TODAY’S READING: 1 Kings 15–16; 2 Chronicles 13–16
Abijam’s heart was not right before the Lord, not loyal to Jehovah like his ancestor David (1 Kings 15:3). David was credited with being loyal to Jehovah except in the case of Uriah the Hittite (v. 5). Which is fascinating. The one lapse of David was an offense and betrayal of a non-Israelite. The one time David strayed from God’s heart had a central missionary offense; instead of glorifying God among the nations, David did something repugnant and offensive against a Hittite. But the broader review of David’s heart as evidenced by his songs and prayers show his passion for Jehovah to be glorified by all nations. It is inescapable then that to walk as David walked before Jehovah is to walk dedicated to God’s global glory, and Abijam’s disloyalty must have been in part his unconcern for missions, his ethnocentric orientation, and his worship of false gods. This conclusion is verified by the comparative actions of Asa who removed all false worship from the land including all the idols his relatives near and far had introduced (vv. 11–13). Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord as did his father David. The lesson is clear: We are a blessing to all nations when we live as God’s holy people, having no gods other than Jehovah so that He may live among us and bless us. Asa and David did this, Abijam did not.
Jeroboam unfortunately walked like Abijam, except to a worse degree. In order to bolster the security of his new and vulnerable state, the founding king of Israel created the space and place for idolatry. Jeroboam led the people to trust in gods they manufactured. The result of Jeroboam’s folly was an aborted dynasty, civil war, and hastened judgment. So repugnant was Jeroboam, Jehovah struck him dead (2 Chr. 13:20). Later kings of Israel will follow Jeroboam’s idolatry but provoke even greater wrath (1 Kings 16:33). Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Phoenician king and prophet of Baal, allowing her to promote Baal worship in God’s country. This is missions in reverse and God would not countenance it.
The divided kingdoms are studies in contrasts. Ahab brought Baal home and threw Jehovah out while Asa was threatened by a Sudanese army of one million men, outnumbered two to one (2 Chr. 14:9). “We rest on Thee and in Thy Name we go.” Great missionary words which would form a great missionary hymn, the same hymn that Jim Elliot and his four friends sang with their wives in Ecuador just before the men engaged the Auca Indians and were martyred. In Asa’s case the Sudanese were overthrown before the Lord and His army (v. 13) as the Auca were overthrown by love when Elisabeth Elliot returned to live among those who made her a widow. After the Lord saved by the weak, the people of Judah made a covenant with Jehovah that referenced the terms their fathers agreed to with God (15:12–13). Those were missionary terms resulting from an Old Testament missionary victory. The Old Testament is the documentation of God using His people to be a light to all nations of the glories of Jehovah. Small, weak armies defeating strong Sudanese armies of a million soldiers demonstrated the glory of God, just like five small families trusting Jesus with their lives and deaths among the Auca. Different approaches, same goal: the glory of God among all the peoples of earth.
We must never forget that all of life is about God’s glory, and the smaller we are, the greater God shines when He wins. Asa forgot this essential truth, turned to the Syrians for help (16:3), and God reminded him of the big missionary framework for all things: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (16:9 emphasis added). God’s missionary goal is that He would be seen as strong in all the earth among all the nations. God’s missionary means is to use those who are small, weak, overwhelmed, and loyal. God chose weak, little Abraham, young, little David, small, little Israel, and frail you and me that He might show Himself mighty among the Gujarati in India. Let’s stay small. Let’s stay missionary hearted. That’s how we show our loyalty to the God of mission, and that’s when He shows Himself mighty in all the earth.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 155.