Read: 2 Chronicles 13-17
I woke up too early this morning to admit, but once again, I find the presence of God richly blesses the time when I simply stop to read his word and listen to the Holy Spirit. This morning took an unexpected turn from ancient kings to nearly forgotten hymns. I hope you spend time listening to what God has for you this morning. I’m sure it’s different for you than it is for me, but pause, read, reflect. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul, to your very soul this morning.
The civil war continues. At this point Abijah (southern kingdom) and 400,000 troops march against Jeroboam’s 800,000 men. Abijah speaks against Jeroboam, his self-proclaimed religion and righteousness. The highlight includes this conclusion:
God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.” 2 Chronicles 13:12
Jeroboam surround Abijah, but God routed Jeroboam’s army and there were 500,000 casualties that day. The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles 13:18
Abijah grew in strength and power and married a bunch of wives and had lots of children…Solomon’s grandson. Jeroboam is struck down and killed. His legacy will continue to infect the northern kingdom, Israel, for generations to come.
Chapter 14 begins with words we don’t see too often: Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. In one particular battle against the overwhelming power of the Cushites, Asa calls upon the Lord for help and again, God delivers those who are faithful to him.
Chapter 15 highlights Asa’s reforms and systematic removal of idols from the land at the prompting of a prophet, Azariah.
All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. 2 Chronicles 15:15
It is significant to find rest on every side during a time when it was dangerous to travel abroad. These were difficult times.
Then, in the 36th year of Asa’s reign he makes a mistake. Think about it, for 35 years he did what was right and now, for some crazy reason, he fumbles. Chapter 16 tells us that Baasha, king of Israel (northern kingdom) mounted an attack against Asa. Here’s the huge mistake: Asa bribes Ben-Hadad king of Aram to withdraw his support from Baasha and effectively wins the battle without fighting, but here’s the deal, he didn’t call upon the Lord for direction or deliverance.
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 2 Chronicles 16:7
Asa had accumulated enough wealth to fix his problem without God’s help. As a result, the Arameans will continue to be a problem for the chosen people. These are not the words Asa wanted to hear, after all, he just won the battle and walked away with tons of plunder.
Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people. 2 Chronicles 16:10
Asa lived for five more years after fighting a disease in his feet that crippled him, but even then he did not ask the Lord for help. What happened to Asa? Did he think success was truly of his own making? Lord, may we always give you the honor and glory especially in good times. Don’t let us forget you are the fount from which all blessings flow, come thou fount of every blessing, bind my wandering heart to thee. This great hymn epitomizes Asa wandering heart. Sadly, it appears he didn’t recover his perspective and dies in his 41st year. He is honored for 35 of 40 good years, but what a tragedy. Thank you Lord for the reminder in this narrative.
Chapter 17 highlights the good deeds of Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son and heir to the throne.
[Jehoshaphat] sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah. 2 Chronicles 17:4-6
His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord. These are the words I’d love to have on my tombstone, not because I wrote them, but because people around me would draw this conclusion by my actions, it is my sincere hope.
Sorry, Come Thou Fount is still playing in my head:
Here’s my heart
O take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.
I’m sure the words don’t convey the sense of warmth I feel from the Holy Spirit right now. As I walked to the bookshelf and looked in three different hymnals to read the words of this old hymn, memories flood my mind with songs we no longer sing, lyrics that feed my soul, that fed my soul for years. A book next to the hymnals, Then Sings My Soul, includes stories behind 150 great hymns, the featured image on this post. The inscription indicates this was a gift from my brother and his wife, Bill and Kim, on Mother’s Day 2005, the handwriting is that of my mother. Thanks mom. Thanks Bill & Kim.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of music that reminds us of your goodness, of your great deeds. Thank you for the legacy of faithful parents and the church of yesteryear that has all but vanished, yet continues to convict me of your love and sovereignty, especially as I get older.