2 Chronicles 14:8 Asa (who became king of Judah after his father Abijah died) had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and two hundred eighty thousand troops from Benjamin who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty warriors. 9 Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11 Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is no difference for you between helping the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let no mortal prevail against you.” 12 So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13 Asa and the army with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until no one remained alive; for they were broken before the LORD and his army.
In some sense this story is a repeat of yesterday’s passage – only with different characters. Asa was the new king of of God’s people who faced 1 million Ethiopian troops with less than 600,000 of his own. Like his father Abijah, Asa ignored the numerical disadvantage and depended on the power of God to carry the day – which he did. V.13 tells us “the Ethiopians fell until no one remained alive.” I thought yesterday’s death count of 500,000 was unbelievable. One million dead?! In one day?! Wow! I can’t even conceive of a million corpses in one place. Asa’s faith in the Lord saved him and his people. It also strikes me that Asa was imitating what he’d seen his own father do some years before.
Abijah’s faith was multiplied into his son by example.
We’re not only called to follow Jesus, we are called to offer a life worth imitating. If that idea weirds you out, I understand. None of us is completely worth imitating (me included) because none of us is perfect. I’m sure there were any number of areas where Abijah was not a stellar example of faithfulness. But at least once, Abijah demonstrated faithfulness under pressure, which his son Asa took to heart – doing likewise once he became king. Abijah wasn’t a perfect example, but a living example of faithfulness. Who is imitating your example?
Lord Jesus, you have made us new in our baptism. And every day since you’ve been doing a work in us that we might be transformed more and more into your likeness. Give us grace to live a life worth imitating. And teach us to imitate others who are a bit ahead of us in the journey of faith. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.