Get ‘VICTORY’ through RELYING in GOD ALONE: "And the children of Israel fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hand. Then Abijah and his people struck them with a great slaughter; so five hundred thousand choice men of Israel fell slain. Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers." (2 Chron. 13:16-18)
While elaborating the reign of Abijah, the ruler of Judah, the writer of Chronicles draws our attention of the people of Judah under Abijah going to war against the people of Israel who are under Jeroboam (v. 2b). In this war 400,000 soldiers of Judah face about 800,000 soldiers of Israel, so the war is heavily favored in the side of Israel when we see the numerical strength of the soldiers alone (v. 3). However, there is a distinct difference between the people of Judah and the people of Israel, which Abijah elaborates in a speech to Jeroboam and the people of Israel.
In his speech before the battle, Abijah reminds Jeroboam that God had given the kingdom to David and to his descendants. However, Jeroboam had rebelled against the Davidic dynasty during the time of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Then, Israel had set up a counterfeit priesthood and had served idols. In contrast, Judah had clung to the Levitical priesthood and had served God who was the Captain of Judah’s army (see Josh 5:14–15, the captain of the Lord’s host). It was foolish on the part of Israel to fight against Judah and the Lord God (vv. 4-12).
Instead of listening to Abijah, Jeroboam set an ambush (v. 13). When the trap closed on Judah, the men cried out to God and the priests blew the trumpets (v. 14). God answered by striking Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. Thus, Abijah and the people of Judah won a great victory. 500,000 choice men of Israel died in that battle (vv. 15–17) - a staggering price to pay for turning away from God!
The reason for this victory is clearly stated in the very next verse: “Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers" (v. 18). The battle was the Lord’s, and the ultimate victory was His for the people of Judah who relied on Him alone. Israel’s superior numbers (v. 3) and strategy (vv. 13, 14) were to no avail because the victory was divine in origin. Reliance on the power of the Lord instead of human strength is a dominant theme in both 1 and 2 Chronicles and the lesson to be learned from this incident.
The army of Israel had superior battle force and a better war strategy, but they did not have God. They had an army twice as big as Judah’s army (Luke 14:31–32), but by the time the battle was over, Israel had lost 500,000 soldiers. For Judah, God was their leader (v. 12) and they believed that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). God gave Judah the victory since they relied on God through their faithful worship of God (vv. 8–11). They obeyed God’s commandments, and God kept His promises to His children in their time of need.
Let us understand that Abijah put his faith in the God of the covenant who always keeps His promises (v. 5). He was living by faith and not by sight, and as a result God gave them the victory. Let us also rely on God by believing in Jesus through faith, loving Him from our heart and obeying His commandments today and always!