II Chronicles 16 caught my eye and I wanted to share a little bit of what I learned in my quiet time. In this chapter you have Asa, the King of Judah decide to make a treaty with Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria. In fact, Asa brings silver and gold from the house of the Lord and of the king’s house so as to persuade Ben-Hadad of Syria to break his treaty with Baasha, the King of Israel. King Ben-Hadad of Syria agrees and in doing so the opposition from King Baasha stops. In verse 7 Hanani, a seer, confronts King Asa and says to him,
“because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge arm with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and for throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to HIm. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars. Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.”
What is ironic about this denunciation by Hanani to King Asa is that this was truly uncharacteristic of him. Prior to chapter 16 King Asa was a good king. Look at the accolades ascribed to him.
- He was a good king and did what was right (II Chronicles 14:2)
- He removed the altars of foreign gods and the high places, and broke down sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images (II Chronicles 14:3)
- He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment (II Chronicles 14:4)
- He removed the high places and incense altars from all the cities of Judah (II Chronicles 14:5)
- He had no war – a sign of God’s favor on him (II Chronicles 14:6)
- He defeated the Ethipoians, who outnumbered him by 420,000 men, because the Lord was with King Asa (II Chronicles 14:8-3)
- He defeated all the cities around Gerar (II Chronicles 14:14)
- His heart was loyal to the Lord (II Chronicles 15:17)
However, in his act of establishing a treaty with King Ben-Hadad of Syria he was expressing a reliance not upon the Lord but a human king. As a result, Hanani confronts King Asa and calls into question his loyalty to the Lord and tells him that he acted foolishly because he abandoned the Lord who alone caused him to prosper, who alone gave him rest and who alone gave him victory after victory – not a human king. And rather than respond with a repentant spirit, King Asa becomes angry with Hanani and sends him to prison and then Asa began to oppress some of his people, something he had not done up to this point in his kingship.
And the saddest epithet of Asa’s life is found in II Chronicles 16:12b, where it says, “Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians.” It seems as if from the moment Hanani confronted King Asa he responded with a recalcitrant and unrepentant attitude and it appears that this pattern followed him to his death because the last thing we read about him is that he didn’t seek the Lord, but he again, sought the help of his fellow-man.
I believe we can learn several things from this account:
- Just because God showed favor or regard to someone in the past does not mean that He will continue to do so. King Asa was the recipient of great favor from the Lord because he walked in obedience. However, when his heart turned from the Lord (as is indicated by Hanani’s comments that the Lord is searching throughout the earth for those whose hearts are loyal to Him), the Lord withdrew his hand from King Asa to some extent.
- All of us are susceptible to making foolish decisions. No one is immune from making decisions that express a disloyalty to God or a reliance on someone or something other than God, it’s what we do subsequent to those decisions that communicates where our heart lies.
- When we do make foolish decisions and the Spirit of God Himself confronts us or He uses someone else, we do not need to respond like Asa, who responded with anger and fury. We need to respond with grace and humility, recognizing we stand at a precipice of either changing right then and there (hopefully, by God’s grace who grants repentance this will be the case) or we stand prone to become hardened by sins deceitfulness and will fall into a spiral of sinful attitudes and actions.
- Individuals who are in a positions of influence, for whatever reason many times, get to a point where they believe they are “above” accountability or correction, the root of which I believe is pride. In my role as a Pastor at Oak Park Church, I have intentionally sought the guidance and wisdom from several individuals I trust and respect on decisions I have needed to make, as well as been the recipient of their correction and rebuke on several different accounts.
May I be one who shows himself strong in the Lord and whose heart is loyal to the Lord.