The Divided Kingdom – Week 8 – Abijah

March 25, 2018

The Divided Kingdom – Week 8 – Abijah

The Divided Kingdom – Week 8 – Abijah

Turn in your Bibles to 1 Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13
2 Chronicles 13
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam, Abijah became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah, a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.
There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah went into battle with an army of four hundred thousand able fighting men, and Jeroboam drew up a battle line against him with eight hundred thousand able troops.
4 Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5 Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. 7 Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.
8 “And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the Lord, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. 9 But didn’t you drive out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.
10 “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. 11 Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.”
13 Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. 14 Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets 15 and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. 17 Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel’s able men. 18 The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
19 Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took from him the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages. 20 Jeroboam did not regain power during the time of Abijah. And the Lord struck him down and he died.
21 But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
22 The other events of Abijah’s reign, what he did and what he said, are written in the annotations of the prophet Iddo.
In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah (Abijam) became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.
3 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. 4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
6 There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam throughout Abijah’s lifetime. 7 As for the other events of Abijah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 8 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king.
Today we will look at the story of Abijah (SK2)  We will be looking at both 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 13
In this story there are several seeming contradictions that we will address.  Most times the contradictions are minor issues.  But often there are those that look at any contradiction in scripture as an excuse to devalue and dismiss the Word of God as being inerrant.
The term inerrant simply means that the word of God is true and without error.  Why is that important?  Because if the Scripture is found to have error, then it can be dismissed, when it says something we don’t agree with. This is a dangerous precedent to set. There are many people and websites that try to discredit the Bible by trying to point out contradictions and inconsistencies.  I personally believe that they are coming into reading scripture with a bias of skepticism because they are blinded to the truth.  There is so much overwhelming evidence that the Bible is a supernatural book, and that it is written by people who are not in the least way impressed with themselves so it was not written by people with the agenda that we would expect.  These are just a few of the reasons why I believe that the Bible is the Word of God.  If it is the word of God then as we read through as we see things that don’t seem to correspond we have to try and see why there are seeming inconsistencies in it.
So to the best of my ability I will try and explain the problem and give an explanation as to why it exists.
The first of these is the the name of the character we are looking at.  In Kings it is listed as Abijam, and in Chronicles it is listed as Abijah.  Most translations use Abijam but the NIV just reconciles it and puts this info in the footnotes.  As we look further into the character hopefully I can show you the reason I think there are 2 different names.
The second issue is with lineage and family lines.
In 1 Kings and Chronicles it says His mother is Maakah. But there is a discrepancy as to her parents are.  In Kings it says he is a daughter of Abishalom or Absolom.  In Chronicles it says she a daughter of Uriel and Tamar.  Here is the problem.  The word “daughter” can be used in several ways in the OT.  It can be a physical daughter or it can mean in the lineage of someone.  So here is how it is resolved.

Family Tree Issues

                                 DAVID
Bathshebah                                       Maacah
      |                                                     |
      |                                              Abishalom (Absolom)
      |          (ammonite)                              |
Solomon & Naamah                      Uriel & Tamar
                             |                     |
                          Rehoboam & Maachah (Maakah)
                                         |
                                      Abijah
Why is this a big deal?  It really isn’t but I wanted you to know that God’s word is to be trusted even when we don’t understand it sometimes.
The third issue which is probably the biggest of the 3 we have here is that it seems as if there are 2 different stories all together.  In Kings there is nothing good said about him.  And in Chronicles there is nothing overtly bad said about him.  So who is right and who is wrong.  Both and Neither. You see once again we must go back and understand that the books of kings and chronicles were written to two different audiences with 2 different purposes.  Let me explain.
If you were to talk to my mother and ask her how difficult I was a a child you might hear stories that would make you wonder 1 how I stayed alive as a child and 2 how did I end up becoming a pastor.  Especially if you had asked her those questions when I was in college.  Needless to say,  you might not have had the best opinion of me.  But as time has gone along my mother looks a me in a different light.  Are either untrue?  NO.  But there is a different focus and a different audience.  The same is true here.
In Kings remember it is most likely written by Jeremiah or one of his contemporaries explaining how the nation ended up in exile.  The focus was on pointing to the downfall of the leaders and how they did not follow the way of the Lord.
In Chronicles, there was a different purpose.  The writer, possibly Ezra, was writing to the people after the exile and reminding them of God’s faithfulness and how if they put their faith and trust in God, He will take care of them.
With that in mind, we can see how the two stories could work together.  We are not sure of the timeline of the two accounts but most likely this is how it went down.
Abijah was probably born sometime late in the reign of Solomon.  So he would have seen the both the success of His grandfather, and the success and failures of his father.  I am sure in some sense his desire was to do the right thing and lead the people in a way that pleased God.  In fact I think as he began his short reign (only 3 years). He probably started with the best intentions, unfortunately his character was not formed to follow after God.
He saw the rise of His father to power, and his bouncing back and forth, between his pride and arrogance and then his humility before God as God judged Judah by the conquest of Shisak.  But His father constantly was drawn away form God by his wives and thier foreign worship, as well as the battles between His father and Jeroboam.    So when Abijah comes to power the first thing he set out to do is take down his fathers worst enemy.
This is one of those Hatfield and McCoy issues.  The fighting starts and it is passed down to the kids.  So Abijah assembles an army to go fight Jeroboam.  Remember Jeroboam also has a son named Abijah who in a few years will be sick and dieing,  can you see the irony of that situation.
Abijah assembles his army of 400,000 men.  But he is severely outnumbered with 2:1 odds.  This battle takes place in the area right around Bethel.  One of the major points of worship for the northern kingdom…
Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5 Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?
preserving element, cleansing or purifying element, season, valuable
Taken together, a ‘covenant of salt’ is an agreement or contract between parties that endures regardless of the circumstances. Such agreements are solid, unbreakable and everlasting.
6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. 7 Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.
Here we see Abijah try and make excuses for his fathers failures he uses 3 excuses specifically.
  1. He had bad friends – this may be true but it is no excuse
  2. He was young and indecisive – This is a stretch,  He was 41 and he seemed to make up his mind just fine.  It was just a wrong decision
  3. He was not strong enough to resist them.  Wow,  The devil made me do it.
How many times do we use these same old tired excuses?  We blame-shift, we claim we don’t know better, or we just claim we are not strong enough to deal with it.  None of these is a valid excuse to not follow God.
8 “And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the Lord, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods.
Here Abijah identifies the problem appropriately.  The truth is this was not a battle between Abijah and Jeroboam,  it was a battle between God and Jeroboam.
10 “As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the Lord are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. 11 Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the Lord our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.”
It is my firm belief that the only reason God gave the victory to Abijah at this time was not because they were all that spiritual, but instead, it was his trust in the truth of this declaration.  The Lord is our God.  He is our Leader.  Unfortunately we will see that the truth of this statement did not last.
Notice He says Do not fight against the Lord… for you will not succeed.  This is so true for each of us.  I don’t know about you but I have seen this time and time again.  If you fight God you will always end up loosing.  This is the cry of the prophet once again. Come back to God!  Repent, humble yourself.
13 Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. 14 Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets 15 and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
I love this Jeroboam had the better strategy, his was more prepared, had the bigger army, but none of that mattered.  The truth is this, we are always going to make the right decision.  We are not always going to be fully prepared,  we may be outnumbered, out gunned, out resourced,  but if God is on our side, HE will bring down the enemy.
This same truth is found in the New Testament.  Romans 8:31
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 
Verse 18 tells us the truth of this battle.
18 The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
Victory only comes when we trust the Lord.
I wish that was the end of the story but unfortunately it is not
21 But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
Notice he follows after the pattern of His father. In fact in 1 King it says…
3 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. 4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
Notice he ended up a failure.  Remember I told you his name in Chronicles  was Abijah, but in Kings it was Abijam.  Abijah means Yahweh is my father,  but Abijam means Yam is my father.  Yam was the name of one of the Cananite Gods.  He was the God of the Sea,  The unfortunate truth is he might have started as a follower of God but idolatry crept into his heart and he began to serve the god of the world instead of the one true God.
Remember his reign was only 3 years.  Not very long.  The truth is our hearts can be turned away from God in a very short time.  I have seen it time and time again,  Someone has a powerful experience with God.  They see a great victory in their lives and then a couple months later they have walk totally away.
If there is one big lesson I believe we can learn form the story of Abijah it is this.  A powerful experience with God is not enough.  God must be the Lord, He must be your leader.  And he must stay that way.
Too many people look a 1 event in their lives and hinge their entire understanding of God on that one event.  As I grew up I remember hearing of the idea that you ask Jesus into your heart and that is it.  Your are forever set.  The problem with that idea is that it makes God and insurance salesmen.  Say these words and you now have fire insurance, you wont go to hell.  But that is not how Jesus talked to his disciples.  He said… Luke 9:23
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.   
If Christ is alive in your life today, your life will look different tomorrow, and each day after that.  It is not a one time event, it is a lifelong process.  Sometimes the process is slow, but it is always moving you forward.  You may take 2 steps back but he will move you 3 steps forward.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jesus is in the author and the completer of our faith.  He is always working to make us more like Him.  So the question we must ask is are we relying on some great victory in the past?  Or is He working in your life right now?  If He is not working in your life right now maybe you need to surrender to Him today and make Him KING and Lord.

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