Read 2 Chronicles 16:1-10
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace.” (2 Chronicles 14:2, 5 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 76: Asa. It is now the time to shift away from focusing on the Northern Kingdom of Israel and turn our attention to the kings of Judah. Remember, a little while ago we talked about the sins of David eventually became the sins of his son, Solomon. The two, David and Solomon, had God with them; however, in their pride and arrogance found themselves wandering away from God and doing reprehensible things.
Those “things”, those sins, led to some hefty consequences. In the end, the united Kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms following the death of Solomon. There was Kingdom of Israel in the north, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. Both Kingdoms ultimately went wayward; however, they did so differently. Israel instantly turned to idol worship and turned to the Canaanite god, Baal, and the Canaanite goddess, Asherah (though Baal gets most of the attention in the Bible.
Judah, on the other hand, mostly stuck with worshipping the God of Israel. After all, they had the Temple in Jerusalem and so there were multiple reasons for them to promote loyalty to YHWH (pronounced Yahweh). With that said, their worship became shallow and they became, overtime, consumed with their power and greed. The rulers of Judah began, in essence, to “worship” themselves and put themselves above God and above the people they were ruling. There were some good kings, deemed righteous in the sight of God; however, they were far and few in between. Even those kings were far from perfect, as we will find out.
King Asa was one of those good kings. Asa was known for being zealous regarding the worship of the one, true, living God. He rooted out idolatry and all sorts of wayward practices. In the 10th year of his reign, he struck a peace deal with Egypt and that peace lasted all the way unto his 35th year. So, there was (for the most part), relative peace in Judah under his leadership.
Still, as righteous as Asa was overall, he was by no means perfect. He didn’t always put his faith solely in God, but rather chose to make alliances and rely on other people. In doing so, he sold off bits and pieces of Judah’s sovereignty in order to “ensure” the peace and security of his Kindom and rule. Ultimately, that attempt was futile and the prophet Hanani called him out on it.
Hanani approached the king and stated, “At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram…What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.’” (2 Chronicles 16:7, 9b NLT). This, unfortunately, did not spark repentance in the king; rather, it flared up his pride and he had Hanani imprisoned and put in stocks. Of course, Hanani’s prophecy came true.
The challenge for us is to recognize that we are not above reproach. We are supposed to remain faithful and loyal to God. When we turn from God to other things, other crutches, other ways, we end up falling from God and the grace that sustains us and keeps us on the right path. Let us not fall into the same trap as Asa, but remain steadfast in relying on God who has created us, redeemed us, called us, and sustains us.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
If Jesus is the Son of God, his teachings are more than just good ideas from a wise teacher; they are divine insights on which I can confidently build my life.” – Lee Strobel
Lord, continue to teach me your ways so that I may continue to strive to walk in them. I place my full confidence and trust in you. Amen.