STUDIES IN CHRONICLES
2nd Chronicles 13
Abijah; The Wicked King Blessed By God
A character study of Abijah is one of many and confusing paradoxes. On reading 2nd Chronicles 13 we are inclined to the opinion that this was a good and godly King. HIs speech to King Jeroboam, on the eve of battle has many fine words.
The inspired historian who wrote the Books of the kings , however, gives us different insight into this man. There he is described as one who walked in all the sins of his Father Rehoboam and whose heart was not perfect in the sight of God (1st Kings 15:3).
How can it be that Abijah could reclaim territory for Judah which had been lost, knowing God’s favour and yet not know the Lord?
How can it be that this King could condemn Jeroboam for his apostasy while he himself was out of step with the Lord?
How can it be that Abijah could take such pride in the true worship of Jehovah, declaring, ‘we have forsaken him”, while he himself did not know the Lord?
How can it that Judah under Abijah was a described as a nation that relied upon the Lord and was blessed even though this King’s heart was not right?
These are the the terrible paradoxes and contradictions that were King Abijah.
Any character study of this man needs to get the bottom of these contradictions, seeking some understanding of his spirit. This is a spirit that we will find deeply humbling and challenging because it identifies the sins of 21st Century Britain.
The clue which helps us understand Abijah is the remark by the writer of the account in Kings, inspired by the Holy Ghost, that he walked in the ways of King Rehoboam, his father. As we have already noted Rehoboam was a man who knew truth, who at times encouraged truth in the nation yet he prepared NOT his heart to seek the Lord. Rehoboam was acquainted with the truth yet the truth was not in his heart. Abjiah was cut from the same tree. He possessed the same spirit as that of his Father. He could preach the truth as we will note in this study, yet he remained a wicked man in heart.
Yet this king, whose heart was not right was blessed by God. The writer of the account of Abijah ’s life in the Books of Kings tells us why this was the case:
“Nevertheless for David’s sake did he Lord his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem” (1st Kings 15:4).
There was nothing special in Abijah to merit God’s favour but God had made a promise to David that that one of his seed would sit upon the throne in Jerusalem. Therefore light existed in the darkness because of the promises of God.
These were dark times, days of apostasy, there was civil war, death and carnage yet there was light in the darkness even though the Government was anything but godly.
Abijah’s depth of spiritual knowledge is most striking.
He understood that as a son of David he was a representative of God’s kingdom (5).
He condemned Jeroboam for casting out the priests of the Lord, therefore reprimanding him for his apostasy (v9).
He appreciated the true worship which was central to the temple in Jerusalem (v9).
He led a nation which prayed to God in the hour of extremity when the battle seemed to be lost (v15).
Winning the victory, taking territory from Jeroboam is attributed to Judah relying on the Lord God of their fathers (v18).
It seems clear to me that God blessed Abijah richly because of David. The influence of the first great King to sit in Jerusalem was felt through the succeeding generations. David’s life was like an echo which sounded down the corridors of time and which was still heard centuries later. Herein we see the value of a life surrendered to God.
David’s life left a lasting influence, therefore Abijah knew the truth and he sat upon throne erected upon truth.
There remained light in the midst of darkness.
Let us bring this up today and reflect upon 21st Century Britain.
Politically I am a Unionist and a Royalist and I reject the notion of republicanism either within an all Ireland context or within the context of the United Kingdom. My loyalty is to the Crown and therefore to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd and the House of Windsor, as the custodians of the Monarchy. My support for the Crown is wedded to the Protestant and Christian influences which gave us our modern monarchy. The Crown is at the heart of the British Constitution. Parliament, devolved administrations, local councils and the judicial system acts with the authority of the Crown. The monarchy has been moulded by a strong Protestant ethos which was forged as a result of the Reformation settlement in these lands.
While our nation is wicked and evil, while many corrupt laws have been passed which fly in the face of God the Crown by virtue of its traditions and history represents the favour of God in the life of our nation. An examination of the Coronation Oath taken by the monarch is especially pertinent and symbolic. Therein, there exists some light in the midst of the darkness.
Abijah was a wicked king, yet he was favoured and his people were favoured because of the goodness of God towards the House of David. This nation despite its departure from truth is favoured with a light that shines, still more brightly that in many other parts of the world. The Gospel continues to preached, freedoms continue to be enjoyed, There remains a praying people in these lands. Let us pray that the candlestick would never be removed.
1: The Covenant (v5)
Abijah began his reign by going to war against Jeroboam with four hundred thousand chosen men. In his eve of battle speech he emphases the covenant made with David. In so doing he was articulating the truth, that while there were two kingdoms among the Jews only one kingdom was favoured by God; Judah presided over by the House of David.
Never underestimate the value of one man of God like David, who can impact succeeding generations, keeping the light shining in dark times.
2: The Remnant (v10-12)
Although Abijah did not know God, he knew that he was blessed because of the priests who served in the temple. In Rehoboam’s time the remnant of godly priests had come to Jerusalem where they conducted worship according to the divine pattern.
In this wicked apostate age God has His remnant, who continue to be faithful to the Gospel. Even the ungodly are blessed by this salt which exists in their midst.
3: The Prayer (v13-16)
Jeroboam’s army gained the upper hand, setting an ambush and looked likely to win the conflict. When the men of Judah shouted, however, God intervened. Where there is a spiritual consciousness at work within a nation, people know that they should pray even when they do not know God. God heard this cry, intervening to save Judah from destruction.
We are part of a nation where God has intervened in response to prayer. We have been preserved amid international upheavals and terrible wars because there were a people who sought God for our land. A century ago God raised up WP Nicholson whose preaching inspired a revival despite the violence that was consuming both parts of this island. The testimony of the Gospel was preserved because God answered prayer. We pray for an intervention by God in this 21st Century.
4: The Victory (v17-19)
Not only was Jeroboam comprehensively defeated but Abijah extended Judah by occupying a number of the northern towns, including Bethel which was one of the centres of Jeroboam’s new pagan worship. This defeat would overshadow the remainder of Jeroboam’s reign.
When Jeroboam was given the right to set up his northern kingdom by the prophet Ahiah he was solemnly charged to walk in God’s ways and to keep His statutes (1st Kings 11:28). At a later time when Jeroboam’s child was sick he called for the prophet Ahijah who brought a message of death and judgement not only for the King’s child but for the entire family in days to come (1st Kings 14:1-20). This was on account of the false religion that Jeroboam introduced to his new kingdom.
After 17 years of progress Jeroboam’s sun began to set during the reign of Abijah. This king who did not know God, but who came from the line of David and who had a consciousness of God, was used to be an instrument of judgement upon the godless apostate Jeroboam. The word of God was fulfilled.
In a similar fashion, God is ruling over the kingdom’s the world today, setting up and bringing down, issuing warnings and executing His judgement.
Ultimately the Kingdom of God, the Church of Christ, will prosper, the prayers of His servants will be answered and sin will be punished because God is in control.