2 Chronicles 13-16

The Power of Weakness.

“So Judah defeated Israel because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their ancestors.” ­– 2 Chronicles 13:18 NLT

These are bleak times in the history of the nation of Israel. The nation has split in two. The tribe of Judah represents the southern kingdom, while the remaining tribes have broken off and formed their own nation with their own gods and places of worship. It is the beginning of a cycle of rebellion and unfaithfulness in both kingdoms. But occasionally we are given glimpses of light in the midst of the darkness. Chapter 13 of 2 Chronicles is just such a time. War has broken out between Judah and Israel. Judah has an army of 400,000 warriors, but is still outnumbered two to one by the northern kingdom. The odds are against them. They are facing an army of superior strength. Yet Abijah, king of Judah confronts King Jeroboam of Israel and warns him to think twice about sending his army against the army of Yahweh.”Do you really think you can stand against the kingdom of the LORD that is led by the descendants of David? Your army is vast indeed, but with you are those gold calves that Jeroboam made as your gods!” (2 Chronicles 13:9 NLT). Abijah expresses his confidence in God even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds. “We are following the instructions of the LORD our God, but you have abandoned him. 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!” (2 Chronicles 13:11-12 NLT).

While the people of Judah had been far from perfect in their faithfulness to God, they had not yet rejected Him fully or replaced Him with gods of their own making. They still worshiped at the temple erected by Solomon. They still called on Yahweh for help in time of need. Jeroboam and the people of Israel had replaced God with golden calves. As always, this was going to boil down to a difference in theology, not numerical advantage or military might. As is so often the case in the Bible, the story would not turn out the way most people would have expected. Like the people of Israel facing the Egyptians at the Red Sea or David facing Goliath on the field of battle, the victory would not go to the strongest or mightiest. Judah was going to rely on what God had done, but Israel would end up trusting in what she could do. Judah would trust in the power of God. Israel would trust in their own strength. In making their own gods and establishing their own places of worship, Israel had rejected God and His power and provision. Rather than trust in the grace of God, they decided to lean on their own understanding and rely on their own strength. But their superior numbers would prove no match for God.

This story reminds me of the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthian believers: “Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT). When I am weak, then I am strong. What a clear summation of the Christian faith. Strength in weakness. With God, all things are possible. But to avail ourselves of His power, we must first reject any idea that we have what it takes to do what He has called us to do. Judah knew they were outnumbered. But they also knew they had God. This battle would not be won on the basis of their own strength, but on God’s. “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, and the men of Judah began to shout. At the sound of their battle cry, God defeated Jeroboam and the Israelite army and routed them before Abijah and the army of Judah. The Israelite army fled from Judah, and God handed them over to Judah in defeat” (2 Chronicles 13:14-16 NLT). In a time of need, they cried out to God, and He answered. He fought on their behalf. He heard their cry and He answered their call. God is in the delivering business. He is the Lord of Hosts, the commander of armies. He wants to show Himself strong on behalf of His people. But we must first admit our weakness and cry out for His deliverance. We must rely on His infinite mercy and grace. Judah defeated Israel because they trusted in the Lord. What are the insurmountable odds you face in your life today? What battles do you find yourself in? Are you willing to admit your weakness and cry out to God for His deliverance? There is power in weakness.

Father, You are still in the delivering business. But I first need to admit my need for Your help and confess my own weakness. You want to show Your strength to me, not the other way around. Thank You for continually revealing my own weakness through the circumstances of life. May I increasingly turn to You for strength and victory in the battles I face. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org