Lately, my personal study time has been taking me through the books of the Kings and their Chronicles. I’ve been reading them through the filter of knowing we are called a nation of kings and priests unto God. In the examples provided, I continue learning great principles on how to lead better and how not to lead. How to conquer territory for the kingdom and how to dispossess strongholds of old.
Today, as I was reading through the life of King Jehoshaphat, one of Judah’s better kings, the Lord highlighted something to me with such a bright highlighter I felt I needed to share it.
The entire story is found in 2 Chronicles 20, but to provide some context, King Jehoshaphat was ruling over Judah when he got word that “a great multitude” was coming against him in war. He feared, but he set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast in the land. His prayer, which I am so thankful is recorded for us, shows his heart in the midst of this adversity. He set God as higher than all earthly kingdoms and powers and he called upon God for deliverance. He doesn’t spend his prayer time talking about how strong this enemy is or how big they are or how intimidating they are – he instead recalls the promises of God, giving life to them again with the faith in his words. The promise that the land they are now inhabiting was theirs because God has promised it to them through Abraham. So in his eyes, the battle really, was a threat against the promises of God Himself. As is the case with any battle you and I face.
The Spirit of the Lord fell upon the people and through a prophetic word, they were encouraged, strengthened and given direction as to what they should do next: Do not be afraid or dismayed. Position yourselves. Stand still. See the salvation of the Lord.
To be afraid is to be filled with fear. I think we can all easily relate and know what that feels like. But to be dismayed means to be “shattered” or to start “falling apart”. Their command was to not do that. In other words, hold it together! Stay strong, remain standing. Don’t crumble in the sight of what your natural eyes see. Don’t let the ground shift beneath your feet or let the turbulence around you cause cracks in your foundation. Don’t let the winds that are beating against you and threatening you make you sway or become double-minded in your thinking. Hold your ground. Steady your thoughts.
Through this same prophetic word, they were also told this was not a fight they would have to fight themselves. BUT they were still to advance and “go out against” the enemy. Don’t go hide in a rock. Take a posture of strength and victory.
Jehoshaphat responded to the word by bowing down in worship and his first military command was to send out the worshippers to praise God for the victory. The victory that was yet to come but that he knew in his heart would be theirs. The Bible says that the very moment they began singing, God set ambushes and the enemy was defeated. There was utter confusion on the battleground, the enemy turned on themselves and they were completely destroyed. God is faithful. We all love good endings. But as I kept reading, here’s the part that got me:
When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables…and precious jewelry…more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much (vs 25).
Suddenly, it occurred to me: Sometimes, God uses battles to bring increase into our lives. But how many times (again I’m speaking spiritually here) have we left the spoils of our victories on the field? I know for me, how many times have I walked away from a battle, just relieved to have won, still giving God the glory, but not even thinking to turn back and claim the spoils of that victory?
How silly would it have been, if after defeating the enemy, these armies would have just walked away leaving it all on the field. Basically, for someone else to pickup and claim for themselves, or to just decay and never be claimed at all. And yet, there was so much increase here it took the people of Israel THREE DAYS to gather the spoil.
I sat there, pondering the implications of this for myself this morning and then wrote this in the margin of my Bible:
Never leave the spoils of your victory behind.
What do spoils look like in the spiritual? It depends. When God adds spiritual increase back to our lives it’s not always in the same form as where we waged war. But here’s a commonality: Whatever is of value that was in the hands of the enemy will now be redeemed for kingdom purposes in mine. Because we operate in the Kingdom, when goods trade hands, they trades kingdoms.
Sometimes spoils are used for increase, sometimes they’re given as an offering. Think about King Saul and Agag. Saul was given very specific instructions as to what he was supposed to do with the spoils. He disobeyed, and it cost him greatly. (You can read the entire account in 1 Samuel 15). Part of stewarding a victory well, doesn’t mean we just celebrate the win. It means we turn back, claim the spoils, and do with them what God is directing us to do.
So, I ask you. What battles are you facing right now? What report have you received recently that seems so big it’s threatening and intimidating you? If you were to look at the other side of your coin right now, where you are waiting for God to add increase to your life? Your business? Your family? Your ministry? Could it be there’s a connection between the battle before you and what you’ve been believing God for? The very foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice. He will not let the scales tip against you and not make it right. But how you view the battle before you matters.
It also stood out to me that this battle started for King Jehoshaphat in the Wilderness of Tekoa. After claiming their spoils, the people assembled – on the fourth day – in the Valley of Berachah. Tekoa means “stockade“. A fortification. A defensive barrier consistent of strong posts or timbers fixed upright into the ground. If you can picture an enclosure or pen made with posts and stakes in order to protect, fortify or encompass whatever it’s meant to protect or hold back. Berachah on the other hand means “blessing.”
It could very well be that the blessings and increase you’ve been praying for is being “held up” in a “stockade”? That place that seems like a wilderness to you. The last thing you want to do right now is fight or face another enemy. But if you’ll take on the same heart and attitude that Jehoshaphat had – recalling the promises God has already made, praising Him and setting Him high above, giving Him the honor He deserves, asking for His deliverance – this may be a battle that you don’t even have to fight. Instead of praying “for” victory, pray and worship and praise from a place “of” victory. And for goodness sakes, when you see His salvation, don’t forget the spoils! Because for the winner (and we are always conquerors in Christ) victory doesn’t just mean winning; it means increase.
Thanks for reading,
-Linda G. Riddle