May 14, 2007
II Chronicles 13-17
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- Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah to reign over Judah.
- He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.
- And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.
- And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;
- Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
- Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.
- And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
- And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
- Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
- But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:
- And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.
- And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
- But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.
- And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
- Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
- And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand.
- And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
- Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.
- And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephrain with the towns thereof.
- Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the LORD struck him, and he died.
- But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.
- And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.
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- So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.
- And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:
- For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:
- And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.
- Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.
- And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.
- Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
- And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.
- And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
- Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
- And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
- So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
- And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
- And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.
- They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
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- And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
- And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
- Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
- But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
- And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
- And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.
- Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.
- And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.
- And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
- So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
- And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
- And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
- That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
- And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
- And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.
- And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
- But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
- And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
- And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
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- In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.
- Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying,
- There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
- And Ben-hadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.
- And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease.
- Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah.
- And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.
- Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.
- For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
- Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.
- And, behold, the acts of Asa, first and last, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
- And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.
- And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.
- And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they made a very great burning for him.
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- And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.
- And he placed forces in all the fenced cities of Judah, and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim, which Asa his father had taken.
- And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
- But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
- Therefore the LORD stablished the kingdom in his hand; and all Judah brought to Jehoshaphat presents; and he had riches and honour in abundance.
- And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the LORD: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah.
- Also in the third year of his reign he sent to his princes, even to Ben-hail, and to Obadiah, and to Zechariah, and to Nethaneel, and to Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah.
- And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tob-adonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
- And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.
- And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
- Also some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats.
- And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.
- And he had much business in the cities of Judah: and the men of war, mighty men of valour, were in Jerusalem.
- And these are the numbers of them according to the house of their fathers: Of Judah, the captains of thousands; Adnah the chief, and with him mighty men of valour three hundred thousand.
- And next to him was Jehohanan the captain, and with him two hundred and fourscore thousand.
- And next him was Amasiah the son of Zichri, who willingly offered himself unto the LORD; and with him two hundred thousand mighty men of valour.
- And of Benjamin; Eliada a mighty man of valour, and with him armed men with bow and shield two hundred thousand.
- And next him was Jehozabad, and with him an hundred and fourscore thousand ready prepared for the war.
- These waited on the king, beside those whom the king put in the fenced cities throughout all Judah.
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Thought for the day:
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We have read about King Asa of Judah before. He was a good king who started off very well. We saw in
I Kings 15 that one of the things that led to Asa's downfall was that he failed to remove the places of pagan worship from Israel even though he removed the idols themselves. Here in
II Chronicles 16 we see another flaw that manifested itself in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. Before we examine it, I want to point out that we immediately learn from this passage the importance of always being on our guard. One would think that after thirty-six years of following God, Asa would not have a hard time doing right. Yet we know that Satan is always at work. He attacks new Christians and established Christians alike. It is not unheard of for marriages to break up after decades. Men who served the Lord faithfully in their youth may look for an easier path as they grow older. Pastors who stood firm on sound doctrine may find themselves more open to compromise as they age. Never get to the point where you think that you can't go into error.
I Corinthians 10:12 states,
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
Always be sure to guard your heart and life.
Asa's problem is this chapter seems to be that he stopped relying on the Lord, and began relying on men. In verse 1 Baasha, the king of Israel, set himself up in Ramah from where he could lay siege against Judah. Rather than go to God for assistance, Asa chose to request aid from the Syrians. Not only did Asa go to the ungodly for help, but he took the gold and silver that belonged to the Lord and gave it to the heathen in exchange for their military prowess. What a picture this is of the backslidden Christian! Everything belongs to God, and He is worthy of all. Yet we forget about Him, and take the time, talents, and treasures that are His and bestow them upon godless pursuits and people in order that we might have a better life. How foolish! God has promised that He will supply all our needs (
Phil. 4:19). Why should we steal from Him in an attempt to get the world to do for us what He has already promised to do? Men will steal the Lord's offering so that they can purchase more things, despite the fact that God said that He would give us what we need (
II Cor. 9:8). Men will rob the Lord of the time that they should spend in His service so that they can rest, despite the fact that the Lord has promised us His rest (Heb. 4:3). It should be noted that Asa won a victory with the help of the Syrians. However, that didn't make his decision correct. Good results do not necessarily indicate divine approval. We know that his decision was incorrect because Hanani the prophet came and rebuked him. Note Hanani's accusation:
"Thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God,"
It is also worth noticing Asa's response to this rebuke. Rather than repent, as David had done with Nathan, he flew into a rage and put the prophet in jail. May I share something with you that I have observed over the years? There always has to be someone to blame. Asa is in sin, but he doesn't want to admit that what has happened is his fault, so he gets mad at God's man. People rarely want to admit that their own actions have placed them in a precarious position. They don't want to admit that their punishment is deserved because of their iniquities. They would rather blameshift. And if there isn't another person who can directly be blamed, then they shoot the messenger who has placed the blame on them. Asa should have listened and responded to the rebuke, but he chose not to. Three years later that decision came back to haunt him, for when he acquired a foot disease he chose to get assistance from doctors rather than God. The first time he chose man over God, it cost his nation a victory. The second time, it cost him his life.
Trust in God before you trust in men. Listen to rebuke now, for you will wish that you had someday in the future. Keep your guard up at all times, for the Devil is still seeking whom he may devour.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery