Rehoboam has died and the crown passes to his son Abijah. We will see Abijah call upon the name of the Lord for help in battle against Israel.
I was wondering if this was a repeat story from the book of 1 Kings but found that it is not. There have been so many battles that I have lost count. I rely on Google to help me search out connections. But 1 Kings 15 does introduce us to Abijah, also called Abijam, and tells us the MOST important thing about him; “he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 15:3a).
This was not the totality of all there is to know about Abijah. He was not always on the ‘wrong side’ of the battle. In today’s story he trusted in the Lord for victory, or at least the men of Judah did.
Rehoboam and Jeroboam were always at odds with one another and Abijah took up his father’s cause. He was determined to take back the tribes who had broken away from his father. His three year reign was filled with that purpose. He was convinced he would succeed because he held fast to part of God’s promises. And he counted himself as part of God’s promises.
In battle tactics and sheer numbers alone, Jeroboam should have won the battle we see today. But Abijah didn’t count on those numbers. He counted on the promises of God. And one of those promises was to punish Israel when she turned to other gods.
The first time I read the warning Abijah shouted out to Jeroboam I wanted to have a talk with him. I’m wondering if his father didn’t feed him a line. Did Rehoboam ever tell Abijah that GOD told him that the split in the kingdom was HIS work? Was he busy elsewhere that day? Abijah blames the split instead on Jeroboam’s rebellion against Solomon, “worthless scoundrels” that helped Jeroboam, and Rehoboam’s ‘youth’ and inexperience. Were these the ‘truths’ his father fed him?
I have a few news flashes for Abijah. 1) Solomon’s sin is the cause of the split in the kingdoms. 2) Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king. 3) Rehoboam consulted ‘worthless fellows’ who led him the wrong way and he followed them. 4) GOD allowed all this to happen as punishment for His people turning away from Him.
YES! Jeroboam SINNED greatly in making other gods for Israel. And the people sinned right along with him by accepting them. And Judah was going down the same path until God got their attention. GOD got them back into the practice of offering the required sacrifices. But even the daily rituals didn’t turn their hearts wholly to the Lord.
I am wondering if Abijah’s victory is more of a punishment against Jeroboam and the people who carried FASLE gods into battle or an answer to prayer for the men of Judah. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is BOTH.
In this lopsided battle, if God were just going to punish Jeroboam and Israel for relying on other gods He could have had some disaster befall them on their march out to the battle ground. He could have caused confusion within their ranks so that they fell upon one another. He could have done any number of things, including sending fire from Heaven and consuming them, to punish them for turning to other gods.
Likewise, if God was responding to Judah’s shout and cry out to Him in faith, He could have caused Israel to fall flat on their faces as dead men. He could have sent Israel running for their lives as soon as they decided to bring the priests with the trumpet. THAT was Judah’s first act of faith in this battle.
But God wanted to do more than just decide a battle between these two kings. He wanted to show the people Who wielded the power. If He had prevented Israel from even showing up by some calamity along the way they would not have received the ‘first hand’ lesson that it was HE who struck them down. They would have missed the lesson of HIS power over their ‘new’ gods. If God would have allowed Judah victory simply because they had been practicing the required sacrifices they would have missed the personal need to call out to Him in times of trouble. A form of godliness is not the same as a relationship with Him and trusting in Him with your whole heart.
Both sides got a lesson that day. Some may have taken it to heart more than others. Some may not have even recognized they needed a lesson and missed it all together. Abijah didn’t seem to get the point of needing a personal connection beyond ritual practices. If he did his epitaph in 1 Kings would have been different.
He is ready with those same two lessons for us today. There is NO OTHER god but Him. Everything else we try to put in His place will fail. And without a relationship WITH Him religion is powerless. It is actually even dangerous because it offers a false sense of security. Going through the motions is NOT what saves you. It is a personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is accepting the work Jesus, God’s Son already completed for us. It is surrendering to the Father as His child. And it is listening to the Holy Spirit as He shares God’s perfect plan for your life.
Father God, thank You for Your lessons in my life. Thank You for proving to me that NOTHING can replace You and just knowing about You isn’t the same as KNOWING You. Thank You for the ability to have that personal relationship with You. Thank You Jesus for making it possible. Thank You Holy Spirit for living within me and leading me where I should go. I know I haven’t always listened but You never gave up trying to reach me. Thank You for THAT alone!