and completely dependent on Him. What situation are you facing today that seems insurmountable? Write a prayer to the Lord using Jehoshaphat's prayer as a template. Be sure to end your prayer with the same words, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."There are situations that overwhelm us daily. Many times, we find ourselves so deep in the valley that we can no longer see mountaintops. The valley truly becomes a place of depression and desperation. We tend to make the problem larger by thinking that we have to use our own reasoning and strength to rescue ourselves from the problem. There is no place in scripture that says, "God helps those who help themselves." God helps those who ask for His help. This is evident from verses 13-17.

6. Read verses 13-17. Think of the battles that you are fighting right now. Write the words or verses that encourage you in this section of scripture and then write out verse 17.

7. Receiving a promise like this one brings great peace and assurance—if you really have the faith to believe it. How does Jehoshaphat demonstrate that he believes the words of the prophet in the following verses (18-21)?

Victory came when the people began to sing and praise. The key word is "began." The Lord intervened when the people acted in a place of faith as they arose early in the morning heading for battle but worshiping in song and praise on the way.

8. Describe what happened because of their singing and praising from verses 23-25.

Beracah means Praise. The Israelites named this valley, the Valley of Blessings. In other words, when the people began blessing the Lord with praise, He blessed them in abundance. We receive blessings when we praise the Lord. Sometimes the blessings are an abundance of joy and peace. Other times, the blessings can be more physically tangible (like in this story). God is so willing to reward the praises of His people, especially when there is an act of faith associated with the praise.

9. Can you remember a time that you praised the Lord in the midst of your panic? Describe.

When God steps in, people take notice. We become His witnesses when we allow Him to work through us in difficult circumstances. God is the judge, not us. We need to remember to thank and praise Him for His righteousness and mercy. He has a way of dealing with our enemies. We need to trust Him.

10. Read verses 29-30. What happened to the neighboring countries around Israel? How did they respond to what the Lord had done?

Sometimes we may find ourselves in valleys because we have lost our attitude of praise. If we will maintain a heart of thanksgiving and keep our eyes on the Lord, then we will see Him bless us. God can use even the deepest, darkest circumstances to bring about His miraculous intervention in our lives. Regardless of where you may find yourself today, take note of what Jehoshaphat did. Fast, pray and seek the Lord's counsel. He will provide for you. Just trust Him and praise Him through the journey.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is an awesome promise from the Lord, so personal to each of us. God is our Good Shepherd and He knows all about us. He knows that by restoring us back to Him, we will be willing to be led down His path of righteousness. At times, those paths will lead us through valleys of the shadow of death. Most of us hate those paths. Even though the Lord is holding us by the hand, oh, how we resist! It is hard to acknowledge that the God of love is truly leading us through the dark, scary valley. We may even want to blame such terrible circumstances on everything and everyone else instead of submitting to God ourselves. In time, however, we will see that it was only by going through the valley of the shadow of death that the Lord could help us break hurtful habits and behaviors, so that we can receive His peace and rejoice in His love

Ask the Lord today to reveal any areas of your heart that need restoration. Do you feel dull or numb in certain areas of your life? Tell the Lord about those places in your heart where you sense frustration and barrenness. Ask Him to restore them back to Him. Restoration is not always just about life's obvious issues; it can be very much about life's less recognized ones. Take your time to really read through Psalm 23 (again) and listen to the Lord's impressions on your heart. The Word of God is the most powerful Word you will read or hear today.

God's Word will lead you through the valleys of life. Pray to Him and seek Him with all of your heart. Ask Him to breathe new life into your bones and fill you with His Spirit. Ask Him to give you courage and strength in your obedience to Him. And, remember to praise Him in everything and thank Him for His blessings. May God bless you in the valleys and may you grow ever closer to Him all of your days.

Valley of Beracah

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