2 Chronicles 15:1-4 NLTse (1) Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, (2) and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. (3) For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. (4) But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.
Because this book centers on activity in and around the temple, which includes the history of the temple, we have to constantly look back at how previous kings looked at and treated the temple. That is a basic rule of Bible Study. If we skip that step, we will miss the spiritual side of the stories recorded in scripture. The same is true for the people involved. In most cases those people are kings. God chose to record the life stories of kings for a reason. Many people think the Bible contains stories about kings because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Everyone does it. Scribes write about the lives of kings. Mostly their conquests and victories. If you want to find out about a king’s set backs and defeats, you have to translate the records of the nation that defeated them. Right there is another spiritual lesson we have to pay attention to. The Bible is not a record book written by mortal men. The Bible is a book recorded at God’s inspired directions. That is why it is arbitrary at times. God doesn’t take sides. God cannot save this world by playing favorites. Although, not too many people teach about a fair, loving God who looks at mistakes with both eyes, from aspects and details we would never consider on our own. God looks back at what people were taught, who influenced them, what tools, knowledge, and wisdom they have to work with, which includes information pumped into them from both sides, the good and evil influences working in the background of this world.
To get to the core of the spiritual lessons involved, we have to look at the personalities involved in the stories. How did they interact with the temple, its services, the people responsible for conducting those services, and the people God was trying to draw close to Himself? Kings were responsible for more than the nation they led. Those kings along David’s family line were responsible for preparing this world for the King God told David would come after many generations. How do you prepare this world to receive God’s Son? I doubt if many people could write an essay on that subject if you asked them to. Most people have been taught simple one line answers to explain Jesus’ return. Have you ever thought about that? The King of the Universe is coming back to the planet that to a large degree rejected Him, and most people can’t explain that grand event in more than a hand full of words. Whenever an important human dignitary visits a country, volumes are written about them. News crews and hundreds of security officials jump into action. Months are spent planning meals, speeches, events, and other matters. Everything has to be made perfect when an important earthly figure makes an appearance. But who has made any such preparations for God’s Son?
Like all the kings recorded in scripture, there is an interesting story behind king Asa. To understand how and why he reacted with the temple the way he did, we have to look back to learn what the Bible teaches us about Asa. In other words, we have to study what God wants us to know about Asa.
God had reasons to use stories about kings in scripture. Back in the days, kings demanded and received respect. God knew it would take generations before that respect was hidden by the enemy. People talk about signs of the times. Most of those people couldn’t tell you many details about Jesus’ return, or His role as King of the Universe. Not many of those people could look at this world and tell you how a vast majority lost respect for authority, including former kings of this world, and how that is a sign of the times.
In former days, people had a natural respect for kings. People know how to apply the role of an earthly king to God’s Son, and what that transfer of authority in Heaven meant. People saw it in parables and stories scattered throughout scripture. But today, those stories are ignored. It went out the window with respect for authority. How do we regain that respect when we live in a world that prides itself on disrespect, placing themselves on a higher level then offices that demanded and received respect in past ages?
When the image of a king called for respect, people levitated towards those stories in scripture with a sense of awe, knowing those stories also told us how nations tilted one way or the other based on the king’s beliefs, and dedication to God. But today, that respect is gone, along with the insight those stories contain. Why bother learning anything from the King of the Universe or from another, earthly king? People have been trained and influenced to look to themselves for answers. Who needs dead kings to teach lessons when more advanced, modern preachers have all the answers flowing out of them? If we were smart, we’d call that concept by its proper name, modern spiritualism.
Look around the world today. Check the news over the past week or month. How many protests and riots are going on throughout this world against its leaders? People have been programmed on a world wide level to shun authority. National pride is out the window. Disrespect for authority has spread to the scriptures, and has reached into Heaven itself. We can’t deny the fact, there has never been a more important time to approach God’s throne than today. But people in this world reject the concept of a King as their Savior. Jesus talked about that image just before He was slain, offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of this world, but the enemy has blocked that concept from the minds of the people Jesus gave up His life to save. What a victory for Satan, and a lack of insight for the people who claim to serve Jesus. People today have been programmed to place themselves at the center of authority, and protest any figure that disagrees with any of their concepts of what is fair and acceptable. Who do you think is behind that worldwide movement?
Since I am in the business of writing and marketing books, I do receive news about this world’s best sellers. For the most part, self help, looking out for number one books have been topping the list for a long time. That is followed by books on demons and wizards, the black arts. If that isn’t enough of a warning for you, add to that, books about what our previous generation would have labeled as sorted, or distorted love affairs brings up the rear. Many of those novels involve multiple partners, what is termed, free love, and some linger on the introduction, and experimentation with homosexuality. I never thought I’d find myself in a society that believes it is disrespectful to shed a negative light on a homosexual life style but perfectly acceptable to publicly protest and disrespect this nation’s leader.
To learn about Asa, we have to go back a few chapters. This is easily done by searching Asa, and looking at where he was first mentioned. When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded the people of Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his law and his commands. 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. During those peaceful years, he was able to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah. No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the LORD was giving him rest from his enemies. Asa told the people of Judah, “Let us build towns and fortify them with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the LORD our God, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they went ahead with these projects and brought them to completion. (2 Chronicles 14:1-7 NLTse). Because we are studying in the Book of 2 Chronicles, we will skip over the Book of Kings. To gather more information, you can look at details the author of Kings added.
We now know, Asa was one of the good kings Judah experienced. But we also want to know what type of influences Asa had in his life. That means we will have to look at how his father was described. Abijah and his army inflicted heavy losses on them; 500,000 of Israel’s select troops were killed that day. So Judah defeated Israel on that occasion because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their ancestors. Abijah and his army pursued Jeroboam’s troops and captured some of his towns, including Bethel, Jeshanah, and Ephron, along with their surrounding villages. So Jeroboam of Israel never regained his power during Abijah’s lifetime, and finally the LORD struck him down and he died. Meanwhile, Abijah of Judah grew more and more powerful. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. The rest of the events of Abijah’s reign, including his words and deeds, are recorded in The Commentary of Iddo the Prophet. (2 Chronicles 13:17-22 NLTse).
Very little was recorded about Abijah. We don’t find the usual conclusion written in either the introduction or summation of the king’s life telling if he was a good, or evil king. We do know Abijah led an a successful military campaign against Jeroboam’s troops because God was with him. What does that tell us about the influence Abijah had on his son?
It seems we have to rely more on what was recorded about Asa then what was recorded about his father. Since we have little information about Asa’s father, we have no choice but to pay closer attention to details about Asa.
Asa believed in God, wanted to follow God, but still built fortified cities. Does that show a form of self reliance, or was that a basic requirement in those days? Is a strong military presence still a necessity today?
The Bible is filled with stories about wars, and the need to protect one’s self. Abraham was sent to face one of the largest armies of that period with only 318 men. Other stories told about victories over insurmountable odds. Samson killed a thousand Philistines in one day. To answer the question about how much military power we need, and how to use it, we have to carefully consider different aspects of that question. On one hand, we see dozens of stories telling how God directed armies. God guided Joshua to victory after victory in the promised land. In the previous chapter, we saw how God directed Egypt’s army. God has control over the world’s armies. On the other hand, Jesus never gathered an army, nor did He stand up against Rome, which eventually fell. So what does that tell us about our need to protect ourselves?
Asa had a personal experience with God’s power, and how He controls armies. Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. (2 Chronicles 14:9-12 NLTse).
Imagine seeing a million men marching on you, then seeing God come to the rescue, That would be an event of a lifetime. An event no one in their right mind would forget. To make sure Asa understand the message, God sent a prophet. Then the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. “Listen to me, Asa!” he shouted. “Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him. (2 Chronicles 15:1-4 NLTse).