I have mixed feelings about 1, 2 Kings and 1, 2 Chronicles. I love that the books demonstrate that our faith is real history and it’s fascinating to learn about the parallel stories of Israel and Judah. At the same time, reading these books is like watching a car wreck happen slowly, since we know what happens to the two nations. Inconsistent kings and apathetic followers ignore God’s law and they suffer the consequences. That said, the books provide some cautionary stories, wisdom and some encouragement for today.
This passage takes place just a few generations after King David. Abijah, the great grandson of King David is ruling over Judah. He stands on the field of battle supported by 400,000 troops. His fight is against Jeroboam, the ruler of Israel, and his 800,000 chosen warriors. For those of you who know a thing or two about family conflict, note that these enemies are, in fact, all relatives. At first glance, the outcome seems weighted in Jeroboam’s favor: double the number of warriors and a war strategy that caught Abijah off guard. All things being equal, this should be more than enough to secure Jeroboam’s victory. But all things are not equal.
Abijah wasn’t perfect. We learn in 1 Kings 15:3 that Abjiah’s “heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father.” But Abijah did get two things right and these things gave him confidence in God. One is that he knew the promises of God. Abijah knew that “the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons.” He trusted that promise. Secondly, Abijah followed the law and supported the proper worship of God. In verse 10 Abijah declares, “We have not forsaken (God). We have priests ministering to the Lord who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices...” Jeroboam is at the other extreme, creating false idols and installing illegitimate priests.
And so, even surprised and overwhelmed by circumstances, Abijah and Judah are not overcome by the situation. Verses 14 – 16 says, “when Judah looked, behold the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets. Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. (vs. 15) Did you catch that? God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel. God gets the glory for the victory – just as it should be.
The whole passage reflects God’s graciousness towards Abijah and the people of Judah. It also shows us that worldly strength, superior tactics and false gods are easily overcome by the one true God. This happens as God’s imperfect people trust Him, worship Him and move forward with confident faith. That’s good news and we need it at the start of 2022. Our circumstances don’t feel like they’re getting a whole lot better. But when the odds appear stacked against us, it’s important to remember that we are the recipients of a promise from Jesus himself. He has all power and authority and he is with us, even to the end of the age. So we do not need to be fearful, but faithful and we need to keep moving forward on mission as a Bible-centered fellowship that is pursuing the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Those are good marching orders for 2022 and there’s plenty of opportunity around us. So, may God go before us on our journey through the coming year and may we rely on Him each and every day. May you have a blessed 2022!
Dan joined the Cornerstone team in November 2018 as the Pastor of Missions. His focus is on empowering the church family to step beyond the boundaries of CCLB to declare the Good News, so that the Body of Christ might be established where it would not otherwise occur. In addition, Dan provides oversight for Cornerstone’s Care ministries.