By Mike Kemper
Focal Passage: II Chronicles 16:1-13
In review, we have learned that King Asa was the third king of Judah, the first “good” king. He had determined to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord, torn down idols, renovated the temple and commanded the people to seek the Lord. As a result, Asa and the people of Judah had times of peace and they strengthened themselves and prepared for future enemies.
When the Ethiopian enemies came against them, they were greatly outnumbered, and Asa did the right thing by calling on the Lord God to “help.” Indeed, God did help and gave them victory plus the spoils of victory.
Other tribes of Israel had noticed how God was blessing Judah and Benjamin and in “great numbers” many came to Judah from other Israel tribes.
In chapter 16, obviously Baasha, king of the northern kingdom of Israel had noticed the migration of northern citizens to Judah. He was a corrupt and wicked king with a terrible history.
Baasha began to build up Ramah to strengthen the southern border which was only five miles north of Jerusalem to stop that flow and to prepare for war against Judah.
King Asa and Judah again have the threat of being overtaken, this time from their own relatives. Here is where good king Asa makes his grave mistake.
Before, when his enemies were coming in overwhelming numbers, Asa had called on God, but this time instead of calling on God, he calls on man. Asa takes valuable assets God had given to them and gives them to Ben-Hadad, King of Syria, asking him to help with this problem.
Ben-Hadad “sells out” to Asa and breaks his previous treaty with Baasha. Ben-Hadad successfully strikes several border cities and Baasha abandons Ramah. Asa is now free of the threat and he and his people carry off the stones and timber from Ramah and they go a few miles further north to build up their own cities in Geba and Mizpah. Asa’s plan had worked, but this victory did not please God.
God sent a messenger named Hanani to King Asa. Hanani reminds Asa about the encounter with the Ethiopians when he had called on the Lord for help and God gave them the victory. This time he had depended on the flesh and failed to come to the Lord for help.
How many times can we look back at times of troubles when we called on God and see how we gained strength and direction from the Lord? Those are the times when we said, “thank you Lord” for your guidance, provisions and deliverance. We must continually be reminding ourselves of the faithfulness of God.
Scripture speaks for itself. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. In this (King Asa) you have done foolishly, and from now on you will have wars” (II Chronicles 16:9). Asa is angry and puts the messenger in prison and became an oppressor of others.
To trust and call on the Lord as a last resort is also a mistake. Asa had started well, but did not finish well. For 36 years he sought the Lord, bringing reforms of true faith in God.
Tragically towards the end of his life, Asa trusted others more than he trusted God, and in his 41st year of reign, “Asa rested with his fathers.”
The lesson here is that no matter what comes our way we should always look back and remember the faithfulness of God. B&R — Kemper concluded his service as interim pastor of First Baptist Church, Dyer, on July 31.