Managing in Tough Times

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(Chronicles 20, Revelation 13)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 11

Managing in Tough Times

(2 Chronicles 20, Revelation 13)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: About sixteen years ago when I started teaching in law school, I had my Labor Law students read an article about a strike in France. The point was to compare the nature of strikes in France and the United States. The underlying dispute was over the amount of France’s national debt and its ability to qualify to enter the European Union. France’s debt to income ratio was relatively low, but economists in Europe said it must be lower. Today, these same EU countries carry national debts that are close to their income. This is also true for the United States. Japan’s national debt is far in excess of its income. I’m no expert on national debt, but this dramatic change makes me believe that a world-wide economic collapse is much more likely now than in the past. How should Christians prepare for such an event? What approach should we take to manage tough times? Let’s explore what the Bible teaches us about crisis management!

  1. Jehoshaphat’s Crisis
    1. Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-2. How many armies have attacked Judah? (Three! The comment that they are in Engedi means that they are fifteen hours away!)
    2. Read 2 Chronicles 20:3. What is King Jehoshaphat’s reaction to this news? (He is afraid.)
      1. If armies are attacking your country and you are the King, how will it turn out for you if they win?
      2. Our study is about managing crisis. Is it okay to be afraid when you face trouble? (The problem is not initial fear, but rather what you do about it.)
      3. What is the first step that Jehoshaphat takes? (He seeks the Lord and proclaims a fast. This is fasting and prayer.)
        1. Put yourself in Jehoshaphat’s place. What other options does he have? (Mobilize the army. Strengthen city defenses. He could also flee.)
    3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:4-5. What else did Jehoshaphat do with regard to prayer? (He invites others to join in prayer over this crisis.)
      1. Does it seem strange to you that when facing an invading army you mobilize prayer warriors and not your military warriors?
      2. What lessons do you find in this for any current crisis in your life?
      3. Consider past problems in your life. Did you first turn to your own resources? Or, did you first turn to God?
  2. Jehoshaphat’s Prayer
    1. Read 2 Chronicles 20:6. How would you describe the beginning of Jehoshaphat’s prayer? (It is praise. It affirms the power of God.)
    2. Read 2 Chronicles 20:7-9. How would you describe this part of Jehoshaphat’s prayer? (He is claiming the promise of God. He describes how this promise has worked in the past.)
    3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:10-11. Is Jehoshaphat blaming God for the current situation? (It could be read that way. Instead, we can look at this as part of the promise: “God, you gave us this land while allowing the current attackers to live. Surviving with them around was part of your original plan. We need You to preserve the original plan.”)
    4. Read 2 Chronicles 20:12. Does Jehoshaphat suggest a solution to God before he says “We do not know what to do?” (Yes. He asks God to execute judgment on the attackers.)
      1. I think a key aspect to this prayer is in verse 12. What do you think it might be? (We cannot do it God, we rely on You to get us out of this crisis. We have a suggested solution, but we need Your solution.)
    5. Read 2 Chronicles 20:13. Are there a lot of things to do to prepare to resist an invasion? What are they doing? (They are waiting on God.)
  3. God’s Answer
    1. Read 2 Chronicles 20:14. The answer is not given directly to King Jehoshaphat, but rather to a Levite prophet named Jahaziel. Is there a lesson in that for us? (God will sometimes speak to us with an answer through others who He has chosen.)
    2. Read 2 Chronicles 20:15. What concern does God answer first? (He calms His people. He tells them to relax because He will handle the problem.)
    3. Read 2 Chronicles 20:16. Consider the nature of God’s direction. What is so amazing about it? (God gives them intelligence about what will take place. He tells His people the future moves of their enemies.)
    4. Read 2 Chronicles 20:17. Will God’s people need to fight? (No.)
      1. What will they have to do? (Show up. “Stand firm, hold your position.”)
        1. Apply this instruction to the battles in your life. What is God asking us to do? (Not compromise on matters where His instructions are clear. We may not have to personally fight, but we do need to stand firm on our position.)
    5. Read 2 Chronicles 20:18-19. When God answers our prayers, what must be our attitude? (They praise God.)
    6. Read 2 Chronicles 20:20. Do the people need to be encouraged to believe God’s message? Do you need to be encouraged to believe the promises in the Bible and the messages from the Holy Spirit?
    7. Read 2 Chronicles 20:21. Have the people believed that they should trust God? (They are part of the decision to lead with the choir!)
      1. Consider this. God says, “Trust Me, I’ll take care of this. You just show up and stand firm.” God’s people respond by placing a choir at the front of the military to sing praises to God. God did not say anything about a choir. He just said, “Stand firm.” What can we do in response to the problems in life that reflect this show of faith?
    8. Read 2 Chronicles 20:22. When did the ambush begin? (When the people started to sing.)
    9. Read 2 Chronicles 20:23-24. What happened? (The three allied armies turned on each other. They attacked themselves until all were killed!)
      1. Can you see a solution like this happening to those who are creating problems in your life? (Your enemies defeat themselves. Their attack on you backfires. Their power is turned against them.)
    10. Read 2 Chronicles 20:25. How does this crisis turn out for God’s people? What is the result of their complete trust in God? (The enemy is completely defeated. God’s people now own the possessions of the enemy. God’s people are enriched because of this test of faith and their trust in God.)
    11. Let’s revisit King Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:10. He reminds God that allowing these three nations to remain might have been the wrong choice. Was it? (God’s people not only have their faith strengthened, they have their wealth increased. It turned out to be the right decision.)
    12. Read 2 Chronicles 20:26-27. What do we find at the end of this crisis? (Joy! A sense of triumph through the power of God.)
    13. Read 2 Chronicles 20:29. Could this be you? If you let God fight your battles, will your opponents learn to fear attempting to harm you?
  1. The Future
    1. Revelation 13 predicts a future crisis for God’s people that requires them to choose between standing firm and trusting and worshiping God or compromising and worshiping God’s enemies. Read Revelation 13:16-17. Has technology brought us to the point where government has the power to do this? (I just saw a video clip where those living in China cannot board a train without a computer approval of their status with the government. In Canada, the bank accounts of truck drivers were frozen by the government without any clearance by a court. I have a watch that makes digital payments. This could happen overnight!)
    2. Friend, you may currently be in a crisis. The Bible tells us that God’s people will be in crisis at the end of time. Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage of King Jehoshaphat to immediately turn to God when you are in crisis and depend upon His power and not your own?
  2. Next week: Rewards of Faithfulness.