Sunday, April 3, 2022

Hebrew Word Study: Ki Le’olem Chasedo His Mercy Endures Forever

Today, in our Hebrew Word Study series, we consider events surrounding the life of King Jehoshaphat. He was king of Judah, during the time when Israel was split between Judah and the northern kingdom.

There was a great army marching on Judah, from the other side of the dead sea. The historical account is listed in 2nd Chronicles chapter 2:2-4, “2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom,[b] from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

King Jehoshaphat began his reign as king at the age of 35. We don’t know exactly how old he was here. But we see him responding to a crippling crisis just the way he ought to. He gathers the people together, to seek God’s help.

That is always what we should do in our own lives when we face challenges of many kinds. Be careful how you respond to a crisis in your life. As much as we’d like to think that we would seek God, sometimes we end up angry, upset, miserable, fretting and complaining, and we forget to pray, or even ask for God’s help to deal with the situation. We try to face it in our own strength, and this fails, or it doesn’t bring the result that was meant to be, by God’s will.

So Jehoshaphat gathers the people together in front of the temple that Solomon built, where they always meet with God.

It says in verse 5 through 9: “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: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, 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 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.’

Then it verse 12 he says, “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 on you.”

I imagine there was a long silence as all the people of Judah simply focused their attention on God, their hope on God, their everything on God.

I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you Lord. Have you been there in your life? Many, many times in my ministry I’m confounded, perplexed, confused, and I honestly don’t know what to do. This happens for all of us, not just pastors. The wise response is to take it to God, and wait on Him, with our eyes on Him.

I truly don’t understand many things that God does. I don’t understand His ways. It is terribly frustrating. So I wrestle with God, and try to understand His ways. But I can’t understand his ways, not fully. So it is wise to wrestle with God, which is what Israel means, they who wrestle with God. So I stop. And I wait, and I say God I don’t understand, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you. And in the future again I will wrestle with God on ideas, theology, emotions, world events, the events of my life, the waiting, as we should wrestle with God, which is wise to do as we seek Him, yet then again at the right time I again will be still, and wait on Him.

It says in verse 13, “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.” They waited, standing in God’s presence.

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel, a prophet of the Lord, 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

Then.. God answers. He certainly does. He gives us his instruction. He tells us what to do next. Sometimes, he tells us to be still and wait. Sometimes he tells us to go march out and wait, and he will fight. Sometimes he sends us out to fight and grants us victory. It all depends on God’s will in that situation.

So they march out to meet this army.

“As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[c] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Praise the Lord,

for his mercy endures forever.”

And here at last in verse 21 we see our Hebrew phrase for this Sunday.

Ki Le’olem Chasedo (Key-Lee-Olawm Chase-Dough)

His Mercy Endures Forever.

Jehoshaphat’s response to the crisis he was in, was to declare praise and worship before God. This is a powerful key to victory in times of struggle. We ought to praise and worship God in our struggles.

His Mercy Endures Forever. This phrase in the original Hebrew is a picture to us of God’s presence, his beauty, his brilliance. The phrase seems to indicate a sort of opening of a portal, between heaven and Earth, where God is suddenly present, similar to a bright light. In particular the Hebrew word for mercy, Chasedo in it’s spelling seems to indicate a gateway, a bridge forming, made of God’s loving kindness to us, that leads us into God’s heart. And then our heart is joined to his. We become joined with God, truly, as we declare praise and worship to Him.

As we declare His Mercy Endures Forever, the act of praise creates a portal, a gateway between us and God, and we delight in His presence and join with his beauty and glory.

It’s like we come into lockstep with the truth of the universe, that God is perfect love and mercy, and it’s expressed as enduring forever, it’s infinite, as infinite as God himself.

At the moment that Jehoshaphat led the army in worship, declaring, His mercy endures forever, it says in verses 22-24, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.”

At the moment that they praised God, uniting with His heart, and worshipping Him, he acted, and defeated the enemy army coming against them.

And it concludes in this way, verse 27-30 “Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. 29 The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”

Ki Le’olem Chasedo (Key-Lee-Olawm Chase-Dough)

His Mercy Endures Forever.

In what situation in your life do you need to worship before God? I think of it like this, when we declare this phrase, it’s like waking up from a nightmare at night, as a kid. And we’re scared, we’re confounded, we’re uncertain and afraid, so we run to mom and dads bed, and they take us in their arms and protect us, and drive away the fear, and we can rest at peace. Because God fights for us. Amen.