1 Kings 15:1-24 & 2 Chronicles 13-16
History is a curious thing. Today’s reading covers two different kings of Judah, Abijah and Asa, from the perspective of two different writers. It is quite interesting to see what is remembered and omitted and concluded from the lives of these two kings from the two different authors writing at different time periods for different purposes.
Let’s look at Abijah, King David’s great grandson. It is easy to love the Abijah recorded in 2 Chronicles 13. King Jeroboam of Israel is closing in with an army twice the size of King Abijah’s of Judah. But Abijah responds with courage, faith in God and a rousing speech. He speaks of Israel’s united history under David and God and then records the sins of Jeroboam (& Israel) in breaking with God, the God-ordained priests, and the house of David. He concludes that, “As for us (Judah), the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him….God is with us, he is our leader.” (2 Chronicles 13:10,12). And then, even though an army twice their size is before and behind them, God gives the victory and Abijah’s army wipes out over half of Jeroboam’s fleeing and destroyed army. It’s exciting to see how God shows His strength through Abijah.
And then we read the account of King Abijah as recorded in 1 Kings 15. The details of his life agree completely with what is recorded in 2 Chronicles: reigned 3 years, son of Rehoboam and Maacah, there was war between him and Jeroboam, and his son Asa would rule after his death. But, absolutely nothing is said of the moving speech or victorious battle or God as his leader. Instead, the writer of Kings sums up Abijah’s life by saying, “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been.” (1 Kings 15:3).
Oh, Abijah, we had such hope for you from that one outstanding snapshot of your life. Your sermon that day was so full of convicting truth – that you forgot? What went wrong? How was your heart divided that sin won out? Didn’t you daily recall how God fought for you? Did you think you did that on your own? It is discouraging to see what could have been, or once was, a strong testimony for God crumble and cave to sin and a divided heart.
But, it is also encouraging to see what God can do for His purposes – even when He’s working with and through sinful, broken people. He can use the Joshua’s, the David’s and the Abijah’s and you and me. He has and can and will have the victory any time He wants – and He can do it using any one He wants.
It is also interesting to see what one chooses to remember when looking back on history. How do we portray and ultimately judge the heroes and the villains? Which statues do we decide to pull down, if any, or why not all? Everyone is certainly a mix of wise and foolish choices. Some of our forefathers had some really good, faithful days (like Abijah’s) and these can still be celebrated today. Remember the Chronicles were written long after these events took place and were written to encourage the returning exiles. They needed to remember the faithful God who worked through the house of David and the priestly line. They were being prepared for the coming arrival of a Messiah from the house of David who would be a priest like none before. It would be helpful for them to remember their history as they prepared for their future. It was time to bolster their courage and faith and remind them that God is their leader. They needed the story of Abijah’s Really Good Day and the God who supplied it.
And, it is also valuable to consider the bigger picture of someone’s life to see what to avoid in order to get us where we want to go. Rather than using our own flawed measuring stick to judge (popularity, wealth, good speaker, etc…), whenever possible it is helpful to know what God thought of the man. That is going to be what really counts, so that is what I want to pay attention to so I am not setting up heroes for my life that God would disapprove of.
All that and we finally get to Asa – one of the few kings recorded as, “good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2). And the writer of Kings agrees completely. There are some beautiful passages you won’t want to miss about God’s provision and Asa’s seeking and working for God wholeheartedly, even when it meant going against some of his family. Although, for all his wise and courageous decisions, he still had a rough spot towards the end of his reign when he chose to rely on man instead of God – and there was a price to pay for that error. But it would be a mistake for us to judge and remember Asa only for that sin that sadly would affect him and many others for years to come.
History is interesting, as is our record of it, and our judgement of those who have come before. But first and foremost lets learn to us it to grow closer and closer to living a life seeking and serving with an undivided heart the God who created all history and present and future. What would He have you learn from His Story today in order to live better today and prepare yourself for His Future?
Keep Reading His Word and Seeking Him
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+15%3A1-24%2C+2+Chronicles+13-16&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be 1 Kings 15:26-16:34 & 2 Chronicles 17 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan