By Mike Kemper
As King Asa began his rule he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. However, before his time, worship and an obedient relationship with God had been token if at all. King Asa repeatedly insists that the people “seek the Lord.”
Though Asa had been successful to a degree, turning the hearts of the people back to their God, Asa obviously felt the need to “take it to another level.”
The timing was right, as it was time for the Festival of Weeks also known as Pentecost. By “seeking the Lord” they had been blessed with peace and plunder over enemies, so they had every reason to worship God and express their gratitude by sacrificing to the Lord.
Continually worshiping the Lord was, and is, critically important. In Old Testament times, there were various covenant agreements where, under God’s direction the people had committed to obedience and faithfulness.
There were symbolic actions of sacrificing animals to show gratitude and worship as the result of God’s faithful protection and provisions as well as evidence of trust for the future.
I’m not suggesting the sacrifice of animals; however, the lesson for us is significant. Due to God’s faithfulness and abundant supply of blessings, we should continue to worship Him by giving up things valued for the sake of something more valuable or worthy. What could be more valuable to us than to have a continuing, eternal love relationship with Almighty God?
At Asa’s direction the people of Judah, Benjamin and others were eager and willing to sacrifice, agreeing to “seek the Lord God …with all their heart and soul.”
Today it seems that covenants and contracts are “made to be broken” but then, these covenants had the strength of a solemn oath. Verse 13 seems to be out of place, that “whoever did not seek the Lord … would be put to death.”
Their intentions were good, but you can’t force people to truly worship God. Again, I’m not suggesting that those who are unwilling to worship God be put to death. But understand, a promise was a promise, especially a promise to God.
And, worshiping false gods was serious. The people eagerly took their oath to seek only the Lord God with shouting, with trumpets and with rams’ horns. They knew full well what their oath was all about. The oath was their sealed promise to seek God and was followed by a time of great rejoicing that once again Judah was in right relationship with Almighty God.
Maacah was former King Rehoboam’s second wife, like a Queen Mother, who worshiped idols and had significant influence. Maacah had erected an obscene image of Asherah, a female fertility god. Asa did the right thing again, by putting the Lord God ahead of others, even his own grandmother. He chopped down the image, crushed it and burned it.
Asa had done much to turn the people back to God, however verse 17 indicates that there were still yet other high places, perhaps local shrines that existed. Asa had made great strides and was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord. However, Asa failed to take advantage of the momentum gained by not totally destroying “high places” and reuniting the entire nation of Israel.
We should seek God with all our heart and soul. Our blessing is not only in knowing about God, not only knowing that He has power, but our joy is in personally experiencing and worshiping the true, one and only, God. We have every reason to continually worship the Lord.
— Kemper concluded his service as interim pastor of First Baptist Church, Dyer, on July 31.