Two weeks ago we began looking at the life of King Asa. As most of you know, we’ve been going through our series – Lessons from the Kings – over the summer months and so far we’ve looked at King Saul, King Hezekiah, and now King Asa.
Asa isn’t one of the most famous kings. In fact, if you missed the message two weeks ago, it’s possible that you may not have even heard of him before. So let me give you a quick recap of what we’ve been talking about.
King Asa was the great grandson of King Solomon. And the Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles 15 that “Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.”
In the early years of his reign as king, his country was invade by the Ethiopians – and they had an army of one million men – plus chariots and charioteers. Well, long story/short – Asa called out to God and God gave Asa the victory. After this battle, God sent him a message through the prophet Azariah that said basically, as long as you stick with God, God will stick with you.
And so to keep up his end of the deal, King Asa and all the people of Judah entered into a covenant with each other – agreeing to seek the Lord their God with all their heart and soul. Anyone who didn’t, would be put to death.
And actually, following their example, we did the very same thing. (Minus, of course, the penalty of death.) I have a document in my office now that has 14 signatures on it – all of us agreeing to seek God with all our hearts – and agreeing to keep each other accountable in that endeavor.
So that was all last week. This week, we’re going to look at part 2 of Asa’s story. There are still some lessons that we can learn from this king.
Now before we get into our lesson today, I think it might be helpful to go over some vocabulary words – just like you might have back in school. As we go though this story, the names and places of kings and kingdoms might become a little confusing, so I just want to set you straight right off the bat.
We have three key players in our story today. We have:
- King Asa – King of Judah
- King Baasha – King of Israel
- King Ben-Hadad – King of Aram (the Arameans)
The story of Asa continues in 2 Chronicles chapter 16. Starting at verse 1.
“In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.” 2 Chronicles 16:1
Now let’s just stop there for a second. That’s interesting because as we read last week, when King Asa and all the people of Judah made that covenant to seek God with all their hearts, the Bible says that God gave them rest from all their enemies on every side. He gave them a period of peace. And from my calculations from the figures in the Bible, it seems that God gave them peace for 25 years.
So why, at this point, does God allow this King Baasha to come and invade Judah? Had King Asa slipped into sin? (The Bible doesn’t indicate so.) Was God testing Asa? Perhaps. But I think more than that. As we will soon find out – God was giving King Asa an opportunity. And that’s important to note.
Sometimes God bring us opportunities under the disguise of difficulties. Sometimes God puts obstacles in our ways to move us down a different, and better path. Sometimes God strains our spiritual muscles so that we can grow stronger.
We don’t always understand what God is doing, but we can know that whatever He’s doing – its for His glory and for our good. Isaiah 55:8-9 says….
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
We don’t always understand what God is doing – but God does. He knows exactly what He’s doing. Jeremiah 29:11 gives us the further encouragement:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
We can’t always see it – and we might not understand it even if we could see it – but God is always working for his glory and for our good. As this verse says, His plans are for good – and not for disaster – even though we might have to go through the disaster to get to the good.
Well, King Asa was faced with disaster. He could not see any good coming out of this situation. He did not see the opportunity that God was presenting him. King Baasha had invade and was fortifying the city of Ramah – which, by the way, was a important city. It was just 6 miles from the capital city of Judah, which was Jerusalem. So the enemy was certainly within striking distance. Disaster seemed imminent.
So let’s see what King Asa does. verse 2.
Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:
3 “Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.” 2 Chronicles 16:2-3
So basically, what King Asa is doing here is buying an ally. He gathers up as much gold and silver as he can find from the temple and his palace, and he sends them to this other neighboring king – King Ben-hahad of Aram. The idea was that King Ben-hadad would break his treaty with King Baasha and would attack him. Then King Baasha would be too busy fighting Ben-Hadad to continue his invasion of Judah and he would leave King Asa alone. It seems like a logical idea, but notice what is missing.
Remember last time, when that army of one million Ethiopians came to attack Asa, what did Asa do? Let me refresh your memory… at that time Asa prayed to God and said … And I quote…
“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.” 2 Chronicles 14:11
That’s what he said 25 years ago when he was faced with an army of one million Ethiopians. He trusted in God alone. But now, when this King Baasha invades – where’s his prayer to God? Where does he say “We trust in God alone”? He didn’t say that this time. This time, he puts his trust – not in God – but in this King Ben-Hadad of Aram – who, by the way, had a history of being at war with God’s people.
If you flip back through your Bible to the book of Judges – you see Othniel (one of the Judges of Israel) going to war against Arameans. In second Samuel we read of how David fought against the Arameans. In 1 Kings we read how Rezon, who was the King of Aram at that time, was one of Solomon’s bitter enemies.
So for Asa to put his trust in this king of Aram, instead of in God, seems a little bit backwards, doesn’t it?
But don’t we do that too? How often we do come to church and sing songs declaring how we put our faith and trust only in Jesus Christ – and yet, the reality is, when we go home, we put our faith and trust in so many other things.
I know as men, we often put our faith and trust in our jobs. Its our work that gives us security and meaning and value. If we were to lose our job, we’d feel we lost everything.
For women, it might be relationships. Your security and meaning and value might be all wrapped up in your relationship with your husband or your boyfriend or your family – and if you were to lose those relationships, you’d be devastated.
Some people put their faith and trust in drugs or alcohol – they depend on those things to get them through their day.
Still others rely on their reputation – they need the approval of others in order to feel secure.
There are so many things that we put our faith and trust in – other than Jesus Christ. But the fact is, Jesus Christ is the only one Who will never let us down.
It’s just like the song we sang for the kid’s feature – “The man in the world is gonna let you down – but my Jesus never fails”
Where have you put your faith and trust? Be honest… where do you find your security? Is it really in Jesus Christ? Or is it in all these other things?
Well, King Asa put his faith and trust in King Ben-hadad – the King of Aram. He did not put his trust in God. So, let’s see what happen to him. verse 4.
“Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah,and all the store cities in Naphtali. 5 As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and stopped all work on it. 6 Then King Asa called out all the men of Judah to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the towns of Geba and Mizpah.” 2 Chronicles 16:4-6
Hmmm. So far, it seems that things have work out ok for King Asa. His plan seemed to have worked. King Ben-hadad attacked King Baasha – and so Baasha abandons his invasion of Judah and Asa is left in peace. He gathers up all the left-over materials and begins to fortify his own cities. All seems to be bright and well. But that’s not the end of the story. Let’s keep reading. verse 7
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. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
2 Chronicles 16:7-9
I guess all was not bright and well after all. Asa had missed a massive opportunity. King Baasha’s invasion was actually one of those opportunities in disguise that we talked about earlier. Had Asa trusted in God like he had 25 years ago, he could have wiped out his enemies – both Baasha and Ben-hadad – and again had peace in the land. But because he trusted in the King of Aram instead of God – he would be at war from now on.
If you flipped through the rest of the book of Chronicles, you’d see that’s exactly what happened. Asa’s treaty with the Arameans didn’t last long. In chapter 18 we see the Arameans fighting against Asa’s son, King Jehoshaphat. Then later against King Ahaziah, still later against King Joash, and still later again against King Ahaz. Basically, the nation of Judah would be continually at war against the Arameans for the rest of their existence. All because Asa missed his opportunity to trust in God and destroy them once and for all.
Asa’s temporary solution to his problem simply lead to further problems for years to come.
And you’ve got to know that that is exactly what will happen when we put our faith and trust in anything but Christ.
Drugs and alcohol might be a quick fix to your problems for the moment, but they only lead to greater problems for the future. Finding your security in your job or your relationships or your reputation – might work out alright for the moment, but what happens when those things inevitably ‘let you down’.
I guarantee you, that everything in this world will let you down – but my Jesus never fails.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23
We can count on God. When everything else lets us down – my Jesus never fails. His love never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness.
In fact, look back at verse 9. I’d say this is the key verse of this whole story.
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
God is looking for people to whom He can show his faithfulness. God’s looking for people to whom He can show Himself to be strong. He wants to come through for you. He wants to strengthen you.
But notice the requirement: those whose hearts are fully committed to him. That’s who he’s looking for. He’s not looking to strengthen people who put their trust in other kings or other things. He’s looking to strengthen people who’s hearts are fully committed to him.
Sadly, Asa didn’t fit that criteria anymore. His heart was no longer fully committed to God. Something had changed in his heart from 25 years ago when he made that covenant to seek God with all his heart and his soul. For some reason, he no longer put his trust in God alone. In fact, the Bible includes a sad commentary at the end of Asa’s life of just how far Asa drifted from God.
“In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign.” 2 Chronicles 16:12-13
What a sad ending to a life that started out so good! 25 years ago he trusted in God alone to defeat an army of one million – but now, he didn’t even turn to God for help for his foot disease.
He had forgotten that the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
And you know, God’s still searching. He’s still looking for people who’s hearts are fully committed to Him. It says He searches the whole earth – so I’m guessing those people are kinda hard to find. But perhaps He’ll find a couple here in Mirror. Or in Bashaw. Or in Alix.
Will you be one of those people that trust in God alone? One of those people who don’t need to find their security in their job or their relationships or their reputation, who don’t need to trust in drugs or alcohol, who don’t need anything else but Jesus? Will you be one of those people?
I’ve got short prayer that I’m going to put up on the powerpoint, but I don’t want you to pray it until I’ve read through it first. Because this is a serious prayer. Don’t pray it unless you’re truly willing follow through on it.
Today I commit to fully trusting in you alone. You can take away my job and the status and the financial security that comes with it. You alone are my provider.
You can take away the relationships that I have – with my friends, my family, and my loved ones. I realize that these are a precious gift from you, but I would willing surrender each one. Yours is the only relationship that I truly need.
You can take away my reputation. I am willing to be slandered, to be mocked, to be lied about, to be treated unfairly, because I know that you, Father, love me – and your opinion is all that matters.
I surrender every area of my life to you – holding nothing back. My trust is in You alone.
That’s a tough prayer. But that’s what it means to have your heart fully committed to God. I’m going to leave this prayer up here for a few moments before the music team comes up, and we’re just going to take a few moments of quiet reflection, and if, after careful consideration, you’re willing to pray this prayer, why don’t you do that? Right where you’re sitting – pray this prayer in your heart to God. Be the person that God is looking to strengthen – the person whose heart is fully committed to Him.