In order to understand the Bible, it helps to understand what sort of writing you are reading. The O.T. has many straight forward stories. Sometimes there is commentary to make the lessons obvious, but often it is left up to us determine how to apply it…Today, as we continue character studies from genealogy of Jesus in Matt. 1, we come to King Asa. Last week I handed out list of Kings of Judah and Israel… if you don’t have one….
As I read through the story of Asa, his story is one of Trusting God. Prov. 3:5-6 makes a wonderful caption. His kingship is a living example of great trust, but towards the end of his life, he abandons his faith and “leans on his own understanding.” Many of Jesus’ family/ancestors are people of faith who trust the Lord, but often those same people show an imperfect faith and drift away from God. Sounds like us.
One reasons Prov. 3:5-6 is a favorite is because it gives an answer of what it means to live a life of faith in simple terms. READ. MEMORIZE… REPEAT.
King Asa… Trusting God is a major lessons; intertwined with Asa, Asa is also known for revivals or reformation. Asa implicitely trusted God, and with his faith comes revival… When you choose to trust God, implicit is an openness for God to change you… that’s called revival.
- Shallow faith is when you only want God to help you make it through life. a better job, straighten out a mess… good health. Not bad things, but only asking God to tweek your life as you know it.
- Deep faith is when you say to God, lead me and guide me. Deep faith has an implicit message to God: Change me. Revive me. Change my world. Bring revival. Straighten my crooked inconsistent ways, make my path’s (walk, life) straight… Faith means a willingness and desire to change, no matter how tempting it is to hold on to your old self…
Unfortunately, late in life Asa’s faith wavered, and he ignored God and turned to secular sources for help. However, God's overwhelming verdict is that “Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.”….
Asa's First Revival (2 Chronicles 14:1-8).
As soon as King Asa took the throne, he instituted a series of religious reforms. He went from town to town throughout the land, removing pagan altars and shrines and prohibiting the sins that came with them; he restored proper worship of the LORD as the national religion. In recognition of this good work, the LORD gave Judah military peace on every front for the first 10 years of Asa's reign. Recognizing that peace would not last forever, Asa wisely used that time to build and supply border fortifications, and to train and equip an army of 580,000 men. Trust in the Lord with all your heart…. most people don’t want to live with deep faith because they don’t want to change…
Rescue from the Invasion by Cush (Ethiopia) (2 Chronicles 14:9-15) (sidenote: geographical location of Israel is the hallway between African, Asia, Europe, God could have chosen South Africa…but the whole world funneled through Israel…)
After a time of peace the African army of Ethiopia invaded Judah (see 2 Chron. 14:9-10). Asa has a wonderful prayer of trust: READ 2 Chron. 14:11. Judah is often the underdog, undersized. Weakness and the feeling of helplessness is not a good excuse to not trust. Prov. 3:5-6 says to trust God even when it makes no sense…When the battle began, the Ethiopian army was massacred. The LORD defended them.
Asa's Second Revival (1 Kings 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles 15)
A prophet named Azariah appears on the scene affirming the importance of faith and what it means. READ 2 Chron. 15:1-2, 7… success came from the LORD, which meant peace and safety. The prophet urged them to renew their commitment to the LORD. Here’s the thing, When Ahaziah speaks, Asa was returning as a triumphant King of victory. Why does Ahaziah come to remind them now? I think because with victory, often comes complacency… how easy to assume everything will always be fine because God will take care of us… we tend to turn grace into law… This is why trusting God must be a daily decision…almost harder when we see success… so easy to become arrogant and take the credit that belongs to God.
King Asa heard and redoubled his efforts of reformation…. With urgency he brought purity, destroyed more pagan places of worship….He even demoted his own grandmother who had erected an asherah pole, a pole honoring the god Asherah. After getting rid of more places of pagan worship, Asa called for a meeting of the population at Jerusalem, including brothers from other tribes that joined them, and renewed the covenant with the Lord…. READ 2 Chron. 15:14. The public was thrilled, and the celebration intense. As a result of their dedication, God gave them peace on all borders for yet another 20 years.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Renewal of your sacred commitment to God is a good act of worship. … shortly after Sally and I moved to Washington in 1991, we went to a conference meeting. I don’t know why he told the story, but I will never forget Herschel Wiley standing up and telling the story of the wife who was getting frustrated with her husband for never saying “I love you…” she hinted and hinted and asked directly. Finally the husband in exasperation blurted out, “I told you I loved you once, if I ever change my mind I’ll let you know.” To constantly hear the spoken words of love is important. To renew your commitment to God is important…
Asa's Decline 2 Chronicles 16
Asa failure of faith comes in his later life. Instead of God, he relied on his own wisdom. King Baasha of neighboring Israel (see list) decided to go to war with Judah. He closed the borders and fortified border cities in an attempt to cut off Judah from the world. Asa was threatened. This is the man who demonstrated great faith in earlier years, it’s been about 30 some years of relative peace… Furthermore, Asa had the example of his own father Abijah that appealed to Judah to unite as one nation under God…
What did Asa do? He made an alliance with Syria to the north of Israel, and paid Syria to defeat Israel… and he paid for the mercenary army with gold and silver from the temple treasury… You’ll read in 2 Chron. 16 how Asa won the war, Israel was defeated, but at a great price. Another prophet of God enters the scene and puts Asa’s lack of trust into perspective. READ 2 Chron. 16:7-9.
The scripture goes on to speak of how Asa became angry… put the prophet in prison. King Asa attacks the messenger instead of the message… always examine your own heart, the message is always more important than the message. A young man is turned into the principle by his friends for talking about blowing up the school and himself. Rather than considering his own words, he gets angry at his friends… A life of faith may include listening to the wise counsel of others… Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding… when we get it wrong, when we get afraid, don’t make the mistake of Asa and throw the messenger in prison…the remainder of Asa’s days were war… I suspect not just from other nations, but within himself, too….
King Asa, a wonderful model of trust and revival, ends poorly. READ 2 Chron. 16:12-13. Does it bother you Asa’s life ends poorly?.... Some folks lose the cutting edge of their faith as they try to hold on… that happens. there an old joke about a millionaire that is giving his testimony at a church meeting. The wealthy man rose to tell about his Christian faith. "I'm a millionaire," he said, "and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember that turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and I had to either give it all to God's work or give nothing at all. So at that moment, I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today." When he finished and moved toward his seat, there was an awed silence As he sat down, a little old lady leaned over and whispered loudly, "I dare you to do it again."
It’s a crazy joke, but is it really that far from the truth of what God wants? /// When Asa was young he gave the whole dollar to God, but when he was old he tried to hang on to the blessings. Hanging on to God’s blessings is like the boy that clutches the beautiful butterfly, when he at last unfolds his fingers to admire his treasure, the wings of the butterfly are crumpled… Asa lived a life of faith well, instrumental in great revival, but he ended poorly, trying to hang on to what he had… never quit striving for a deep faith, asking God to keep changing you, refining you, reforming the world around you….If it bothers you that Asa ended poorly, I say good. That is the point. We are called to never quite, never keep being people of radical faith asking God to change us and use us according to his purposes. Asa ended poorly, but that doesn’t mean we need to…. never give up in trusting God even when it’s hard. Deep faith is when we open our heart to God and invite him to change us, to do something new, no matter how young or old we are… The final lesson of Asa: I dare you to let God change you and fully trust one more time.
Let’s end by together repeating Prov. 3:5-6….