We get an incredible insight into the power of worship in 2 Chronicles 20. It was a dark and terrifying moment for the people of Judah; a vast army was approaching with the sole intent of inflicting mass destruction. Humanly speaking this looked like game over for Judah. Alarmed, King Jehoshaphat, called all the people of Judah together proclaiming a fast. As they gathered Jehoshaphat led them in worship.
"Oh Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand and no‐one can withstand you." 2 Chronicles 20:6
In a moment of crisis, rather than filling their minds with the frightening possibilities that lay ahead, they filled their hearts and minds with the truth of who God is. A mighty and powerful King who rules and reigns over all the nations. They chose faith over fear. Trust over terror. And as they punctuated the air with praise, God began to move.
The Spirit of the Lord fell upon one of the leaders, Jehaziel, and he spoke God's word directly into the situation:
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God's ... Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you..." 2 Chronicles 20:15‐17
Confident that God was in control and at work, Jehoshaphat made a bold decision. He appointed singers and musicians to stand at the front of the army commanding them to "sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness." (v21)
Can you imagine the sight? A vast and viscous enemy army fast approaching, ready to kill and destroy, and what did the people of Judah do? They began to sing, "Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever." It makes no sense. This is serious life and death stuff but at the front of Judah's army was a choir singing in four‐part harmony!
As they sang, the Lord set ambushes against the various enemy armies and they began to turn on one another. Rather than destroying the people of Judah they began killing each other. And all while the sound of praise filled the battle‐field. Eventually the men of Judah looked out to see the enemy army, now completely defeated, lying dead on the floor. The greatest military victory in the history of Judah and they had done absolutely nothing ... except worship!
Worship is a weapon. It is the most dynamic and powerful thing that the church engages in. Whether we do it remotely or in situe, whether we can shout, whisper or only mouth along, when we worship, God moves. When we worship, strongholds break, circumstances shift, lives are changed. In worship we proclaim Jesus is Lord. Lord over everything. Over every threat that might come our way ... sickness, accusation, hardship, confusion ... Jesus rules and reigns above it all.
On the cross and through the resurrection, Jesus defeated not only our sin, but also death. As followers of Christ we are on the winning team! With great boldness Paul taunts the enemy saying:
'Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' 1 Corinthians 15:54
In worship we align ourselves with Christ's victory. We remind ourselves that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us. Us! Every time we sing, pray, give, gather in church, put God first in our relationships and workplace, and choose to live in the opposite spirit to the current age, we usher in this victory. In worship we are empowered. We step into our great purpose and everything begins to make sense.
Tim Hughes is a worship leader, singer, songwriter, and priest. Formerly the director of worship at Holy Trinity Brompton, he has since been appointed Vicar of St Luke's, Gas Street Birmingham.