This morning we look at yet another king of Israel in our summer series – Lessons from the Kings. The king that we will be looking at this morning is fairly unknown. You probably didn’t hear his story when you were in Sunday School as a kid. He’s not really a famous hero like King David or an evil villain like King Ahab. He’s really just an average Joe. Just a regular guy who happened to be king.
But the Bible records his story for a reason. There is a lesson to be learned from his life. So let’s see if we can find out what it is.
The king that we are looking at today is King Asa. King Asa was one of the earlier kings. Just to give you an idea of where he fits in the timeline, there was King Saul, then King David, King Solomon, King Rehoboam, King Abijah, and King Asa. He was king #6.
And he came from a pretty good line of kings. His great great grandfather, King David was said to be a man after God’s own heart. His great grandfather, King Solomon, was almost as good, but in the later years of his life, he began to worship the gods of his many wives. Rehoboam, his grandfather, abandoned the Lord in his early years, but he later humbled himself before God. Then finally, his father, Abijah, the Bible says of him that he trusted in the Lord.
So over all, King Asa came from a pretty solid family tree. Although some were certainly better than others, all of them, at least at some point in their life, had followed the Lord. Let’s find out if this trend continues with Asa. We’re going to be looking in 2 Chronicles 14 to begin with. If you’d like to follow along in your own Bible, you’re welcome to do so. 2 Chronicles 14 – starting at verse 2.
“Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 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.” 2 Chronicles 14:2-5
Well, it certainly seems as if Asa was off to a good start. In a very similar fashion to Hezekiah (whom we looked at last week), Asa got rid of all the places used for idol worship that his forefathers either setup themselves or at least allowed to remain in use. But he got rid of all those things and he commanded the people to obey and follow God. As a result, Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace.
Now it’s after this brief introduction to King Asa’s life, that the Bible begins to tell us a very interesting story. Following this period of peace, we see that God allows a massive army of Ethiopians to attack Asa. But before we read that part, I want to emphasis that God didn’t send these invaders because King Asa began to sin. As far as the Bible tells us, King Asa was faithfully following his God when this happened. And that’s important to note.
Often when things fall apart in our lives, we think “God must be punishing me for my sin.” And while, sometimes that may be the case, that’s certainly not the rule. Sometimes God allows hard things in our lives for his own good purposes. And I think that the case in our story this morning. Let’s pick it up in verse 9.
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, 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. 11 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!”
12 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
Now so far, that seems like a pretty standard Old Testament Bible story. We’ve seen this kind of story before. God’s people face an impossible situation, they call out to God, and God comes through big time. We saw that same storyline last week with Hezekiah & King Sennacherib, we see it with Dave & Goliath – Joshua and walls of Jericho, Moses and the Red Sea, Daniel in the Lions Den…. It’s the same idea. God’s people face an impossible situation, they call out to God, and God comes through big time.
And usually, after the big rescue, that’s the end of the story. But not today. Today, this miraculous rescue from an army of one million Ethiopians is simply the prelude to the rest of the story. Look what happens next: Chapter 15 – verse 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.”
2 Chronicles 15:1-2
It seems that God was taking this opportunity – right after he saved Asa from this huge army of Ethiopians – to remind Asa and the people of Judah that as long as they would follow Him – He would take care of them. The prophet Azariah sums it up in verse 2 – The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him!
If you remember nothing else from this message today – remember that line. The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him!
What a great promise! No matter what struggles you go through in this life – no matter what difficult situations you encounter – no matter what challenges you have to face, God has promised us that as long as we stick with Him – He will stick with us.
You’ve probably noticed that life as a Christian doesn’t mean life without hardships. But Jesus never promised us a life without hardships. What He promised us, is that He would be with us through those hardships.
Jesus says in Matthew 28:19…
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
And in Hebrews 13:5 we read…
God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
As Christians we have the assurance that, regardless of what problems we face, God will never leave us. The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with him!
This the promise that King Asa received from the Lord – and look how he responded. verse 8.
When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.
2 Chronicles 15:8
What’s he doing here? He’s cleaning house. He’s getting rid of any obstacles that stand between him and God. He’s wiping out the idols that would distract him and steal his affection. And he’s repairing the altar – so he can make sure things are right between Him and God.
When King Asa heard “The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with Him” – King Asa wanted to make sure he kept up his end of the deal.
And that’s a good practice for us too. Every so often, we need to clean house. We need to get rid of any obstacles that stand between us and God. We need to get rid of any idols that we have, that distract us and steal our affection. We need to make sure that things are right between us and God. If God is going to stay with us, we need to make sure that we stay with Him.
Maybe this morning you need to do some house cleaning. Maybe you’ve been allowing a distance to grow between you and God. Maybe you’ve let other things get in the way. Idols that distract you and steal your affection from God. Sins that prevent you from staying close to God.
Perhaps its just laziness. Perhaps its mis-placed priorities. Maybe blatant rebellion. Selfishness. You know what it is – and certainly God does.
But now that you’ve been reminded that God will stay with you as long as you stay with Him, perhaps, like King Asa, you need to take courage and begin to clean house. Remove those idols. Put an end to that sinful behavior. Do whatever you need to do to make things right with God.
Because there really is nothing more important in this life than your relationship with your Creator. If you’re not walking close to God, then you’ve missed the point of your entire life. You were created to experience life with God. That’s your very purpose. If you miss out on that, then you’ve missed out on everything.
So I encourage you this morning, take courage, and do whatever is necessary to make things right with God.
King Asa certainly did. Not only did he remove all the idols from the land, and not only did he repair the altar of the Lord, but look what else he did. verse 11
On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15 All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side.
2 Chronicles 15:11-15
Now that is cool! These guys were serious about sticking close to God from here on in. Verse 12 says….
“Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul.” 2 Chronicles 15:12
In today’s language that would read “They signed a legal contract with each other agreeing to follow God with all their heart and soul.” That’s pretty awesome. And look at the terms of the contract! Verse 13 says:
“They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman.” 2 Chronicles 15:13
I wonder if we would have the courage to do that? Would you sign a legally binding contract that says you will whole-heartedly follow God for the rest of your life upon the penalty of death!?
Makes you think, doesn’t it? You’ve got to have some pretty strong convictions to do that.
Well, I’m not going to ask you to do that this morning – maybe I’m letting you off too easy. But here’s what I am going to do.
On the back table, I’ve got a piece of paper that says this:
Today I pledge, in the presence of my church family, that I will seek the Lord my God with all of my heart and all of my soul. I invite my church family to keep me accountable and ask them to pray for me and to encourage me in this endeavor.
Now this is not a legally binding document. And the penalty is not death. However, if you have the convictions to put your name to that statement, then I encourage you to do so. But be warned – if you sign that paper, you will be held accountable. The elders of this church and the others who sign that paper with you are going to check up on you. They’re going to spur you on. They’re going to pray for you. They’re going to do everything in their power to make sure that you’re walking close to God.
I’ve already signed that paper, because I know I need that. From the deepest part of my heart, I want to serve God and walk close to Him – but I know that I can’t do that on my own. Honestly, I’m pretty terrible at it. Thankfully, God has given me a wonderful church family to help me along.
So I encourage you to join me in making this pledge this morning. Let’s make a covenant together to walk close to the Lord our God.
And do you know what the coolest part of all this is? Look at verse 15.
“All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him.” 2 Chronicles 15:15
That is sooo good. God is not hidden. He’s not far away. But we do have to seek after Him – and when we do, we will find Him.