Summary: A revival message.
LORD HELP US!
by Cleavon P. Matthews Sr.
February 24, 2003
The shattering saga of God’s people during a divided kingdom presents heartbreak; hope, but most importantly instruction. After the exciting, adventurous, industrious, and thrilling reign of Solomon there was a severing of God’s people. Although he was granted wisdom beyond years and unequalled by any mortal Solomon’s tragic idolatry would haunt the kingdom for many centuries to come!
The Lord would not allow Solomon to witness the division during his lifetime. But the prophetic promise was given. The relevant record is found in 1 Kings 11:28-32. “And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: and he said to Jeroboam, take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.” Jeroboam a former servant to Solomon would become king to ten of the tribes in the North because they had forsaken the Lord and worshipped idol gods.
But even with this prophecy Jeroboam was forced into Egypt for a time. When Solomon died his son named Rehoboam became king in Judah. Now with Solomon dead and Rehoboam on the throne Jeroboam came out of Egypt and asked for support. But Rehoboam refused to lift the burden of his brethren. The Bible says instead of heeding the counsel of the old men he took the counsel of the young men and threatened to chastise them with scorpions.
All of this was done for the unfolding of God’s prophesy (2 Chron. 10:15). This incident caused Jeroboam and Israel to revolt. Now the kingdom was divided in every meaningful way. Jeroboam would eventually lead Israel into sin and remove the Levites and priests from their functions. But neither would Rehoboam do any better in the South. The scripture says, “and he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14).
Rehoboam’s son Abijah reigned after him and he renewed the conflict with his father’s enemy Jeroboam. Abijah and Jeroboam meet against each other in war. Before this battle ensued Abijah stood upon a mountain and made a remarkable speech accurately depicting the condition of the times. He scolds Jeroboam for neglecting the revealed word of God and the worship of God. But then he also describes the faith of Judah. He says, ‘the Lord is our God.’ The sons of Aaron offer the sacrifices every morning and every evening. Abijah is able to say, God is our captain and he is with us!
But the truth did not deter Jeroboam. He sent a sudden and swift ambushment before and behind Abijah and Judah (13:13). But when Abijah saw they were surrounded by the enemy, the Bible says, they cried unto the Lord, the priests sounded the alarm, and the men of Judah shouted! Then the book says, ‘it came to pass that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.’ They prevailed because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers (13:18).
At this point things are great in Judah. Eventually Abijah dies and his son Asa becomes king in Judah. Asa is the fifth generation from David. He has lived as a prince. He has enjoyed a life of privilege. He has received the finest education. He has tasted the delicious delights from the king’s table. He has a historical genealogy of both great faith and great failure. Asa without doubt was groomed to lead great men. Asa was conditioned and trained for military involvement. Asa would eventually end in disappointment. But now in the beginning of his reign Asa is ambitious, determined, and dedicated. Rest characterizes his reigned. The text says, ‘In his days the land was quiet ten years.’ Asa maximized this time of rest as if he knew there would come a day of chaos and testing!
We learn at least one great lesson from Asa’s life. We need the Lord’s help in order to succeed! Whenever Asa relied on God he found victory. But whenever Asa depended on anyone or anything other than the Lord he suffered defeat. Later in his life when he was threatened by Baasha king of Israel, Asa asked Ben-hadad king of Syria for help. In fact, Asa gave Ben-hadad treasures from the house of the Lord as payment. The Lord rebuked Asa and in his old age he was diseased in his feet until it was exceeding great but even then Asa would not seek the Lord but rather the physicians (16:12).