II Chronicles 10-16
We are in the Nation Stream reading from The Living Bible.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Heavenly Father, we see the biblical truths shining forth today. Following you leads to wellness, strength, establishment, and blessing. Turning from you takes lives into decimation and loss. May we learn from this and follow you regardless of anything that tries to distract us. We are yours. Lord God. Amen.
Solomon is gone. The zenith of Jerusalem’s wealth and power was a bygone era. The glory of it all was stunning. Solomon had entranced the world as God had blessed him with a level of achievement no human had known to date. But as time and tide waits for no man, Solomon’s time was up after 40 years of leadership and his successor was not nearly as competent. His son was raised by a brilliant man, yes, but not a godly man. Whereas Solomon had been raised by a godly man. Let the implications of that simmer in your mind. Note that whereas the Book of I & II Kings gives a parallel account of this era, II Chronicles 10-36 (following Solomon’s death at the end of II Chr. 9) tells of only the kings of Judah. So keep in mind as you study Bible in this life, I Kings and II Chronicles both begin with Solomon
10 – Solomon’s son Rehoboam (among numerous sons!) succeeded him as king in Jerusalem. Meanwhile Jeroboam, an Ephraimite [who was a manager of the labor force and the taxes coming from Ephraim for Solomon] came back from exile and lead a rebellion against the system that taxed the whole country at a stifling level. Jeroboam’s concerns were legitimate actually. The problem was that in the process of deciding what the tax rates should be from that point onward, the young men were involved and they had no intention of being conciliatory. They promised to raise taxes to a level that would choke them to death and they better get used to it! Forgive me for being so relevant to current events, folks. But tensions throughout history have usually been about taxation and it’s level proceeding way past responsible/sensible and becoming theft and the financing of immoral leaders who are anything but forthright. Rehoboam was moronic in his rejecting the advice of the older men and going with the “sophomores” in his midst; his peers mind you. Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite, not Jewish so that gives you some insight as to where he might get his foolishness. Not to overlook his father having a child with an Ammonite, but heyyy! Rehoboam proved to be a master of mismanagement and the 10 tribes of the north broke away. When the first Ambassador was sent north from Jerusalem, he was murdered. The people were angry up north and they were not to be consoled.
11 – Rehoboam assembled an army to march north and subdue them; forcing them to come back. However the Lord intervened immediately and told Rehoboam to go home. Rehoboam spent the next years fortifying the southern cities of Judah. Meanwhile Jeroboam up north fired all the Levitical priests and they retreated to Jerusalem and Judea. Jeroboam needed to ensure the kingdom split and he effectively used bad religion to do so. Rehoboam failed to learn from his father’s excess and he too took in 78 women as wives and concubines. He placed his sons around Judah to serve as guards for him and made sure they all had many wives too [thanks dad!]. As I mentioned before, in a manner of speaking, Rehoboam wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Nevertheless, he was in charge, and he had more ambition than sense or insight.
12 – Rehoboam followed the Lord somewhat until he became powerful and wealthy enough to think he was self-sufficient. He veered off into sin, led the people to Judah to do the same, and before long the Egyptian army was knocking at the door – with a battering ram! And Solomon thought [40+ years ago] that there would be eternal peace with Egypt since his first wife was Egyptian…(peace through illicit sex never did work). This Egyptian invasion by Shishak is verified by archaeological remains that string from Megiddo to the Negev and can still be viewed today. Shishak bragged of this conquest on a wall carving that is in Karnak, Egypt. This is the same city where Moses and Pharaoh had their year long showdown and the 10 plagues centered out of some 500 years prior. It must have been especially gratifying for Shishak to do this – after hauling all the Temple treasures from Jerusalem back to Egypt. It was all so terribly unfortunate! Ignoring God leads to such loss time and time again. Rehoboam did humble himself again and the losses were not total for Shishak didn’t decimate Judah and parts of the north like he could have. If you are curious for more of Rehoboam, the collateral tale is told in I Kings 12-14.
13 – Abijah became king and he was wicked like his father Rehoboam. Abijah’s wickedness is more stated in the I Kings 15 story of him. His battle with Jeroboam was successful in regaining some cities from the north. Abijah did know idolatry when he saw it and his confronting Jeroboam was a right move. The victory is attributed to his calling on God. For that we must credit Abijah for doing something right. Did the numbers in this battle hit you? Israel/the 10 Northern tribes, lost 500,000 elite fighters that DAY. Good grief the USA lost 58,000 in Vietnam over 16 years. the USA lost 400,000 in WWII across dozens of countries and numerous oceans over four years. This small country of Israel lost 500,000 in one battle in one area in one day! One might think that Jeroboam [the northern king] would pause to ponder whether his paganism was working or not. or whether his tax revolt could perhaps be renegotiated…or not. But Jeroboam was an angry dullard and he was struck that day in such a way that he never recovered. It wasn’t long before the Lord finished him off with a severity that took him to his grave.
14 – Asa was next king of Judah reigning from 911-870 B.C.; 41 years. He was righteous and his heart was good and devoted to God. He removed the idols and all the pagan relics along with. He built walls and fortified the cities of the southern kingdom. The Judea and Benjamite army totaled 580,000 men who were led by godly leaders. They were so sound in their principles, led of God, purified of idolatry that when a million man army arrives from Ethiopia to take them down, quick work is made of them and not one survives! Not one. The Bible says the Lord did this. The plunder and spoils of war that went home to Jerusalem were quite something as they returned from this battle.
15 – Returning from war, they are met by a prophet who speaks a powerful word over Asa and the southern kingdom –> “commit to God!” It’s a Word that they end up needing more than one might think (this shows in ch . 16). They assert this call to reform all the more and finish removing any vestige of ungodliness they could find. The altar is repaired the rest of the way, a huge offering is given as the whole southern kingdom pledges to follow God and declares that anyone who deviates will be killed. New ‘recruits’ from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeons’ territory were present as they wanted to be on the Lords’ side of things. There was a renewed covenant and joy in the land resulting from this commitment to follow God completely by everyone. Asa even had his own mother removed from prominence since she had retained her commitment to pagan idolatry. The guy’s playing “hardball”, eh? Y’gotta love it when a man is committed to God and won’t flinch for absolutely anyone.
16 – Then the north rattles the saber, goading Asa and Judah to war. Asa errs permanently right here in that he consults Syria to aid him in stopping Israel from fighting him in Judah. What was Asa’s lapse in judgment all about? He had defeated them before and disposed of 500K top soldiers. He had defeated a hardened million man army from Ethiopia and LIbya and seemed to escape without a scratch. !?He needs help from Syria now?! What is he thinking? Is he NOT thinking? and why is he not thinking? Verse 9 is a world of wisdom that is still speaking 29 centuries later., btw. Check that verse again!! After this prophetic exhortation in his 39th year as king, Asa went dark the last two years of his life and reign. He didn’t go to the Lord anymore. Disease struck him and still he wouldn’t pray. Can we say, “all’s not well that ends bad!”?