Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2 CHRONICLES 12 & 13: REHOBOAM & ABIJAH


2 Chron 12:7-12 When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands." When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the Lord's temple, the guards went with him, bearing the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom. Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord's anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.

2 Chron 13:10-18 [Abijah said:] "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.  Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed." Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. Abijah and his men inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel's able men. The men of Israel were subdued on that occasion, and the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers.

A picture of contrast between a father (Rehoboam) and his son (Abijah). After his throne was secure, Rehoboam forsook the law of the Lord (12:1) whereas Abijah was faithful to the Lord and His commandments consistently. When the test came to both, God allowed Rehoboam to be humbled and humiliated by the Egyptian king Shishak and his allies in order that Abijah might learn "the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands" (2 Chron 12:8). So, for Rehoboam, the test became a trial of discipline: "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent" (Rev 3:19).

In contrast, his son Abijah when confronted with the same test, God fought on Judah's behalf and routed Jeroboam's army of 800,000 men, which was twice the size of Judah's 400,000 men. In all, Israel suffered 500,000 casualties. Abijah declared something before Jeroboam that reflected his faith attitude: "God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed" (2 Chron 13:12). When God is our leader because we are obedient to His commandments to seek His glory, not our own self-gratification, we can have the same confidence as Abijah: "GOD IS WITH US; HE IS OUR LEADER!"

Thank You Father that when we like Abijah seek to obey Your commandments diligently, You will prove Your faithful to be with us and be our Leader. But when we forsake Your commandments like Rehoboam, we can be sure that You are equally faithful to teach us that disobedience has negative consequences. Because of Your consistent act, we can be secure and sure of our faith in Your promises. Amen.

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