Are you familiar with King Asa of Judah? He was a good king who did what was good and right in the sight of the Lord. Early in his reign he encountered a formidable enemy; but he relied on the Lord; and God gave him an incredible victory against unbelievable odds. The result was peace in the land for thirty-five years.
But in the thirty-sixth year of his kingship another enemy came against him – actually the King of Israel, Baasha. This time he chose to align himself with the King of Aram rather than rely on the Lord. Even though his action prevented Judah from going to war, it displeased the Lord. God sent His messenger, Hanani, to say that because of Judah’s alliance with the King of Aram, Baasha escaped out of Asa’s hand.
What was it that Asa did during the first thirty-five years of his reign that pleased the Lord? It says in II Chronicles 14 and I Kings 15 that he: (1) smashed the sacred stones, (2) he cut down the Asherah poles, (3) he commanded the people to seek the Lord and to obey His commands, (4) he put away the detestable idols throughout the land, (5) he repaired the altar of the Lord, (6) he brought back to the temple silver and gold and (7) he even got personal – he removed the idols his father had made and disposed of the queen-mother because she had set up an Asherah pole. He worshiped the Lord, he served the Lord, and he obeyed the Lord. Am I/are you tearing down our idols, following His commands and dealing with sin in our own lives?
Later on in II Chronicles 15 the Scriptures say that Asa actually didn’t remove the high places. He didn’t complete the job. He left opportunities for pagan worship, sinful practices and for his people to be led astray from our true God. Sin is always crouching at our door. Satan is very patient in causing us to stumble. In fact, I’ve heard it said that Satan will wait a lifetime to engineer a failure. And that’s really what happened in Asa’s last five years of his reign and lifetime.
What happened in year thirty-six? Asa made that alliance with Aram, plus for collateral he used the silver and gold he had put back in the temple. He took his anger out on Hanani (shoot the messenger) and had him imprisoned. He also began to oppress the people. When God disciplined him by afflicting him with a disease in the thirty-ninth year the Chronicler said, “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness, he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” (II Chronicles 16:12b)
What a tragedy! It causes me great alarm and great caution when I read these words. For forty-five years the Lord has graciously allowed me the privilege of influencing others for the Gospel as my full-time vocation. It is a reminder to me and to each one of us to make time to worship, to spend time with God, to live obediently by the power of His Spirit, and to be accountable to others, I must put on the full armor of God, stay on the alert, and recognize our enemy is like a roaring lion seeking those that he may devour.
In his book Finishing Strong, Steve Farrar, shares his personal mission statement – Don’t Screw Up. It may sound simple, but it’s a great goal. Don’t screw up my marriage, my witness, my ministry. Can we learn from Asa as it says in Romans 15:4? “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Let’s pursue the goal of hearing Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”