October 27, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Chronicles 11-15.
Background: II Chronicles 6-10.
Concepts and Connections.
Rehoboam: As the kingdom was divided in the previous chapter because of Rehoboam’s folly, we find him at the beginning of the chapter mounting an army to take back the tribes of Israel who were in rebellion against Judah. However, the Lord comes to Rehoboam and tells him not to war with Israel, for the thing was from Him. It is noted in the account in I Kings that this is a reference to the fulfillment of the prophecy made to Jeroboam made in I Kings 11:11, 31 (see I Kings 12:15). Thus Rehoboam did not go to war with Israel and the kingdom remained divided into the ten northern tribes and the two southern tribes. Israel did not follow after the law of the Lord however, as Jeroboam cast out the Levites from the priesthood and set up whoever would be a priest for his idol worship to calves and goats. The Levites that had set their mind to serve the Lord abandoned their homes in Israel and came to Judah to serve the Lord there, establishing the house of Rehoboam for three years by walking in the ways of David and Solomon. Rehoboam strengthened his kingdom and his family, taking wives and concubines and fathering 28 sons and 60 daughters. He distributed his sons throughout the districts of Judah, likely to make a connection with his people throughout the land.
Sin and its consequences: In the previous chapter it was recorded that for three years Rehoboam’s kingdom was established though obedience to the Lord. When he grew strong from this adherence to the Law and the blessing of the Lord, however, he abandoned the Law of the Lord, as was often the cycle found amongst the children of Israel throughout history, and was unfaithful. Because of this, the Lord raised up Egypt against Judah to take all the fortified cites as far as Jerusalem. A prophet is sent to Rehoboam to tell him why the Lord had abandoned him, and at this word, Rehoboam and the princes of Israel humbled themselves before the Lord. Note the steadfast characteristic of the Lord shown here, that when His people humble themselves and repent of their wrongdoing, the Lord has mercy on them. He would not let Egypt utterly destroy Judah. It should also be noted, however, that sin still had its consequences even after the people humbled themselves before the Lord. Judah would become subject to Egypt, and their riches would be taken from them. Nevertheless, Rehoboam continued to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not set his heart to seek the Lord. He reigned for seventeen years before he died, and continually had wars with Jeroboam throughout his reign.
Abijah’s trust in the Lord: Rehoboam left off on a bad note, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, but it seems that his son Abijah did not follow in his footsteps, at least not in what we have recorded of him. As he assumes the throne of his father, there is still war going on with Jeroboam. When Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against Abijah with twice the amount of warriors than Abijah, Abijah addresses Jeroboam with a question- how did he expect to stand against the Lord? Abijah points out that Jeroboam has led Israel into idolatry and rebellion, whereas the priest that were driven from Israel had come to Judah to continue their service to the Lord. Though Jeroboam’s army was mighty, he would not stand a chance against any nation that the Lord was for, regardless of the number of men in their army. Abijah was sure that the Lord was with Judah, and he did not fear Jeroboam because of his confidence in the Lord. Jeroboam did not listen to Abijah, of course, and he set up an ambush to come from the behind so that Abijah found himself fighting a war on two sides. But when the people of Judah cried out to the Lord, the Lord heard their cry and defeated Israel before them, allowing them to subdue Israel and take cities from them in their pursuit. Judah prevailed because they relied on the Lord, a concept that is consistent in scripture. Thus Abijah grew mighty before he slept with his fathers, leaving Asa his son to reign in his place.
Asa’s reform: Just as his father had trusted in the Lord, Asa seems to go even further, making sweeping reforms across Judah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, taking down the foreign altars and high places and led the people of Judah to seek the Lord. The Lord gave Asa peace for ten years because of his faithfulness, and Asa used the time to build strong, fortified cities and a great army. When an even greater army did come up against Judah, Ethiopians who numbered a million men and 300 chariots, Asa cried to the Lord and put his full trust in Him, not taken any of the credit for his own. And the Lord was with Asa, and Judah prevailed against Ethiopia, though they were vastly out numbered, and they pursued them as far as Gerar, plundering their cities. Note that if the Lord is for you, no one can withstand you.
Continuing reform: After the great victory over the Ethiopians, Azariah the son of Oded was sent to Asa by God to give a message to all of Judah and Benjamin. The message was that the Lord was with them and would be with them as long as they continued to seek Him. But if they forsook Him, the Lord would forsake them, just as He had done with Israel when they abandoned Him. Asa took this as an encouragement, and continued his religious reform throughout the nation, putting away all the idols from the land and preparing the altar of the Lord. There were even people who abandoned Israel to go to Judah because they saw that the Lord was with Asa. Thus Asa gathered the people and together they entered into a covenant with the Lord to seek Him with all of their heart and soul. Asa even removed his own mother from being queen mother because of the idol she made. The Lord gave the people rest from their enemies all around until the 35th year of Asa’s reign.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 116-118.
Stand strong in the Lord.