Wednesday, January 30, 2008

1 Kings 15:1-8 and 2 Chronicles 13-14:1

What is this passage all about?
The reign of Abijah (aka Abijam), king of Judah, is recorded, in particular his war with Jeroboam, king of Israel.

What can I learn from it?
According to 1 Ki 15:3, Abijah's "heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God", another contrast to the people who had deserted Israel for Judah in the reign of Abijah's father Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:16). I think this could describe every single Christian at some time of their walk with Jesus. I know it could describe me, particularly in the times when I have not been consistent in reading, studying and meditating upon His word in the Bible, and have let my prayer life drift off into oblivion.
Yet Abijah is celebrated in 2 Ch 13 for his righteous rebuke of Jeroboam, and the routing of Jeroboam's army at God's hand (v15) because they relied on the LORD (v18). When Jeroboam came against Abijah in Ephraim with 800,000 men, Abijah's army was half the size.Yet Abijah didn't cower and take his men home. Instead, he stood up on a mountain and defied Israel. He reminded them that it was God who had annointed David's line for kingship over all Israel (v5) and it was Jeroboam who had rebelled when Rehoboam was young and not yet strong (v6-7), and he told them they were continuing to resist the kingdom of the LORD (v8a). Abijah recognised the size of their army and the presence of their idols (v8b), but (and this is my favourite bit) in a stinging rebuke Abijah tells them that their priests are worthless (v9), and the true priests who serve the LORD who are with the side of Judah (v10-11)). " 'Didn't you drive out the priests of the LORD...? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods. As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them.' " Abijah describes the diligence of the priests of Aaron's line (again, emphasising God's annointed rather than man's appointed) in worshipping God (v11b-12a): " 'We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader.' " Next, Abijah describes to them what he and his army will do, and how God will give them the victory (v12). Despite Jeroboam's attempt to surround and ambush Abijah's troops (v13), "God routed Jeroboam" (v14-18) and Judah inflicted losses of 500,000 on Israel (v17 - more than the number in Abijah's entire army). The passage explains how an army half the size of its enemy could work such a mighty defeat (v18): "the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers."

How can I apply this to my own life?
A good pattern for anyone who hopes for victory in spiritual matters is to rely on the LORD, just as Abijah and the men of Judah did in this instance. What are the spiritual battles in my life at present? I think it is mostly to continue to spend time reading the Bible yet not neglect any of the responsibilities He has given me.
There is no point knowing more of Him and His will if I am avoiding obeying that same will. It was important for Abijah to know the truth about God's choices that he had made in the history of Israel. But it was equally important for Abijah to go out and rebuke Israel and fight the battle. It would have been no good if Abijah had just stayed in Jerusalem and thought to himself, "Well, I'm on God's side, it'll all be okay." Abijah also had to actively defend God's honour. In this same way, I need to seek to bring glory to God through what I do and not just what I think or say.

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