Script for the May 31st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 31st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 2 Chronicles 13-14. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Chronicles 13

The king who was guilty of stupid leadership that led to the split of the kingdom has now died. Rehoboam’s son, Abijah, now becomes king over the southern kingdom of Judah.

2 Chronicles 13:1 (CSB): “In the eighteenth year of Israel’s King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah, and he reigned three years in Jerusalem…”

At some point, King Abijah of Judah went to war against King Jeroboam of Israel. When we look at the numbers, we can’t help but think that Judah will be destroyed. Abijah had brought his army of warriors, which numbered about 400,000 men. Jeroboam arranged his mighty army of about 800,000 men.

But before the battle begins, King Abijah wants to build his case before Jeroboam’s army. We aren’t sure of Abijah’s motives, though. Is he a serious follower of the Lord who genuinely wants the people of Israel to repent and follow the Lord? Or does King Abijah simply want to conveniently use the promise given to King David to lure the people of Israel back so that Abijah’s military power and prestige can grow, satisfying a massive ego? We aren’t sure at this point.

As hundreds of thousands of troops listen, let’s also listen to what King Abijah said.

2 Chronicles 13:4-12 (CSB): “Then Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, ‘Jeroboam and all Israel, hear me. Don’t you know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? But Jeroboam son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord. Then worthless and wicked men gathered around him to resist Rehoboam son of Solomon when Rehoboam was young, inexperienced, and unable to assert himself against them. And now you are saying you can assert yourselves against the LORD’s kingdom, which is in the hand of one of David’s sons. You are a vast number and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made for you as gods. Didn’t you banish the priests of the LORD, the descendants of Aaron and the Levites, and make your own priests like the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to ordain himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods. But as for us, the LORD is our God. We have not abandoned him; the priests ministering to the LORD are descendants of Aaron, and the Levites serve at their tasks. They offer a burnt offering and fragrant incense to the LORD every morning and every evening, and they set the rows of the Bread of the Presence on the ceremonially clean table. They light the lamps of the gold lampstand every evening. We are carrying out the requirements of the LORD our God, while you have abandoned him. Look, God and his priests are with us at our head. The trumpets are ready to sound the charge against you. Israelites, don’t fight against the LORD God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.’”

Clearly, King Abijah wants to appeal to Israel’s reasoning. They know of King David and the promises that were made to him. They know of the glory days of Solomon and how the kingdom split after that. They also know that the people of Judah are continuing to worship at the Temple that Solomon built and are worshipping the one true God, while the Israelites have been sold a bill of goods by their corrupt king and are worshipping false gods.

How did the army of Israel respond? What did they think about King Abijah’s words? Were they moved by what he was saying? Did they long to worship once again in Jerusalem at the Temple?

We don’t know because their wicked leader had taken measures to distract from his message. King Jeroboam sent an ambush to attack King Abijah from behind. When Judah realized that they had an army in front and behind them, they cried out to the Lord.

Listen to how this played out…

2 Chronicles 13:14-17 (CSB): “… Then the priests blew the trumpets, and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. When the men of Judah raised the battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. So the Israelites fled before Judah, and God handed them over to them. Then Abijah and his people struck them with a mighty blow, and five hundred thousand fit young men of Israel were killed.”

The Lord clearly fought for Judah. But why? Was God playing favorites? What was the reason that God fought for Judah and against Israel? The answer is given for us in the text.

2 Chronicles 13:18 (CSB): “… The Judahites succeeded because they depended on the LORD, the God of their ancestors.”

As this chapter ends, we are told that King Jeroboam of Israel grew weaker as King Abijah of Judah grew stronger.

Friend, there is no guarantee at all that God will bless us with strength and victory as we follow Him. Honestly, New Testament saints recognize that the “center of God’s will” is sometimes the most difficult and dangerous place to be.

But this would be a good time to ask ourselves the question: “WHY am I serving the Lord? Is it because I delight in Him and desire to do what He desires of me? Or do we serve Him because of what we think we can get out of it?“

Let’s understand that there is coming a day when God will reward the faithful. Just read the first part of Matthew 6 and circle every time Jesus uses the word “reward.” But those rewards may not be experienced in this life. So are we willing to serve the Lord in the here and now simply because it is the right thing to do for the One that has done so much for us? Heaven is watching, my friend.

2 Chronicles 14

2 Chronicles 14:1 (CSB): “Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David. His son Asa became king in his place. During his reign the land experienced peace for ten years.”

The ten years of peace don’t seem to be by accident. The years of peace seem to be in direct response to King Asa’s heart for the Lord. We’re told that he got rid of pagan altars and high places. But he was also serious about obeying the Lord’s commands and leading the people to do so.

2 Chronicles 14:2 (CSB): “Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the LORD his God.”

2 Chronicles 14:4 (CSB): “He told the people of Judah to seek the LORD God of their ancestors and to carry out the instruction and the commands.”

In verses 6-7, we read that King Asa took advantage of the years of peace. He didn’t settle into apathy. Instead, he wisely used the time of peace to rebuild some cities and “surrounded them with walls and towers, with doors and bars.” He knew the time of peace would not last, so he was preparing his people for the times of war that were sure to come.

In verse 8, we are told that King Asa had a total of 580,000 men in his army. Then, in verse 9, Zerah the Cushite (from northern Africa) came against King Asa with one million men and three hundred chariots. There would seem to be absolutely no way that King Asa would survive this onslaught.

But then we read that King Asa’s dependence upon the God of Heaven permeated every area of his life, including when he was about to be slaughtered.

2 Chronicles 14:11 (CSB): “Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, ‘LORD, there is no one besides you to help the mighty and those without strength. Help us, LORD our God, for we depend on you, and in your name we have come against this large army. LORD, you are our God. Do not let a mere mortal hinder you.’”

As this chapter comes to a close, we read that the battle was an onslaught. However, it was the Cushite army that was slaughtered. They retreated and we are told that “the Cushites fell until they had no survivors.”

But King Asa didn’t stop there. He attacked the cities around Gerar. Why did he do this? Because every nation wants a buffer. They want to increase the territory around them that was either friendly to them or subservient to them. That way, warring nations would have to go through those territories before getting to them. So King Asa was creating a buffer zone.

As I read this chapter, my mind went to a spiritual principle. Just as sin wants to attack us, we need to rely upon the Lord to defeat it. But even as we defeat sin in our life, we need to create buffer zones. We need to set up areas around our lives so that sin has to go even farther, and work even harder, to get to us.

What do buffer zones look like? It all depends upon the sin that seeks to defeat us. For instance, one sin that is taking down so many men today is adultery. Whether it is physical adultery with someone else or it is heart adultery as they gawk at an image on a screen. So, I am a big proponent of men setting up buffer zones, boundaries that are planted in areas that aren’t necessarily sin but are far enough out that sin has trouble getting close.

Some of those boundaries can be such things as:

  • Don’t subscribe to cable channels that are known for having objectionable material.
  • Don’t put a computer in a private area of your home.
  • Your spouse and other people in your home should know your mobile device(s) passwords and have access to them anytime they choose.
  • If you are married, never be in a place where you are alone with another woman. If you are single, never be in a place where you are alone with another man’s wife.

On and on we could go, but you get the idea. Violating any of these action steps wouldn’t necessarily constitute sin. But their purpose is to set up boundaries beyond what is known to be sin so that we can create a protective buffer zone.

The serious Christian will understand that following the Lord is worth whatever measures we take to protect ourselves from doing what would violate His commands, even if it means forbidding in our lives what is not sin so that we can create protective buffer zones.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we want to be serious about following and obeying You. We want to protect ourselves from sin, especially the sin that so easily besets each of us. So give us the wisdom, Lord, to be like King Asa and set up buffer zones. Others may ridicule us as prudes or legalists but help us to be more concerned about our journey toward greater degrees of holiness than what other people think. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!