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28 September. 2 Chronicles chapters 11-14
Sadly, with these chapters we return to the old story of war between the peoples of the near east. The history is clearly written from the viewpoint of Judah, reigned during this time by three descendants of David – Rehoboam, Abijah and Asa.
Rehoboam is pictured as someone who starts off listening to God (taking the advice of the prophets not to start a civil war against the tribes that had broken anyway) but later in life turns away from God and is therefore defeated by the North Africans, an alliance of Egyptians, Libyans and Ethiopians with “countless” infantry and 60,000 cavalry.
Abijah reversed his father’s policy towards Israel and fought against Jeroboam’s 800,000 “mighty warriors”. Despite being outnumbered, and caught in a pincer movement, the fact that Abijah worshipped the true God while Rehoboam allegedly worshipped idols and “goat demons” meant that God gave victory to the Judeans.
In Asa’s day, this ‘good’ king did all he could to root out idols, destroying their places of worship. As a result, God gave him victory over, this time, an Ethiopian army numbering a million!
I’m sure these tales of derring-do and contrast between faithful worshippers of Yahweh and idolatrous worshippers of goat-demons are propaganda that have to be taken with a larger pinch of salt than covered Lot’s wife. The bit that rings true to me, though, is the word of God to Rehoboam through the prophet Shemaiah: “You shall not go up or fight against your kindred. Let everyone return home, for this thing is from me.” (11:4). That is God’s true nature: to call on people to be reconciled, not to gather armies and fight. Human nature is always to seek revenge and turn to conflict, but as Jesus famously said several centuries later, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Of these three kings, Rehoboam seems to have been the most godly.