ASA the KING: A life of two halves (Part 1)

Asa the King      (Part One)

INTRODUCTION

  • In sport, we sometimes refer to ‘a game of two halves’… That is, the first half of the game is dominated by one team and the other half is dominated by the other team.

We see this pattern reflected in the life of King Asa, whose life as king began well (‘the first half’) but ended badly (‘the second half’)

  • In Part One, we shall trace how the ‘first half’ of his life unfolded through listing the appropriate scripture portion and commenting on its implications…

2 Chronicles 15:

1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded.

Only when the Spirit empowers us can we step out in service with confidence… even if asked to perform a hard and difficult—even dangerous—task.

2 Azariah went out to meet Asa and said to him: “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. 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.

Wow! What an opening statement! ‘The LORD is with you IF you are with Him’

‘If you seek Him, He WILL be found… (but) if you forsake Him, he will forsake you’ {NB God was speaking to the nation of Israel, not to individuals}

The implications are clear…

  • The decisions lie with us… When someone says: “It will happen if it is God’s will”, we need to qualify that statement as…”God’s will be done IF we play our part”

By failing to do so, we can be guilty of thwarting / delaying God’s will.

3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel and sought him; and He was found by them.

God will always be ‘found’ if we seek Him…even when we use Him as a ‘safety net’ because life is difficult and we don’t know which way to turn.

  • Imagine going on a hike across the moors or desert when the day is fine, only to run into fierce weather later…How foolish to go badly equipped and unprepared!
  • How much better to seek Him when life is going well, so that when the tough times come, we will be ‘abiding’ in Him; closely; intimately

5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

  • When we say that wars and rumours of wars apply mainly to today…the fact is that we live in a fallen world…there has always been conflict.

Jesus told the disciples with regard to the fall of Jerusalem: When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away…

  • The emphasis on hearing is important…
  • Today we have instant news so we ‘hear’ almost before the thing has happened…and this is the unique aspect of life in the 21st century

How often we lose heart and imagine that our labours are/have been in vain…but God sees and knows…not only the things we do but also our motives

  • We can even do ‘good deeds’ but if we do so because we think it will be to our own advantage, we are not walking in step with the Spirit but seeking to satisfy our own desires.

 8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD’s temple.

  • There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to make a crucial decision: we are for God or implicitly ‘against’ Him by tolerating wickedness

Azariah had a stern message but it was delivered with authority and compassion

  • Sometimes we can speak of heaven and hell without tears in our eyes and come across as a bit callous

But a clear, firm, God-inspired word is far better than a feeble one to avoid injuring people’s feelings

It’s the way in which we say it… and, hopefully, after we have gained the respect of the people to whom we are speaking (as Azariah did with Asa)

 9 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. 10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. (11)… 12 They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul.

Note that they came over to Asa when they saw that the LORD was with him…

  • We need to think about ways in which people recognise that “God is with us” and want to ‘come over’ to Him… not to us, of course…a mistake that some charismatic Christian leaders make!

It had to be both heart and soul…

  • Just the heart can be just an emotional experience that soon passes …
  • Just the soul can be nothing more than joining a Christian club, where certain things are done and said…a kind of hobby… But heart and soul means total commitment

13 All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.

This aspect is more difficult to understand…it seems to take away free choice… After all, who would refuse to seek the LORD under sentence of death?

  • On the other hand, it underlines the seriousness of rejecting salvation… the prospects for those who make a conscious decision to reject God is particularly grim

14 They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 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.

  • Note the key words, ‘wholeheartedly’ and ‘eagerly’… One thing that is sometimes missing from congregations is ‘expectancy(More in a moment)

16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole.

  • Even members of our own family are not exempt from the requirement to put God first…it can’t have been easy for Asa to depose Maacah… after all, she was ‘family’… but God makes no distinction on the basis of class, race, social status or family connections

Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life.

Well, he may have been fully committed but as we shall see, he lost his way and took his eyes off WHO GOD IS in later life

18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. 19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

In those war-torn days the lack of war was a miracle indeed! God doesn’t promise that we won’t have tribulation but He does guarantee that He will be with us and give us peace in our hearts despite circumstances.

NOW EVENTS BEGIN TO TAKE A DIFFERENT DIRECTION… See Asa the King, Part 2 to discover how the story ends.


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