Jeroboam was still king of Israel when Rehoboam died. After his death, Abijah became king of Judah. Soon afterward, Jeroboam and the army of Israel invaded Judah.
When the two armies faced one another, Israel’s army was twice as big. Still, Abijah stood on a hill and yelled over at the army of Israel. He said, “Men of Israel, you have left the family of David to serve a servant of Solomon. On top of that, you have left the God of Israel to worship Jeroboam’s two golden calves. And your priests are not from the tribe of Levi.”
He went on and on, preaching to the men. He didn’t realize that while he was doing this, Jeroboam was sending half of his men around to the back of Abijah’s army. Suddenly the army of Judah realized they were surrounded. They cried out to the Lord and the priests blew the trumpets. God fought against Israel and they ran from the battlefield. Many of their soldiers died that day.
Jeroboam never recovered from this massive defeat, and he died soon afterwards. Abijah became stronger because he trusted the Lord.
After Abijah died, his son Asa became king of Judah. He ruled for 41 years. The Lord gave him 10 years of peace because he returned the nation to the ways of David. He destroyed the idols Solomon had set up. He told the people of Judah to seek the Lord God.
Suddenly a vast army from Ethiopia invaded from the south. The army of Judah was greatly outnumbered. Asa prayed, “Oh Lord, only you can help us now!”
So the Lord helped him defeat the Ethiopian army. Many of them were killed as they tried to run away. When it was all done, their army was crushed before the Lord. The men of Judah collected all the possessions from the bodies that were lying on the battlefield. They also got all of their sheep and camels.
As Asa and his men went back to Jerusalem, a prophet met him and challenged him to continue his walk with God. So the king decided to start destroying the idols from all the other cities of Judah. He even removed his grandmother from being Queen Mother because of her loyalty to an idol.
People from the northern kingdom of Israel moved to Judah in large numbers because they worshiped the Lord. On a certain day, everyone met together and vowed to always serve God. Asa then took silver and gold and put it in the Temple treasury. So the Lord gave Judah peace from all their enemies.
Unfortunately, Asa came to a turning point in his life. The new king of Israel declared war on Judah and invaded the land. He took control of a key city.
Instead of trusting the Lord, Asa thought of another way he could get the advantage over Israel. He took the gold and silver out of the Temple and sent it to Ben-hadad, the king of Syria that was north of Israel. He sent a message saying, “I’m sending you gold and silver so you will break your treaty with Israel, and establish a treaty between our two nations.”
Ben-hadad took the gold and silver and made a treaty with Asa. He then invaded Israel and captured several of their cities. Quickly the army of Israel left Judah so they could defend themselves against Syria.
It seemed like Asa’s plan had worked. But then, a prophet went to king Asa and said, “You should have asked the Lord to fight for you— not Syria! Don’t you remember what God did with the massive army of Ethiopia? The Lord is looking for those who will trust Him. You were foolish in doing this. Therefore, you will be at war until you die.”
Asa was angry with the prophet and called for a guard. “Put this man in prison!” After that, he became cruel toward his own people. Suddenly he developed a disease in his feet, which got worse and worse. Still, he didn’t seek the Lord’s help, even when the disease became life threatening. Instead, he trusted the doctors to help him. Finally, he died after two years of great pain.