Read 2 Chronicles 16
Asa’s Last Years
16 In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 2 Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, 3 “There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” 4 And 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 And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah and let his work cease. 6 Then King Asa took all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them he built Geba and Mizpah.
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. 8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” 10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.
11 The acts of Asa, from first to last, are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. 13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier that had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, and they made a very great fire in his honor.
As we have read about in the previous couple of chapters, Judah was thriving under Asa’s leadership, and he was known for his commitment to honoring God throughout the kingdom. Then, something changed. Baasha, king of Israel, was fortifying the border of Israel and Judah with obvious plans to move into conflict with Asa and, perhaps, try to overtake the kingdom of Judah. The problem, however, was that Asa never even considered taking this threat to God for His guidance, strength, and protection that He had provided for the first 15 years of his reign. Judah was already stronger as a nation than Israel, and Asa’s armies could easily overtake the army of the king of Aram, Ben-hadad. Instead, he bribes the king of Aram with silver and gold from the temple of God (and the people of Judah) to be used as mercenary monies against the kingdom of Israel. Verses 5-6 show that the scheme worked. King Asa had the people of Judah remove all the fortifications of Baasha on the northern border.
Even in the apparent “success” of Asa’s decision to have king Ben-hadad fight his battle for him, we find that the eventual result was not good for him or the kingdom of Judah. King Asa had become “fat” in his successes, and worse, forgot who was truly in charge of his life and the kingdom God gave him to steward. The lesson here is clear. As we prosper and flourish in this life, we so easily forget who gives, provides, and guides us in all aspects of life whether physical or spiritual, or both. We must constantly seek the Lord to be reminded of what Paul wrote in Romans 11:36 says, “For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
We now watch Hanani, the seer, call king Asa on his error. It is interesting that God used a seer to convict Asa of his sin. Seers of that time were pagan spiritual advisors guided by astrology and unrighteous methodologies similar to today’s versions of palm reading or future telling. Again, Asa doesn’t repent nor seek the high priest for help. Instead, he is incensed by the seer’s words and throws him in prison. History shows an increase in conflict with enemies of Judah as well as a less prosperous nation for several years following these events. Once again, Asa has no sense of conviction for his errors and has others suffering within his kingdom for his mistakes. His once zealous heart for honoring God in all areas of his life and the kingdom, becomes a heart honoring only himself and his own ways.
This is always a recipe for personal disaster. The lesson for us here is two-fold. First, are we seeking God in all conflicts and difficulties we are facing? Asa continued in his self-centered journeys, and it cost him dearly. Psalm 139:24 says, “See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” We can pray this verse to the Lord and let His Spirit lead us in the right path in every circumstance. Second, are our hearts open in letting others speak truth into us even when it hurts? Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In other words, we have all sinned. We have all made mistakes. The question is whether or not we have taken those to the throne of grace for forgiveness and correction. The grace of Christ gives us a new start every time we miss the mark. FirstJohn 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We don’t have to be angry or misled like Asa. The final years of Asa’s reign serve as a reminder to us that we must never allow ourselves to become numb to what the Spirit is doing. We must continue to let the Holy Spirit speak to us through sermons, scripture, prayer, and other believers so we can stay on track and never grow cold.
- What do you think allowed Asa to grow cold and distant from seeking God?
- Are you walking closely with God and seeking His ways in every area of your life? If not, take a moment to pray Psalm 139:24 to Him and let Him speak to your heart about what He wants for you.
- Who do you have around you that will speak righteous truth into your life? When was the last time someone did that to you?
George Williams, an 18th century Bible commentary writer wrote, “Spiritual victories teach the natural heart nothing. New victories cannot be won by remembrance of old faith; there must be a fresh exercise of faith in every crisis. The victorious Asa became the defeated Asa through his self-made plan of disaster.”
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