A GOOD START -- A SAD END

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[2 Chronicles:14:1-15]; [2 Chronicles:15:1-19]; [2 Chronicles:16:1-14].

Lesson No.: 
295
Class: 
Junior
Memory Verse: 

“Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD”  (Jeremiah  17:5).

Notes: 

Destroying Idols
When Asa became the third king of Judah, there was peace for ten years. “Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD.” Asa encouraged the people to seek God and to obey His commandments. He took away the altars of the strange gods and destroyed the groves and images of idolatrous worship.

Asa’s parents were not worshipers of the true God. His father’s reign over Judah had been evil. Asa’s mother had made an idol in a grove [1 Kings:15:13]). Even though Asa’s parents were not serving God, Asa did that which was pleasing in God’s sight. Sin, idolatry, and a poor example, were all around him but Asa did what he knew was right. We can expect God to be with us, too, and help us when we do what is right even though others about us are not obeying God.

In Time of Peace
Asa told the people that the Lord had given them peace because they sought God. In time of peace, they were busy. The cities were made stronger with walls, towers, gates, and bars. The people built and prospered. Asa’s army was enlarged and made stronger, too. In the time of peace, Asa was busy preparing for a time when the enemy would come against him. It is a good thing for a Christian to be always strengthening himself, too. Instead of being idle, a Christian should be busy studying the Word of God for that brings strength, faith, and courage to him. We are told that the Word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” [Ephesians:6:17]). By prayer, too, a Christian is strengthened and dressed in the armour of God, which includes the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith.

A Prayer and Victory
In time, Zerah the Ethiopian, did go to battle against Asa. The army of the enemy was about twice as large as Asa’s army, besides having 300 chariots. But Asa was not afraid, because his confidence was in God. Asa prayed and asked God to help him. Asa said: “Help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude.” Asa had enlarged his army and strengthened his land. Nevertheless, he was trusting in God to deliver him. Asa neither expected God to do all the fighting nor did he put his trust in men and equipment.

God answered Asa’s prayer. The Ethiopians were smitten by God before Asa. When they fled, Asa and the people pursued them and the enemy was overthrown. God gave the people of Judah victory over their enemies – and more, too. Asa and his armies smote the cities round about and captured many cattle, sheep, and camels, so they had more than before the war started. Because Asa did that which was right, God gave him rest, prosperity, and victory, and answered his prayer. Do you think that it paid Asa to do that which pleased God? Does it pay to serve God and to do the right thing, today?

A Warning
Azariah the son of Oded had a message for Asa and the people. He said, “The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” They had proved the first part of Azariah’s message. Had not Asa sought God’s help and they were victorious in battle? They did not want to be forsaken by God, so they took heed to the Prophet’s warning. He had said, “Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.”

True Worship
Asa renewed the altar of the Lord and called the people to worship. They sought God “with all their heart and with all their soul.” They made a covenant with the Lord and brought offerings to Him. They made a vow to God that any person who would not pray and seek God would be put to death. Even the queen, Asa’s mother, who had made an idol in a grove, was removed. Asa cut down her idol, and burned it by the brook Kidron.

The people gave offerings to the Lord as Christians today make consecrations to Him. When the people of Judah sought God with all their heart and “with their whole desire,” He was found of them. There was great rejoicing with shouting, trumpets, and cornets. God gave them peace and rest, with no war for many years.

People today may have spiritual peace by seeking God wholeheartedly, by making vows unto God, and by giving unto Him in consecration. We should remember the words of Azariah the Prophet. The Lord will be with us while we are with Him, but the Lord will forsake us if we forsake Him.

Another Battle
The heart of Asa was perfect all the days that he walked with God. There came a time when the peace of the land was again disturbed. One would expect Asa to pray for the Lord’s help, and to trust God. Asa had been delivered from the Ethiopians by God. The Prophet Azariah had warned them that God would forsake them if they forsook Him. They had made a covenant with the Lord to seek Him with all their heart. What did they do in time of trouble? Did they keep the vows and consecrations that they had made before God?

Asa sought the help of Ben-hadad, King of Syria, who had never been a friend to the Children of Israel and who had never done them any good. Asa removed the treasures from the house of the Lord. Many years before, he had dedicated this gold and silver to the Lord but now he took them back. To gain Ben-hadad’s favour, Asa gave him gifts of these treasures, which were not Asa’s to use in this manner. Asa made a league with Ben-hadad, and by so doing he broke his covenant with the Lord. No longer did Asa rely on the Lord to fight for him. Asa was now putting his trust in a man.

A League
Was it wrong for Asa to make a league with Ben-hadad? This league showed that Asa was relying on Ben-hadad and was no longer depending upon God to deliver him. In the Bible we read: “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength” [Psalms:33:16]). There is a woe pronounced upon those who put their trust in men and equipment rather than to depend upon God and to seek Him [Isaiah:31:1]). There is a curse pronounced upon the person who trusts in man and departs from trusting the Lord [Jeremiah:17:5]).

Ben-hadad did not love God or God’s people. He was a natural enemy of the Children of Israel. Ben-hadad’s people had caused trouble for the Children of Israel and had fought many battles against them. No doubt, the reason that Ben-haddad entered into the league with Asa was to get the silver and gold. He did not particularly care about Asa and his people.

Ben-hadad represents the world, which is no friend of God’s people. God does not want us today to be joining forces with Satan (our enemy) or any of his followers. Ben-hadad gave the appearance of helping Asa but he was not concerned about the prosperity of Asa nor his relationship with the Lord.

What was the result of this league with Ben-hadad? The Syrians sent their armies against Judah’s enemy, and many cities were captured, but Asa did not have peace. In the years past, Asa had said that the Lord had given them rest because they had sought God. When they no longer sought God, there was no peace or rest.

Trusting God
May we learn a lesson from Asa’s experience. Let us look to the Lord for our help, and we shall have peace and rest. Let us not be making a league with the world and with men, as Asa made a league with Syria who had been his natural enemy in the past and would be in the future, too. God has been with us in the past, and if we do not forsake Him, He will be with us in the days to come.

There are blessings and promises for those who will obey God [Deuteronomy:28:1-14]). In many places in the Bible we are told to trust God: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” [Psalms:118:8]); “Whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” [Proverbs:29:25]).

We have studied about David who was king over the Children of Israel. David trusted in God and was delivered from his enemies. He gave praise to the Lord for His help. (See Lesson 244.) Read in the Psalms what David wrote about trusting the Lord [Psalms:18:31]; [Psalms:32:1-2]; [Psalms:34:20]; 3Psalm:7:3).

Job is another man who put his trust in God. Even though Job suffered the loss of his children, his flocks, and almost everything he had, he still trusted in the Lord. Satan, Job’s enemy as well as ours, afflicted Job “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” [Job:2:7]), but Job trusted in God. When his friends came to comfort him, Job let them know that his trust was in God. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” [Job:13:15]). As a result of Job’s trust, “the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” and the Lord blessed the latter end of Job’s life more than the beginning [Job:42:10-12]).

No Peace
Job profited by trusting God. But did Asa profit by relying on Ben-hadad? The last years of Asa’s life were much different from the lives of those who trust God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” [Isaiah:26:3]). Although Asa’s enemies were chased away for the time being, and he did build two cities with the spoils, Asa took himself out of God’s protection and care and had no peace.

Hanani the Prophet had a talk with Asa. He reminded Asa that God had delivered his armies from a huge host of enemies when he had relied upon the Lord. Hanani told Asa that he had acted foolishly, and that he would have no peace, but war. Those words came to pass. There was war between Asa and Baasha, King of Israel, all the days that remained of their lives. Later, the Syrians with whom Asa had made the league, went to battle against Asa’s son who reigned in his stead.

Asa did not like the words of Hanani the Prophet, even though they were true. Asa did not act like a man who loved the Lord. He imprisoned the Prophet because of his words, and was “in a rage with him because of this thing.” Hanani was not the only one whom Asa mistreated. Some of the people were oppressed by him at the same time.

Unfaithful
How sad to read those words about Asa who had started in such a fine way to serve and to work for the Lord! Jesus said, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” [Matthew:10:22]). The Bible teaches that the reward is for those who are faithful to the end of their lives. We must not only start to follow Christ but we must also finish our lives trusting the Lord. At the close of Paul’s life, he said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” [2 Timothy:4:7-8]).

Sad and Sick
The last years of Asa’s life were sad and unpleasant. He must not have felt very good about putting the Lord’s Prophet in prison. He must have felt condemned because he had abused the people. There is no reason to believe that he repented and asked God to forgive him. Under the circumstances, Asa could not have been happy. Besides, he was sick. He was diseased in his feet “until his disease was exceeding great.” Still Asa did not seek God.

Others in the Bible trusted God for healing. We know that God heals sick people today. The Bible tells us what to do when we are sick: “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. . . . Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” [James:5:13-15]).

But Asa sought the physicians, and he died. Although he was given a fine burial with many kinds of spices for embalming, and with much burning of incense for sweet odours, how much better it would have been if it could have been said that he had trusted in the Lord to the end of his life, and that he had received the reward that God has for His faithful ones. “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” [Psalms:31:19]).

Questions: 

1. How did Asa start his reign?
2. In what way did he trust the Lord?
3. What did he do to establish true worship?
4. What happened to his mother’s idol?
5. Who helped Asa in the battle against the Ethiopians?
6. Why did Asa have rest from war?
7. What was Asa’s mistake?
8. Who went to battle against Asa’s son?
9. What lessons can we learn from Asa’s life?
10. What are some promises to those who trust God?