Sunday, September 1, 2013

CLXXI - II Chronicles 13-16 - Asa

As we saw in the last post, the nation Israel is now divided.  The tribes of Judah and Benjamin make up the nation of Judah.  Solomon's son Rehoboam is their king.  The remaining ten tribes have separated themselves from Jerusalem and have made Jeroboam their king.  They are now called the nation of Israel, but do not have the royal lineage of David, nor the Levites.  Shechem is their capitol city.  As mentioned earlier, the writer of Chronicles seldom even mentions Israel's kings.

Chapter 13  -  Abijah

Eighteen years after the nations divided Rehoboam died and his son Abijah became king.  Abijah's notoriety is that he was the king of Judah when the first war against their cousins Israel took place.  Jeroboam's army was twice as large as Abijah's.  Israel knew their army was superior and they were proud of it.  However (remember, the new nations of Judah and Israel are only eighteen years old), and already they have begun to worship other gods, mostly the gods of the Canaanites.  This quick turning to pagan gods in Israel is in large part Jeroboam's fault.  The books of King and Chronicles both reference bad kings as "following after the ways of Jeoboam".  In eighteen short years he managed to forsake the Levite priesthood, minimilize the Mosaic Law, and make idol worship not only acceptable, but encouraged.  He even made golden calves, just like his ancestors did at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  As we read this opening passage in this chapter (vss 1-12) we see that Abijah realized his army was no match for Jeroboam's, so he tried to persuade Israel's soldiers by speaking with them.  He told them that there was not supposed to be two Israels.  All of Israel was to follow the lineage of David.  He proceeded to blame Jeroboam for the kingdoms being divided.  {This would have been an exercise in futility.  Israel was already loyal to Jeroboam, and besides Abijah was new in his position of king.  Also, all of the tribal leaders knew that Jeroboam had been recruited as king, rather than having stolen the throne.  But God wanted Judah to be victorious in this battle, and made it happen.  So decisive was the battle that Jeroboam lost his following, never to have regained it.  Abijah ruled for only three years, but was a strong king.  The Scripture abruptly ends It's comments on Abijah in the last few verses of chapter 13 by telling of his death, and states that Asa his son succeeded him on the throne in Jerusalem.

Chapter 14  -  Asa

You probably remember our study of Asa in Kings.  As it says in the opening verse of this chapter, Asa was "good and right in the eyes of the Lord".  Asa reigned in Jerusalem forty one years and seemingly stayed busy the whole time.  He removed the altars that were built for worshiping foreign gods.  He cut down the poles erected for the goddess Ashteroth, wife of the chief pagan god Baal.  But Asa also concentrated on other things such as his military.  He followed God's direction and set up the defense and administration of Judah's government.  So much had deteriorated under the reign of Rehoboam.  This chapter 14 goes on to describe the military successes of Asa, as he was very strategic in building cities, much like his great great grandfather David.  It says that Judah enjoyed peace, as God gave them protection from their enemies for the first ten years of Asa's reign.  Verses 8-15 tell us how God helped Asa secure his borders.

Chapter 15  -  Asa's Reforms; the Prophet Azariah

In the first 7 verses of this chapter 15 is the only reference there is to a prophet named Azariah, therefore our knowledge of him is limited.  After Asa had defeated the Cushites, he was returning to Jerusalem when Azariah met him with a message from God.  His message for Asa and Judah was simple:  Those who look for God will find Him.  But whoever forsakes God, God will forsake him.  Israel (the northern kingdom) was cited as an example of what NOT to do.  {Asa was a Godly man and a Godly king.  I believe God wanted to encourage Asa to continue to be strong in his walk with the Lord, as God had seen so much heathenism among His people in the few short years since David was king.  In verse 8 Asa obeyed the message that Azariah had given to him. He had already done a lot to remove the images of the gods from Judah (14:3-4). Now he was eager to continue "cleaning up".  He started with Judah and Benjamin, then went on to removed idol images from the towns he had captured in Ephraim.

Verses 16-18 mentions Asa’s grandmother who was Rehoboam’s second wife Maacah.  As the queen mother, she had a lot of authority and influence in the whole nation.  But Asa was loyal to the Lord and he was strong in character.  He realized that Maacah was a resisting influence to his reforms.  Therefore he knew he must removed her from her position of authority.  She had made an image of Ashterah, which she worshiped. That was the "last straw for Asa.  Asa was loyal to God for his entire reign.  However he was not able to persuade all the people to follow him in this. There were still some of Judah's citizens who continued to worship false gods.

Chapter 16  -  Asa's Final Years

Remember Baasha, king of Israel?  He was a bad guy.  He attacked Judah during the reign of Asa.  {This story shows Asa as weak and foolish.}  Asa did not think that he could defeat Baasha, and he was probably right.  So, he asked Ben-Hadad, king of Aram for help.  But Ben-Hadad already had an agreement with Baasha.  So Asa decided it would be a good idea to offer Ben-Hadad more money than Baasha was paying him.  Of course Ben-Hadad took the more generous offer because he was of low character.  But in order to pay him enough money, Asa had to take the treasure out of the Temple.  These treasures did not belong to Asa.  They belonged to God.  {I always have to ask myself a few questions when things like this happen:  Why didn't Asa call on God for help against Baasha in the first place?  Why did he go to a pagan king for help?  For decades Asa had proven himself to be smarter than that.  How many times has God defeated superior armies with just a few faithful men?  Baasha and Ben-Hadad together could not have withstood God's hand against them as they marched on Jerusalem.}

Verses 7-->  But God continues to be merciful with Asa.  He sent His prophet Hanani to Asa to tell him of the foolish error he had made, but Asa did not recieve the criticism well.  Asa was too proud {Oh, the sin of pride}.  Asa should have repented his disregarding of God, but instead he got angry with Hanani (the old "kill the messenger" syndrome).  He conducted himself in quite an ungodly manner, not only toward Hanani, but others around him as well.  Two years before his death, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. He went to doctors with his problem but he did not pray to God.  He should have asked God to make him well.  {It is not wrong to go to doctors. The Lord does use the medical profession to make people well all the time.}  This chapter closes with Asa's death.  In summation about Asa, there were times when he did not trust the Lord as he should have, but he had been a good king having inherited a difficult situation.  Although scarcely mentioned, there was that infamous block of bad kings of Israel during Asa's reign in Jerusalem:  Baasha, Elah, Zimri, and Omri.  That would have been enough to worry any king of Judah to death.

Next Post  -  Jehoshaphat


  1. I think it was probably just fear that caused Asa to act so foolishly. Fear is a dangerous thing. It gets you into all kinds of trouble. I wonder what God must think when we do foolish things purely based on fear. I wonder if he's disappointed or saddened or even angry.

  2. Great observation son. God is not angry when we yield to fear. Probably disappointed, as acting on fear is a lack of faith, not a lack of courage.