135 - Some Good Kings in the South (Judah)
While Jeroboam was ruling the northern kingdom of Israel, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was ruling Judah in the south. For a while he seemed to obey God, but as Judah grew stronger, he began to follow his own heart. He started to worship false gods. Soon Judah became as wicked as all the nations around them. Because of their unfaithfulness, God no longer protected them. So, when Shishak, the king of Egypt, attacked Jerusalem, he easily plundered the city. He carried off all the gold and treasures that were in the Temple and the royal palace. After seventeen years, Rehoboam died, and His son Abijah became the king of Judah. He was a faithful follower of God. Soon after he became king, Israel invaded Judah. At that time Jeroboam was still the king of Israel, and his army was twice as big as Abijah’s. But Abijah was willing to stand up to him. He yelled across the battle lines to the troops of Israel. He told them how wrong they were for abandoning God and for worshiping golden calves. He told them how he and the people of Judah trusted and obeyed God. While Abijah was talking, Jeroboam snuck half his troops behind Abijah’s army. Abijah suddenly realized his army was surrounded. He and the men from Judah cried out to God, and the priests blew their trumpets. At the sound of their battle cry, God fought for the people of Judah. Jeroboam and the Israelites were chased from the battlefield. More than half their soldiers were killed. King Jeroboam never recovered from this huge defeat. It wasn’t long before he died. But Abijah grew stronger as he trusted God. When Abijah died, his son Asa became the king of Judah. He was a follower of the one true God just as his father had been. He removed the altars dedicated to false gods and smashed the idols that Solomon and Rehoboam had set up. He instructed the people of Judah to seek the God of their ancestors and obey His commandments. God was with them and helped them prosper. One time when a huge Ethiopian army invaded Judah, Asa called out to God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Please help us, for we rely on you, and it’s in Your name that we will fight this huge army.” God did help Asa. He struck down the Ethiopians and they fled. They never again recovered their military strength. As Asa and his troops traveled back to Jerusalem, a prophet met them and challenged Asa to keep seeking God and not give up. He promised, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” So, Asa continued to destroy all the idols in the land of Judah, and he repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the Temple. He even removed his grandmother from her position as Queen Mother because she refused to give up her idol. Large numbers of people from the northern kingdom of Israel moved to Judah to worship God. Everyone in Judah took an oath to seek God and obey Him. And God gave this southern kingdom peace for many years.
If we are truly seeking to know and serve God, we must actively break ties with any sinful things that are in our lives. Just as Asa tore down all the altars to false gods, we need to be willing to completely do away with the things that compete with God for our allegiance. Only then can we expect His blessings and peace.