2 CHRONICLES 13:1 – 15:19 and ACTS 9:1–43
2 Chr 13
The attention now turns to the son of Rehoboam who is a man by the name of Abijah. The account of his reign is also covered in 1 Kings 15. There are some notable differences between the two renderings. The war between Jeroboam and Abijah is covered in more detail in 2 Chronicles 13. The Chronicles account also treats his reign more favourably than the one in 1st Kings. Abijah is seen as not departing from the sins of his father in 1 Kings. It goes on to say that God was remembering David and that He was allowing a light to continue to shine in Judah (1 Kings 15:4-5). The account in Chronicles makes a strong contrast between Jeroboam and Abijah which shows him in a greater light than the king to the north. Abijah rightly accuses Jeroboam of putting out the Levites as priests and putting any person into the position of offering sacrifices (vs 9). Abijah at least upheld the priestly office in having Levites, the sons of Aaron in their appointed work (vs 12-13). It may be for this reason that the account in Chronicles concerning Abijah is a bit more favourable. In the end however he did not depart from the sins of his father and his heart was not upright before God.
In verse 13 Jeroboam set an ambushment behind the forces of Judah. Judah turned to the Lord in addition to having the priests sounding the trumpets which turned the battle in Judah’s favor. They prevailed because they relied upon the God of their fathers. It was because of David that God brought the victory to Abijah. This defeat to Jeroboam is one of the judgments that came to him for establishing heathen altars in Bethel and Dan that were filled with non-priest men of the basest sort. It is a sin that will permeate through all of the kings that will come after Jeroboam. Virtually every king has the notation as not departing from the sins of Jeroboam. Abijah experienced a convincing victory against his brethren to the north but it was due to David’s honor. Abijah does make a strong contrast between the established Aaronic priesthood of Judah from the illegitimate order of priests of Jeroboam. His reign lasted for a period of 3 years. He had 14 wives from which came forth 22 sons and 16 daughters. Clearly, the issue of many wives was one of the plagues of the godly line of kings from Judah.
2 Chr 14
One of those 22 sons of Abijah was a man by the name of Asa. As an early believer I somehow was drawn to this man’s life and testimony. He is the third king that came forth from the divided kingdom and for the most part of his reign served as a very good king. There are several good and not so good traits that can be gleaned from his example. The first 10 years of his reign was one of rest (vs 1). He did that which was right before the Lord giving orders to take down the high places, idols and strange gods that lurked within the kingdom. Notice in verse 4 where he commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to do the laws and commandments. While instituting these initiatives he built fenced cities within Judah which helped to preserve it during those years of seeking the Lord (vs 6). It is clear that there is a hedge of protection when people seek after and do the law and commandments of God. Zion is God’s resting place; the law is placed within the Ark of the Covenant in that place (Zion) that God has chosen. Here is another old charismatic song that comes to mind as I write on this portion:
Psa 132:12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.
Psa 132:13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.
Psa 132:14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.
Psa 132:15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Psa 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
The song is actually verses 13-16 but look at the preceding verse. It is all predicated on the keeping of the covenant and the Law of testimony. Asa did this and as a result had rest in the land for 10 years. When the laws of God are forsaken or not sought after the hedge of protection breaks down resulting in the opening of doors for the enemy. Just look at what is happening to America today. For over 200 years this nation has stood strong primarily due to the adherence of moral laws that were established since its founding. In recent years the moral underpinnings have been removed which has now opened the country up to every kind of evil. It is amazing to see how things really never change in the heart of man. It is more notable to see how the keeping of God’s commandments and statutes helps in keeping a people and a nation in a good place. Remember, it is one of the primary goals of Satan to undermine and discard the law of God. We see it at the very beginning in the garden.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Please note the above sentence in bold because it represents the first recorded words of Satan to man. It is a direct challenge to the one law God gave earlier in Gen 2:16-17. This makes abundantly clear the threat that God’s law is to the kingdom of darkness. If the words and exhortation of Moses that were annunciated over and over again in Deuteronomy were to be upheld everything would have been different. We are seeing early success in King Asa’s reign due to his command to Judah to seek and do the law and commandments of God.
In verse 9 there is Zerah, the Ethiopian who comes out against Asa and Judah with a formidable force. Asa quickly takes the matter to the Lord in prayer but it is also good to note his confession in his prayer. He says of God that it is nothing for Him against such a force. It does not matter whether Judah has many or few in their forces; God is not limited. Notice also where he says they were able to Rest in Him during this threat (vs 11). This is one of the fruits of being at Rest with God; one can Rest and confess of His greatness to prevail. The adherence to His Laws and Commandments allows for God to work. God takes and accepts the responsibility for any foe that would come against His people who are in that position of Rest. It is important to remember that in order to come into that position of Rest one must first keep covenant and testimony as cited above in Psa 132:12. The fruit of Asa’s prayer to the Lord in this battle against the Ethiopians was a quick and decisive victory for Judah. They gathered great spoil from this battle and other nations took note that the Fear of the Lord that was upon them.
2 Chr 15
There is a prophet by the name of Oded who comes to Asa and gives him the word that God would be for him provided he seeks after the Lord, His law and His ways; if however he forsakes the law, God would forsake him (vs 2). The prophetic words of the prophet in verse 3 serves as the core of his message. It is repeated below:
2Ch 15:3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
Many speculate as to the time frame that is represented in the above verse. Is it for a season and time to come; is it representative of a time and season in the past? Personally, I feel the Lord is using Oded to amplify the moment. What I mean is this! Asa in his early reign is functioning as a true king should function. He puts out a directive to seek God’s law and commandments (14:4) while removing idols and the high places. This provides the Lord the opportunity to “amplify” and reemphasize that which Moses exhorted in Deuteronomy. In other words, what is being seen in Asa’s early reign needs to continue and to be the standard in how man is to live. A message can be more readily received when it has a picture and example from which to draw from. It is seen here in how Asa has begun his reign. This is not only a message to Asa but it is a reminder to all of Israel and to us as well as to how to see the kingdom of God preserved and expanded. This is the message so needed for the church today because what is seen lacking is the ministry of the teaching priest without law. May the Lord help us to give heed.
Asa was very much moved at these words as he put away the abominable idols of Judah, Benjamin and the captured cities of all Israel. He brought forth an oath that they would seek the Lord God with all their heart which brought about great rejoicing among the people. He even had to deal with the idols of Maachah, who was actually his grandmother. In doing so he removed her from her position as queen. Herein is an important truth. Asa, in his position as king made a decision that could have been a most difficult one. He removed his grandmother from being queen. He could have chastised her, made an issue about the high places and made clear his position that he himself was not an idolater and then let matters be. He did what Eli would not do to his sons; he removed her from being queen. He recognized that her position was one of influence and that there was going to be no allowance for idolatry. Though Asa was not a priest he actually performed a priestly function in removing her. This is a problem in many churches today. Ministers who are in a position of influence may not be guilty or subscribe to doctrinal compromises themselves but yet make allowances by not exercising their caretaking roles in the body of Christ. This can be done a number of ways. These early years of King Asa are extraordinary; there is so much good that can be gleaned from his reign. He sets a very strong precedent in how the kingdom of God should look; not just for his days but right up to our own. It says of Asa in verse 17 that his heart was perfect all his days but it also adds a concerning note that will be fleshed out later in his reign. “But the high places were not taken out of Israel”(vs 17a) His kingdom had rest and flourished up to the 35th year of his reign.
Saul was still being aggressive in his efforts against the early believers. He sought authority from the high priests to be able to take action against the disciples of the Lord if he were to come across any in his journeys. He was the kind of zealous anti-Christian vessel that any high priest would value. In the midst of his journey to Damascus he was struck down to the ground. A bright light shone around him followed by a voice that sounded out “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? It was the voice of the Lord who further added the following: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard to kick against the pricks.” (vs 5)
This was a demonstrable act of God because Saul was immediately convinced. He asked the Lord what he should now do. In one moment he is determined to bring in more disciples of the Lord for further persecution and or death; the next moment he is asking the Lord what He would have him do. The Lord told him to go into the city and he would be told what to do next. The men that were with Saul heard the voice but they saw no man. When Saul arose he was blind and had to be led into the city. This is a picture of the spiritual blindness that veiled Saul and others who opposed the early church. His eyes were about to be reopened to a new reality both in the physical and the natural. It is interesting to note that Saul was without sight for 3 days during which he neither ate nor drank. God spoke to a man by the name of Ananias who was told to enquire of a man named Saul of Tarsus who would be in the house of Judas who lived on a street called straight. He told him that Saul would be given a dream of him coming to lay his hands upon him to receive his sight. It was clear that Saul had quite a reputation concerning what he had been doing against the disciples (vs 13). The Lord speaks to Ananias and says that he is a chosen vessel that will bear his name before the Gentiles, Kings and the children of Israel.
What a turnaround we see in these passages. Saul, who now becomes Paul was one of the greatest instruments of destruction against the early church. Why would the Lord even think of using such a man? There was a quality, a characteristic the Lord saw in him that could be used for good. In his early years this strength was severely misguided but God saw in how this misguided strength could become a great asset if tempered and channelled towards the purposes of God. His commission was not an ordinary one. He who was one of the strictest amongst Jews was going to have a ministry of the gospel to the Gentiles. This example should encourage us about ourselves and others. It is God who is the giver of talents, gifting’s and anointing’s. God can use these gifts and anointing’s for His glory if one learns to yield to God. It takes a person who has a heart that enables God to bring about such a transformation. Paul is an expert on the Old Testament and we will see him making personalized application of Old Testament truths to his own life. We believe that Paul is the author of the Book of Hebrews and one has to marvel at his grasp of the shadows and types of the Old Testament and how he can make personalized applications from them. He is the one who communicates the truths of the New Covenant better than anyone with the exception of the Lord.
In verses 17-18 Ananias follows through in praying for Saul. The scales fell from his eyes; he was baptized and then spent several days with the disciples (vs 19). What must have the disciples thought when they saw a former persecutor of the church now fellowshipping with them? In a very short period of time he began preaching in synagogues to the amazement of those who witnessed these events. What must have his former fellow Jews been thinking at this turn of events? His teaching was effective because he was making a very strong case for Christ; the very one he fought against just days before? The time came where his former Jewish allies now sought to kill him. His new found allies, the disciples secretly snuck him out of the city allowing him to now come to Jerusalem (vs 26). He sought to join himself to the disciples but they were afraid of him due to his former reputation. Some still could not believe he was a true disciple but merely a spy meant to subvert the work.
It is in verse 27 where we are introduced to Barnabas. He vouches for Paul declaring in how Saul saw the Lord in the way to Damascus and how the Lord spoke to him. He also vouched for his bold and effective preaching in the city and for how the Lord delivered him while in Damascus (vs 27-30). The church was then pacified and continued to grow in the Holy Ghost and the Fear of the Lord (vs 31).
The attention now shifts back to Peter who was continuing in his ministry. He healed a man who could not move from his bed for 8 years (vs 34). There was tremendous authority and boldness now in evidence in Peter’s ministry. This is a greater fulfilment of what the Lord spoke to him and the other disciples in Luke 10. It is a ministry and authority that needs to be released today. When Jesus spoke to the disciples Math 10 he gave these words:
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:”(Math 10:8)
Peter is now going to be used in raising someone from the dead. In verses 36-42 there is a woman known as Dorcas. She had a good reputation and was known for many good works. She had a sickness that ended up bringing about her death. Peter spoke to her to arise and she responded (vs 40). This miracle brought about a greater harvest of souls into the kingdom. The disciples were now able to duplicate many of the miracles that the Lord Himself performed. We must always be mindful that the Lord moved in the miraculous through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the others are now full of the Holy Ghost which is being displayed in bold and powerful preaching as well as miracles, signs, wonders and healings. Is this opportunity to be afforded to the church of the last days? Is it already happening in places? I would say the answer is yes to both questions. We need another Pentecost, another fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to come forth. I believe it is to those who have ears to hear what the Sprit is speaking. God is speaking; are we positioning and preparing ourselves to be used?