Today: [2 Chronicles Thirteen] Prevailing in Battle. In this chapter we see Judah and northern Israel in battle against each other. The king in the south was Abijah the grandson of Solomon. The king in the north was Jeroboam – established by a prophet to rule over the northern tribes. Abijah sets the battle in array against Jeroboam’s superior force and it looks like disaster – but God intervenes. Many times brothers go to war with each other in Christian culture. By studying Abijah and Jeroboam’s war in this chapter we learn something of how to posture ourselves in humility before God when we are being come against.
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[2Ch 13:1-22 KJV] 1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah. 2 He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, [even] four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, [being] mighty men of valour. 4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which [is] in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; 5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, [even] to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. 7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them. 8 And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye [be] a great multitude, and [there are] with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
In this chapter we are introduced to the son of Rehoboam the grandson of Solomon. He took over from his father and reigned for three years in Jerusalem. Now both Rehoboam in the south and Jeroboam in the north had been fortifying the border between them for war for many years. In Rehoboam’s day after he ascended to the throne he led an army of 200,000 against Jeroboam but was halted by the word of the prophet and forbidden to proceed. The reason for this is that God had given Jeroboam the 10 northern tribes and their territories because of the idolatries of Solomon. Therefore when Solomon died Rehoboam dealt harshly with the northern peoples and they called Jeroboam out of Egytian exile to be their king. This was all by the hand of God to chasten Solomon and his line because they allowed the foreign influences of Solomon’s wives to corrupt the worship of the one true God.
Now when Rehoboam is dead his son Abijah rules in his place and summons an army of 400,000 to go to war against Jeroboam. When the battle is set in array Abijah speaks out against Abijah on the battle ground accusing him of rebelling against his master. This was not quite the case. Jeroboam was faithfully serving Solomon when he was approached by a prophet and declared to be king of the northern tribes by the hand of God. The prophet then promptly fled Israel along with Jeroboam until Rehoboam became king after Solomon. We see then that Abijah is resorting to a revisionist version of events and without inquiring of the Lord goes to war with twice the number of soldiers that his father had led in the beginning of his reign.
9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of [other] lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, [the same] may be a priest of [them that are] no gods. 10 But as for us, the LORD [is] our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, [are] the sons of Aaron, and the Levites [wait] upon [their] business: 11 And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. 12 And, behold, God himself [is] with us for [our] captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper. 13 But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment [was] behind them. 14 And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle [was] before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
As Abijah continued to mock and accuse Jeroboam on the battlefield he recounts some of the wrongs of Jeroboam that he WAS guilty of. It is true that he was God’s chosen king over Israel in the north but after gaining the throne he cast out the Levites and established a polluted altar at Bethel and in Dan – a golden calf so the people would not go to Jerusalem to worship any longer. Because of this idolatry Abijah makes the assumption that God would favor his cause in coming against Rehoboam. The battle commences when Jeroboam launches a surprise attack on Abijah’s rear flank that takes Abijah unawares until the priests sound the trumpets of alarm.
When you are dealing with enmity between brethren it is common for both sides of a disagreement to claim God is with them. There will be times that people who claim to love God and serve God are going to criticize and come against you and seek to do you harm. What is God’s response when brothers go to war with each other? Many times He will simply fold His hands and allow the battle to rage until one of them chooses the path of humility and repents. Unfortunately it is the common character of Christian culture to villify, accuse and war against others in the body of Christ. This is all done in the name of “protecting the sheep” and “obeying the Lord” but in reality it is immaturity, childishness, jealous and covetousness. The disguise of super spirituality is at times impentatrable when a brother or a sister rises up against their leadership or another brother. The question of outcome is whether or not as in Abijah’s case you have forsaken the Lord in the situation.
15 Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand. 17 And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men. 18 Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers. 19 And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof. 20 Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the LORD struck him, and he died. 21 But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters. 22 And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, [are] written in the story of the prophet Iddo.
Jeroboam effectively launched his attack against Abijah and in fact outnumbered Abijah’s force 2 to 1. The difference was that the “children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord…” They weren’t perfect and they weren’t necessarily doing what God told them to do. Just because you win a conflict doesn’t mean you were supposed to be in it in the first place. There is no record that Abijah as David before him inquired of the Lord whether or not to go into battle. He was simply defending his father’s honor and unable to resist fomenting war against the tribes who had so audaciously seperated from the throne in Jerusalem.
Nevertheless Jeroboam as God’s rightful king had resorted to many tactics of rebellion and idolatry because of fear and insecurity for his own rule. God never allowed or approved of Jeroboam denying the people’s right to go to Jerusalem to worship. He forced them to choose as often when strife and contention break out – the rebels will force others around them to choose sides in a conflict that is not their own. Roots of bitterness and insecurity will always make their way into wholesome relationships and the result as it was in Jeroboam’s day was disastrous. Had Jeroboam been willing to trust in God to keep his rule intact he would have had a prosperous and godly reign. For us when we are challenged and feel threatened we must decide will we act like Abijah and rely on the Lord or will we act like Jeroboam and resort to ungodly tactics to preserve things that are of value to us?
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