DAVID’S DESCENDANTS FALL 2 Chronicles 10–13
“He and all Israel with him abandoned the Law of the Lord” (2 Chron. 12:1).God kept His promise to David. His descendants did rule on Judah’s throne. But when David’s descendants abandoned God, judgment followed. Even those covered by the promises of God cannot sin impudently.
Rehoboam’s attitude caused the northern tribes to rebel and set up the rival kingdom of “Israel” (10:1–19). Those faithful to God left Israel to settle in Judah (11:1–23). When Rehoboam abandoned God’s Law, the Lord permitted Egypt’s Shishak to invade Judah (12:1–16). The next king of Judah, Abijah, defeated Israel in battle because he “relied on the Lord” (13:1–22).
Understanding the Text
“Be kind to these people” 2 Chron. 10:1–19. Rehoboam’s arrogance was the immediate cause of Israel’s rebellion. While the “turn of events” was “from the Lord,” Rehoboam’s foolishness serves as a healthy reminder. Use of authority, and the attitude of a person with authority, either wins or loses the allegiance of others. Being kind to people is not only good leadership. It is the way Christians are called to live. “So they obeyed the words of the Lord” 2 Chron. 11:1–4. The furious Rehoboam mustered an army to subdue the north. His plans for war were interrupted by the Prophet Shemaiah, who spoke not only to Rehoboam but to “all” in Benjamin and Judah. The text says “they” responded to the prophet’s command not to fight against their brothers. Perhaps the king was one of the “they,” but it seems likely it was the people rather than the king who responded to God’s word. There are times when we should not obey the law of the land. When human law conflicts with God’s commands, we, like the men of Judah, are to obey God. “Those from every tribe of Israel” 2 Chron. 11:5–17. In the north Jeroboam abandoned the ritual commands of the Old Testament and set up a counterfeit faith. He set up golden calves, ordained any who would serve as priests, and replaced the required religious festivals to be celebrated at Jerusalem with festivals of his own. This apostasy forced the Levites and all “who set their hearts on seeking the Lord” to abandon the north and move into Judah. The strength of this movement is seen in the fact that Judah could muster only 180,000 soldiers when the kingdom divided, yet some 18 years later was able to field an army of 400,000! How wise God was in commanding Judah not to fight their brothers. Fighting might well have hardened the hearts of those God intended to seek Him. We too win many more to the Lord by loving them than by fighting them. “You have abandoned Me” 2 Chron. 12:1–5. After a poor start, Rehoboam acted wisely as king, strengthening his kingdom. But with his defenses complete, the king and all Judah “abandoned the Law of the Lord.” God abandoned Judah to be invaded by Egypt under Pharaoh Shishak. Shishak’s description of his invasion is described in a temple inscription found in Karnak, Egypt. The Egyptian stripped the temple of the treasures David and Solomon had gathered, and Judah became a subject nation. God is faithful to those who remain faithful to Him. He is also faithful to discipline His own when we abandon Him. The invasion was not intended to harm Judah. In fact, the vast wealth that was lost had been dedicated to God! In one sense it cost God to discipline His people. Let’s remember when we are disciplined that God’s punishment is motivated by a love which cost Him far more than it can ever cost us. “The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves” 2 Chron. 12:6–16. Two things are of note here. First, Judah is spoken of as “Israel.” This is not a mistake in the text, though the Northern Kingdom rather than the south bore that name. The people of Judah were “Israel,” in that all in the north who sought God had moved to Judah. The true, spiritual Israel of God lived in the south, and it was true Israel God now disciplined. The second thing of note is that the king and people responded appropriately to discipline. They acknowledged the justice of God: they confessed that they deserved the punishment. The text says, “Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him.” Psalm 51:17 applies the lesson to you and me. “A broken and contrite heart, O God,” the psalmist says, “You will not despise.”
Gott Mit Uns (2 Chron. 13)
You could find these words on the belt buckles of the Kaiser’s German troops in WWI. You can find a similar slogan on our coinage: “In God We Trust.” But when do words like these mean something? When do they become a door that opens for us God’s intervention and help? Perhaps Abijah, David’s great-grandson, has the answer. Oh, Abijah was no spiritual giant. The Book of Kings tells us that Abijah, who became king after Rehoboam, “committed all the sins his father had done before him” and that “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord” (1 Kings 15:3). Yet the Chronicler selects one incident in which Abijah’s reliance on the Lord led to direct divine intervention. Abijah was forced into a war with Jeroboam of Israel, though he had only half the troops. Yet Abijah shouted out a warning to the enemy! Judah, Abijah said, had been faithful to God. It had maintained the required services at the temple which God Himself had chosen, which was served by Levites and priests whom God had ordained. On the other hand, Israel came to battle carrying golden calves which they honored as gods, with priests God had neither called nor ordained. Based on Judah’s faithfulness in observing the requirements for worship which the north had forsaken, Abijah proclaimed “God is with us; He is our Leader. . . . Men of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed” (v. 12). Some might dismiss Abijah’s words as mere psychological warfare. Others might criticize him for maintaining that worship rituals proved true devotion to the Lord. But the text tells us that God did deliver Judah. They were “victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers.” What’s fascinating is that, despite Abijah’s failings and the sins of Judah, God did come to their aid! Abijah may have had more claim to divine favor than Israel, but nothing he or Judah had done really merited God’s intervention. Still, when Judah relied on the Lord—and because they relied on the Lord-God did act. It’s the same for you and me today. We can’t claim perfection. We fail God too often. We can’t even claim to be better than folks who don’t go to church. Going to church in itself scores no points with God. But when we are in need, we can do the one thing Abijah and Judah did which did win God’s favor. We can abandon self-confidence, and rely completely on God. It is trust, not being right, and not even being righteous, that brings God to our aid.
Rely on God to help, not because He owes you, but because of who He is.