From Revival to Rejection

Posted: December 2, 2010 in 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 14-16, “From Revival to Rejection”

What causes a person to abandon God?  Culture gives us some famous examples: Charles Templeton (contemporary of Billy Graham) – Sam Harris (one of the “new atheists”), etc.  Scripture gives us some famous examples too…one in our chapters tonight: King Asa.  Asa starts out his reign so very well, leading the people in revival – and yet towards the end of his life, he abandons the Lord, refusing even to seek God’s face in his own illness.

So what’s the root cause?  For Asa (and likely many others), it seems to be the issue of pride.  No longer does the person want to bow the knee to God & seek His face; instead the person wants to rule his/her own life in rebellion against God, and rejection against the very grace he/she once seemed to enjoy.  Like many tragedies, this one ends in sorrow & death – but there’s much to be learned along the way.  May we be those who learn from the good AND the bad of Asa, in order that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes.

2 Chronicles 14 (NKJV)
1 So Abijah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land was quiet for ten years.

  1. A little hold-over from Ch 13.  Remember that the chapter breaks are not inspired – normally this would have been included at the end of the last chapter.
  2. The Chronicler painted a pretty good picture of Abijah – showing him as someone who called for revival & reunification among the divided nation.  The author of 1 Kings gives us a bit more information, showing Abijah (Abijam in 1 Kings 15) as an evil king with a heart that was not loyal to the Lord.  Apparently he was ambitious in the reunification efforts, but it was ultimately self-serving, as he didn’t care anything for the things of God.  His son is going to start as a well-needed contrast to him, but ultimately someone who will follow in his father’s footsteps.
    1. What kind of example are we setting for our children & those who look to us?

2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, 3 for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. 5 He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him.

  1. Asa starts off great!  Leads the nation in revival & rededication to the Lord.  3 basic areas:
  2. He removed that which was false.  1st Asa removed the idolatrous altars & high places & pillars & images, etc.  Anything that took worship away from the One True God was taken down & destroyed. [] The first step in revival is repentance – that’s what’s going on here.  Repentance is two-fold: a turning away & a turning toward.  Forsaking that which is false is the “turning away.”
    1. Are you needing a personal revival?  Identify that which is false & forsake it…
  3. He helped the nation seek that which was true.  Tearing down the false altars was the “turning away,” but they needed something positive to “turn towards”: the truth!  Asa commanded the kingdom to seek God & to obey the law…
    1. Once we turn away from our sin (forsake the false), we need to turn to the truth: Jesus Christ!  We need to seek His face & know/obey His word…
  4. He kept the nation from spiritual compromise.  Vs. 5 can seem like a repeat of vs. 3, but the Chronicler is actually writing of two separate things.  In vs. 3, Asa tore down the altars of false gods; in vs. 5 Asa tore down the false altars of the True God.  People had erected all sorts of high places in the land in which they went to worship the True God, but in doing so, they worshipped Him wrongly.  (Any way of approaching God outside of the way in which God invites us to approach Him is worshipping God wrongly.  We come at His invitation on His terms.  He has specified those terms to us today: we come on the basis of the blood of Jesus Christ!)
    1. Probably more in the USA than in most countries on earth, we are tempted with all sorts of spiritual compromise.  After all, we live in a “Christian” nation & we can worship God any old way we want to, right?  Wrong.  We are gloriously invited to worship God through Jesus Christ in spirit & truth (Jn 4:24).  So much in our culture is masqueraded as a way to worship God that has nothing to do with God & everything to do with ourselves & our emotions & our hyped-up experience.  Beware of compromise – it’ll eventually lead away from the false worship of the true God into false worship of false gods.

6 And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the Lord had given him rest. 7 Therefore he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.

  1. Who gave them rest & prosperity?  The Lord!  They sought His face, and God gave them rest & peace.  The same principle applies to us spiritually: when we experience personal revival & seek the Lord’s face, He’ll grant us His peace.  That’s not to say that we’ll be immune from trials – but we WILL have God’s peace & strength in the midst of those trials.  We’ll be prepared to endure those trials in the strength of the Lord, because we’ve already been walking with Him, filled with the Holy Spirit.
    1. Too many Christians walk into trials & temptation when they’re spiritually “empty.”  They haven’t been seeking the Lord’s face & they’ve been acting as a Christian in name-only, and then they wonder why they struggle & flail & despair when trouble comes.  “Where is the Lord?!”  The same place He’s always been…it is us who have walked away.  At that point, they dig their foxhole & attempt to “get right” with the Lord again.  Amen for repentance (it’s better late than never!) – but how much better it is to experience that revival BEFORE troubles come!  Be prepared for trials later by experiencing repentance & revival now.
  2. Note that it is during their years of rest given them by the Lord that the nation decides to build cities & walls.  They understood the opportunity the Lord had given them, and they wanted to put it to good use.  There’s much wisdom here!  It would have been very easy to kick back in the years of rest & say, “We don’t need to do anything for physical protection…God’s given us all the protection we ever need!”  Understand that building the walls wasn’t a lack of faith on the part of Judah; it was wisdom in action.  God’s provision & protection of us is not an excuse for laziness on our part. [] 
    1. We have many promises in the Bible about the Lord’s protection & His keeping of us until the day we see Him face-to-face…but that’s no excuse for us to wade into all sorts of sinful temptation thinking we can just rely on our eternal deliverance.  We have promises of God’s physical provision in that He’ll clothe us better than the lilies of the field – but that’s no excuse for us not to go out & get a job.  (He who doesn’t work doesn’t eat. 2 Ths 3:10)  Trust the promises of God – amen.  Rely upon the work of the Lord – amen.  But we also need to get off the couch & put those promises into action & stop using them as excuses.

8 And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah who carried shields and spears, and from Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand men who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty men of valor.

  1. Keep in mind that the nation of Judah was comprised of two relatively tiny tribes from the already relatively tiny people of Israel.  To have an army of 580K was huge!  This was the blessing of God in action.
  2. Yet even this blessed people are going to face massive opposition.  See vs. 9…

9 Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. 10 So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.

  1. 580K vs. 1 million + 300 chariots.  Those aren’t just bad odds in a battle; this is like Judah walking into suicide.  The odds are completely overwhelming.  Outnumbered almost 2-to-1 in soldiers, with a fleet of chariots (each chariot being the equivalent of a tank or fighter jet today).  Ethiopia wasn’t merely coming to engage Judah in battle; they were coming to utterly crush them.
  2. Ever face battles that feel similarly overwhelming?  It’s not just a “tough day”; it’s a day that will change your life & your family’s future.  It’s not just a personal conflict; it’s an intimate betrayal where your heart is torn out of your chest & you have no idea what to do.  It’s a day when you feel as if you’re staring Satan in the face & you have nowhere to hide.  What do you do in the face of those kind of odds?  How do you respond to that kind of spiritual battle?  For the non-believer (or “pre-believer!”), it’s tough to find any words of encouragement, because they truly do face those battles alone.  Yet for the believer in Christ Jesus, we NEVER face these battles alone – we have a place of refuge…a Person to which we can turn for help.  And that’s what Asa does…

11 And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”

  1. Asa “cried out to the Lord his God.”  Amen!  If the rest of the words of his prayer were never recorded, this would have been enough.  When Asa had nowhere to turn, he knew exactly to Whom to turn: the Lord God.  God was fully capable of handling the battle, and Asa knew it.  No matter what odds he physically faced, the God he served was infinitely more powerful than any enemy either on Hell or Earth. []  Note “the Lord his God.”  If Asa had not belonged to the Lord, he would have no right to call upon the Lord. …  Yet Asa DID belong to God, and he was free to call upon the name of God in his day of trouble. …
  2. Asa affirms God’s power. “Lord, it is nothing for You to help.”  For God, all things are possible.  Whether Asa had 500K soldiers or 5 soldiers didn’t matter.  What DID matter was the power of God to save.  God would certainly use the people in His wisdom – but God was not dependent upon the people; the people were dependent upon God.  He was (and is) fully capable of giving them the help they needed – even in the face of absolutely overwhelming odds.
    1. Writing of the promise to bring Judah back from captivity – Jeremiah 32:26-27 (26) Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, (27) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? []  Nothing is too hard for the Lord!  Whether it’s defeating a million-man army – restoring a nation to life from dead dry bones – or defeating death itself in the resurrection of Jesus Christ…nothing is too hard for the Lord! … Question: if we know that’s the case, why is it we so often pray as if a situation IS too tough for God to handle?  Have faith in our awesome, omnipotent God!
  3. Asa affirms God’s provision. “We rest on You.”  Asa acknowledges here that Judah has no hope for salvation other than the provision of God Himself.  They were utterly dependent upon God to provide for them & act, or else they would be destroyed.
    1. How important it is to keep this in mind!  There is nothing we experience as believers in Jesus Christ because we’ve somehow “earned the right.”  Everything we experience is due to the fact that we are utterly dependent upon the grace of God. …
  4. Asa affirms God’s promise.  “You are our God.”  Because the nation of Judah was ultimately ruled over not by the king, but by God, they had the promise of God’s protection when they walked with Him in faithfulness.  Asa knew the promises of God, and didn’t hesitate to call upon them.
    1. There’s hardly any better foundation for our prayer through the name of Jesus Christ than to stand on the revealed promises of God in the Bible.  … That’s not to “name it & claim it” – but it IS to have faith in what God has already said He would do if we merely asked.  So ASK!

12 So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13 And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the Lord and His army. And they carried away very much spoil.

  1. So much for a million-man army.  When the Lord intervened, they fled!  The enemy (even with all its might) was no match for God. [] What’s true for the Ethiopians is also true of the Devil.  We fight against a massively powerful enemy.  But the roaring lion who seeks whom he may devour is utterly toothless against the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is infinitely more powerful than the Devil because Jesus is the Creator & the Devil is simply one of the created.  If God is for us, who could be against us?
  2. Interesting turn of events when the comparatively little Jewish army is pursuing the Ethiopians, and taking the spoil from the battle!  Very similar to the events of the Exodus when God gave the victory to the Hebrews over the Egyptians & the Hebrew people ended up “plundering” the Egyptians of their gold when the Egyptians finally paid the Hebrews to leave.
    1. This is what happens when the Lord intervenes!  What seemed to be an overwhelming looming defeat turned into an overwhelming victory all because of the work of God.  … That’s no different when it comes to our salvation.  What should have been a sinner cast into the pit of Hell for eternity turned into a child of God saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, given inheritance & fellowship with God for all time…all because of the intervening work of God!

14 Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. 15 They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.

  1. Gotta love how the chapter rounds out.  Not only did Judah’s army defeat the Ethiopians, they defeated their other enemies around them as well.  Not because of the great might of Judah, but because of the great might of Jehovah (Yahweh God).  As when the people of Jericho heard of the hand of the Lord upon the Hebrews & their hearts melted (as reported by Rahab to the spies – Josh 2:11), so did the surrounding people fear when they witnessed the power of God with their own eyes.
    1. When God is magnified, others cannot help but see!  What kind of battles does the Lord allow us to face, simply so His glory can be known & witnessed by someone else around us?  Perhaps the trial you face today will be the event that brings someone to salvation in Christ tomorrow.

2 Chronicles 15 (NKJV)
1 Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. [for prophecy – equipped for the moment] 2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

  1. This will prove to be an ominous warning for Asa – but it ought to have been a wonderful word & promise.  Thus far, Asa HAD been seeking the Lord…and he saw the results of it!  Revival had broken out in the land, and they experienced the miraculous deliverance of God.  To have the continual promise of the same ought to have been wonderful.  As long as Asa was with God, God would be with Asa.  As long as the king sought the Lord, the Lord would be found. 
    1. That same principle hasn’t changed.  If we seek the Lord’s face through the Lord’s means (through Jesus Christ), we will always find Him!  In Christ, we’ve received the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us (Hb 13:5), that He’ll be with us always – even to the end of the age (Mt 28:20).  Seek the Lord!
  2. Yet there’s a 2nd part to the promise: if Asa forsook the Lord, then God would forsake Asa.  On one hand, we could ask why anyone would ever forsake the Lord – but we’d be blind to our own condition.  After all, that’s what we do on a regular basis anytime we wander off into sin.  It sounds so simple: “Just seek the Lord!” yet in reality we have a truly difficult time doing so – and ultimately we always forsake the Lord to one degree or another.
    1. So is the promise to Asa the same to us?  Yes & no.  For the true child of God, God won’t ever forsake us in the way that He’d totally leave us (we’ve got the promises of Christ to the contrary).  Yet at the same time, He will leave us to our own devices in order that we would experience the consequences of our sin.  If we forsake God & leave His protection (in the form of His commandments to us), then surely we WILL be forsaken as we experience the fullness of the consequences of our actions…all of which will hopefully drive us to our knees in repentance.
    2. Yet when we do repent, what’s the promise?  God is faithful & just to forgive us our sins & cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  For the NT believer, we are soundly saved by the grace of God in Christ Jesus; those who truly belong to Christ will never be forever abandoned by Christ.  (How do you know if you truly belong to Him?  Through repentance & faith!)

3 For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; 4 but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them. 5 And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity. 7 But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

  1. Brief history lesson for Asa.  The whole history of Israel was of a nation which would follow God for a time, fall into sin, be overrun by enemies, cry out to God, and God would deliver them.  What was true in the time of the judges would be true during the times of the kings as some kings would follow the Lord & others would forsake Him.  The appeal here for Asa is that he would be one who would continue to follow the Lord in faithfulness.  They had already had generations of kings who abandoned the things of God & the priests & law was neglected, and as a result their enemies had overrun them.  Now was the time for continued repentance & revival – that their eyes would continually seek the Lord in faith.
  2. What’s the danger here?  After all, Asa & Judah had already seen a miraculous victory.  The danger is time.  Over time their memories would fade & they’d forget the hand of the Lord in all their victories.  Thus Asa (and the nation) needed to be mindful of their faithfulness to God – they needed to be intentional about their loyalty unto Him.
    1. Are you intentional with your faith?  Are you mindful about your need to be utterly dependent upon Jesus Christ?  It’s so easy to forget & just start walking in our own strength & in our own ways.  That’s not what God would have for us as His children!  Asa was promised that if he walked in faithfulness, his work would be rewarded.  What work?  His “work” of faith – maintaining his walk with the Lord.  Faithfulness to our faith in Christ is exactly what’s needed from us.  Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. []  Authentic, ongoing faith pleases God!  Be intentional to walk by faith, trusting the promises of Christ, leaning upon the power of the Holy Spirit every day, worshipping God the Father in spirit & truth.  When we stop being intentional with our faith, we open up the danger to straying from God.  As the author of Hebrews goes on to write, we need to lay aside every weight & the sin which entangles & continually look unto Jesus as the author & finisher of our faith (Heb 12:1-2) – intentionally following Him as our Lord & God!

 

8 And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the Lord that was before the vestibule of the Lord.

  1. Asa took the words to heart & redoubled his efforts at revival in the land.  They took stock of any idols that remained in the land (and in the new lands they had captured in battle) & destroyed them, as well as making repairs to the altar.  (Amazing that it had already been broken down through neglect in only a few short generations!)

9 Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those who dwelt with them from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon, for they came over to him in great numbers from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

  1. What Asa’s father had selfishly attempt to promote, Asa actually saw in action.  When the people of the divided kingdom saw God’s hand of blessing upon a king & people who were actually following the Lord, they came south to the nation of Judah to be a part of it.  People witnessed the blessing of God & wanted to be around it.
    1. People are no different today.  When they understand the marvelous work of God upon someone’s life, they want to be around the person & learn of what happened to them.  It’s all part of being the aroma of Christ (2 Cor 2:16)…

10 So they gathered together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. 11 And they offered to the Lord at that time seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep from the spoil they had brought. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 and whoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 14 Then they took an oath before the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

  1. The people renewed their worship.  This may not have been as large as a sacrifice as during the days of Solomon, but this wasn’t exactly minor.  700 bulls & 7000 sheep is a lot of sacrifice!  Basically affirming again that as a nation, they belonged wholeheartedly to the Lord God & they worshipped Him in abundance.
    1. Worship always accompanies revival…always.  There’s simply no way that someone’s heart can turn back to the God who saves them & be silent.  That’s not to say that everyone’s expression of worship is going to look the same – but their worship WILL be authentic…it WILL be expressed somehow.  To have a heart that does not truly rejoice in the Lord is to have a heart that does not yet understand what the Lord has done for them.
  2. The people renewed the covenant.  As with many other times, the people recommitted themselves to walking in the ways of God, according to His revealed word. (This time, they reaffirmed their commitment unto death!)  As the people of the sovereign God, they were to be submitted to the sovereign God in His ways & commands.  It’s no different with us.  We are shown to love Jesus when we keep His commandments (John 14:21).  We’re not saved by keeping those commandments, but when we are saved we will want to keep them & fulfill them to the glory of God.
    1. As with worship, submission to God always accompanies revival.  To say that we’re rededicating ourselves unto the Lord while still desiring to live in sin & rebellion is to delude ourselves. … …
  3. The people sought God & found Him – just as the prophet had said.  This isn’t a new promise in Scripture.  God had proclaimed it through Moses when the covenant was originally made: Deuteronomy 4:29  But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. [] Contextually speaking of the return from captivity…but the promise is there that God will be found by those who seek Him.  It’s no different in the New Testament!  Matthew 7:7-8 (7) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. []  Those who seek God in faith through Christ for salvation will receive it!  Those who seek God for the filling & power of the Holy Spirit will receive it! (Lk 11:13)  Those who seek first the kingdom of God & His righteousness through Christ will receive it. (Mt 6:33)  God will be found by those who seek Him in faith through Christ!
    1. The problem is that outside of grace, no one seeks after God (Rom 3:11).  When left to ourselves & our pride, we do not desire fellowship with God, much less His rule & reign over us.  Again, how important it is to be intentional in our faith!  Humble yourselves in the sight of God…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

16 Also he removed Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah; and Asa cut down her obscene image, then crushed and burned it by the Brook Kidron.

  1. How far did the revivals & reform go?  Asa even removed his own grandmother from her position as queen mother after she continued in idolatry.  Notably, he did not have her put to death, as per vs. 13 – but he did discipline her.

17 But the high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days. 18 He also brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated and that he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils. 19 And there was no war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.

  1. Within the boundaries of Judah, the high places were removed – but outside the boundaries (in Israel, where some of the people came from), those high places remained.  Nevertheless, Asa was faithful & loyal to everything God had called him to do at this point.  As a result, he experienced the blessings & rest of God.  They had peace for 20 years…and then God allowed Asa to be tested.  See Ch 16…

2 Chronicles 16 (NKJV)
1 In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

  1. For 20 years, there had been rest in the land; now the nation of Judah was at the brink of war with Israel.  Israel was provoking Judah by setting up a blockade – an act of war, to be sure.  Yet keep in mind the situation here was nowhere near as dire as it had been in the days of the Ethiopians.  Israel surely didn’t have anywhere close to 1 million soldiers, and they weren’t moving to wipe Judah off the map…they were just causing trouble.
  2. So how does Asa respond?  If Asa knew to call on God for the impossible situation, surely he would trust God with something so relatively small, right?  Wrong.

2 Then Asa brought silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house, and sent to Ben-Hadad king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, 3 “Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you silver and gold; come, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me.”

  1. There’s no record of prayer – there’s no record of Asa seeking the Lord anywhere in this.  This was something that Asa thought he could handle just fine on his own, so he goes & hires the Syrian army to fight the battle for him.
  2. What’s wrong with this?  Several things: (1) Asa doesn’t even seem to ready his own troops for battle.  20 years ago, he sent 580K men to go fight against 1 million.  Now, they’ve grown soft over 20 years of peace, and he doesn’t seem to send ANYone to fight for the protection of their own people.  (2) Asa doesn’t only hire out the Syrians (enemies of God) with his own money, he uses money from the treasuries of the Lord.  Think of it: not only does Asa completely neglect the Lord & the Lord’s commands in this, he uses God’s money to hire God’s enemies to fight a battle that properly belonged to God’s people.
    1. “It’s a good thing we can’t do that today!”  Really?  How often do Christians attempt to use the methods of the world to fight the Lord’s battles?  Don’t misunderstand me – there’s nothing wrong with using everything at our disposal to go about the work of the kingdom.  Yet there is something fundamentally wrong when Christians neglect prayer, the preaching of the word, and evangelism to go off on some sort of political crusade, paying homage to people who otherwise despise Jesus Christ & the gospel.  When we neglect the things that God has plainly given us to trust ourselves & our own political allies to do the work, we’ve committed the same sin as King Asa.

4 So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali. 5 Now it happened, when Baasha heard it, that he stopped building Ramah and ceased his work. 6 Then King Asa took all Judah, and they carried away the stones and timber of Ramah, which Baasha had used for building; and with them he built Geba and Mizpah.

  1. Note that Asa was successful.  From a temporary standpoint, everything Asa had set out to accomplish was done.  The Syrians were hired – the armies of Israel were attacked – the construction stopped & the blockade was ended – and Asa even got to build some new cities in the end.  From a political standpoint, this was a shrewd move & effective.
  2. As much as I wish that Asa would have chosen differently, I’m so glad this example is in our Bible.  It tells us a very important truth: just because something works doesn’t mean it was right to do.  Worldly success is not always an indication of God’s blessing.  So often, we think it is!  We get the idea that if something worked, it must mean that God approved of our action…not so!  Likewise, we think that if something fails, it must mean God didn’t want us to do it…not so!  Asa had success, and plainly he had acted against the Lord’s will.  Likewise, Paul & Silas did the Lord’s work & were thrown into prison. Which was true success?
    1. We can’t ever judge our actions & results by the standards of the world; we must judge them by the word of God.

7 And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. 8 Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand.

  1. Asa gets chastised by the prophet.  True, the Syrians had defeated the army of Israel, but God had a bigger plan than that.  God was going to defeat the Syrians as well – and Asa had let them escape from his hand.  Asa completely missed out on what God was going to do. …
  2. Why did Asa do it?  Two things closely related: (1) pride & (2) a lack of faith.  Asa didn’t trust the Lord to be able to accomplish the task, but yet he trusted his own political skill instead.  Pridefully he thought he was more capable than the Lord.
    1. Anytime we trust ourselves rather than God, we’re basically saying the same thing: “I trust myself more than God to be able to handle this.”  We don’t often think of it in those terms, but that’s exactly the logic…and it’s not even logical!  Somehow we think we’re better suited than the Creator of the Heavens & Earth to handle our problems.  Not only does that demonstrate a lack of faith in the power of God, but it demonstrates an arrogant pride of the servant over the Master. [] Beware of pride!  It’ll take you down every time.

           

9 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. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”

  1. What God wanted was not Asa’s (supposed) political skills; God wanted Asa’s heart.  Understand that God didn’t even need Asa’s skills.  Not only was God the one who gave Asa his abilities in the first place, but God routed the Ethiopians without Asa even being involved…there’s nothing God absolutely needs any of us for in order to accomplish His will.  God is GOD & by definition, God doesn’t NEED anything.  Yet God does WANT certain things & He wanted Asa’s heart to be devoted & loyal to Him.
  2. God is looking for loyalty…  His eyes scour the earth continually for those whose hearts will be loyal to Him.  God is looking for faith among His people! [Parable of persistent widow – praying in faith] Luke 18:6-8 (6) Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. (7) And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? (8) I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” []  God still seeks for faith among His people!
    1. Again, without faith it’s impossible to please God.  May we be a people of faith!
  3. Why would he have wars from now on?  That was the promise from Ch 15.  When Asa forsook the Lord, God would forsake Asa.  God’s promises are absolutely true – both the promises we like & the promises we don’t.

10 Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.

  1. Was Asa angry with the seer, or with God?  Likely both – though he took it out on the messenger, since he couldn’t do anything against God.  Notice that in his anger against God, his whole character changed.  Originally, Asa was a king so beloved by the nation because of the blessings of God that people flocked from the Northern kingdom just to be with Asa…now he’s unjustly oppressing the people.

11 Note that the acts of Asa, first and last, are indeed written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians.

  1. 3 years later, Asa came down with a disease in his feet – but he was still angry with the Lord & stubbornly refused to seek God’s face.

13 So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments. They made a very great burning for him.

  1. Not a cremation; a state burial.

Conclusion:

What a tragedy!  Things started off so well & so promising!  Here was a king who didn’t walk in the way of his father, but instead sought after the Lord.  He cried out to God in the midst of a crisis & saw supernatural deliverance.  He led the people in national revival & repentance, and received a magnificent promise of God & dwelt in the rest of God for 20 years.  And yet, at the end, it’s wasted.  Asa relies on his pride, lapses in faith, and then (by all accounts) dies stubbornly refusing to seek the Lord in rebellion against God.  Asa began in faith, but did not endure in faith.

How about us?  Are we faithful in our faith?  We know God is faithful to us – He’s the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him & keep His commandments (Deut 7:9).  We know God never lies (Num 23:19) & that God would be true if every man was a liar (Rom 3:4).  GOD will be faithful; but will we return that faithfulness with faith of our own?  We’re to live by faith as we live in loyalty towards our Lord Jesus.

Take the opportunity tonight to examine your own heart to see if you have been intentional in your faith.  Ask God if your pride has been gradually stepping in, asserting yourself over your Lord & Master as the one who rules your life.  And if so…do something about it!  Follow the early Asa in removing the false – seeking the true – avoiding compromise.  Maybe tonight is the night for you to experience a personal revival in following the Lord Jesus.  Humble yourself…

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