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2 Chronicles 13:1-20 - Homilies By W. Clarkson

The folly of unnatural severance, etc.

The whole chapter presents to us a number of lessons, not very closely connected with one another.

I. THE FOLLY OF AN UNNATURAL SEVERANCE . The first thing we read about the reign of Abijah is that there "was war between him and Jeroboam" ( 2 Chronicles 13:2 ). What else was to be expected? How, in those times, or indeed in any time, could it be otherwise? Tribes descended, as they were, from a common ancestor, speaking the same language, holding the same faith, having the same history, under a sacred obligation to worship at the same sanctuary, with no natural boundary between them, were bound to be united together and form one strong nation, or else to be at perpetual variance. There are two great mistakes, of which one is as foolish and as mischievous as the other—to insist upon organic union when everything in constitution and providential ordering points to separation; and, on the other hand, to attempt separation when everything clearly points to union. Whom God hath joined together let no man try to put asunder; if he does, he will certainly reap mischief and misery for his harvest. This will apply not only to nations, but to Churches, to social communities, to families, to individuals.

II. THE DUTY AND WISDOM OF REMONSTRANCE , It was right enough of Abijah to utter the strong and effective remonstrance here recorded ( 2 Chronicles 13:4-12 ). Perhaps, as one descended by both parents from David, he had a very strong sense of the disloyalty of the two tribes; but he certainly made a very vigorous appeal to them, urging them, by considerations of duty to God and of regard for their own interests, to rally to his side. He did not succeed in the attempt; probably he did not expect to do so. When men have carried disloyal or disobedient thought so far as to be guilty of actual rebellion or active opposition, they are not often moved even by the most cogent and persuasive words. Nevertheless, it is always right to try to move them before resorting to violent measures. We may succeed, as men have succeeded before now, in saving sanguinary strife, or in averting that which is, "in all but the bloodshed, a duel." Remonstrance should be made

III. THE PLACE FOR STRATAGEM IN THE BATTLE OF THE LORD , Jeroboam seems to have been in the way of succeeding by his stratagem ( 2 Chronicles 13:13 , 2 Chronicles 13:14 ), and had there been no strong and special reason for Divine interposition, he would undoubtedly have prevailed against Abijah. Persuasiveness of speech is good, but sagacity in action is better still in any serious campaign. And while simple straightforwardness is the weapon we should commonly use, there is a guile we may employ when our spirit is wholly unselfish, and when we do not invade inviolable truth (see 2 Corinthians 12:16 ).

IV. THE SUCCESS OF FAITHFULNESS . After all, it was not the cleverness of the crafty Jeroboam, but the faithfulness, thus far, of the obedient Abijah which secured the victory. The men of Judah "cried unto the Lord," and "God smote Jeroboam and all Israel." As we read the chronicles of the two kingdoms, we are amazed that kings and people failed to see that just as they were obedient to Jehovah they prospered, and just as they were disobedient they were overtaken with national calamity. But it is so much easier to distinguish other people's duty than to perceive our own, to see where others missed their way than to find or to keep our own. Continually are we tempted to abandon the path of simple Divine wisdom for that which has its own fascinations, but to which no finger-post of duty points us; and invariably we find that "the end thereof" is sorrow and disillusion. Often the path of righteousness is unattractive and unpromising at the outset; but in that way lies success. Further on the prospect brightens; and at the end of that road is victory and joy. Be faithful unto death, and you may make quite sure of the crown of life.—C.

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