Tragedy: Feeble, Fickle, Frightened Saints (2 Chronicles 13; 2 Chronicles 14)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 13; 2 Chronicles 14

Continuing our chronological Scripture reading and study of Bible history, we come to 2 Chronicles 13 and 14. This is a parallel of our reading in 1 Kings 15, but with some added detail and insight into the LORD’S dealings with both Judah and Israel.

There was a succession of kings of David’s bloodline in Judah, and two kings in particular are the subject of this devotional: Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, and Asa, the son of Abijah and therefore the great grandson of Solomon.

2 Chronicles 13 – The Brief Reign of Abijah

Though Abijah reigned for no more than three years over Judah, his rule marked a resurgence of the two Tribes in the South (Benjamin and Judah). King Jeroboam of Israel, no doubt believing the death of Rehoboam and the crowning of a new king afforded him a window of opportunity to wage war against Judah, mobilized an army of 800,000 soldiers. The men of Jeroboam’s army were described as “chosen men, being might men of valour” (13:3). Abijah, the king of Judah, mustered “an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men” (13:3), leaving the new king facing an adversary whose number was far greater than his own.

Nevertheless, Abijah was undeterred from facing Jeroboam. Before the battle commenced, the king of Judah “stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim” (13:4), and confronted Jeroboam and the men of Israel. He accused Israel of having failed to honor the LORD’S covenant with David and his lineage (13:5). Abijah did not shy from stating the insurrection led by Jeroboam was an act of rebellion (13:6).

Abijah upbraided the men that had followed Jeroboam as “vain men, the children of Belial,” meaning they were worthless, unprincipled men (13:7). He charged Jeroboam with having taken advantage of Rehoboam when he was a young, inexperienced king (13:7). They strengthened themselves against Rehoboam by coming against “the king of the LORD” with “golden calves, which Jeroboam made…for gods” (13:8). Jeroboam had also “cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites” (13:9), and raised up priests like the heathen, for there was no discretion in whom was appointed to serve as priests “of them that are no gods [golden calves]” (13:9).

With faith, and courage, Abijah admonished Israel, stating how the LORD was on his side, for Judah had not forsaken the LORD, and the priests had continued to “minister unto the LORD” and offered sacrifices as the law demanded (13:10-11). With his voice resonating across the valley, Abijah proclaimed, “behold, God himself is with us for our captain…fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper” (13:12).

As Abijah was speaking, Jeroboam had prepared an ambush of Judah’s army, and encircled them (13:13). Realizing they were ensnared, all Judah cried out to the LORD, “and the priests sounded with the trumpets” (13:14). With a shout, Judah’s soldiers charged Jeroboam and his army, and in response, the men of Israel fled the battlefield, leaving 500,000 men of the original 800,000 slain (13:15-17). Abijah and Judah had won the battle, “because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers” (13:18).

Jeroboam was defeated, and with his strength failing, “the Lord struck him, and he died” (13:20). Abijah, king of Judah, went to his grave a mighty man, with wives, sons, and daughters (13:21; 14:1).

2 Chronicles 14 – A Revival and the Reign of Asa

After Jeroboam was defeated, and Abijah died, Judah enjoyed peace for ten years when Asa ascended the throne of (14:1). Asa, the son of Abijah, had the testimony of a man who loved the LORD, and he “did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (14:2). Asa strengthened the defenses of Judah’s cities, and began purging idolatry and wickedness which had been allowed under Rehoboam and Abijah (14:3-6). Commanding the nation to “seek the LORD God…and do the law and the commandment” (14:4), the people of Judah enjoyed peace and prospered (14:5-7).

Asa’s army grew to 580,000 men (14:8), and the men of Judah were known for their shields and spears, while the men of Benjamin were skilled with their arrows and bows. They were all “mighty men of valour” (14:8).

When an army of Ethiopia invaded Judah, Asa led his soldiers to the battle, and “cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help…help us, O Lord our God…let not man prevail against thee” (14:11). With the LORD on their side, Asa and Judah prevailed, and pursued the Ethiopians “unto Gerar” (a city of the Philistines). Judah took spoils of their cities (most likely the Philistines had joined Ethiopia in waging war against King Asa’s army, 14:12-15).

Closing thoughts – It has been sad, “To the victor go the spoils,” but I believe king Asa would have been swift to give credit and honor, not to himself, nor to his army, but to the LORD. “The Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host…for the fear of the LORD came upon them” (14:13-14).

Surely, the world looks at the present day church and sees a generation of weak, fickle, intimidated people. The LORD wants His people to be men and women of faith and courage. When we face danger, or see an enemy, let us call upon the LORD and say, “O LORD our God, let not man prevail against thee” (14:11).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith