God is never left without a witness. He never abandons the world to complete darkness without someone to shine the light of truth. He always has His remnant, His prophet, His apostle, or His preacher to declare and demonstrate God’s goodness in a world filled with wickedness, rebellion and perversion.
I Kings chapters twelve and thirteen describe a low point in Israel’s history. Solomon had died and Rehoboam through his imprudent leadership had divided the Kingdom. He reigned over the Southern Kingdom (Tribes of Judah and Benjamin) and Jeroboam ruled over the Northern Kingdom (the remaining 10 Tribes of Israel).
Unfortunately, Jeroboam’s leadership over the northern kingdom drove Israel away from God instead of towards Him. Fearing that the yearly religious pilgrimages to Jerusalem would change the people’s loyalty back to Rehoboam, Jeroboam constructed golden calves in the cities Dan and Bethel and encouraged the people to worship there. In I Kings 12:28 Jeroboam states…
“You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out at of the land of Egypt. And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
Of course such worship violated God’s commands and eventually drove the Israelites to idolatry. As a matter of fact, Jeroboam’s sin was so great that throughout the Old Testament the wickedness of Israel’s kings was often attributed to and compared with the gravity of Jeroboam’s sin (I Kings 15:34; 16:19, 26; II Kings 14:24; 15:24).
Yet, in the midst of spiritual darkness, God had a light. One person who demonstrated God’s grace and God’s goodness even though he was surrounded by rebellion and idolatry. Remarkably, that person was none other than Jeroboam’s son Abijah. We see his story and testimony in I Kings 14.
We know nothing of Abijah’s age, his personality or his accomplishments. One simple phrase sets him apart from the wickedness that surrounded him:
I Kings 14:13 – And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.
What a extraordinary statement! “In him there is found something pleasing to the Lord.” As I read through I Kings 14, those words seemed to leap from the page. My mind immediately was filled with questions: What did Abijah do? What was it about him that pleased the Lord? Where can I find out more information about this guy?
Surprisingly, the Bible gives very little additional information. As a matter of fact, everything that we know about him is found in I Kings 14. He is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture.
Jewish tradition states that Abijah grew to become a godly young man who encouraged the Northern Tribes to forsake their idolatrous ways and return to Judaism. Others believe that he died in infancy. The simple truth is that we do not know anymore about him than is found in the biblical record.
As I meditated on Abijah and the Bible’s commendation of him, I was reminded of the fact that many of God’s brightest lights shine in human obscurity. They are not people of significance; their accomplishments never appear in the public record, and many are even anonymous. Yet God knows who they are. Like Abijah, they may never reign over a kingdom or live long enough to achieve human success, but there is something about them that pleases God.
Yes, like Abijah, we live in a world filled with darkness. Let’s strive not to live in the limelight but rather to reflect God’s light; to reject the praise of others and to long for the praise of God. May God help us to shine as brightly as he did.