It is time to weave all the kings together. Jeroboam and Rehoboam were the first of the divided kingdom but they didn’t end their reigns together. Abijam rules next in Judah.
When I think about working the history of the two kingdoms together it brings to mind a deck of cards. The full deck is split into two piles. They are then woven back together by overlapping one another as they are separately dropped into place. Sometimes one card falls from each stack and there is an even distribution between the two stacks. More often than not though, the piles will randomly drop more than one card at a time before the other pile releases one. Also there are times when one pile has several remaining that all fall together.
This is how it was with the kingdom of Israel and Judah. We have a LOT of kings and a LONG way to go before our ‘deck’ of kings is complete. We get to drop a king from the Judah pile today.
Jeroboam reigned for 22 years and spanned three kings of Judah. Rehoboam was the first and his reign lasted seventeen years. Abijam takes up in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam. He only reigned for three years.
This is the same king we see in 2 Chronicles 13 even though his name is spelled differently. The writer of Chronicles spells it Abijah which happens to be the same name as Jeroboam’s son who died after Ahijah’s prophecy. Maybe it was a popular name among royalty or it had a special meaning that translated well to leaders.
We see very few of Abijam’s acts in our reading today. We see the overall tone of his reign and it wasn’t good. He epitomized the phrase “Like father, like son.” Abijam engaged in the same sins his father had done. He continued the wars with Jeroboam that his father had started. And like his father, he ‘dabbled’ in a relationship with God.
“And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father” (verse 3). He didn’t turn his back on God completely but neither was he “wholly true” to God.
His relationship with God did NOT win him any awards. The reason he was even successful at all was because God was honoring David by allowing Abijam success. Although the story in 2 Chronicles 13 speaks of a time in Abijam’s reign that he was trusting in the Lord for Judah and being God’s instrument. But that is a story for another time.
Even after reading the story of Abijah in 2 Chronicles I don’t have a lot of insight into his life. I’m curious how he died. How old was he when he reigned? 2 Chronicles 13 tells us how many wives and children he had; 14 wives, 22 sons and 16 daughters. I find it interesting that they number his daughters. Maybe it will be of importance later on.
So what can we learn from Abijam today? It is a sad one. One that had a form of godliness (from 2 Chronicles 13) but a divided heart behind it. A story of a father’s failure to instill good things into his son’s life. A tale of a son taking up where his father left off, for good and bad. But not a story without hope for he was the father of our next king to come, Asa, and Asa’s heart was close to the Lord. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Father God, I feel for the people of Israel and Judah. Their leaders are not leading them where they should be walking. They are stumbling around in the dark. Trying to do the things that once brought them power without the relationship that goes along with it. A form of godliness. That phrase keeps popping into my mind. PLEASE don’t let me fall into that pattern! I want to give You my WHOLE heart, not just bits and pieces of it.
I’m afraid of slipping into the “form” facet with our time together. I’m finding it easier to remember our time together and am having less struggles with the “I’m too tired” or “too busy” days. But I’m also walking away from our time and what we shared isn’t permeating my thoughts all day like it used to. Is it because of the kinds of stories that are in our step by step process or am I rushing through? I want to hear Your heart every time I climb up on Your lap. Help me sit still and really listen. Fill that empty spot in me.