…So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. – 2 Chronicles 10:19
The strife between Jeroboam and the house of David – between the ten northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin – is revisited once Abijah succeeds Rehoboam in Jerusalem. Notice the term the author uses to describe this conflict: in rebellion. Also remember that the success of this rebellion was ordained by God – fulfilling the LORD’s word to Jeroboam. Unless the author was flippant with his words, his perspective is that God permitted Jeroboam and his followers to be in active revolt – for the LORD’s own reasons – against the throne in Jerusalem.
Consider how this might be reconciled. From Judah’s perspective, Israel is rebelling against the house that the LORD has placed over Israel. However, look closely at those promises to David and Solomon in 1 Chronicles 17 and 2 Chronicles 7: the LORD promises that 'You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.' There is no assurance of how large that kingdom would be. You can decide for yourself whether this is parsing too closely, but the LORD is able to fulfill His promises to both David and Jeroboam, and it’s a matter of perspective whether this constitutes a rebellion against, or fulfillment of, God’s ordained purposes.
But we’ll know right away the perspective of Abijah when he goes out to Ephraim today to squash the rebellion his father could not. The record of this battle is dominated by Abijah’s speech on Mount Zemaraim, where he rebukes Jeroboam and “the worthless scoundrels gathered about him,” for their rebellion against “the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David,” and for expelling “the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron” and making “priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands.” Listen closely to Abijah’s observations; you’re allowed to assess his conclusions based on what you know of the promise to David and the history of this conflict. You’re also invited by the author to assess Abijah’s reign, and the health of Judah, based on the outcome of this battle.
Abijah’s short reign is followed by Asa’s, in whose days the land had rest for ten years. He is the first king since Solomon of whom it is asserted that he did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. Notice what follows to explain this assessment: “He took away foreign altars and the high places…and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandments. In return for this faithfulness, He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace.” Once again, the LORD’s promises to David and Solomon form the backbone of the story, and guide Judah’s fortunes.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 25:40: And the king will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”
2 Chronicles 13 through 15. Now let’s read it!
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’