Thursday, March 3, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 32. Asa King Of Judah, Part 2

Prophets And Kings
Day 32
Asa King Of Judah
Part 2

A prophet comes to Asa to say him dids wrong in makin an alliance wif Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, because Asa weres afraid of Baasha king of Israel. Asa will not listen to the words of the prophet.

2 CHRONICLES 16:7-14
1 KINGS 15:23-24
Yesterday when besieged by Baasha king of Israel, Asa sent gifts of gold and silver to Ben-Hadad king of Aram so that together they could minimize the threat of Israel. Some of the gold and silver came from the Lord's treasury, some from the king's palace. The section we studied in 1st Kings didn't record any chastisement from the Lord for this, but the author of 2nd Chronicles provides additional information. "At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: 'Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand." (2 Chronicles 16:7) Asa is not going to be able to control the actions of the Syrian king Ben-Hadad and this unwise alliance will be troublesome in the future. Ben-Hadad is a pagan man and an unrighteous ruler because he betrayed his friend Baasha for no other reason than to gain silver and gold. This is not the type of person a good king of Judah should be yoked with, but the two of them are yoked now.

"Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand." (2 Chronicles 16:8) The prophet points out that there was no need to panic when King Baasha came against Judah just because Israel had ten tribes and Judah only two tribes. The Lord had already given Judah victory over great armies before. Why doubt His ability to do it again? Oh, but I can sympathize with Asa. Many times the Lord has delivered me from great perils and yet, each time trouble shows up, something in me still fears the outcome. 

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." (2 Chronicles 16:8) Asa could have counted on help from the Lord if only he'd stayed faithful. As King David once said to the Lord, "To the faithful You show Yourself faithful. "(2 Samuel 22:26, Psalm 18:25) The penalty for Asa's unfaithfulness is that the years of peace are over.

Instead of being conscience-stricken to the point of repentance, Asa is indignant with the prophet. How dare this man come to him, the king of Judah, and rebuke him? "Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people." (2 Chronicles 16:10) The Bible doesn't provide details about who Asa oppressed or why he did it. But it seems as if it's connected with what happened with the seer. It could be there were citizens of Judah speaking out against what Asa had done, either his treaty with Ben-Hadad or his shameful treatment of the prophet, or both. Unlike David, who was quick to repent on the day the prophet Nathan pointed out his sin, Asa is offended by the message of Hanani.

It's all downhill from here because in his later years he suffered a troublesome health problem, "As for all the other events of Asa's reign, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? In his old age, however, his feet became diseased." (1 Kings 15:23) The author of 2nd Chronicles adds this, "In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors." (2 Chronicles 16:12-13) Scholars and physicians have speculated over the years just what ailment Asa might have had. Some think gout while others think it was a vascular disease that caused bad circulation and eventually gangrene or blood poisoning. For the final two years of his life, Asa suffered with his feet but did not seek the Lord. I don't know whether he didn't recognize the ailment as divine discipline or whether he was angry with God or whether he lacked the faith to come to God with a request for healing. 

I respectfully disagree with the few scholars who believe the author is criticizing Asa for going to physicians. The text simply says he only went to the physicians for help and that he did not also go to the Lord for help. I think we are intended to do both. As the late Dr J Vernon McGee of the Thru The Bible Radio Program said of his cancer diagnosis many years earlier, when getting bad news like that we should pray to the Lord first and then go to the best cancer doctor around. We have been blessed with science and physicians and medicine and I think we ought to avail ourselves of the help God has so richly provided. But ultimately our life is in His hands and its to the Great Physician we should appeal first. We should appeal to Him when trouble comes, appeal to Him all through our troubles, and then praise Him on the other side of our troubles. The Lord Jesus even made mention of physicians, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." (Matthew 9:12) Although He was referring to spiritual sickness, He used the example of bodily sickness, and He doesn't deny that a sick person might find a physician beneficial. He is saying the sick person needs the doctor. So I think, as God's people, we should seek both the help of the Great Physician and the help of human physicians, realizing God is able to supernaturally heal but that He also works through others. 

"Then Asa rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of his father David." (1 Kings 15:24a) "They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor." (2 Chronicles 16:14) The people of Judah honored Asa in his death with a magnificent procession and much ceremony. Overall he is considered to be one of the better kings of Judah even though his faith failed in his later years and he made some mistakes. They chose to remember the good and not the bad, like David did at the death of King Saul. 

"And Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king." (1 Kings 15:24b) In addition to tearing down the pagan altars and urging the people to seek the Lord, Asa did at least one other thing right. He raised a godly son. Jehoshaphat will be one of the finest kings Judah will ever have and he will be one of the most faithful to the Lord. Asa knew how to lead his household in the fear of the Lord, even deposing his own grandmother as queen mother because she engaged in idol worship. This must have set a powerful example for Jehoshaphat. He knew the God of Israel as the sovereign Lord, as the one true God, and he will later give this wise advice, "First seek the counsel of the Lord." (1 Kings 22:5) I don't see how we can possibly go wrong with this simple principle. In this election year, and in any election year, we tend to hear the phrase, "Vote early and often." But Jehoshaphat knew the value of doing something even more important and he would say, "Seek the Lord early and seek Him often. Seek Him first thing in the morning before you start your day. Seek Him whenever you make decisions. Seek Him when you need help. Seek Him when you are sick. Seek Him when you feel thankful for all your blessings." Jehoshaphat believed the Lord should be invited into every area of our lives and we have Asa his father to thank for bringing him up in the fear of the Lord. Asa may have ended his reign on a low note, but he raised up a good king for Judah. 

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