2 Chronicles
Introduction 1-3 War Between Abijah and Jeroboam 4-12 Speech From Abijah to Israel 13-22 Abijah Defeats Jeroboam
Introduction

It is worth remembering that here we still find principles related to the kingdom of God, as it is in the present dispensation to people and what they have done with it. We see what the kings do with their responsibility. We see in 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles what the grace of God brings about despite the failure. Restoration is always the result of that grace through which God maintains His work. We see this principle clearly in this chapter.


War Between Abijah and Jeroboam

1In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. 2He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3Abijah began the battle with an army of valiant warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam drew up in battle formation against him with 800,000 chosen men [who were] valiant warriors.

Abijah becomes king (verse 11In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah.). This is not because he is appointed by the LORD – as is the case with David and Solomon – but because his father has appointed this (2Chr 11:2222Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah as head and leader among his brothers, for he [intended] to make him king.). Although he was not appointed by the LORD, we see that God fulfills His plan through all human actions and thus maintains the kingship of the house of David. He does so in view of the great Son of David.

Abijah reigns for three years (verse 22He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.), from 913-911 BC. In 1 Kings 15 we also have the history of Abijah (his name means ‘Yahweh is my Father’). There – he is called there Abijam – the emphasis is on the evil character of Abijah. There we see that his heart does not have the right mind (1Kgs 15:33He walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, like the heart of his father David.). We do not read there about his battle with Jeroboam, which is being measured out broadly here.

What the LORD has forbidden his father Rehoboam (2Chr 11:1-41Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.2But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,3“Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying,4‘Thus says the LORD, “You shall not go up or fight against your relatives; return every man to his house, for this thing is from Me.”‘“ So they listened to the words of the LORD and returned from going against Jeroboam.), does Abijah do: he begins the battle with Jeroboam (verse 33Abijah began the battle with an army of valiant warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam drew up in battle formation against him with 800,000 chosen men [who were] valiant warriors.). He does not resign himself to a situation of which the LORD said it came from Him (1Chr 11:44Then David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus); and the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, [were] there.). So when he begins the battle with Jeroboam, he does something for which he has not received a commission from the LORD. Nor are we called upon to fight against fellow Christians to subjugate them to us. We must defend the truth, but not impose it. Our struggle is a defensive struggle, not an offensive one.

The force ratio between the two armies is 1 to 2 (cf. Lk 14:3131Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand [men] to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?). Any thinking should have stopped Abijah from that battle. After all, he will lose hopeless if he relies on his own strength. He only sees his desperate situation when Jeroboam has enclosed him (verse 1313But Jeroboam had set an ambush to come from the rear, so that [Israel] was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them.). Then he calls to the LORD.


Speech From Abijah to Israel

4Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Listen to me, Jeroboam and all Israel: 5Do you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master, 7and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them. 8“So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and [having] with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you. 9Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests like the peoples of [other] lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, even he may become a priest of [what are] no gods. 10But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work. 11Every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is [set] on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is [ready] to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him. 12Now behold, God is with us at [our] head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”

Before the battle is fought, Abijah tries to convince his opponent that he has the right on his side. He does so by means of a speech he gives while standing on Mount Zemaraim. We can therefore call it a ‘sermon on the mount’. He addresses “Jeroboam and all Israel”. He speaks to Jeroboam in the first place, but the whole of Israel must hear it. The speech he gives seems to be propaganda for the imminent battle. What he says must justify the battle he wants to wage.

His speech is special. Its content is largely in accordance with the truth. Unfortunately, for Abijah this is only an external matter. He uses religious arguments to pursue his own political goals. His speech comes down to the fact that he and his people are the faithful and Jeroboam and his people the apostate. This pretense can be heard in the contrast of “you” (verses 8-98“So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and [having] with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you.9Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests like the peoples of [other] lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, even he may become a priest of [what are] no gods.) on the one hand and “we” and “us” (verses 10-1210But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work.11Every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is [set] on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is [ready] to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him.12Now behold, God is with us at [our] head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”) on the other.

Abijah points to:
1. The salt covenant with David. God gave him and his sons after him the kingship of the twelve tribes (verse 55Do you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?). Salt covenant means that it is an eternal covenant (Num 18:19b19All the offerings of the holy [gifts], which the sons of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD to you and your descendants with you.”). What Abijah says is true, but at the same time it is an accusation against himself, because he himself does not take this covenant into account.
2. The revolt of Jeroboam (verse 66Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master,). Abijah humiliates Jeroboam in his indictment of him and does not do justice to the matter, for God has promised Jeroboam the kingdom.
3. The weakness of his father (verse 77and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them.). He seems to suggest that while his father may have been too weak to defeat Jeroboam – as if God’s will did not underlie his father’s decision not to fight –, Jeroboam now faces a man of a different caliber, someone who is strong enough.
4. The introduction of idolatry by Jeroboam and the creation of a priestly service (verses 8-98“So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and [having] with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you.9Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests like the peoples of [other] lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, even he may become a priest of [what are] no gods.). What Abijah says about it is true.
5. The true priestly service (verses 10-1110But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work.11Every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is [set] on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is [ready] to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him.). Regardless of Abijah’s person and mind, he gives a magnificent summary of the contents of the true priestly service. From his mouth it unfortunately sounds like “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor 13:11If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.), because he lacks love for the LORD.
6. God is with them at their head. He claims the presence of God here, without considering what his own attitude towards God should be. Instead of humbling him, his language sounds like the language of the Pharisee who also declares high about his relationship to God and claims God for himself (Lk 18:11-1211The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’).

What Abijah says may all be so true, but it sounds like the “deceptive words” in the days of Jeremiah, when people boast in the same way and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the LORD (Jer 7:44Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’). What is such a confession worth if the heart is not connected to it? The service of Jeroboam is reprehensible. Abijah’s pretense is equally reprehensible. He boasts about the LORD’s service, but his heart is far from Him.

While Abijah gives his pompous speech and the arrogant “but as for us, … we have not forsaken Him” (verse 1010But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work.), sounds from his mouth, the people of which he is king sacrifice to the idols. That turns out when his son Asa becomes king. For immediately after his appointment King Asa holds a clean-up action and “removed the foreign altars and high places” (2Chr 14:33for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the [sacred] pillars, cut down the Asherim,). Where does Abijah get the courage to do so high and mighty, when there is so much idolatry in Judah at that moment?

Abijah’s statement “the LORD is our God” (verse 1010But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work.) is a moderation against the background of the sins in which he himself lives (1Kgs 15:33He walked in all the sins of his father which he had committed before him; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, like the heart of his father David.) and the idolatry committed by the people. He praises orthodoxy and tradition, but life out of and with God is strange to him. He uses the dedication of others – priests and Levites who faithfully perform their task – to maintain himself and claim the right to fight the right battle.

The fact that God is at the head (verse 1212Now behold, God is with us at [our] head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”) may indicate that he still trusts God for the victory (cf. Deu 20:44for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’). However, it is not trust from a personal faith in the power God. It is very similar to the pretense of Hophni and Phinehas, who claim the ark – the symbol of the presence of the LORD – for their position and take it with them as a mascot in the battle against the Philistines (1Sam 4:3-53When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”4So the people sent to Shiloh, and from there they carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts who sits [above] the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, [were] there with the ark of the covenant of God.5As the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth resounded.).

In summary, we can say that Abijah points to
1. the false leadership of Jeroboam in the northern realm (verse 66Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his master,),
2. a false company (verse 77and worthless men gathered about him, scoundrels, who proved too strong for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when he was young and timid and could not hold his own against them.),
3. false gods (verse 88“So now you intend to resist the kingdom of the LORD through the sons of David, being a great multitude and [having] with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made for gods for you.),
4. false priests (verse 99Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests like the peoples of [other] lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams, even he may become a priest of [what are] no gods.)
in contrast
1. with true priests (verse 1010But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the sons of Aaron are ministering to the LORD as priests, and the Levites attend to their work.),
2. true service (verse 1111Every morning and evening they burn to the LORD burnt offerings and fragrant incense, and the showbread is [set] on the clean table, and the golden lampstand with its lamps is [ready] to light every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him.) and
3. true Divine authority (verse 1212Now behold, God is with us at [our] head and His priests with the signal trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”).


Abijah Defeats Jeroboam

13But Jeroboam had set an ambush to come from the rear, so that [Israel] was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them. 14When Judah turned around, behold, they were attacked both front and rear; so they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15Then the men of Judah raised a war cry, and when the men of Judah raised the war cry, then it was that God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16When the sons of Israel fled before Judah, God gave them into their hand. 17Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, so that 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain. 18Thus the sons of Israel were subdued at that time, and the sons of Judah conquered because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their fathers. 19Abijah pursued Jeroboam and captured from him [several] cities, Bethel with its villages, Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages. 20Jeroboam did not again recover strength in the days of Abijah; and the LORD struck him and he died. 21But Abijah became powerful; and took fourteen wives to himself, and became the father of twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways and his words are written in the treatise of the prophet Iddo.

While Abijah gives his speech, Jeroboam lays an ambush (verse 1313But Jeroboam had set an ambush to come from the rear, so that [Israel] was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them.). When Abijah notices that, it’s over with his talk. He boasts, so to speak, of standing on the foundation of the faithful Philadelphia, while his heart is in the lukewarm state of Laodicea. Then he calls to the LORD. He only does this when He has taught him a good lesson and not before he enters into the confrontation. Yet God helps. He is never called upon in vain (Psa 34:6-76This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
; 50:1515Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
; 107:66Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.
).

When every way out is cut off around us, the way up is always open (2Cor 4:8b8[we are] afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;). The battle from the “front” (verse 1414When Judah turned around, behold, they were attacked both front and rear; so they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets.) can be applied to fear for the future, paralyzing us to do something for the Lord. The battle from the “rear” we can apply to memories of mistakes made, the consequences of sins, the misunderstandings that alienate us from others and make it difficult for us to live as we would like to.

But when we have the battle from the front and the rear, when we are surrounded and enclosed by the battle, we may remember that God also encloses us “behind and before” (Psa 139:55You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
) and covers us with His hand. He then gives the victory. In the blowing of the trumpets we see the call to the LORD, as was said by Moses (Num 10:99When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and be saved from your enemies.).

After his defamatory defeat, Jeroboam has no strength left (verse 2020Jeroboam did not again recover strength in the days of Abijah; and the LORD struck him and he died.). He is no longer capable of a new showdown. Abijah has nothing more to fear from him. The end of Jeroboam’s bad life is attributed to an act of God. He does not fall asleep, but the LORD hits him deadly, possibly by illness or stroke (cf. Acts 5:1-101But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2and kept back [some] of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back [some] of the price of the land?4While it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.6The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.7Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”9Then Peter [said] to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [as well].”10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.; 12:21-2321On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and [began] delivering an address to them.22The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”23And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.; cf. 1Cor 11:3030For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.).

Unlike Jeroboam, who is very weak, Abijah strengthens his position (verse 2121But Abijah became powerful; and took fourteen wives to himself, and became the father of twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.). His strength seems to lie in the number of children he conceives with the wives he has taken for himself.

This brings the chronicler to the end of his description of Abijah’s life. “His ways and his words”, that is to say what can still be said of him, “are written in the treatise of the prophet Iddo” (verse 2222Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways and his words are written in the treatise of the prophet Iddo.). That treatise was not taken up in God’s Word, but it was recorded by a prophet of the LORD. That treatise will appear before the judgment seat of Christ on the day that all men will be revealed and will be opened to show Abijah what and how “his ways and his words” have been”. He will be judged correspondingly (2Cor 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.).


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