2 Chronicles 16 (NLT)
Final Years of Asa’s Reign
Asa, having passed the sternest of tests first (by withstanding the mighty Ethiopian army), fails a comparatively trivial one. Such irony — and also such psychological truth. There is that in us which runs to accept great challenges, because they flatter us and will bring us celebrity, while we jib at those tasks where there seems to be little to gain and everything to lose. Naaman almost squandered his opportunity to be healed for such ignoble reasons, until his servants took courage and pointed out his folly (2 Kings 5:13f). Many who have been faithful in great things have found it hard to keep faith in smaller matters.
–J. G. McConville
Matthew 25:21 (ESV)
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
1In 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.
It’s all a matter of perspective. What Asa saw as disaster was actually an opportunity for him — to trust God!
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.”
“I will say nothing about what belonged to his own house. He might do as he liked with that so long as he did not spend it upon sin, but he took of the treasure that belonged to the house of the Lord, and gave it to Ben-hadad to bribe him to break his league with Bassha, and be in league with himself. Thus God was robbed that the unbelieving king might find help in an arm of flesh.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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.
Well, it seems Asa’s plan is working . . . at least in the short term . . . but in God’s eyes?
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.
This was a complete surprise to Asa. He believed that the main enemy was Israel, because of King Baasha’s aggressive building of the Ramah fortress. He succeeded in gaining Syria’s help against Baasha and Israel, but he failed to see what God saw: that the bigger enemy was Syria, and God wanted to give him victory over the greater enemy. Compromise blinds us to who our true enemies are and it leads us into alliances with those whom God would rather give us victory over.
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.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
A LOYAL HEART
If your heart is loyal to God, you do not have to look for Him, He is already looking for you! God told King Asa that He continuously watches for those who are steadfast in their commitment to Him. When He finds them, He makes His presence powerfully evident to them. King Asa had experienced God’s awesome power when he faced a menacing army from Ethiopia (2 Chron. 14:9). God gave Asa victory, despite the overwhelming odds he faced. In spite of this miracle, the next time Asa faced a enemy he failed to trust God. Even though the army Asa faced was smaller than the one God had previously defeated, Asa’s faith in God faltered. God encouraged Asa to take courage in knowing that God never rests or sleeps. He is never distracted, bu diligently seeks individuals whose hearts are completely committed to Him.
Life’s challenges sometimes seem impossible. Do you feel you are too weak to fight the battle? Don’t give up! Keep your heart loyal to God, for He constantly watches over you, and He desires to demonstrate His strength in victory in your life. God is willing and just as capable of giving you victory in your current challenge as He was with those in times past. The questions is not whether God is looking for His people, but whether His people are seeking Him. Take comfort in God’s promise that He watches over you and He wants to give you victory.
What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.
Summary of Asa’s Reign
11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. (One commentator suggests that it was “gout with ensuing gangrene.”)
And here is another opportunity for Asa to trust God!
How many “opportunities” have I missed recently, seeing only my present difficulty and not God’s willingness to show Himself mighty on my behalf?
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. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.
Unlike Asa, I want to finish strong! Let’s finish strong together, wholly devoted to the Lord all of the days of our lives.
HERE is “Cry of My Heart” by Terry Butler.
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.