By Mike Kemper
Interim Pastor, First Baptist Church, Dyer
Focal Passage: II Chronicles 15:1-9
Honoring and obeying God always brings blessings and benefits. Good King Asa had initially done what was right by bringing spiritual reforms. Blessings came. But, consistency in doing right things for the entire nation of Israel had always been “off and on,” sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The prophet Azariah went to King Asa with a reminder message from God, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you.”
Numerous times before, under kings, and judges, Israel had rebelled, disobeying God. God had allowed judgment and consequences for those times to come upon His people. God’s love is unconditional love. He knew their fickle tendencies, yet He loved them as His own, continually calling out to them while honoring all His promises.
God’s unconditional love for Israel is not in question here; however their love and loyalty for Him was in question as conditional, as well as “off and on.”
Thus, God had made several covenant agreements with His people. Covenants, are similar to legal contracts between two or more parties, where if party one will do “a, b, c” party two will do “x, y, z” If one party fails to carry out the agreement, then the agreement is broken and certain consequences will be carried out.
For God’s part, He always does exactly what he says. His Word is truth and always dependable. On the part of the tribes of Israel, they were inconsistent, fickle, rebellious and often arrogant. Look back at Azariah’s words, “If you seek Him you will find Him, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you …” Notice the “if you” statements.
God is always faithful and consistent to His Word! This doesn’t mean that God would leave His people and not love them anymore. But it does mean that if they abandon God, they have failed to honor their word and the agreed relationship of love, honor and fellowship would be deserted and left behind.
You can’t break your promise and expect God to carry on as if nothing has happened. No, God is just, and longing for His people to do what is right, honoring their commitments. His contractual requirements for fellowship and closeness are not unreasonable, but they do require integrity and consistency. Can you imagine the frustration of Holy God in knowing, “they love me today, they won’t love and honor me tomorrow.”
When Asa heard the words of the prophet he acted with courage and renewed his efforts to remove detestable idols and other immoralities among the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Much had already been accomplished, but now at hearing Azariah’s challenging word, he presses his reform “to the whole land … and cities captured in the hill country of Ephraim.” He “renovated the altar of the Lord” giving it special attention. And because of what Asa had done, other tribes who were living among them, joined his efforts when “they saw that the Lord His God was with Him.”
The actions of our lives, the quality of our worship and how we care for holy things is a reflection of how we feel about God. God is faithful and true, always. What the Lord God does for us and how He loves us is settled. On the other hand, our part is being determined and demonstrated day by day.
Be courageous in your faith, honor your commitments to the Lord and discover anew just how the Lord is with you! B&R — Kemper is interim pastor of First Baptist Church, Dyer.