Rely Upon The Lord
In most of our readings, we sometimes find a word or a situation which stands out, to encourage us in our efforts to glorify God. In Chronicles, the word `rely' comes to mind as we perceive the help granted to the people of God almost 3,000 years ago. In times of trouble, they were greatly strengthened as they relied upon the Lord.
`Rely' means to lean upon, rest upon, to stay, to support. Let us look at some of the examples of those who did rely upon the Lord.
Abijah, the son of Rehoboam, became king of Judah: "... in the eighteenth year of king Jereboam began Abijah to reign over Judah ... and there was war between Abijah and Jereboam. And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men. Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour" (2Chron.13:1-3). Abijah's army was outnumbered by a ratio of two to one. But he spoke against Jereboam, reminding him that he and the ten tribes had forsaken God.
"We keep the charge of the Lord our God; but ye have forsaken him. And, behold, God himself is with us for our Captain, and his priests sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel (10 tribes), fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper ... But Jereboam caused an ambush to come about behind them, so they were before Judah and the ambush behind them. And when Judah looked back, behold the battle was before and behind; and they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets ... it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. And the children of Israel fled before Judah and God delivered them into their hand. Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord of their fathers" (2Chron.13:11-18). Their fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and more all relied upon the Lord God according to his word. Because Abijah and Judah leaned upon the Almighty, they conquered Jeroboam and Israel.
"Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah and the Lord struck him and he died. But Abijah waxed mighty and married fourteen wives and begat twenty and two sons and sixteen daughters" (2Chron.13:20-21). Abijah put his trust in the hand of the Lord and prospered the rest of his life.
One of Abijah's sons, Asa .... "reigned in his stead; in his days the land was quiet ten years. And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to keep the Law and the commandments" (2Chron. 14:1-2,4).
At the end of the ten years' peaceful reign of Asa, the Ethiopians came against him and Judah. "...Asa cried unto the Lord God and said, `Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God, for we rest (rely) on thee and in thy Name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God. Let not man prevail against thee.' So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah and the Ethiopians fled" (2Chron.14:11-13).
As Asa returned from the destruction of the Ethiopians, Azariah,the sone of the prophet Obed (2Chron 15v1-2), reminded him, "...Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin, the Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake him he will forsake you. ...Now for a long season Israel had been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak; for your work shall be rewarded" (2Chron.15:2-4,7).
The Almighty, knowing the weakness of the flesh, warned Asa to continue his reliance upon Him, for He must be sought in order to receive His help, so being rewarded as Asa had been. In response to God's word: "When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet ... he took courage and put away the abominable idols out of the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from Mount Ephraim and renewed the altar of the Lord that was before the porch of the Lord. And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with their whole desire, and He was found of them, and the Lord gave them rest round about" (2Chron.15:8,12,15,19).
The book of Chronicles is full of such examples of those who relied on the Lord and continued to do so, as well as those who failed to continue their reliance, occurring about 3,000 years ago. They are a real help for us today, Brethren and Sisters. They remind us to turn to the Almighty at all times, not just in trouble, knowing that God's eyes "run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him." Does not God know all our hearts? Do we rely on Him in our striving to glorify Him now, in our time of probation?
God hears those who seek and desire to serve him, as Solomon wrote in Proverbs: "My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and long life and peace shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck, write them upon the tablet of thine heart: so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean (rely) not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:1-7).
Solomon sought understanding and wisdom from the Lord; God granted him these, and more. But in his old age he departed from God and his heart was turned away by his many wives and concubines. He became "an old and foolish King, who will no more be admonished" (Eccl.4:13).
In contrast we have the words of David a man after God's own heart. "I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterwards receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:23-26).
What blessing, what help, what mercy we know from our Father! He will guide us, holding us by His right hand - if we rely on Him in all our ways.
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Bro. Francis Odiko (Subri, Ghana.)