Kings of Israel IV – Hope Again

ISRAEL’S KINGS:   HOPING AGAIN    –        KING ASA    –       29/07/2018

MV:    

‘For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” ‘(II Chronicles 16:9).

Reading:        

And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah who carried shields and spears, and from Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand men who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty men of valor. Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “ Lord , it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the Lord and His army. And they carried away very much spoil. Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the Lord came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.’

  • II Chronicles 14:8-15 https://www.bible.com/bible/114/2CH.14.8-15         –

Contents

INTRODUCTION

  1. THE PURPOSE OF JUDAH
  2. THE PARDON OF GOD
  3. THE PROMISE OF GOD
  4. THE PATIENCE OF GOD

CONCLUSION

 

INTRODUCTION

God does not condone the idea, that “the end justifies the means.” He is just and perfect in all his ways. People, on the other hand, are far from perfect. That a bond can exist between a loving and merciful Creator and his rebellious creation is as great a miracle as creation itself.

 

As king, Asa came very close to being good. he travelled a long way with God before getting off tack. Hi s sin was not so much deliberate disobedience as choosing the easy way, rather the right way.

King Asa’s reign was marked by peace because he “he did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.” This refrain is often repeated in Chronicles – obedience to god leads to peace with #god and other. In the case of Judah’s kings, obedience to god led to national peace, just as God had promised centuries earlier.

In our case, obedience may not always bring peace with our enemies, but it will bring peace with God and complete peace in His future Kingdom. Obeying God is the first step on the path to peace.

 

1.      THE PURPOSE OF JUDAH

Judah existed, as the Southern Kingdom, when Israel was split in two parts, when first Solomon, then his son Rehoboam, failed to follow God’s law. Solomon reigned over Israel for forty years, starting off well, but ending quite disastrously, worshipping the many idols of his several wives.

‘And he did likewise for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods’ (I Kings 11:8).

As a result, God to passed judgment, that the Israel would now exist as a split territory of two kingdoms – the Southern (Judah), and the Northern (Israel).

‘However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen”’ (I Kings 11:13).

A) The Promise to David

We found out earlier that David’s life was so pleasing to God, that God called him, “a man after my own heart.

Being a man after God’s own heart, meant that David made the commitment not only to follow God’s law, but also to always according to God’s goodness. God made this Promise to him, as an eternal reward.

‘And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” ’ ”’ (II Samuel 7:16).

Likewise, God intended for the kingdom of Judah and its successive kings, to glorify Him, through godly leadership providing godly guidance to the nation, just like David had.

Reference is made continually, to David’s exceptional relationship with God:

Likewise, Christians today, are there to reflect the glory of God to the world.

‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).

B) Jerusalem is God’s Choice

It is David whose understanding of God’s will stirs him to desire to build a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which until this time, has been kept in a semi-permanent tent – the Tabernacle.

 

Although the task of building the Temple as the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant is assigned to his son Solomon, a good part of design, planning and materials were prepared by David.

When the Temple is finally built, it fulfils God’s will in Scripture.

We read these words:

‘then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 12:12).

Jerusalem, what that place, that the Lord God Himself chose, as the resting place for the Ark of the Covenant. The Temple of the Lord was built there by Solomon, and all Israel offered sacrifices to honour God there.

 

2.      THE PARDON OF GOD

The story of the Nation of Israel, is one that is marked by the mercy, grace and patience of God repeatedly. The failure of Solomon to follow God’s law like David, did not mean an end to the Dynasty of David, because of an unfit king, who ended up worshipping false gods. Infact, in the Providential plan of God, the split of the territory into two kingdoms presented Israel with a double opportunity to follow God, in a way that would honour God. Out of the 20 kings of the Northern Kingdom, not even one of them provided royal leadership and religious guidance that honoured God. None of them. And yet, the mercy of God still prevailed over judgment!

Israel – the Northern Kingdom – was allowed to exist for almost two hundred years, despite its fruitlessness in providing a godly king, out of its twenty successive rulers. None of them had the fear of God in them! But God still showed them mercy.

 

Similarly, the Southern Kingdom – Judah – had twenty rulers over its almost 350 years of existence. Of the twenty rulers, only 4 were godly leaders. The rest were as flawed as their Northern counterparts. As a result of the goodness of the 4 leaders of Judah, God showed them His mercy, extended the reign of Judah’s kings by another 135 years more than that of Israel.

 

It is God’s character to be merciful. The story of Judah’s and Israel’s dynasties, teaches us, God shows us, Believers, His goodness and mercy to the extent to which we are willing to follow Him through righteous living. Even when we fail Him, as we will surely do sometimes, His mercy is always available for us, to open for us another opportunity to right our wrongs.

Listen to these encouraging words from Lamentations:

‘Through the Lord ’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 

What lessons can we learn from the leadership and life of King Asa?

 

3.      THE PROMISE OF GOD

When we are loyal to God, He fulfils his promises in our lives, and sometimes even in our children’s children.

‘For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” ‘(II Chronicles 16:9).

Wise decisions, are based on following the ways and Word of God, including the Prophets of God.

A) The Obedient King

When the odds seemed impossible in the battle with the Ethiopianns, Asa recognized the need to depend on God. By praying to God, he managed to defeated one of the most feared kingdoms of the time, with an army of 1m soldiers, almost twice that of Judah.

‘Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled'(II Chronicles 14:9,12).

Following this victory, God’s promise of peace based on obedience spurred the king and the people of Judah to many years or right living.

B) Religious Reform

Asa started his rule by carrying out a reform exercise to abolish idolatry, and focus worship on the Only One and True God.

‘Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images’ (II Chronicles 14:2-3).

He went further, with his audacious reform plan to depose of his grandmother, Maacah, because of her extreme idolatrous worship.

‘Also he removed Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah; and Asa cut down her obscene image, then crushed and burned it by the Brook Kidron'(II Chronicles 15:16).

And God honoured that.

The positive outcomes of Asa’s leadership were not accidental, but a direct result of his intentional choices to follow God.

 

4.      THE PATIENCE OF GOD

Despite the successful and peaceful start to Judah, Asa tests the patience of God through his rebelliousness and disrespect of God’s messengers.
A) Alliances with Foreign Kings

Years of animosity between Asa and Baasha king of Israel took an ugly turn. Baasha, was building a fort that threatened both the peace and the economic prosperity  of Judah. Asa thought he saw a way out – he used God’s treasures to bribe King Benhadad of Aran to breach his alliance with King Baasha. The plan worked well – almost perfect – but, it offended God. God sent a messenger, Hanani to warn Asa and bring him to repentance:

‘In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars” ‘(II Chronicles 16:9).

B) Dishonour of God’s Prophets

When the prophet Hanani confronted Asa, he flew into a rage, jailed Hanani, and took out hi sanger on his people. Asa rejected correction and refused to admit his error to God. Hi s greatest failure was missing what God could have done with his life if he had been willing to be humble. His pride ruined the health of his reign, and his personal health suffered too. His stubbornness made God strike him with an incurable disease which affected his legs until his death.

‘And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord , but the physicians'(II Chronicles 16:12).

 

CONCLUSION

We can apply these lessons to our own lives as Christians. God not only  reinforces good, he confronts evil. Efforts to follow God’s plans and rules always yield positive results. How well a plan works is no measure of its rightness or approval by God.

 

Let’s Prays:    Lord we pray for …grace to lead righteous lives, without compromise.

Let us pray for our nation, that … the hope and assurance in Christ …. In Jesus’ Name We Pray! Amen!


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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

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