2 Chronicles 15 (NLT)
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Asa’s Religious Reforms
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.
The Prophet Azariah describes the bad state of Israel in their overconfidence and distance from God. They had rejected God, those who teach them the Word of God, and the law itself.
4But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.
5 “During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. 6 Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. 7 But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.”
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.
“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”
Some believe that the forgiving nature of God gives one a reason to sin, based on the idea that we can sin now and simply ask forgiveness later. Asa’s reaction to the word of the prophet shows the correct response to the forgiving nature of God – to respond with a greater love and a greater passion for obedience.
We should notice that this took courage for King Asa to do. He had to combat against:
- The entrenched interests in favor of idolatry
- The unseen spiritual forces in favor of idolatry
- The example of his predecessors and neighbor tribes to the north in favor of idolatry
- His own fleshly inclinations in favor of idolatry and compromise
- The lethargy of compromise and indifference that supports idolatry
9 Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
Remember that the writer of Chronicles is addressing the exiles who have returned to Jerusalem after their exile at the hands of the Babylonians. This story, of Jews from previous generations who had moved “home,” would be an encouragement to the faithful remnant now trying to rebuild Jerusalem.
10 The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring, during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.
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.
16 King Asa even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole, broke it up, and burned it in the Kidron Valley.
As I read the commentators: the “obscene” pole was likely some kind of exaggerated phallic symbol associated with the worship of Asherah. As it says in 2 Kings 17:15 — They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.
17 Although the pagan shrines were not removed from Israel, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful throughout his life. 18 He brought into the Temple of God the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.
19 So there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
HERE is “Hosanna” by Paul Baloche.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.