King Asa: Immediate Success, Ultimate Failure!
II Chronicles 14-16
1. Absolute Dependence on God
These chapters in II Chronicles summarize the reign of King Asa of Judah, the southern kingdom. The first two chapters detail his spiritual climb and leadership; the final one critiques his downfall. A great leader compromised a covenant with God.
Asa succeeded his father, Abijah following his death. God says immediately, "Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God," for he
removed the foreign altars and high places
tore down the sacred pillars
cut down the Asherim
commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment
removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and
built fortified cities in Judah
So they built and prospered.
However, God's blessings on His people always breed contempt and jealousy in His enemies. A million men and 300 chariots from Ethiopia came against Asa and his smaller army of 580,000 men mustered from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Their war array stirred a cry in Asa's heart to God:
"LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we
trust in You, and
in Your name have come against this multitude.
O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You."
So the LORD routed the Ethiopians and they fled; so many were killed by Judah that the Ethiopians were shattered before the LORD and before His army. Judah destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them. They despoiled the cities, as there was much plunder in them. In the country they killed farmers and herders and took away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
Following Judah's huge victory that had followed their obedience and commitment to God, He sent prophet number one, Azariah, to iterate to Asa the direction he must continue:
The LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For many days, Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.
In those times there was no peace
to him who went out or
to him who came in...
nation was crushed by nation, and
city by city
for God troubled them with every kind of distress. BUT you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.
So, taking courage from those words of the prophet, Asa
removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had captured in Ephraim, and
restored the altar of the LORD in front of the porch of the LORD.
He gathered all Judah and Benjamin and defectors from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon because they had seen the LORD his God was with Asa. They
sacrificed 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the spoil;
entered into the covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and soul;
put to death whoever would not seek the LORD;
made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and horns; and
found Him because they had sought God with all their hearts earnestly.
So God gave them rest on every side. Asa continued his cleanup. He
removed his own mother, Maacah, from the position of queen mother, because she continued her gross idolatry by making a horrid image as an Asherah;
tore down the Asherah, crushed and burned it; and
brought into God's house the dedicated things, both his father's and his own: silver, gold and utensils.
And there was no more war until the 36th year of Asa's reign. In other words, there was PEACE!
2. Fear Brings Compromise and Defeat!
What happened? Did Asa begin to take God for granted? Did he slack off in his personal walk with God? History repeated itself and another enemy became jealous of Judah's prosperity and Divine protection and rose up against her.
Baasha, king of Israel, came against Judah by building fortified cities on Judah's border. Frightened, Asa heedlessly took consecrated monies from God's house and his own to make a deal with Ben-hadad, king of Aram. Aram broke off his treaty with Israel, so Israel would withdraw from Judah's border. Ben-hadad routed Baasha and left a wake of Israel's building materials behind. Asa brought all Judah to use those same materials to fortify cities against further attack.
Now prophet number two, a seer named Hanani, comes on the scene to declare God's judgment:
Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand.
Were not the Ethiopians and Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand.
For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.
Asa was so angered by Hanani's words of truth that he had Hanani imprisoned! The word he once loved he now hated. Four years later he contracted a severe disease in his feet. No matter how much he suffered, Asa never called on God for help, but sought out physicians instead. So he died and was buried, a failure in his later years.
So many clarion lessons instruct from this true story:
When we are obedient, God hears us.
When we seek Him with ALL our being, we find Him.
God completely blesses and fights for those who depend solely on Him.
God protects His own from all enemies; or, when an enemy rises up, God defeats it on behalf of His own people.
We have to protect God's glory and the precious spiritual treasures He gives us and not touch or discredit them.
If we compromise and rely on the world's materials to build our defense, God won't help us.
When we compromise and have those blocks as part of our fabric, we cannot and do not call on God for His help...we cannot serve mammon and God; we cannot combine wool and linen in the same garment...
Personal affliction accompanies our degenerate influence on others.
What a good beginning Asa had, but what a sad ending, an ugly ending because of compromise born out of fear---the antithesis of total dependence and leaning full weight on God. When we are subject to Him as love slaves, He is our wonderful lover and has obligated Himself, according to our faith, to do everything for us according to His power. The ancient Hebrew translation of Numbers 6:23-27 as done by Jeff Benner, The Aaronic Blessing, makes God's humility toward us plain:
Yahweh (he who exists) will kneel before you presenting gifts, and will guard you with a hedge of protection;
Yahweh (he who exists) will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will provide you with love, sustenance and friendship;
Yahweh (he who exists) will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.
Lean On Him!