Today: [2 Chronicles Fourteen] By Many, Or Few. In this chapter we meet king Asa. He is a good king who makes every effort to honor the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For many years he has peace in his borders until an army from Ethiopia comes that outnumbers Judah 3 to 1. Asa understands the grim reality of impending defeat and cries out to the Lord. He declares that God can save by “many or few” and they go out into a seemingly hopeless battle and prevail by the hand of God.
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[2Ch 14:1-15 KJV] 1 So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years. 2 And Asa did [that which was] good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God: 3 For he took away the altars of the strange [gods], and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: 4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. 5 Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
Abijah, Solomon’s grandson and successor to Rehoboam is dead and they bury him in the city of David. The city of David is different from Jerusalem. The City of David is the area around mount Zion where David built his palace and pitched the Tabernacle of David with the Ark of the Covenant during his lifetime. According to Jewish history Abijah had been in charge of his father Rehoboam’s armies while he riegned. His leadership had held off many attacks by Jeroboam in the north and after he became king he set the battle in array against Jeroboam and defeated him decisively. Abijah did not live very long after defeating Jeroboam however – and he was known to have resorted to idols as his fathers before him although he rebuked Jeroboam for doing the same. In his place now Abijah’s son Asa reigns in his place.
Asa was a good king and his reign lasted as long as Davids and Solomon’s as well – for 40+ years. During Asa’s reign he made determined efforts to purify the religious life of the southern kingdom. He tore down the pagan altars and expelled the idolatrous priests from the land. He even deprived his own mother of her place as queen because of idolatrous worship of Astarte. Asa also made efforts to restore the splendour of the temple and it’s treasures that had been plundered in his father’s day.
One thing we also know about Asa is that he suffered with a disease in his feet. 2 Chr. 16:12 records that “in his disease he sought not to the Lord but to the physicians…” That is a sobering scripture that should give us pause in our thinking about our reliance on modern medicine. The verse doesn’t denounce medicine but it does give strong admonition to include God and make Him your first resort in physical ailments and health needs. In today’s Christian cultural climate very little is taught on healing or trusting God for physical deliverance other than an occaisional anecodotal report of healing or a miracle. 1 Peter 2:24 teaches us that healing is a part of the atonement on the cross. The God that saves is the God that heals on the same basis of trust and faith and prayer. We should seek in our lives to overcome any false depedency on medicine and physicians that excludes relying on the Living God.
6 And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest. 7 Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about [them] walls, and towers, gates, and bars, [while] the land [is] yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought [him], and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. 8 And Asa had an army [of men] that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these [were] mighty men of valour. 9 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. 10 Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
You will remember that the queen of Sheba was from Ethiopia. She came to Judah and bestowed over 70 million dollars of wealth as a gift to Solomon because of his wisdom. It is held by some that Sheba also fathered a son by Solomon and that she returned from Judah with the ark of the covenant supposedly given to her by Solomon for safe keeping. This is interesting in view of the fact that now an Ethiopean army comes just two generations later from Solmon and Sheba to destroy and plunder the line of David and the city of Jerusalem. Asa musters an army of 300,000 although the Ethiopean force was three times that size.
From the army that Asa raised we see that there was a sizeable force from the tribe of Benjamin. Although it isn’t emphasised strongly in the history we do see that of the 10 northern tribes the tribe of Benjamin was restored in it’s loyalties to the tribe of Judah and the line of David. This is interesting considering the fact that king Saul came from Benjamin and was the sworn enemy of David for decades. The apostle Paul centuries later declared himself to be from the tribe of Benjamin – so we see that even in the first century the tribe of Benjamin maintained its identity long after the other northern tribes had faded into obscurity.
11 And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, [it is] nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou [art] our God; let not man prevail against thee. 12 So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. 13 And Asa and the people that [were] with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil. 14 And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them. 15 They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
When king Asa cried to the Lord he clearly understood he was outnumbered in the battle 3 to 1. He also understood that God was God and it didn’t matter how many there were against them – deliverance was possible because God was soveriegn. In our own lives we may face a problem and take stock of our resources to our great disappointment. Remember this that it doesn’t matter how bleak things may look in your life – God is soveriegn. Asa was delivered because he understood that and humble himself before the Lord. By the end of the battle the Ethiopeans were overthrown and the people of God took the spoil “exceeding much spoil” in “all the cities” because the fear of the Lord came upon their enemies. When God is with you your enemies will be overthrown and be unable to recover themselves because when God destroys the work of the enemy in your life the results are lasting and permanent as you keep your trust and faith in Him.
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