Monday, April 13, 2009

A Nugget in the Scriptures

My best laid plans to blog on the weekend went astray. I had two or three things I had in mind to write on, but busyness all day Saturday, followed by brain-deadness Saturday evening, and an Easter fairly full as well, caused me to not have the wherewith all to write.

I'm studying the life of King Asa of Judah in preparation to teach a two-week study on him in Life Group, possibly in mid-May. The study has been quite interesting, and I'm glad I'm doing it even if circumstances result that I don't teach the lessons. The title of the lessons will be "Good King, Bad King." And it will be about King Asa only, as he exhibited both traits at different times in his life.

Asa was the third king of Judah (after Israel divided into two kingdoms). He followed two kings who were not so good, his grandfather Rehoboam and his father Abijah (or Abijam), both of whom made major mistakes, politically and religiously. Asa came in and immediately began religious reforms. The accounts in 1 Kings 15 and 2nd Chronicles 14-16 differ a little, but both describe a king who was zealous to follow I AM.

Then Asa was faced with an invasion by the Cushites and Libyans. Possibly a million foot soldiers and a few hundred chariots marched against Judah. Asa was able to put an army of 580,000 men against them, but seems to have been hopelessly outnumbered. Asa did what he could in preparation, then turned to I AM in prayer. The result: the invaders were defeated in battle, and the Judeans gathered much plunder. Their southern border was secure for many years.

After this, the scripture tells us, "The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa..." [2nd Chronicles 15:1-2a] So the king, triumphant in battle, having done everything right so far--or at least so far as we know, relying on God when he should, received a message from the prophet. And the heart of that message is this:

Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.... But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

Good words for the triumphant king! How easy it would be for Asa, after the battle where his men performed heroically and brilliantly, to forget that it was I AM, in answer to Asa's prayer, who enabled those men to fight better than the enemy. It was not Asa's generalmanship that won the battle: it was the hand of I AM.

"Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." Good words for out times.

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