2 Chronicles 12:15-13:22 – We Need More Than Names to Fill Spaces on Reports

Posted: August 19, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 12:15-13:22

Abijah Rules in Judah

Opening Illustration/Comments

Not this week but next week, I will be preaching from Revelation chapters 2 and 3 about the Jesus’ letters to the churches in Asia Minor. The one that has always struck me was the letter to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. In that letter, Jesus rebukes the church for being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, but tepid. The kind of water that is neither cleansing as hot water is or refreshing as cold water is. It makes for a disgusting drink. This church would not take a stand for anything. Their indifference led to idleness. By neglecting their purpose as a collective of believers, the church had become self-satisfied.

The members of this group of believers at the church at Laodicea, as many do today, believed that numerous material blessings are a sign that they must have favor with the Lord in the way that they are living their lives. Laodicea was a wealthy city and this church was wealthy as well. It made them complacent and comfortable. As a result, they were really just going through the motions of being a church. They most likely were concerned with entertaining themselves than they were with the two fold purpose of the church – discipleship and evangelism. Based on what Jesus says here and from the commentaries that I have read, this church because of the economic status of many of its members really saw the church more as a social club than a living breathing arm of Christ himself. When a church becomes a social club more than it is a disciple making and evangelizing engine, then, the lukewarmness to the commands of Christ will lead to eventual decline and death of a church.

In a declining church, you will find often that positions of leadership are filled with anyone who can be convinced to hold the position. They do not have any passion for the position they hold. They do not even have to have any understanding of the purpose of the ministry they are supposed to be leading. They become placeholders. And then they become institutions in the placeholder. When you have a person that has no passion for the ministry that they lead and yet have held the position for ages, the ministry ceases to exist except for rare moments of annual traditions. This leads to lukewarm ministries within a local church. For a church to arise from lukewarm leadership to vibrantly led ministries and thus a vibrant church, we must pray for passion for these churches – passion for the Lord, passion to share the gospel, passion to impact the world around us with the selfless love of Jesus Christ. Let us pray for a re-igniting of the passions that created these churches. Let us pray they get their passion back and particularly for those in leadership positions. My mentor pastor, Jeff Hickman, once said, though he leads a large church, that he would rather have a 100 people that are sold out for Jesus Christ than church of 1,000 that is infected with ambivalence toward the mission of the church.

It is that idea of lukewarm leadership that leads to lukewarm churches that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 12:15-13:22. Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

15 The rest of the events of Rehoboam’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Shemaiah the Prophet and The Record of Iddo the Seer, which are part of the genealogical record. Rehoboam and Jeroboam were continually at war with each other. 16 When Rehoboam died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Abijah became the next king.

Abijah’s War with Jeroboam

Chapter 13

1 Abijah began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. 2 He reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother was Maacah,[a] the daughter of Uriel from Gibeah.

Then war broke out between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Judah, led by King Abijah, fielded 400,000 select warriors, while Jeroboam mustered 800,000 select troops from Israel.

4 When the army of Judah arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim and shouted to Jeroboam and all Israel: “Listen to me! 5 Don’t you realize that the Lord, the God of Israel, made a lasting covenant[b] with David, giving him and his descendants the throne of Israel forever? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, a mere servant of David’s son Solomon, rebelled against his master. 7 Then a whole gang of scoundrels joined him, defying Solomon’s son Rehoboam when he was young and inexperienced and could not stand up to them.

8 “Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the Lord that is led by the descendants of David? You may have a vast army, and you have those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods. 9 But you have chased away the priests of the Lord (the descendants of Aaron) and the Levites, and you have appointed your own priests, just like the pagan nations. You let anyone become a priest these days! Whoever comes to be dedicated with a young bull and seven rams can become a priest of these so-called gods of yours!

10 “But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not abandoned him. Only the descendants of Aaron serve the Lord as priests, and the Levites alone may help them in their work. 11 They present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the Lord every morning and evening. They place the Bread of the Presence on the holy table, and they light the gold lampstand every evening. We are following the instructions of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 12 So you see, God is with us. He is our leader. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. O people of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed!”

13 Meanwhile, Jeroboam had secretly sent part of his army around behind the men of Judah to ambush them. 14 When Judah realized that they were being attacked from the front and the rear, they cried out to the Lord for help. Then the priests blew the trumpets, 15 and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah.

16 The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat. 17 Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. 18 So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 19 Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages.

20 So Jeroboam of Israel never regained his power during Abijah’s lifetime, and finally the Lord struck him down and he died. 21 Meanwhile, Abijah of Judah grew more and more powerful. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.

22 The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his words and deeds, are recorded in The Commentary of Iddo the Prophet.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that Abijah criticized Jeroboam’s low standards in appointing priests. Any warm body with a heartbeat may you qualified to represent a worthless man-made god. However, to represent the Lord God Almighty, a person must live according to God’s standards. Abijah related how faithful and dedicated that the priests and the Levites were to their tasks and how they understood the significance of what they were doing. This contrast between the way in which priests were chosen in the northern and the southern kingdoms serves as a reminder to us in the modern day church. Those appointed to positions of leadership within our local churches should not be selected merely because they are a willing, warm body, or because they are influential members of the church, or because they are highly educated. Instead they should demonstrate sound leadership qualities, understanding of how the ministry they lead fits in with the vision of the local church and in the Christian faith in general, and should be dedicated to the role that they play in leading the ministry for which they have been selected.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that the vast majority of churches in America are in decline. Leaders fill positions for which they have no passion for. Leaders are just in positions because somebody told the church that they had to have volunteer leaders in x, y, and z ministry. They often know nothing of the ministry for which their name is on a dotted line on a report as the leader. Lord, help us to find those within our church that have passion for the ministries of the church that we should have as a church. Lord, help us not to throw warm bodies at a ministry just to say we have filled blanks on a page. Help us as churches to have passion for our purpose. Our purpose is to strengthen the relationship of our existing members with Jesus Christ and to send them out into the world to draw others into our midst such that non-believers are drawn into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Help us to have a passion for that. Help us not be like Laodicea. Help us not be like the northern kingdom. In each case it was about just having warm bodies and going the through motions. Help us Lord to reignite our passion for you! Help us to love you so much that we seek out ways to serve in our churches. Help us to love you so much that our passion shows. Help us to love you so much that we lead our ministries with heart and with conviction and with understanding of the role it plays in discipleship and evangelism. Help us not to become passionless placeholders going through the motions. Help us Lord to save our churches around the nation and cause a revival of passion for you throughout the church world!

Amen and Amen.

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