This is the second post on Of Kings and Chronicles where the first was about king Abijah of Judah. This is about his son Asa who took over as king of Judah when he died. You can see from the left of the chart (which is the beginning of the era of the divided kingdom), he was the first king positioned in the `Good’ area.
In contrast with his father, Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chronicles 14:2 ESV). Abijah had foreign idols and altars but Asa set out to have them removed and destroyed. He even had his mother removed from her position as Queen due to her idolatry.
When Asa was faced with the threat of the Ethiopian army of over a million soldiers going to attack Judah, he called upon God to save them. God heard Asa and routed the Ethiopians and Asa and his men pursued the fleeing Ethiopians slaying every one of them.
Asa also began to reform Judah by making the people follow the laws and commandments of God and his heart was wholly true to God all his days (2 Chronicles 15:17 ESV). God gave Asa rest, peace and prosperity during his reign. Everything sounded hunky-dory for Asa until the thirty-sixth year of his reign. What happened?
There was a threat from Israel, so Asa sought the help of the king of Syria. A messenger of God then asked Asa why he had sought the Syrian king’s help since God had delivered him from a million Ethiopian forces before. Instead of repenting, Asa was enraged and imprisoned the messenger. Three years later, “Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12 ESV). He died two years later.
I have 3 main questions:
- Asa’s heart was wholly true to God but as time passed, he decided to rely on others for help instead of God. God had delivered him from major battles before but why did he seek a foreign king’s help this time?
- When he was reprimanded by the messenger of God about his reliance on a foreign king, Asa was enraged and threw the messenger in prison and took out his anger on some people. Given a revelation of where he was going wrong, why did Asa choose to be angry instead of making good of it?
- When he was stricken with a severe disease on his feet, why did he turn to his physicians instead of calling upon God for help?
This was the man who called upon God for the battle against a million Ethiopians and witnessed how God gave every one of them into his hand.
This was also the man who brought reforms to the idolatrous nation of Judah by removing all idols and altars of other gods and turned them back to follow God’s law.
What happened to Asa?
I wonder whether it was the period of rest, peace and prosperity, when all the wars and threats were over and reforms have been completed, that Asa began to forget God.
I believe that when we forget God, we become reliant on ourselves, other people or things. In other words, we become independent and self-sufficient. In the context of society today, being independent or self-sufficient is a good thing isn’t it? Especially when it’s all about progress and productivity, we should be self-reliant and self-made. However, in the matter of the soul and creation, who can lift a finger at the birth and death of life or the turning of the earth around the sun?
This is where the heart before God has to be in the right place constantly. The moment we shift or look to the left or right, we have misplaced God in our lives. Perhaps that was why these words were repeated many times as part of the laws:
“You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”- Deuteronomy 5:32-33 ESV.
There is a book `Half Time’ by Bob Buford meant to help people in their mid-life and a few years later, he wrote the book `Finishing Well’. If I have to choose between the two books, I will give Asa the latter as it was really, really so important for him.
We need to endure in order to grow and finish well in our lives and God, through our Lord Jesus has given us much more than we need to do that (way, way more than in the Old Testament times).
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” – Hebrews 2:1-3a ESV.
Is that we will “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”- Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV.
Thank you Lord that we can take courage and have full confidence in you because you began a good work in us and “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 ESV.