There’s an important lesson for us today in this story from long ago. If you’re wondering were God is in this evil world, He’s still in control. It’s you who has wandered away. Discover how simple it is to find God. Let’s dig in…
2 Chronicles 13 – Abijah’s War with Jeroboam
Abijah began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. 2 He reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother was Maacah, the daughter of Uriel from Gibeah.
Then war broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Judah, led by King Abijah, fielded 400,000 select warriors, while Jeroboam mustered 800,000 select troops from Israel.
4 When the army of Judah arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim and shouted to Jeroboam and all Israel: “Listen to me! 5 Don’t you realize that the Lord, the God of Israel, made a lasting covenant with David, giving him and his descendants the throne of Israel forever? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a mere servant of David’s son Solomon, rebelled against his master. 7 Then a whole gang of scoundrels joined him, defying Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he was young and inexperienced and could not stand up to them.
8 “Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the Lord that is led by the descendants of David? You may have a vast army, and you have those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods. 9 But you have chased away the priests of the Lord (the descendants of Aaron) and the Levites, and you have appointed your own priests, just like the pagan nations. You let anyone become a priest these days! Whoever comes to be dedicated with a young bull and seven rams can become a priest of these so-called gods of yours!
10 “But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. Only the descendants of Aaron serve the Lord as priests, and the Levites alone may help them in their work. 11 They present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord every morning and evening. They place the Bread of the Presence on the holy table, and they light the gold lampstand every evening. We are following the instructions of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 12 So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!”
13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.
16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 19 Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages.
20 So Jeroboam of Israel never regained his power during Abijah’s lifetime, and finally the Lord struck him down and he died. 21 Meanwhile, Abijah of Judah grew more and more powerful. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
22 The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his words and deeds, are recorded in The Commentary of Iddo the Prophet.2 Chronicles 13 NLT
2 Chronicles 14 – Early Years of Asa’s Reign
When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. 2 Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 5 Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace. 6 During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.
7 Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the Lord our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion.
8 King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men.
9 Once an Ethiopian (Cushite) named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. 11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!”
12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 13 Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar, and so many Ethiopians fell that they were unable to rally. They were destroyed by the Lord and his army, and the army of Judah carried off a vast amount of plunder.
14 While they were at Gerar, they attacked all the towns in that area, and terror from the Lord came upon the people there. As a result, a vast amount of plunder was taken from these towns, too. 15 They also attacked the camps of herdsmen and captured many sheep, goats, and camels before finally returning to Jerusalem.2 Chronicles 14 NLT
2 Chronicles 15 – Asa’s Religious Reforms
Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 2 and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. 4 But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.
5 “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6 Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
8 When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.
9 Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10 The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring, during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.
11 On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.
16 King Asa even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. 18 He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.
19 So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.2 Chronicles 15 NLT
2 Chronicles 16 – Final Years of Asa’s Reign
In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.
2 Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:
3 “Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
4 Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all the store cities in Naphtali. 5 As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and stopped all work on it. 6 Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah.
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.
Summary of Asa’s Reign
11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.2 Chronicles 16 NLT
Failing to Seek God is an Obvious Mistake
If you look at the chart at the bottom of yesterday’s blog, you’ll notice that the northern kingdom of Israel didn’t have any good kings at all. Judah, however, had kings who sincerely sought God. But, not all of them. Let’s go over what they did wrong.
- Jeroboam was not of the royal linage of David. He had no right to be king.
- Abijah, the great grandson of King David, tried to stand up against Jeroboam.
- Jeroboam invented a system where anyone could “buy” a priestly position win a bull and 7 rams and become a priest in the pagan temples he set up. Remember, priests had to be direct descendants of Aaron. Levites were the assistants to the priests in the temple.
Pastor Sandy Adams comments…
Unlike Jeroboam, who made up his own rules, the southern kingdom continued to worship God according to His Law. This is the problem today. Too many church leaders have abandoned God’s ways and methods, and make it up as they go…
We should never forget there’s a rule book. God left an owner’s manual.Sandy Adams
That’s the Bible! The great thing is that with today’s technology, everyone with a smartphone can have one! Download the FREE YouVersion Bible app!
When Jeroboam surrounded Abijah’s army, he cried to God and God came to the rescue. FB Meyer says…
“The point to remember is that our enemies may shut us in on all sides, preventing reinforcements from north, south, east, and west; but no earthly power can ever shut off God from above us… The way upwards is always kept clear; the ladder which links the beleaguered soul with God and heaven can never be blocked, except by our own sin.”FB Meyer
They relied on the Lord and He delivered!
Next in David’s kingly line is Asa, a good king — to a point.
- He removed the altars to the pagan gods and the “high places” — these were hills where the pagans thought they could better reach their fake gods.
- He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, observe the law and the commands.
- As a result, there was a period of peace.
- An Ethiopian, Zerah, attacked. Subsequently, Asa cried out to God and He struck the enemy down. One plus God always equals a majority. Judah may have been outnumbered, but because they called to God for help — sincerely — they won.
- Then Azariah, the prophet, came to Asa with a message from God. And it’s a message that still holds true for us today!
The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you.2 Chronicles 15:2 NLT
This is interesting because Ezra, the writer, is a teaching priest. When he came from Persia, he brought the Word of God and preached it to the Jews who returned from exile. Any church can have RELIGION — rites, rituals, music, “worship” — but if they are not TEACHING the Gospel — the True Word of God, then it’s no good. They are failing their parishioners.
Removing Idolatry and Pagan Worship
Meanwhile, Asa’s grandmother had taken the title of Queen Mother. Unfortunately, she was into the Canaanite worship of the fertility goddess Asherah. Asa dethroned her and cut down her Asherah pole and burned it.
Ezra then mentions that the “high places” of pagan worship were not removed from Israel — the northern kingdom. It would have been something else had Asa gone through the northern kingdom tearing down the pagan shrines and burning them all. He didn’t. We in America have freedom of religion. That means that you can worship a tree if you want. I actually did see someone hug a tree at my old apartment complex. Ironically, that tree was cut down because its roots were in the plumbing. No one can stop you from worshiping what you want or nothing, for that matter. Nevertheless, it seems everyone keeps seeking something. Seeking to fill the emptiness in their hearts that only Jesus can fill. I did it for years. Check out my testimony at the bottom.
Trusting Man not God
Then, Asa has a new king to deal with in Israel. But, this time, he doesn’t trust God, he trusts man. Sandy Adams explains…
Baasha constructs the equivalent of the Berlin Wall. He’s tired of losing citizens to the southern kingdom, so he decides to stop their migration.
Ramah was only 8 miles from Jerusalem. It became an Israeli checkpoint. And Asa responds to Baasha. But not in the way he has in the past – in the way you’d expect. Rather than trust in God, he tries to buy Syrian protection.
Asa steals from God to pay for his lack of faith.
[Asa] trusted God once, why not a second time? Here’s an important lesson… Faith has to stay current. We can’t live off yesterday’s victories. Yesterday’s faith doesn’t help with today’s challenges. God wants [us] to trust Him today – with today’s problem.
God is an opportunist. He’s on the lookout for the underdog scenario where He can turn the tables, and showcase His power. He’s searching for a man, woman, boy, girl who’ll trust Him against all odds.
God’s only requirement is a loyal heart. He won’t work on behalf of a person who’ll take the credit – or manipulate the outcome for his own benefit. God looks for loyalty! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And they’ll also see Him work miracles in their lives.
What a tragic end to Asa. His final act was prideful, willful stubbornness. He refused to accept God’s rebuke and attacked his messenger. Hey, the Christian life is not just about starting well, but ending well. Faith is a marathon. Asa started well, but pulled up lame and dropped out before the finish.Sandy Adams
Do YOU fully Trust God? Do you put everything you do in His hands? That means, each day, each project, each task. At the end of the day, do you thank Him? In the morning, do you thank Him? Remember what He said…
Jesus told us…
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:33 NLT
Yes, it’s that simple. Keep your focus on Jesus — NOT the world. The world (Satan) will try to distract and deceive you. Focus on Jesus alone and He will get you through.
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The 5 Solas
- Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
- Sola Fide (“Faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
- Sola Gratia (“Grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
- Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Savior, Redeemer, Lord, and King
- Soli Deo Gloria (“to God alone be the Glory.”): It’s all about God, not us.