This week’s lesson starts the second unit of lessons within the summer quarter.  The second unit of lessons (the next six lessons) is titled:  Courage Facing Threats.  Our lesson this week is going to move back in the past compared to our lesson last week that took a look at the courage of Elijah in rebuking Ahab.  This week’s lesson is being taught from 2 Chronicles 13:3-18.

Abijah Puts Israel on Notice

Our lesson opens up with a battlefield being laid out for us in our opening verse.  We are told that Abijah had 400,000 valiant warriors on his side of the battlefield and Jeroboam had 800,000 choice men on his side of the battlefield (v. 3).  You may recall the name of Jeroboam from our lesson last week when last week’s lesson mentioned a couple of the wicked kings of Israel.  Jeroboam, we were told, had his house (his bloodline) cut off because of his wickedness (1 Kgs. 21:22).

Jeroboam was the son of Nebat, as was mentioned in last week’s lesson, and as chronicled in our lesson this week (v. 6).  Nebat we are told was a servant of Solomon and scripture also tells us that Jeroboam was a servant of Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:26).  Due to Solomon’s wickedness, the united kingdom of Israel was divided into two with ten of the tribes going to the north and Judah and Benjamin remaining in the south.  After the death of Solomon, Jeroboam led a revolt against the son of Solomon, Rehoboam due to how heavy a yoke that Rehoboam laid on the people (1 Kgs. 12:1-16).  

Abijah, who is the focus of our lesson today, is the reigning king of Judah.  As I explained in last week’s lesson, the king of the southern kingdom carried the title of being the king of Judah.  Abijah is the son of Rehoboam which means that he is the grandson of Solomon and therefore the great grandson of David.  As you know, in order to lay claim to the throne as king of Judah, one had to come through the lineage of David.  It was never intended for the kingdom to be divided so the Davidic line was supposed to cover all of Israel, but again, Solomon’s wickedness led to the division.

Abijah’s message to Israel

Scripture then tells us that Abijah stood on mount Zemaraim in order to deliver a message to Jeroboam and all of Israel.  He opens his message by first mentioning who the throne actually belongs to.  He says, “Should you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons (vss. 4-5).”  

Again, when David was anointed king, the Lord did not intend for the kingdom to be divided.  The seed of David was intended to rule over a united Israel.  The division eventually led to the fall of the northern kingdom with many of those tribes breeding with other gentile nations.  Many of those northern tribes became Samaritans or were unable to trace their lineage because of breeding with Gentile nations, so the Jews would end up looking down on them.  Let’s remember, it was important for Jesus to come through the lineage of David in order for Him to be able to lay claim to the throne.

Abijah is essentially saying that Jeroboam does not have the right to lay claim to the throne which was technically true.  He then begins to speak about how Jeroboam rebelled against the throne and therefore the Lord (v. 6).  However, I do want to point out that the Lord set it in motion for the Jeroboam to be the king of the northern tribes.  In fact, God said to Jeroboam that if he were to heed all of His commands, walk in His way, and keep the statutes that God would build him and enduring house (1 Kgs. 11:29-39).

There actually was not a physical fight immediately at the beginning of the division, but scripture does indicate that there was war between Jeroboam and Rehoboam all the days of their lives (1 Kgs. 14:30).  When Jeroboam initially led the people away, Rehoboam was going to send 180,000 choice men to go do battle against Jeroboam but God commanded them not to do so.  So, Rehoboam certainly viewed what Jeroboam did as a betrayal and rebellion, which we could say it certainly was but it was something that was put in motion by God.  Abijah grew up viewing what Jeroboam did as a rebellion as well.  Abijah also grew up seeing just how wicked Jeroboam became.

Jeroboam’s wickedness

After recounting Jeroboam’s rebellion against the Davidic monarchy (v. 7), we can skip down a few verses to see Abijah start to recount Jeroboam’s history of his rebellion against God.  Abijah asks, “Have you not cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made for yourselves priests, like the peoples of other lands, so that whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may be a priest of things that are not gods (v. 9)?” 

After receiving the kingdom of Israel (the northern kingdom) from the Lord, Jeroboam wound up turning away from God.  Jeroboam desired for the people in the northern kingdom to never have to go to Jerusalem to worship.  He feared losing his kingdom to the Davidic monarchy of the southern kingdom.  So, Jeroboam made two calves of gold and told the people of the northern kingdom that those calves were their gods (1 Kgs. 12:28).  He said to the people, “Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”  This was a very great sin.

Abijah was pointing out all of this to pose one thought – did Jeroboam and Israel truly believe they could withstand the kingdom of the Lord (v. 8).  You see, Abijah was concluding that because Jeroboam and Israel had turned from the Lord, that the Lord was not with them.  He says, “as for us (Judah), the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him; and the priests who minister to the Lord are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites attend to their duties (v. 10).”

Judah’s faithfulness

What’s not mentioned by Abijah here was that Judah did do evil in the sight of God during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kgs. 14:22-23).  It is also recorded that Abijah (or Abijam) walked in all the sins of Rehoboam and that his heart was not loyal to God during his three year reign (1 Kgs. 15:3).  Scripture then says this, “Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kgs. 15:4-5).”

So, God was still with Judah – the southern kingdom – because of David.  I do want to point out that Judah would eventually suffer because of its sin when it was conquered by Babylon and was exiled from the land for a short period of time.  That being said, Judah was never lost like the ten northern tribes as they were able to return back to Jerusalem.

At the point of time during our lesson, Abijah does speak to how Judah was still keeping to the ways of God (vss. 11).  They were still offering sacrifice to the Lord in the southern kingdom and it was being done by those who were truly of the priesthood when compared to the false priests who were offering up sacrifice to idols in the northern kingdom.  Now, there did become a point in time during Isaiah’s time where such offerings were not pleasing to the Lord because the southern kingdom had become so sinful (Is. 1:11).

Israel vs. Judah

So, Abijah has delivered a message against Jeroboam and Israel who, again, was standing with 800,000 choice men to his 400,000.  Judah is outnumbered two times over on this battlefield, so we can certainly understand that it took a great amount of courage for Abijah to make the statement he has made.  We could also say that it took a great amount of courage for Judah to even show up to this battlefield.

Who or what is it that has given them this courage?  We know the answer to this question — the Lord.  God will fill you up with courage, as we have seen in recent lessons, in your greatest trials and against your greatest enemies.  When you feel that you are outnumbered 2-to-1, God will fill you with courage even then.  So, while Israel had the numbers, they were not being led by the Lord in this battle as Judah was being led (v. 12).  Israel was being led by a man, Jeroboam, and their idols.  Who do you think would win such a battle?

Attacking the Lord

Scripture shows us that while Abijah was making this statement that part of the Israel army was sneaking up from behind to attack Judah (v. 13).  This is a tactic that we have seen an enemy try before against the children of Israel when the Amalekites tried to attack them from behind when they were heading from Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-16).  Attacking God’s people from behind simply does not work!  (This also includes us, the genuine believers of today, as well)!

Attacking God’s people is a move against God, as has been established in our lesson today.  Man stands no chance against the Lord!  As my dad once said in a sermon many years ago – our arms are too short to box with God!  When we, the genuine believer, are standing firm in our faith and have put on the whole armor of the Lord, we cannot be defeated!

Scripture shows us in our lesson that the Lord struck Jeroboam and all of Israel and the Israel army scattered before Judah (vss. 15-16).  Israel was delivered into the hands of Judah that day and 500,000 men of the Israel army fell to Abijah and Judah (v. 17).  It was Judah’s faith in the Lord that allowed them to prevail when they were outnumbered and attacked on two fronts (v. 18)!

So, let us consider that we often find ourselves in situations when we are outnumbered and flanked on multiple sides by our enemy.  When I say, “our enemy,” I want you to understand that I’m talking about our spiritual enemy.  I truly do believe that the true worshipers of God are outnumbered in the world by those with a contrasting spirit.  

Yet, we ought not worry about the devil and being outnumbered by sinners because God is on our side.  We will overcome the world, we will overcome sin, because God is on our side and has already overcome these things.  So, let us stand courageously in this world.


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