I admit...I stole this title from Wiersbe's commentary on these chapters> I'll have to see if I change it once I read the content; but I'm guessing it's perfect because I think we're about to hit a string of kings and many of them will fly by as they did not glorify God.
Let's check 'em out.
I Kings 15
Abijam in Judah
This is also Abijah from II Chronicles 12, Rehoboam's son.
Abijam's mom was the granddaughter of Abishalom, son of David. so even though Abijam's heart was not fully devoted to God and he walked in his father wicked ways, out of His love for David, the Lord did not wipe them out.
When Ahijah, the prophet that originally spoke to Jeroboam about stripping 10 tribes from Rehoboam, gave his prediction he did also promise that God would leave a lamp in Jerusalem- a descendant of David to be always be on the throne.
Verse 6 is the third time it is mentioned that there was war between Jeroboam and Rehoboam all the days of their lives.
Verse 7 tells us that the rest of the acts of Abijam are in the Chronicles and that there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.
Abijam died and his son, Asa became king.
In the II Chronicles expanded version of his's reign, it tells the story of when Abijah went up against Jeroboam with half the number of men. Before the battle he stood on a hill and taunted Jeroboam by reminding Jeroboam that God has promised to leave a son of David on the throne, while Jeroboam is a mere servant of the son of David.
He then points out to Jeroboam that Jeroboam has come to this battle under the protection of some golden statues that he himself had made, along with priests who bought themselves into the role to attend to fake giods. Up against the Kingdom of the Lord. the Lord is our God and we have not forsaken Him. We have Aaron's priests and Levite to attend to the living God.
Oh, and you have forsaken our God.
So...God is with us. His priests sound the trumpets.
Oh sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.II Chronicles 13: 12b
However, Jeroboam had set an ambush, so he was able to attack from the front and the rear. So, Judah cried to the Lord and sounded the trumpet. The men of Judah sounded a war cry and then
...it was God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.II Chronicles 13: 15b
According to verse 17, 500,000 of Israel's 800,000 men died at the hands of Judah by God's hand. These had been described as chosen men who were valiant warriors.
Verse 18 says that Israel was subdued because Judah trusted in God.
It ends Abijah's (Abijam's) story that he grew powerful and had many wives. I'm assuming because this is the Chronicles of Judah that they left off the bad stuff and even left his name intact, Abijah.
I Kings: Asa in Judah
Asa was from the line of David through Abishalom, through Maacah.
He ruled 41 years! The II Chronicles account adds that the land was undisturbed for 10 years! The Lord gave him rest so he was able to build fortified cities. "So they built and prospered."
Because..."he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. like David his father."
- he put away male cult prostitutes
- removed all of the idols his father made
- removed Maacah as queen mother because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, which he also destroyed.
- He brought in and dedicated utensils (I assume to resume holy and proper sacrifices.)
- However, he did not bring down the high places (but still is labeled as wholly devoted to the Lord all of his days)
The II Chronicles account says that he did tear down high places, as well as the other pillars, altars, etc. It adds that he called Judah seek the lord and observe His laws.
Asa and Baasha, the king of Israel, warred all of their days.
How many lives were lost during these generational wars? Tribe and brother against tribe and brother.
Baasha fortified Ramah to isolate Asa. So Asa sent a tribute to the king of Aram in Damascus, asking him to break his treaty with Baasha and help him. The king agreed and attacked several places in Israel- so Baasha had to give up on Asa and go take care of his own land. Asa had everyone in Judah show up to use the fortifications used against him to build a defense city.
Then Asa died and Jehoshaphat reigned.
Asa and the Ethiopians
The II Chronicles account there is a battle of a people called Ethiopians but actually from Sudan, south of Egypt. They had a million men and 300 chariots. They got to half way between Gaza and Jerusalem to a city that had been fortified. Meanwhile Judah and Benjamin tribes combined had about half that many men.
Asa cried out to the Lord in prayer:
Then Asa called to the lord his God, and said, "Lord, there is no one beside Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. Oh Lord, Thou art our God; let no man prevail against Thee.II Chronicles 14:11
What an amazing prayer. that really needs to be dissected. There's a lot there. Who God is. What He alone is capable of doing. Our trust as a factor. Doing it in His name as a factor. So much.
The battle ended when God routed the Ethiopians and they fled. Asa's men chased them down, "shattered them", and took much plunder.
In Chapter 15 of the II Chronicles account, The Spirit of the God came upon a prophet (I assume) named Azariah. This man says to Asa that the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.
Then this man recounts dark days (probably the time of the Judges) when Israel had no leader or priest and how bad it was. No peace, disturbances all around, afflicted. distressed and troubled by God.
Then, in verse 7 he again speaks to Asa and assures him to be strong and not lose courage for there is reward in your work.
It sounds like, it was at this point that he removed idols and such and restored God's altar.
Many saw that Asa had returned to the Lord and came to Judah. Everyone gathered, sacrificed many animals and joined in a new covenant with the Lord, seeking the lord God of their fathers with all their hearts and souls. They also agreed to kill anyone who would not seek the Lord.
While this sounds horrible...what's the current death count in this post for those who lost their lives because these people kept falling away from the Lord. Kill the rotten apples at this point or plan on the whole barrel of apples going bad.
They agreed to all of this, sought the Lord and found Him. He gave them rest on every side.
It end with confirming that he did not take down the high places. So there's a bit of a mystery there to pursue.
Asa and his War with Baasha: II Chronicles Chapter 16
Also in the II Chronicles account, is the battle between Asa and Baasha we read about in I Kings.
It tells the same story, that Baasha had Asa pinned down and no one could get in or out of Ramah. So Asa takes the small amount of treasure and uses it to buy mercenary help. That group attacks Israel so Bassha has to let up on Ramah to go home and defend it.
Then God sends a prophet to Asa and chides him for trusting in his own plan of escape and victory instead of crying out to the Lord. the prophet points out that the Ethiopians had been massive and you relied on the Lord.
But God is searching for those who hearts are completely His. And you were foolish. So from now on, you will have wars.
Rather than recognizing his sin and repenting, he put the seer in prison and oppressed some of his people. Then he became diseased in the feet and rather than seeking the Lord, once again...now he sough physicians.
This passage makes me particularly sad.
He was one of the good ones and he still failed. We are all sinners. Even the good guys and still just guys in need of the Savior. Never put leaders on a pedestal.
And secondly, I have feet problems and have for years. And medicine is one of the things I've mentioned in previous posts as one of the idols I struggle with. I think modern day medicine is a gift from God. A universal grace from which we all benefit. But it becomes very easy to turn a gift right into an idol in a blink. Just like Asa, do we first turn to the Lord? He has saved us from the worst enemies, but then we take on little stuff, or littier stuff, ourselves.
Lord save me. I am desperate for only You. And sorry that I let that slip so easily from my mind. Only You can help me and only You deserve any glory. For Your Name's Sake Alone. And to You be the glory. Amen.
Nadab in Israel
When we last left this storyline, God's patience ran out on Jeroboam's filthy, fake religion and caused Jeroboam's son to grow ill. Jeroboam put his wife in a disguise and sent her with a peasant's offering to the prophet God had used to speak to him previously. God sent a message through the prophet that all of Jeroboam's sons would die and were gruesomely not to be buried, except the one who was ill- because there was good in him; he would die and be buried and mourned.
Now Jeroboam has died and Nadab is king. He reigned two years because he continued in his father's ways and led Israel astray in the process.
Baasha, the son of Ahijah, conspired against and assassinated Nadab while they were laying siege to a Philistine city.
Then Baasha struck down everyone in Jeroboam's family. Everyone. This fulfilled Ahijah's prophesy. Interestingly, God used Ahijah's son to fulfill Ahijah's prophesy.
Baasha in Israel
Now Asa is king in Judah and Baasha is king in Israel. And in verse 32 we once again have emphasized that there was war between Asa and Baasha all of their days.
Baasha reigned 24 years. And he walked in the way of Jeroboam and did evil in the sight of the Lord. and his sin made Israel sin.
Baasha was in the front row to know what his dad prophesied. And he was the instrument God used.
How? How? How? Could he not see clearly?
One commentary I read on this whole time was that Ahijah, although used multiple times by God, did not move to Judah when all of the other priests and prophets sold their land and moved South to Judah. Maybe there was a good reason. But how his son turned out tells you all you need to know about the long term consequences of choices like that.
God sent word through His prophet Jehu, that he had the same ending in store for Baasha's family as he did for Jeroboam's family. And that was Baasha's ending.
It makes sense that Baasha should have asked himself that if God would use him in that way for those reasons...maybe God would deal with him in the same way for those same reasons.
Elah in Israel
Baasha's son, Elah reigned two years following his father's death. His military commander, Zimri, conspired against him and struck him down while he was getting drunk. Then Zimri took over.
Zimri went on to kill all of the males in Baasha's family and in the families of all of Baasha's friends.
Zimri in Israel
Kings on parade, indeed! These subsections are growing shorter!
So...when the people heard what Zimri had done, they made the other military leader, Omri, king over Isreal.
That is very interesting to me.
In many nations, the people would have no consideration in who their king would be. Palace intrigue and military coups don't require a democratic voice. But these were still God's people. They must have still had within them an expectation that they were a free people who supported their king and followed his religion- often causing them to be led astray. They had no tolerance for a military man who would kill those from a "rightful" bloodline and then just take over.
So all of Israel backs Omri and they besiege the king in his palace at Tizrah. When he sees the way this is going, Zimri goes into the palace citadel and lights the whole joint on fire. Killing himself in the process.
He was king 7 days.
Omri in Israel
So, in typical Israel fashion...the people had done something right. And they did it together. Things really could have turned around here. But nah. They decided they'd rather squabble among themselves.
Half of the people continued to support their new king, Omri; while half backed another man, Tibri. Tibri died and Omri became king.
Omri ruled twelve years, the first six from Tizrah. then he bought some land and built the city, Samaria. This became the new capital and, eventually, became the name of the region.
Now Omri was more wicked than all who were before him.
That's quite an accomplishment.
I guess that how evil and righteousness both work. First, you lay down seeds, that sprout through the ground and dig in with roots. They grow deeper and higher and stronger and bigger and bear more and more fruit. That wickedness came from the Enemy.
Ahab's in the House (of Israel)
Enter stage right...an even more wicked King of Israel. This is just the beginning of the story, and we'll pick up the rest in future posts; but we'll cover the rest of Chapter 16 and introduce ourselves to Ahab.
He was Omri's son. He became king while the king across the border in Judah, Asa, was in his 38 out of 41 year reign.
And Ahab "did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him".
I probably couldn't even understand what kind of things that even includes. And thank God. How truly horrifying.
Verse 31 is worded a bit oddly to my ear. Just not wording I'm used to reading in this text; but it is super interesting:
"And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worship him."
I guess that explains how Ahab took it up a notch with the wickedness. Until now, they had been messing around with these locally-grown fake idols. Now Jezebel introduces them to the big-leagues of worshipping idols and false gods. Again, the enemy had been growing the god of Baal for a long time in other cultures. My guess is it comes with some supernatural evil that has grow very deep roots and very high branches.
And now Ahab has brought this poison to Israel.
Then he built a "house" for Baal, erected an altar, built an Asherah, and provoked the Lord more than any before.
Yikes. This storyline pauses for now, cliffhanger-style and we circle back around to the parade of kings as told in the book of II Chronicles.
Wiersbe and the Parade of Kings
Wiersbe describes how each of the divided kingdoms kept records in different ways, leading to the differences in counting the years of reign and Biblical chronology.
The northern kingdom of Israel had 9 dynasties over about 250 years.
The Southern kingdom of Judah maintained the Davidic dynasty for about 350 years.
Most everything else Wiersbe had was just a recount of what I have above.