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runner kneeling in front of starting blocks June 13 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Kings 14:29-31; 2Chronicles 12:15-16; 1Kings 15:1-8; 2Chronicles 13:1-20a; 2Chronicles 13:21- 14:1a; 1Kings 15:9-11; 2 Chronicles 14:1b-7; 1Kings 14:19-20; 2Chronicles 13:20b; 1Kings 15:25-31; 2Chronicles 14:8- 15:7; 1Kings 15:12-15; 2Chronicles 15:8-19

The Keys to Victory

What are the keys to victory for a track team? Are they strategy, execution of the fundamentals, running a good race, getting a good start, or trusting your teammates? The keys to victory may be all these things and more, but for those of us who know God in a personal way there is a better answer to win in life’s race. We will discover what that is in this Bible study.

When King Rehoboam of the southern kingdom of Judah died, his son Abijah ruled in his stead, “and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother's name was Maacah, a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam” [the king of the ten northern tribes of Israel] (1Kings 14:30-31, NIV). Jeroboam relied on foreign gods, made of gold, and his military skill. The southern kingdom of Judah, however, still remained, at least in name and religious practice, loyal to the one true God.

In a battle with Israel, his troops being outnumbered two to one, Abijah appeals to Jeroboam to reconsider his attack. Abijah calls out to Jeroboam’s army,

“God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed” (2Chronicles 13:12, NIV).

Jeroboam, however, knows he has an overwhelming advantage and isn’t about to be swayed by courageous and brave religious declarations. He doesn't care that he has deserted the true God for false idols. He does not care that he has ousted true priests of the LORD from his country and replaced them with unworthy men to serve false gods. He does not care about the heritage of God’s people and how the LORD has defended them in the past. Jeroboam has the numbers and a good military strategy. He stages an ambush against the armies of Judah.

Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the LORD. The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. Abijah and his men inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel's able men. The men of Israel were subdued on that occasion, and the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. (2Chronicles 13:13-18, NIV).

What was the key to victory for Abijah’s army? Reliance on the LORD.

Abijah, like his father, is not fully devoted to the LORD. The LORD, however, is gracious in giving him victory and extending the kingdom of Judah for King David’s sake. God was going to keep the promise he made to David for extending his reign through his descendants if they obeyed him. Although they were far from being righteous, still they kept the required services to God and called out to him in their time of need.

The next king of Judah was Asa.

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him (2Chronicles 14:2-5, NIV).

Shortly after Asa is crowned king, God strikes Jeroboam down and he dies (we are not told the cause of his death). Two years later his son Nadab is killed by Baasha, a leader from the tribe of Issachar. Afterwards, he kills all of Jeroboam's family in accordance with the prophecy of Ahijah, spoken early in Jeroboam's reign.

When Asa is confronted by an enemy from Ethiopia (Cush),

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled,” (2Chronicles 14:11-12, NIV).

Following the victory, a prophet of the LORD encourages Asa to continue in righteousness so he will be rewarded. Asa takes encouragement from these words. He makes a binding covenant with the nation of Judah and those who have deserted to him from Israel, to seek the LORD whole-heartedly.

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.

King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa's heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life” (2Chronicles 15:15–17, NIV).

Abijah and Asa won victories because of their reliance on the LORD. Asa, however, went further in his total commitment and reliance on him and was blessed for it.

Lessons to Live By

  • The Keys to Victory in your Christian life are reliance on the LORD and total commitment to God.
  • Like Abijah and Asa, we, too, can win the victory if we have the courage to repent of any self-will and trust God completely. If we seek him whole-heartedly we will be rewarded.
  • The LORD is with us when we are with him. (more...)

Focus Verse

2Chronicles 15:2 (NIV) “He went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.’” (more…)

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson we have examples of Leadership in our studies of the Kings of Israel and Judah. What makes Leadership Good or Bad?

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