2 Chronicles 13
Abijah King of Judah
Abijah became king of Judah. It was in the 18th year of Jeroboam’s rule over Israel. Abijah ruled in Jerusalem for three years. His mother’s name was Maakah. She was a daughter of Uriel. Uriel was from Gibeah.
There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah went into battle with an army of 400,000 capable fighting men. Jeroboam lined up his soldiers against them. He had 800,000 able troops.
Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim. It’s in the hill country of Ephraim. Abijah said, “Jeroboam and all you Israelites, listen to me! The Lord is the God of Israel. Don’t you know that he has placed David and his sons after him on Israel’s throne forever? The Lord made a covenant of salt with David. The salt means the covenant will last for all time to come. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, was an official of David’s son Solomon. But he refused to obey his master. Some worthless and evil men gathered around him. They opposed Solomon’s son Rehoboam. At that time Rehoboam was young. He couldn’t make up his mind. He wasn’t strong enough to stand up against those men.
“Now you plan to stand up against the kingdom of the Lord. His kingdom is in the hands of men in David’s family line. It’s true that you have a huge army. You have the statues of the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. But you drove out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron. You also drove out the Levites. You appointed your own priests. That’s what the people of other nations do. Anyone can come and set himself apart. All he has to do is sacrifice a young bull and seven rams. Then he becomes a priest of gods that aren’t really gods at all!
“But the Lord is our God. We haven’t deserted him. The priests who serve the Lord belong to the family line of Aaron. The Levites help them. Every morning and evening the priests bring burnt offerings and sweet-smelling incense to the Lord. They set out the holy bread on the table. That table is ‘clean.’ They light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We always do what the Lord our God requires in his law. But you have deserted him. God is with us. He’s our leader. His priests will blow their trumpets. They will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, don’t fight against the Lord. He’s the God of your people who lived long ago. You can’t possibly succeed.”
Jeroboam had sent some troops behind Judah’s battle lines. He told them to hide and wait there. He and his men stayed in front of Judah’s lines. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked from the front and from the back. Then they cried out to the Lord. The priests blew their trumpets. The men of Judah shouted the battle cry. When they did, God drove Jeroboam and all the Israelites away from Abijah and Judah. The Israelites ran away from them. God handed Israel over to Judah. Abijah and his troops wounded and killed large numbers of them. In fact, 500,000 of Israel’s capable men lay dead or wounded. So at that time the Israelites were brought under Judah’s control. The people of Judah won the battle over them. That’s because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their people.
Abijah chased Jeroboam. He captured from him the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron. He also captured the villages around them. Jeroboam didn’t get his power back during the time of Abijah. In fact, the Lord struck Jeroboam down, and he died.
But Abijah grew stronger. He married 14 wives. He had 22 sons and 16 daughters.
The other events of Abijah’s rule are written down. The things he did and said are written in the notes of Iddo the prophet.
2 Chronicles 14
Abijah joined the members of his family who had already died. He was buried in the City of David. Abijah’s son Asa became the next king after him. While Asa was king, the country had peace and rest for ten years.
Asa Becomes King of Judah
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. Asa removed the altars where false gods were worshiped. He took away the high places. He smashed the sacred stones. He cut down the poles used to worship the female god named Asherah. He commanded Judah to worship the Lord, the God of their people. He commanded them to obey the Lord’s laws and commands. Asa removed the high places and incense altars from every town in Judah. The kingdom had peace and rest under his rule. He built up the cities of Judah that had high walls around them. The land was at peace. No one was at war with Asa during those years. That’s because the Lord gave him peace and rest.
“Let’s build up our towns,” Asa said to the people of Judah. “Let’s put walls around them. Let’s provide them with towers. Let’s make them secure with gates that have heavy metal bars. The land still belongs to us. That’s because we’ve trusted in the Lord our God. We trusted in him, and he has given us peace and rest on every side.” So they built. And things went well for them.
Asa had an army of 300,000 men from Judah. They carried spears and large shields. There were 280,000 men from Benjamin. They were armed with bows and small shields. All these men were brave soldiers.
Zerah marched out against them. He was from Cush. He had a huge army of thousands. He also had 300 chariots. They came all the way to Mareshah. Asa went out to meet Zerah in battle. They took up their positions in the Valley of Zephathah. It’s near Mareshah.
Then Asa called out to the Lord his God. He said, “Lord, there isn’t anyone like you. You help the weak against the strong. Lord our God, help us. We trust in you. In your name we have come out to fight against this huge army. Lord, you are our God. Don’t let mere human beings win the battle over you.”
The Lord struck down the men of Cush for Asa and Judah. The Cushites ran away. Asa and his army chased them all the way to Gerar. A large number of Cushites fell down wounded or dead. So they couldn’t fight back. The Lord and his army crushed them. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of goods. They destroyed all the villages around Gerar. The Lord had made the people in those villages afraid of him. The men of Judah took everything from all the villages. They also attacked the camps of those who took care of the herds. They carried off large numbers of sheep, goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 15
Asa Makes Judah a Better Nation
The Spirit of God came on Azariah. He was the son of Oded. Azariah went out to meet Asa. He said to him, “Asa and all you people of Judah and Benjamin, listen to me. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you really look for him, you will find him. But if you desert him, he will desert you. For a long time Israel didn’t worship the true God. They didn’t have a priest who taught them. So they didn’t know God’s law. But when they were in trouble, they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel. When they did, they found him. In those days it wasn’t safe to travel around. The people who lived in all the areas of the land were having a lot of trouble. One nation was crushing another. One city was crushing another. That’s because God was causing them to suffer terribly. But be strong. Don’t give up. God will reward you for your work.”
Asa heard that prophecy. He paid attention to the words of Azariah the prophet, the son of Oded. So Asa became bolder than ever. He removed the statues of gods from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin. He also removed them from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He did it because the Lord hated those gods. Asa repaired the altar of the Lord. It was in front of the porch of the Lord’s temple.
Then Asa gathered together all the people of Judah and Benjamin. He also gathered together the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who were living among them. Large numbers of people had come over to him from Israel. They came because they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
They gathered in Jerusalem. It was the third month of the 15th year of Asa’s rule. At that time they sacrificed to the Lord 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep and goats. The animals were among the things they had taken after the battle. They made a covenant to obey the Lord, the God of their people. They would obey him with all their heart and soul. All those who wouldn’t obey the Lord, the God of Israel, would be killed. It wouldn’t matter how important they were. It wouldn’t matter whether they were men or women. They made a promise to the Lord. They praised him out loud. They shouted. They blew trumpets and horns. All the people of Judah were happy about the promise they had made. They turned to God with all their heart. When they did, they found him. So the Lord gave them peace and rest on every side.
King Asa also removed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother. That’s because she had made a pole used to worship the female god named Asherah. The Lord hated it. So Asa cut it down. He broke it up. He burned it in the Kidron Valley. Asa didn’t remove the high places from Israel. But he committed his whole life completely to the Lord. He and his father had set apart silver, gold and other things to the Lord. Asa brought them into God’s temple.
There weren’t any more wars until the 35th year of Asa’s rule.