and in his days the country was at peace for ten years(Ch. 14 vs. 1). He
did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord His God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places (idolatrous shrines or places of idol worship), smashed the sacred stones (used in idol worship) and cut down the Asherah poles (poles that honored a mother-goddess). He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest(vs. 2-6).
Asa said of this:
‘The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God, we sought him and he has given us rest on every side’. So they built and prospered (2 Chronicles 14:7b).
King Asa had an army of 580,000 brave fighting men. There came a day when Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with a vast army. Asa went out to meet him and they took up battle positions.
Then Asa called out to the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty, help us O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you’ (Ch. 14, vs. 11).
The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah (vs. 12a). They were crushed before the Lord and his forces, for the terror of the Lord had fallen upon them (from vs. 13-14). Then large numbers of people from the towns and villages they captured settled among them, for they saw that the Lord was with Asa.
After this great victory, the Lord sent a prophet named Azariah to speak to Asa. He gave him a warning and encouragement from the Lord:
The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the one true God, without a priest to teach and without a law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them
(1 Chron. 1b-4). Azariah reminded Asa how very unprotected the people were during the time they had turned away from their God. They could not travel anywhere safely. All were in turmoil as nation warred against nation and city against city. God was troubling them with every kind of distress to turn them back toward Him. Azariah encouraged Asa:
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded (Ch. 15 vs. 7).
Asa took courage when he heard the words of the prophet of the Lord and heeded his warnings. He removed all of the detestable idols from the land and all of the towns they had captured. He also repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.
Then they assembled in Jerusalem~ all of Judah and Benjamin and those who had settled with them from the lands they had captured. They made many sacrifices to the Lord from the plunder they brought back from the battle.
So now, all those under Asa’s kingship were gathered together before the Lord:
They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers with all their heart and soul. All those who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side (2 Chronicles 15:12-15).
King Asa also suddenly and forcefully removed his grandmother from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it. The Word says:
Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart remained fully committed to the Lord, all his life. He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and articles that he and his father had dedicated (2 Chron. 15:17-18).
There is one more chapter in this story, but for now let’s discuss what has taken place thus far. What a crystal clear picture of a Godly leader, and what it would be like to live in a land where there is great peace and complete protection from the Lord on every side. The first thing Asa did when he became king was to purify the land by ridding it of all things related to the worship of idols. Then he gave a decree that all would seek the Lord their God and obey Him in all His ways.
The people of Judah were richly blessed for one reason and one reason alone~ the king and all of the inhabitants of the land were fully dedicated to seeking the Lord and obeying Him~ as individuals and as a nation. This established a lifestyle within their culture that would unite and fortify them as a people. When an enemy did eventually come against them, Asa turned immediately to God and sought Him in prayer. He knew that it was the Lord’s battle and not their own. The Lord conquered the army of the enemy much larger than their own. Logic would have said that Judah would be annihilated, but Asa depended upon the wisdom of the Lord, not his own abilities. The Lord was faithful to His people in their unwavering faithfulness to Him.
When the people from the lands that had been captured in the battle settled among them, it was another highly significant time in the reign of King Asa. Through the wisdom of the Lord, the king knew that he needed to be sure that all the people would worship God alone. When he brought them all together, it was a very important event. At this point, it was not just a command by the king for the people to seek the Lord and obey Him. Each person who was to live in the land, made a beautiful covenant with the Lord to seek Him with all of their heart and soul. They made their oath with joy and jubilance~ there was a great celebration. What a wonderful feeling that must have been to share this depth of commitment to God with family, friends, and neighbors. I can hardly imagine how heart-warming an awareness it must have been, that everyone in their nation had this same level of dedication to the Lord. Together they all worshiped, sought and served the one true God. It was because the people of Judah sought the Lord wholeheartedly and eagerly that they had continued peace in their land.
When I read the last chapter of the story of King Asa’s life I became very sad. I had been so excited to read about this king who was so very dedicated and true to the Lord. But just as it was crystal clear why Asa and the people of Judah had great peace and protection from God~ it also becomes clear why they would no longer have peace, but rather war for the remainder of the king’s reign.
King Asa made a very big mistake. When the threat of another enemy attack came, he turned to his own ways instead of seeking the Lord in prayer as he had done previously. Asa broke his covenant with God. He had his own ideas and his own plan. He fell into the trap of believing that now he would be the protector of Judah. Asa took the gold and silver from the temple treasuries that had been dedicated by him and his father, and used it, as well as gold and silver from the palace, to persuade the leader of another nation to provide help to prevent a battle from taking place. This was a grave error.
A seer named Hanani was then sent to Asa to tell him what the Lord had to say about what he had done. Hanani recounted the battle that had taken place with the Cushites. He reminded him that it was the Lord who won that battle. It was solely Asa’s reliance on the Lord that brought victory. Hanani said:
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war (2 Chron. 16:9).
Unfortunately, things deteriorated even further. Asa grew angry and even enraged and threw the seer in prison. He also began mistreating some of the people. When he became afflicted with a disease in his feet, he did not turn to the Lord, but only physicians. And this was the state in which Asa died.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to read a book or watch a movie that doesn’t have a good ending. What an awful and sad thing~ the light of the Lord had shined so brightly in King Asa’s life, but then grew so very dim in his last years. What a very dejecting end to a once dedicated follower of the Lord.
We see in the Word what went wrong. Asa chose to devise his own plan and do his own will rather than turning to the Lord and seeking Him in prayer. He decided to rely on himself rather than the wisdom and guidance of the Lord. We also see that once he was admonished by the Lord, he grew angry and lashed out at others, rather than humbling himself, asking forgiveness and repenting of his ways.
Asa broke his covenant with the Lord, but the Lord did not break it with him or His people. However, the Lord is completely consistent. If a person, or group of people decide to go their own way, they are also stepping out from under the protective hand of the Lord. This person is placing themselves in a position of having consequences for their disobedience. God does not show favoritism. It is just a fact that if we choose to be our own God, we will have results that match. If we follow His commands to seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. And it is there that we are safe and have lives full of peace and joy and all of the other fruit of His Spirit.
The Word does not tell us what was going on in King Asa’s mind and heart when he chose to take matters into his own hands. Was it pride~ that now he was the able one? Was it fear that threw him into a fleshly reaction to the threat? Had power gone to his head? Did he forget who was the God of his life?
What about after he was admonished and given consequences by the Lord? Why did he not humbly bow before God with a contrite heart? Was he too ashamed? Did he believe he was above reproach? Did life become about him rather than God?
Again, we are not given this information, but we do see the outcome of his ways. It is a hard enough scenario to know that a person who is lost does not know the love of the Lord or the miracle of salvation. But for Asa to know the love of the Lord; the peace and the protection; to have stood and seen the salvation of the Lord on his behalf and the behalf of his people~ what would that have felt like to no longer have what seemed to be a deep intimacy with the Lord? That makes me cry for King Asa as well as all those who saw his faith fade~ such a tragedy.
I need to bring up one more important thing I saw in the story of King Asa. It is something I just can&39;t leave out. After the battle against the Cushites, Asa got rid of some idols and the Ashera pole of his grandmother. And the Word specifically makes a point of saying he did not remove the high places. Why did he make such a point to remove all of the high places when he first became king, but not at this other key turning point for their nation? Interestingly at the beginning of the story of his son Jehoshaphat (beginning in 2 Chron. 17), one of the first things he did after becoming king was to remove the high places from Judah. I can’t help but wonder how this choice to allow the high places to remain may have played a role in his subsequent sin. What an open door this would leave for Satan. What a weakness this would create in an otherwise fortified land. When the Lord cleans house He does it completely. No matter how hidden an idol might be, or how we deny its’ importance or influence, the Lord knows it is still there~ and so does Satan. It does not change the fact that a perfect breeding ground is still present for the enemy to use at just the right time. If Asa had closed that door completely in the face of the enemy, things may have gone differently. But instead, King Asa’s testimony simply fizzled out to a very unfortunate end.
This causes me to think of people like David, who also made huge mistakes and committed grave sins against the Lord. He was rebuked, admonished, and received severe consequences for his sin. But through the strength of the Lord, he kept his oath to God. He was committed to seeking Him when he was standing joyfully in victory, and when he was on his face in shame. God did not call him a man after His own heart because he never sinned, it is because when it was all said and done, he ultimately sought the Lord in all things. And when he sinned against the Lord, he turned to Him for repentance. When David failed, he turned humbly to the Lord, not blaming others for his sin. Shame, pride, and self-absorption did not win out. The power of the Spirit of the Lord can and will prevail in every circumstance when we rely upon Him.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and yet God loves us as the sinful people He knows that we are. Part of His love for us is knowing we are human beings who will fall into our fleshly ways at times. But He is also our redeemer. He is the one who turns ashes into beauty, no matter how big that pile of ashes may be.
There is a promised land available to us, right in the heart of Jesus. It is a dwelling place where we rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father. His Word gives us such clear direction~ seek Him with all of your heart and you will find Him. Whether as an individual person or a nation of people, we can have a life of great peace~ living humbled under His hand of protection.
The first part of King Asa’s reign shows an example of the fact that there is such a thing as a land fully committed to and dependent upon the Lord. Our country was originally this way. This was a nation founded under God and rooted in His Word. The leaders sought the Lord on their knees in prayer, and He was found~ to meet all of the needs of our land. The people knew who their God was, and had the amazing comfort of knowing their leaders were praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There were no gods before Him.
Unfortunately in our country today, we have replaced the Lord with countless idols and false gods. God has been forgotten and this nation has gone its’s own way. We have leaders who do their own will, and serve self instead of the people. The light of the Lord has grown so dim in our country, it is barely flickering. God is consistent. Why would His hand of protection continue to cover us? Why would we think we can have peace without God? I don’t know if the people of Judah prayed for King Asa, and I don’t know how many of God’s people are praying for the leaders in the U.S. But let it start with us. Let us pray that our leaders and the people of our country would bow down to the Lord in repentance~ and ask Him to remove all idols from among us~ that we would have no other gods before Him. Let us pray that the Lord would clean house in this nation, purify us as a people, and fortify us once again as one nation under God.
Have you made a seeking covenant with God? Have you given Him an oath to seek Him with all of your heart and soul~ to follow Him in all of His ways? Then rejoice as you wholeheartedly and eagerly seek Him! He wants to bring you peace and to provide you with His protection. He wants you to experience His love in every way. When you seek the Lord as you live each day, and in every single circumstance that arises, His light will shine so brightly in your life that no matter what happens, it can never grow dim. Your testimony in the Lord will grow stronger and stronger until your very last breath on earth~ when you are absent from the body and present with the Lord!