"The Story of Asa"
By Jana Goates
"The Story of ASA
HERALD: AN OFFICIAL MESSENGER SENT BY
A SOVEREIGN COMMANDER OF AN ARMY!
"The Story of King Asa
(Written June 24, 2008-by Jana Goates)
Notes and Insights from 2 Chronicles Chapters 14-17
Chapter 14 King Asa in Judah
Asa became King of Judah after his father Abijah. Asa did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord (vs 3-5) he removed the foreign altars, removed the sacred pillars and all the elements of false worship that had accumulated and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment. He said to Judah in vs 7, "Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought Him and He has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
Then in vs 8, Asa's army is described. The army in Judah had 300,000 bearing large shields and spears, and from Benjamin there were 280,000 bearing shields and wielding bows they had defensive tools and offensive tools or weapons they were equipped and it goes on to say, ALL of them were valiant warriors. So in total Asa's army was 580,000 a little over half a million soldiers no mention of chariots.
Battle with Ethiopia ( 14:9-15)
Here comes Ethiopia on the attack in vs 9. Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a MILLION men plus 300 chariots and set up nearby in Mareshah. Asa went to meet him and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. Asa had confidence in his God and called on Him in vs 11 saying, "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 before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar (approximately 8 miles South of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast. Egypt does not appear on the scene again for over 150 years 2 Kings17:4). So many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover; for they were shattered before the Lord and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder. They destroyed the cities around Gerar, "for the dread of the Lord had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem. They pursued, overtook, and God restored all and more because they trusted in Him.
Chapter 15 Prophet Azariah Warns Asa
This is a great prophetic word from the Prophet Azariah as the Holy Spirit came upon him:
"Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; 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, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. Nation was crushed by nation and the 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.
What a powerful Word from the Lord. What a promise He has made to His children The Lord is with you WHEN you are with Him. God desires, requires and re-fires relationships when we are truly with Him seek Him and He will let you find Him but how often when things are going well when we were walking with God through a rough time and when the waters calm, we tend to walk away from Him and abandon him only seeking him in bad times. What would life be like if we continued consistently and constantly in our relationship with Him during all types of storms would we have a better life all the way around? Could we have Heaven on Earth? What if it were that easy? "The Lord is with you WHEN you are with Him. At the end of the prophetic word Azariah even states that if they remain strong and do not doubt, that there is a reward for their work I think there is much more than just peace I believe He wants to give us much more.
So, what did Asa do in response to this Word from God? In verse 8 it says Asa "took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. In 1 Kings 15:12 it says that Asa also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed ALL the the idols which his fathers had made. There were all kinds of iniquities going on and a lot for Asa to have to confront in his day. I think we face many of the same challenges today. Later on we'll talk about his Mother's idols as well. He then restored the altar of the Lord which was in front of the porch of the Lord (area outside the Holy Place, where the altar of the burnt offering was located). How many times do we need to "take courage and do what is right before the Lord even though the world would do otherwise. This step was not just at his personal household but in all the land God had given him. He took a bold step for God and he didn't stop there He then gathered ALL Judah and Benjamin AND those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. (I see these as those hungry for God, respecters of God who yearn for more). So Asa assembled everyone at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of his reign. They then sacrificed to the Lord 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the spoil they had brought. There must have been much spoil taken to justify the huge sacrifice that day. They wanted to be sure to be in obedience and bless God for all He had done.
The Covenant made before God (2 Chronicles 15: 12-15)
Now that everyone was gathered and their sacrifices had been made; they had purified themselves before God (aren't you glad that Jesus made the sacrifice for our sin so that we can be pure before God?) and in verse 12 It says "They entered into the covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with ALL their heart and soul; and whoever would NOT seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. (Note: This seems a little harsh in our present day thinking but they could see the importance that they all be in unity, as one body, to move God's heart in a way that they had never done before). Then in verse 14 it says, "Moreover, they made an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns. ALL Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their WHOLE HEART and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. To do this, they had to have broken past the fear of what man might think of them and gave everything physically, emotionally, mentally to seek God at all costs. When was the last time we really let loose of the world's ways and the perceptions of men to cry out to God, rejoice in the Lord with everything we've got? I mean truly cutting loose and earnestly seeking God with every inch of our bodies, every bit of our emotions, giving our minds to God and worshipping Him with our whole heart? As we see in verse 15:15 They wanted nothing to get in the way of seeking God totally. I think we haven't even tapped into the power of true unity in the church as a whole or any group of believers where there is no doubt, but that we are all on the same page desiring God totally in the same way. ). Then it continuers in verse 15 by saying that "He let them find Him so what does that look like? Wouldn't you like to find out? I think its Heaven on Earth I want to taste Heaven, don't you? Verse 15 concludes with "So the Lord gave them rest on EVERY side. I believe there is a place in the Spirit when we are in unity where we become so unified with God that circumstances, influences, the enemy's schemes, nothing can touch us where we become so rested in relationship with God that we find Him and there is peace on every side. We lack nothing and are blessed beyond measure.
The chapter concludes with a mention that Maacah, the mother of King Asa, was removed from her position as queen mother because she had made a horrid idol image as an Asherah and he cut down the horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron. This is a reminder that we have to put God before even our own relatives if we are to remain blameless before the Lord...it must not have been easy to have to go after his own Mother. It seems as though he did allow her to live, but how frustrating when your own family doesn't support you and what is right. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been challenged to do what God has told you even though your own family doesn't support you?
This chapter ends with vs 17-19, "But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa's heart was blameless all his days. He brought into the house of God the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things; silver and gold and utensils. And there was no more war until the 35th year of Asa's reign.
Chapter 16 Asa Wars against Baasha
Now in year 36th year of Asa's reign, Baasha, king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah. Now what did King Asa do? Now it had been quite a few years since Asa had to face war and he decided to take the situation into his own hand and made a deal with a pagan king, Benhadad, for protection against the king of Israel.
So the Lord sent another prophet, a seer, called Hanani to rebuke Asa. He told Asa, "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 the Lubin 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.
These were words that Asa obviously did not want to hear and he became angry with Hanani and put him in prison and in verse 10 it also states that Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time. How often when we're in sin do we welcome correction? How often do we lash out at the messenger and those closest to us. I truly believe that Asa had an opportunity here to make a choice. He was at a pivotal point. He could receive the correction with a humble heart and repent before God and cry out for His mercy (which is why I truly believe God sent the prophet) OR he could choose to get angry, prideful and make life miserable to save his face. Asa chose to rebuke and rebel against correction and as a result at the end of verse 9 he is told he will surely have wars. In verse 12 it states that Asa became diseased in his feet in the 39th year of his reign a different type of war, a battle of his health. It goes on to say that His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. Then Asa died in the 41st year of his reign.
Sometimes we are at pivotal points in our lives where we know we need to turn to God and instead choose to rely on our own strength and resources. Look what we are missing out on at the beginning of verse 9 of the prophecy, "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may STRONGLY SUPPORT THOSE WHOSE HEART IS COMPLETELY HIS. Wow. It looks to me like Asa only did this once and paid a huge price. How often do we do the same thing? Then we see that life suddenly isn't as easy as it was and we are subject to opposition, enemy attack, difficult circumstances and we think it's because the devil is just out to get us. Could it be that we are not totally given over in our hearts, trusting God, seeking Him, relying on Him, taking actions in our daily lives to rid our world of idols and establishing that which is good in the sight of the Lord? Appears to me that God truly wants to bless us & he's looking all over the planet for hearts that are His to bless. Seems like we could make a difference right where we're at. I heard someone say once that the path to spiritual maturity is all about choices. Choosing what God wants and directs and putting aside, better yet destroying pride, rebellion, stubbornness, anger and sin in our lives.
Asa was a good king, how sad to see him make that choice at the end of his reign. It was sad to see the suffering he had to endure because of these choices. Is your life all that you would like it to be? Are there areas where you don't bring God into the picture? Are you curious what it would be like to have a "He let them find Him experience? In these days we have Jesus who paid the price for our sin opening the door to fully-restored relationship with the Father through His obedience. Now the ball is in our court & the choices are ours.