Hashkama: 9th August 2017: Asa - King of Judah

(Due to bad weather and another dip in my health at the beginning of August, I have had opportunity to put a few thoughts together, hence this article.  It is a great blessing to share with God’s people.)

2 Chronicles 14 – 16; 1 Kings 15:9-15

We wonder sometimes how a bad person could come from a good family, and find it incredible that a good person could possibly come from a bad family.  Reading through the kings of Israel and Judah, we discover examples of both.  The third king of Judah after the separation of Judah and Israel, Asa, proves to one that coming from an evil family background need not be a handicap to holiness.  Asa proved to be the godly son of a godless father named Abijah or Abijam, the second king of Judah.  Abijah was what john Bunyan described as “Mr Facing-Both-Ways”, since he tried to do what Jesus taught was impossible; he tried to serve two masters.  Manasseh, on the other hand, was a godless son of a godly father.  The Bible is a revelation of life in the raw.  God reveals what many would prefer to be hidden.  Asa, despite his later series of religious deviations, was the most godly king to arise in Judah, from the division of Solomon’s kingdom up to this point (1 Kings 15:11).  There are four outstanding events to consider when studying this period of history:

  1. The king’s first reform, and his initial ten years of peace (14:1b-8)
  2. His victory over Zerah the Cushite (14:9-15)
  3. Judah’s second reform (15)
  4. The hostile moves made against him by Baasha of Israel, and the series of religious blunders that followed (16)

We see the contrast in Asa’s life between his godly early years and the disappointing last years of his life.  We see that Asa responded to God’s word in two totally different ways.  He received God’s word from Azariah; but later on he rejected the warnings from the seer.  Becoming angry at him, he had him thrown into prison.  Asa, in his final years, refused to repent and continued in his reprehensible behaviour, refusing to seek God’s help when he was struck with a disease in his feet.  He sought the help of his physicians instead of seeking the Lord.  In the story of Asa, we are shown the blessings that come from seeking the Lord God as well as the folly of not turning to Him in times of need.  The Psalmist discovered that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Considering the changing situations following the changes of sovereign in Kings and Chronicles, we might ponder the future of Britain’s sovereignty.  Will it survive the death of Queen Elizabeth II?  The showing on ITV Channel 4 of Princess Diana’s private conversations that were videoed by her voice coach after his suggestion that it would help her, was a controversial move.  What affect is it having on Diana’s two boys, and the monarchy itself?  What kind of monarch will Prince Charles make if he is crowned king?  He has shown a desire to be Defender of Faiths rather than Defender of the Faith.  What that will mean in practice is that “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3), will be cast aside, and Charles will be Defender of [Man-Made] Religions.  He has displayed a strong interest in Islam, its religion and architecture.

We have our modern day drama being lived out before our very eyes.  Britain is in a quagmire with the foundations of its democracy being shaken to the core.  Like a giant earthquake, evil, powerful people are corrupting the foundations of democracy, while opposing the will of the nation.  This is witnessed openly in the prevailing, stubborn opposition to the Referendum result on the EU.  The democratic result is opposed both openly, and behind closed doors.  It is the month of August, and all is quiet on the political front as Parliament is in recess, but the doors will open with a bang again in September.  But even in the silly season, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is spreading fear.  According to him, the shaky business atmosphere he claims that we are in is ‘because of Brexit’.  Carney’s fertile imagination forecast a recession if Britain came out of the EU; but in fact, economic growth accelerated after the vote to leave the EU.  Carney is a Remainer, and it is a pity he remains as head of the Bank of England.  We need economic leaders such as he is, with loyalties such as he has, like we need a hole in the head.  Fear is spread through environmental issues, pushing the climate change agenda.  Fear about the cost to Britain of leaving the EU.  Meanwhile, President Trump is entertaining the USA, Europe and most of the world.  Then the weather hasn’t been great, reminding me of Helen Shapiro’s song, “It might as well rain until September”.

A Wetter Britain

Bible commentator, Willis J Beecher suggests that the name Abijam means ‘father of the west.’  I find that interesting since the West and Wet Britain in particular is striving to be Mr Facing-Both-Ways, morally, spiritually, and politically.  Our democracy and philosophy for living is headed up by a gaggle of Wets and flounderers, living, eating and drinking PC.  If this were WWII we would lose hands down.

Asa reigned for forty years.  But for two incidents, his reign was unblemished.  A reign that began well, ended not so well.  Asa began by trusting the Lord, and there is evidence in the text that the Lord guided Asa.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Because Asa put his trust in God, Asa was able to overcome the armed might of Zerah, the Cushite (2 Chronicles 14:9-15).  Zerah confidently came against Asa with an army of one million, and three hundred chariots.  He meant business as he came to do battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.  Asa, very wisely, called on the name of the Lord: “It is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on Thee; and in Thy name we go against this multitude.  O Lord, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee.”  The Lord answered and dealt with the aggressor accordingly; the Cushites fled.

There then, Here now

2 Chronicles 14:2: “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.”  How did he do what was good and right?  In 14:3, he removed the foreign altars and the high places in obedience to Deuteronomy 12:2-3, but the people appear to have continued to resort to them, despite the king’s purge (15:17).  The king smashed the sacred stones or pillars which were Canaanitish in origin, and were thought quite literally to contain the local fertility gods, the Baalim.   He cut down the wooden Asherah poles; these were associated with Baal’s goddess-consort who bore his name.  When carved, both became idols (1 Kings 15:12).

Are we not creating problems for ourselves by worshipping at the shrine of Political Correctness?  The nation of Britain is becoming unstable in all its ways because of its effort to be ‘Mr-Mrs-Miss-Ms-It-Gender Fluid Facing-All-Ways-But God’s Way’.   The Asherah poles were the symbols of the goddess Asherah.  It seems to me that PC in effect is a sign or symbol of the god of lawlessness, rebellion and chaos being lifted high.  Let us take a brief look at Asa’s demolition and removal jobs, and be encouraged to begin removing sin, false teaching and PC from the life of the Church and the people of God.

As we saw in 14:3, Asa introduced many reforms.  We are looking in a little more detail as Asa put away the Sodomites or male cult prostitutes.  Today in Britain we are encouraging Sodomy by creating fertile ground for it to increase and grow.  A sodomite [Gk. Arsenokoites: ‘one who sleeps with a male’].  A male homosexual; 1 Timothy 1:10 in the AV has, “them that defile themselves with mankind”; and the NEB has “Pervert”.  The same Greek word is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9, where it is combined with malakos (“soft, effeminate”).  In the RSV (2nd edition 1971) it is translated as “sexual pervert”, and the NEB “homosexual perversion.”  God was pleased with Asa for ridding the nation of such activities.  Is He pleased with what we are doing in Britain today, putting up what Asa pulled down?  God is not pleased with homosexuality, or any other sin, despite Steve Chalke’s best efforts to prove otherwise.

Asa removed the idols from holy places and broke down the altars, pillars and Asherim.  He went as far as deposing the Queen mother because of her idolatrous practices and the images she had made for Asherah (1 Kings 15:12ff; 2 Chronicles 14:3).  Despite the continued existence of the high places, Asa was held blameless (2 Chronicles 15:17).  Even so, the Bible also disapproves of his pragmatism, accusing Asa of relying more on his doctors’ treatment than on prayers to God when, towards the end of his life, he suffered from a serious disease in his feet or legs.  Then there was the fact that he sometimes oppressed the people and would imprison those who did not agree with him or his policies.  An example is that of Hanani, the seer.  He had reproved Asa for asking Ben-Hadad for help against the kingdom of Israel instead of relying on God.  On the Queen’s birthday in 1704, Matthew Prior said, “Entire and sure the Monarch’s rule must prove Who founds her greatness on her subjects’ love.”

In Asa’s renewed or second reformation (14:8-15) he removed Judah’s “detestable idols”, and the sexual immoralities that accompanied such originally Canaanitish worship (1 Kings 15:12).  His earlier reform accomplished much (14:3), but his second reform took care of “all the still remaining idolatrous abominations.”  It was a much more extensive removal, “from the whole land.”

14:9 speaks about large numbers that had come over to Asa from Israel, illustrating how God’s purpose in dividing Solomon’s kingdom was being achieved.  A faithful remnant was being gathered and preserved.

In 2 Chronicles 15:1-2, we read, “The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded.  He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “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.”  How we need the Spirit of God.  We hear many prophecies through many prophets, but little or no evidence of the Spirit of God.  Let’s leap forward a few chapters, to 2 Chronicles 24:20.  During this month of August we have two national church leaders that appear to be taking the situation in Britain seriously.  One has said that God has told him to stop praying for the nation, and that he senses something calamitous is coming our way.  The other leader is making an urgent national prayer call, to take place in London in September, based upon 2 Chronicles 7:14.  There will be worship, prayer and fasting.  This call is going up when many in the church are abandoning, and being encouraged to abandon the Word of God, in favour of becoming ‘more like the world’, a world that is condemned already!  In the verse in 2 Chronicles, God does not only call for His people to pray, they must also humble themselves and seek His face.  And, they must “turn from their wicked ways.”  It is then, and only then, that God will hear them.  We should note that this is the principle for repentance in our individual lives too.

Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest.  He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands?  You will not prosper.  Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has forsaken you.’”  God does not make idle threats.  He spoke though Azariah, “…if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”  Then the Lord spoke through Zechariah, “…you have forsaken the Lord, He has forsaken you.”  The account in 2 Chronicles 24 is terrible to read.  “They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and worshipped Asherah poles and idols.” (v18).  “Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to Him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.” (v19).  Perhaps todays prophets are put off from speaking God’s word to the people; they see little incentive when they consider the fate of the prophets.  For his efforts, Zechariah, by order of the king, was stoned to death.  As he lay there dying, he said “May the Lord see this and call you to account.”

In v23, Aram marched against the wicked king Joash; Judah and Jerusalem were invaded, the leaders were killed, and loads of plunder was sent to Damascus.  The Aramean army had few men, but God delivered Judah, a much larger army, into the hands of the Arameans.  The Lord did this because Judah had forsaken Him.  Judgement was executed on Joash. (v24).  He was left severely wounded, and his officials finished him off in his bed.  This should be cause for some to stop and think.  For instance, those that believe there are not enough Muslims in Britain to take over the nation.  God used a small army of three-hundred Israelites under Gideon to defeat the Midianites.  Here, in 2 Chronicles, God used a small army of Arameans to defeat the much larger army of Judah, God’s own people.

After Britain lost its Empire, the nation lost its confidence, its place in the world, and its sense of security and direction.  God was giving the nation the opportunity to turn to Him rather than horses and chariots and the symbols of power.  Instead of turning to Him, Britain turned to Europe and the EU.  God once more extended mercy toward us, even though we had rejected Him.  We had a Referendum on the EU, and the result was that the people chose to leave that union.  Sadly, in turning away from the EU, we have not turned towards God.  We are choosing to put out trust in a false god to give us peace and security.  Since we, as a nation, are forsaking God, will He not forsake us?

2 Chronicles 15:12, Judah “entered into a covenant”.  The covenant consisted of two parts. (1) They would seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their hearts and with all their souls. (2) Whosoever, great or small, man or woman, would not worship the true God, and serve Him alone, would be put to death.  They would not tolerate idolatry and so would root it out from among the people of God.  They confirmed the oath, and God accepted them and their services.

“Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.  “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ (Zechariah 1:3-4).

May God bless you as you obey His word.

Blessings and shalom,

Malcolm [09.08.2017]

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