In today’s reading we learn the history of two kings of Judah: Rehoboam, and his son Abijah. In the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign his kingdom was established, because he and Judah with him walked in the way of David and Solomon, i.e. remaining faithful to the LORD (2 Chr 11:17). But when he was established, “he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him,” (2 Chr 12:1).
Then for the first time since Egypt had been devastated by the ten plagues, Egypt came up to campaign in Canaan, and surrounded Jerusalem but did not destroy it. The time that had elapsed from Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, to this, was 520 years — that is how long it took Egypt to recover some of its former power. Shishak, by the way, is identified by most biblical scholars as Sheshonk I, founder of a Libyan dynasty of pharaohs.
When Pharaoh was outside the gates, please notice what the LORD says to Rehoboam by the hand of the prophet Shemaiah: “You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak,” (2 Chr 12:5). Wait a minute, we had just read that what Judah had forsaken, was the law or Torah of the LORD. But evidently, when God’s people leave off living according to God’s Law, even if they still believe in Him, He considers that the same as forsaking Him. This may be one reason why Jesus warned His disciples, that “whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven,” (Mat 5:19).
But even after this trouble had come upon Judah, Rehoboam did not completely repent of forsaking the LORD, for “he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD,” (2 Chr 12:14). But Abijah his son was established in his kingdom, however, unlike so many of the kings we will read about, Chronicles is silent on whether he did evil or good in the sight of the LORD.
But when Abijah and the men of Judah were hemmed in before and behind by the army of Jeroboam, they cried out to the LORD for deliverance, and we learn that the children of Judah prevailed “because they relied on the LORD God of their fathers,” (2 Chr 13:18).
Even when the LORD’s people seek Him, and seek to walk in His ways, they will still need to call upon Him for help, and rely on Him. He answers them when they do rely on Him. The Scripture records that Judah prevailed, not because of their obedience, but because of their reliance. But let us not go looking for trouble, by forsaking the LORD, and forsaking living by His Law, which is the same as forsaking Him.