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Contrast in the King

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2 Chronicles 15 & 16

“Contrast in the King”

Last week we had looked at the contrast in the Kingdom. We looked at the impact of good spiritual leaders and leadership and poor spiritual leaders and leadership.  With the Kings of Judah we see both throughout the history of the Southern Kingdom. Leaders can have an impact for good or for bad, for better or for worst.

          Tonight as we continue to look at King Asa and his leadership and reign in Judah, we will see a contrast in the King himself. A contrast that we will see in a few other kings as well.

Specifically we will look at the contrast of Asa and the beginning of his reign and relationship with God and as he continues to grow and progress, then we will look at Asa and the end of his rule and reign and see how his relationship with God has changed.

          We will pickup tonight in chapter 15 just after the tremendous victory that Asa and the Southern Kingdom enjoyed. A victory that The Lord had brought about. Asa and the people had cried out to God and he delivered them from the million man army that was drawn up against them.   

          2 Chronicles 15

       *The importance of The Word of God

1 Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded,

      2 and he went out to meet Asa and said to 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. 3 “For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.

       They had lots of Levites and Priests, but not teachers, none that could teach The Word of God.

       The neglect and lack of good biblical teaching has a tremendous negative affect on any nation. Israel had struggled with this a lot. 

          It is no different today. There are several churches where there is a great lack of true Bible Teaching, there may be a lot of opinions given out, but not necessarily good sound biblical teaching. Think of how our nation has done with this.

            We are also in a day when there are so few new Pastors going into the ministry. There is coming a day here in this nation that it looks like there may not be enough Pastors to be in the churches that need one. Our most recent humbly of our nations financial institutions may change this. This crisis that our markets and investments are in may be something that will drive people to their knees and to God. 

       *The importance of obedience to the Word of God.    

          4 “But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.  5  “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. 6 “Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress. 7 “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”

      Speaking of the times of the Judges the prophet speaks of the past history of the nation. Distress and trials how often they are used of God to cause people to seek Him, to bring people to Himself. We see that there was no peace during those times that His people had forsaken God. They thought they could do it their own way and what a mess they created every time.

          Just as when we think we can go off and do it our way, neglecting the word & will of God we make a mess of things. Thankfully our Lord is able to help us out & through so many of the messes we create.   

          Vs. But you be strong and do not lose courage, for there is a reward for your work”.

       Throughout the scriptures we see that courage is something that is important to God.

          “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

Some quotes on Courage:

          “Success is never final; failure is never fatal; it is courage that counts.—Winston Churchill

 Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death. Gen. Omar Bradley

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.

—Eddie Rickenbacker

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

Think of some of the great characters in the Word of God that demonstrate great courage:

Noah-, Joseph-, Moses-, Joshua-, David-, Daniel-, Peter-, Paul-,

A reward for our work- what a great promise when things are tough and challenging. We will receive a reward for faithful courageous service.

                             Asa Demonstrates courage-

     8  Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he 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. He then restored the altar of the Lord which was in front of the porch of the Lord.

     9 He 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.

       People that wanted to live for The Lord they came down to Judah. It is very evident when a nation and a leader are doing things God’s way. Asa took courage, he was courageous, He was settling for the status quo, he is not afraid to do what is right. It’s amazing what can be accomplished by a few faithful followers who have courage. Lord give us some courageous followers of you willing to be used, willing to make a difference.  I would rather have 1 faithful courageous follower of Christ than 1,000 with Lukewarm hearts for God, not willing to venture out from their little safe havens.  An evangelism training ministry had this motto “Lord give us some people willing to charge hell with a squirt gun. Willing to battle the enemy with a super soaker.  Courage matters to God, He wants His people of all people to be courageous people. Willing to trust Him with all. Willing to step out.

          As I was reading this week I also cam across this from one of my favorite preachers of Old, now I will quote this without his southern drawl, but it is as if he had written this today. 

  “ Asa is beginning to turn to God. The prophet encouraged him in this, and he explains why they had had trouble and so many problems. Now Asa begins to make some changes.

“Now I strongly suspect that the prophet’s message applies to us as well as to Judah. I’m not speaking ex cathedra but, in studying the Word of God and seeing how God dealt with these people here, I am wondering if the root of our national problems is not the same. We have all those smart boys in Washington, and they make stupid decisions. How can such smart boys make such stupid decisions? Why is it that we cannot have law and order? Why is it that we can’t really have peace? Why is there such lawlessness today? Let me venture my opinion on the basis of the Word of God. It is because God has been left out. He is not in the government circles in Washington. They think they don’t need God because they have the smart boys. My friend, in this hour in which we are living, our nation needs God!”

A rather prophetic statement spoken back in the 70’s.

     10 So they assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.

     11 They sacrificed to the Lord that day 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the spoil they had brought.  12 They entered into the covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and soul;  13 and whoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.

     14 Moreover, they made an oath to the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns.

       Asa was serious about this, the people are serious, they make a fresh commitment to God.

15  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. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.

Again the result of seeking The Lord and putting Him first. The Lord gives them rest. They were walking in obedience here.

     16 He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron.

       Asa even deals with his own mother here. She had been and idol worhipper, He deals with this sin in a brave and different way. Members of the royal family were usually immune to any kind of discipline, but Asa bucks the usual way of dealing with royalty, he meets it head on. Now it wasn’t his mother in law, but his own  mother.

     17 But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.  18 He brought into the house of God the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.

     19 And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

    Chapters 14 & 15 give us a great view of Asa’s first 35 years in his reign as King. It is quite encouraging to see. There is a tremendous turning to God, there is Revival in the Kingdom. Even others from Israel they leave the Northern Kingdom and come to the Southern Kingdom because there is reverence for God. The Lord is being worshiped in Judah. Godly leadership has made a difference. The people are seeking God. The High Places places where God was worhipped instead of the Temple and places of idol worship. 

          As we come to chapter 16, which gives us the last 6 years of Asa’s reign, it is a rather sad closing on what had been a wonderful start and 30+ years of the King leading in a very godly and upright way.  Asa started well, but he doesn’t finish well. There are often lots of starters, and some start well, but not all finish well. 

Chapter 16

     1     In the thirty-sixth 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.

       Apparently King Asa had become careless in his walk with the Lord, because the Lord sent Baasha, king of Israel, to war against him. Baasha fortified Ramah, which was located about six miles north of Jerusalem. From this outpost he would be able to monitor his own people who might go to Jerusalem and also launch his own attack on Judah.

     2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying,

     3  “Let there be a treaty between you and me, as between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”  The King sends a little pay off here to the Syrians. A little bribe, hey the other nations all around them do that. It must be OK right?

     4 So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim and all the store cities of Naphtali.

     5  When Baasha heard of it, he ceased fortifying Ramah and stopped his work.

     6  Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had been building, and with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah.

      So Asa sends a payoff , a bribe, what ever you would like to call it to Syria. Then the Syrians attack Baasha and the Israelites. On top of that Asa and Judah go and take all the building supplies and stuff that Israel had been stockpiling. What a great decision heh? With his clever way here he gets the Syrians to attack Israel, then Judah gets a bunch of good timber and stones for building up their defenses. WOW what a great deal.

             But let’s see what God thinks of all this.

Asa Imprisons the Prophet

     7     At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “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.  Oops.

     8 “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand.

     9 “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.”

     10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.

          Asa’s great plan wasn’t so great from God’s point of view was it. Some of our plans surely look good to the world but certainly not to God.  Asa shows us that he had become very prideful later here in his reign. Before he had been responsive to the word of God. His hear had been tender to the things of The Lord, he wanted to obey God and please him. But now his pride and selfishness show their ugly heads.  Is your heart as tender and responsive to the word of God as it once was? Do you still delight to please Him, to do His will above all else? Or has it grown a bit cold. A bit un responsive? How is your spiritual temperature?   

?How do you respond when you are confronted & rebuked by The Word of God? It’s up to us how we respond to this. We see Asa threw a temper tantrum. He became enraged! He is angry! Instead of repenting & confessing his sin as David had when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin, Asa goes besirk. He even oppresses some of the people because he is so upset.   It’s not often a pleasant experience to be confronted by the word of God. Asa certainly doesn’t handle this well at all. He is rebelling against God. He is resisting God’s will.  

This passage of scripture makes me think of those wonderful verses in Hebrews 4  “12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do

There are times that the Word of God, it can be a bit painful as it does its work in our lives. It can hurt. When we are not trusting The Lord like Asa here. Asa is using the method of the world. There is no indication here that he has sought God at all.

Do you respond like the King does here?  The little boy in the nursery said, everything is fine as long as I get my way.  Some of us can resemble that at times. As long as things go how we want them to, as long as we get our way we’re OK. In fact we can be oh so sweet, oh so nice. But when we are confronted with something that may be a miss, that maybe wrong, we can get quite intolerant.  

How do you respond when you are confronted by another brother or sister in Christ?

By a godly man or woman with genuine concerns, not merely nit picky things. 

Not chickens that peck peck peck (Chickens in Diohine) Chickens pecking everywhere. We were eating lunch in a village and we were attacked by a flock of hungry young chickens. They were everywhere. We had to fight tomorrows dinner for today’s lunch. Not that kind of person but a godly person.  How do you respond?  The chicken saints 

          The prophet Hanani becomes a convict of conviction. This guy had a rather scarey job, going and confronting the King. He could have lessened the impact to the king, but we see he is a man that gives the Word just as God commanded him. He holds fast, in spite of the consequences. Later on we will see Jeremiah a prophet, imprisoned, another convict of conviction. As we progress through the Kings of Judah we will see that God indeed would send prophets to them to give them a message from God. Some would respond, some wouldn’t.  Those that teach and preach the word of God are often maligned or criticized. But, better to be a convict of conviction, than a King with no Character. One day it may again cost us something in this country to stand on the word of God. We seem to be headed in a direction that the majority of the political leadership of the nation does not want to here what the word of God has to say. They don’t want to hear it and they are willing to persecute and prosecute anyone who gives out the word of God that they don’t like. 

     11 Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians.

       How sad it is that this man that had started so well, that did so much good, that was a great spiritual leader. A man who turned the people back to serving The True & living God, He now fails to seek the Lord. He was so prideful, so selfish that he no longer seeks to do what God would have him to.

It’s  certainly not wrong to see a physician about a sickness, but we need to remember to go 1st to the Great Physician and pray and seek His guidance.    

     13  So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign.

     14 They buried him in his own tomb which he had cut out for himself in the city of David, and they laid him in the resting place which he had filled with spices of various kinds blended by the perfumers’ art; and they made a very great fire for him.

Asa had his grave all picked out. He had planned ahead here. They had a great funeral for him and they had a great fire which would have been to burn the spices near the body.

          Thus ends very sadly a reign of a King who started out so well with such promise and finished so poorly.

 

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