From 2 Chronicles 13-17
Judah and Israel are still enemies and fighting one another. The following passage describes one of their early confrontations.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
13 In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah began to reign over Judah. 2 He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah went out to battle, having an army of valiant men of war, 400,000 chosen men. And Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with 800,000 chosen mighty warriors. (2 Chr 13.1-3)
Two to one odds in favour of Israel. This is hardly surprising since under Israel there are ten tribes and under Judah there are two. The outcome doesn’t look good for Abijah and Judah unless they are all Spartans or even better the LORD is with them.
4 Then Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim and said, “Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel! 5 Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord, 7 and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them. (2 Chr 13.4-7)
‘When Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them’? Its interesting how people colour different events to make themselves look good. Rehoboam said, ‘My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions’ (2 Chr 10:11). Abijah has neglected to give the real reason why they split. But they did break the covenant and they are idolaters. They have abandoned the LORD.
8 “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods. 9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods. (2 Chr 13.8-9)
Abijah knows about their idolatry. They are neighbours after all. He ridicules them for abandoning the LORD and turning to other gods.
10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11 They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him. (2 Chr 13.10-11)
Abijah boasts that Judah still continues its ritual worship in the temple of the LORD. Its interesting, this is how they prove their faithfulness to the LORD.
12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.” (2 Chr 13.12)
Abijah warns them off.
13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. (2 Chr 13.13-14)
But Jeroboam is not turned from conflict. He works to surround them in battle. Its hard to defend against people in front and behind you. 800000 vs 400000, this doesn’t look good.
15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand. 17 Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men. 18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2 Chr 13.15-18)
The LORD steps in and transforms Judah’s men into fighting machines. Thus God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel through them. Judah prevailed because they relied on the LORD. The best we have of their reliance is their boasting that they continue with the temple rituals. I would suggest in part the LORD enabled them to win this victory because his name was at stake. There is an implicit battle between gods. The LORD and the false gods Jeroboam were bowing down too. Secondly, its safe to assume if they relied on the LORD then, behind their continued practice of temple ritual, they still trusted him, sought his presence, etc. Lastly, in the battle itself they relied on the LORD to secure them victory.
Israel does not recover from this defeat. The LORD will eventually strike Jeroboam down. Abijah will pass away. His son Asa follows him and reigns over Judah. Asa initially does what is good and right in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chr 14.2). He cuts down all the places of foreign worship in Judah which suggests not all Judah was as faithful to the LORD as Abijah claimed above. Asa has a significant battle against an Ethiopian with one million men.
11 And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” 12 So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Ch 14:11–12)
They relied on the LORD and the LORD defeated their opponents. But later on, Asa will not continue to rely on the LORD (2 Chr 16.7-9). Asa turns away from him. Jehoshaphat his son reigns in his place.
Story of Israel
Do many of the kings of Israel rely on the LORD? Perhaps some. Jehoshaphat proves to be better than his father and grandfathers. I would says Hezekiah also relies on the LORD. They relied in the LORD despite the situation around them. The prophet Hanani gives some more information on how the LORD regards those who rely on him.
‘Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.’ (2 Chr 16:8–9).
There is assurance for those who rely on the LORD to save them. Assurance that the LORD will give them strong support and consider them blameless in his eyes. I’ll take that thank you!
Story of Jesus
I sometimes consider Romans 8 to be the Big Mac of Romans. In the Big Mac Paul gives some strong words of assurance to those who believe Jesus is the crucified and risen Christ. They too can rely on the LORD.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31–39)
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.