TODAY’S READING: II CHRONICLES 13-16
Abijah’s battle and victory over Jeroboam, King of Israel; King Asa’s reforms in Judah; his covenant with God; his pact with Benhadad, King of Syria; Asa’s rebuke by Hanani; Asa’s diseased feet and death.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As chapter 13 opens, God uses Abijah, the newly appointed King of Judah to discipline Jeroboam, King of Israel. The battle involves 1.2 million soldiers, and by the time it is finished, Israel lost exactly one half million men (13:17). An extremely high price to pay for simply refusing to obey God! The defeat was so devastating, Jeroboam never fully recovered. Note Abijah’s appeal to Jeroboam in 13:4-12 to consider his ways and walk with God.
Chapter 14 begins with the death of Abijah, and the beginning of his son’s reign. What Abijah accomplished in Judah militarily, Asa, his son, sought to do spiritually. He removed all of the foreign influence of worship and “commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to do the law and commandment” (14:4). As a result, God blessed the kingdom with 10 years of “quiet” (14:1, 5) and “rest” (14:6-7), while he fortified an army full of “mighty men of valour” (14:8). Judah’s peace ended, however, when an Ethiopian army of one million(!) men came against them. Asa’s prayer of faith and dependence upon God in verse 11 is well worth noting, since we all face situations almost weekly where the odds are stacked against us. “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 ou!
r God; let not man prevail against thee” (II Chron. 14:11). Judah’s smaller army was victorious because of their dependence and trust in the Lord (14:12-15).
In chapter 15, Azariah the prophet challenges Asa to keep up the good work of spiritual reformation in the nation, and Asa responds with great enthusiasm, destroying even more idols (15:8), and decreeing that you either seek the Lord with all of your heart and soul, or die (15:12-13)! His grandmother, the queen made an obscene idol and he even removed her from being queen, and crushed and burned the despicable idol. It’s a sad reality, but sometimes following the Lord requires tough decisions concerning members of our own families!
Chapter 16 is just sad. As Asa’s wealth and power increased, his dependence and trust in God decreased. When toward the end of his reign, Baasha, King of Israel, came up to battle against Asa, rather than cry out to God in faith as he had done previously (14:11), he takes God’s money to pay Benhadad, the King of Syria, to help him. Baasha was unsuccessful in coming against Asa, but Asa had displeased the Lord in the process. Note the rebuke of God’s prophet in 16:7-8, and the great statement of verse 9, “Don’t you realize that the Lord is just constantly on the lookout for those He can bless by showing Himself strong on their behalf?!” (obvious paraphrase) Rather than acknowledge his wrongdoing and repent, Asa has the prophet thrown into jail. (People who receive God’s message are still getting upset with His messengers in the 21st century, too!) This attitude became a pattern as Asa’s life comes to a close. Even when disease had struck his feet, he looks to man for!
help rather than God. Keep in mind last week’s memory verse, “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8).
Many 21st century believers are much like Asa. They start off so wonderfully, but before it’s all said and done, their spiritual feet have become diseased, and they are no longer able to “WALK in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), nor “WALK worthy of the vocation wherewith [they have been] called”! Be very careful as you grow older in the Lord, of diseased feet!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
Through the REST God gave JUDAH – II Chron. 14:7 (Matt. 11:29; Heb. 4:1, 8-11).