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latries, and false priests. He ended by saying, “ We keep the charge of the LORD our God, but ye have forsaken Him. And behold, God Himself is with us for our Captain, and His priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers, for ye shall not prosper.”
Jeroboam planned the battle with great skill, sending a secret force or ambushment round so as to come behind Abijah's army, while he and the chief Israelite army were in front. Thus the king of Judah and his men were quite surrounded with foes, but they did not lose heart. They cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets; the men of Judah gave a mighty shout, and God heard them, and smote Jeroboam and his army, so that they fled. Then the LORD delivered them into the hands of Judah, and Abijah and his people pursued and slew five hundred thousand chosen men. Abijah also took Bethel, and other of Jeroboam's cities. In all that the men of Judah undertook they prospered and prevailed, “because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers.”
After this Jeroboam never recovered any strength, and in a while “the Lord struck him” and he died. He had reigned twenty
ASA, KING OF JUDAH.
ABIJah's reign was very prosperous, but it was short. He died about a year before Jeroboam, after three years' reign, and was succeeded by his son Asa. King Asa did that which was right and good in the sight of the LORD, and he was blessed accordingly. For ten years God gave rest to the land, and Asa used the time in pulling down all heathen temples, and putting away all false gods. He also built fenced cities, and made his kingdom strong. After a time the Ethiopians came up against Judah with a very large army, and King Asa went forth to meet them with a powerful, but much smaller army. He had a strength, however, beyond any that his foes could have ; for he had the LORD on his side.
Before going to battle, King Asa cried to his God, saying, “O LORD, it is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many, or with them that
have no power. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go against this multitude. O LORD, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee.”
The battle is not to the strong, as men count strength, but rather to those of whom David says, “They called upon Thee, and were holpen : they put their trust in Thee, and were not confounded."
So now the LORD fought for His people, and they smote the Ethiopians, destroyed them and their cities, and took very great spoil of them.
As Asa returned in triumph, the Spirit of God came upon one Azariah, a prophet ; sending him forth to meet the king, and to remind him of his duty. “The LORD is with you,” Azariah said, “while ye be with Him, and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you. He further urged Asa to be strong and resolute in putting away all idolatry out of the land. So Asa offered up a solemn sacrifice of the spoil he had taken from the Ethiopians, and he and his people entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; that whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.
King Asa's own mother, Maachah, had raised an idol temple. He cut down the grove of trees, and burnt the idol by the brook Kidron, and removed Maachah herself from being queen, so as not to allow idolatry anywhere within his reach.
But a time was coming when Asa's 'faith failed him, and he fell from his high estate in God's favour; and as a punishment, he and his people were visited with war all the rest of his days.
King Jeroboam had been succeeded by Nadab, his son, a wicked king, who only reigned two years, and was then murdered by one Baasha, who fulfilled God's curse upon the house of Jeroboam by killing every member of that family. Baasha made himself king, in the
, third year of Asa's reign. There was never any friendship between Asa and Baasha; and Baasha built a strong city at Ramah, in order to command Asa's position in Judah. Asa lost his courage; and, ceasing to trust in the LORD as his protector, he made a league with Benhadad, king of Syria, to defend himself against Baasha. This seemed a successful alliance; for Baasha
left off building, and Asa took of his building stores for his own purposes.
But Asa's prosperity was only outward. God sent the prophet Hanani to rebuke him, for having relied on the king of Syria rather than on his God; reminding him how he had been delivered from the huge host of the Ethiopians. Hanani ended by saying, “ The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him. Herein thou hast done foolishly, therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."
Asa did not receive the heaven-sent rebuke with meekness and penitence, as David did when Nathan and Gad brought messages of reproof to him. He was very angry, and put the prophet Hanani into prison in his rage. His angry spirit once roused, he also oppressed his people; and the close of his reign is dark and painful. During the two last years of his life, God afflicted him with a sore disease in his feet; perhaps thereby giving him a final call to repentance. But Asa sought his physicians for help, instead of seeking that of his God; and so he died, in the forty-first year of his