The Divided Kingdom – Week 9 – Asa (Part 1)

April 8, 2018

The Divided Kingdom – Week 9 – Asa (Part 1)

The Divided Kingdom – Week 9 – Asa (Part 1)

Turn in your Bibles to 1 Kings 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles 14-15
Today we will look at the story of Asa (SK3)  We will be looking at both 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 14-15.
9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, 10 and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.
11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the Lord the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.
2 Chronicles 14
And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years.
2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.
7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought Him and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
8 Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.
9 Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands (one Million) and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.
11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
12 The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the Lord and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the Lord had fallen on them. They looted all these villages, since there was much plunder there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herders and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 15
The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the portico of the Lord’s temple.
9 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. 11 At that time they sacrificed to the Lords even hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. 12 They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the Lord with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.
16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. 18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.
19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
Did you see that phrase?  Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life. His heart was perfect before God all his days. How amazing! This should be the highest desire for any of us.  When our hearts are right, when we desire Him we are considered good, even though we my fail and need to repent, God looks on us with His favor.
Asa is the first of the Kings who is considered good.  and remember he did not have any training to be a good king.  His father, and grandfather did not follow God.  His mother was an idolater.  This should remind us of some powerful truths.
  1. It is only by the grace of God than any of us come to know Him and follow Him.
  2. Our past and our upbringing is no excuse to not follow God.
Before we go to much further I want us to see the Big truth of today’s message.

Seeking God Brings Rest, Peace and Blessing.

2 Chronicles 14
Vs 2-8 – Asa “a man of action”
V2 – Good and Right
Asa is the only King this is said of.  Good – pleasing | Right – Righteous
V3 – He Cleaned House
3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.
V4 – He Commanded
4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands.
V5 – He Removed
5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.
V6 – He Built
6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.
V7 – He Sought
7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought Him and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
V8 – He Fortified
8 Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.
Notice they had rest for 10 Years.  No war and they prospered.  notice why… In Vs 7 it says  The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought Him and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
There was no doubt in Asa mind as to why they were prospering.  It was because they sought the Lord their God!
Seeking God Brings Rest, Peace and Blessing.
But notice it does not mean that there might not be testing.  Testing comes to show us where our hearts are at.
Vs 9-15 – Asa trusts and the Lord fights
v9 – Zerah from Ethiopia
v10 – Asa goes out to meet him.
v11 – Asa’s prayer
11 Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
Asa’s prayer was based on God’s promise of 2 Chronicles 6:34–35: “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.”
v12 – The Lord fights
v13 – The blessings of faithfulness
v14 – “fear of the Lord” on the cities around Gerar – calls to mind the experience of the exodus
2 Chronicles 15
v1 – prophecy from Azariah the son of Obed (Jehovah Helps the son worshiping)
Finish what you started. Have you? Is your discipleship in a state of good beginnings, distracted middles?
v2 – condition promise
“The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
‘If you seek Him, He WILL be found… (but) if you forsake Him, he will forsake you’ {God was speaking to the nation of Israel, not to individuals}
The implications are clear…
The decisions lie with us… When someone says: “It will happen if it is God’s will”, we need to qualify that statement as…”God’s will be done IF we play our part”
By failing to do so, we can be guilty of thwarting or delaying God’s will.
“Darash” – seek –  It’s “far more than a vague religiosity or religious feeling. It is a concrete and all-embracing attitude toward life.” (Hahn)
It is:
1. An act of the will
2. Worship in the temple through prescribed means in the law
3. Obedience to the law when you’re not performing liturgy or ritual
4. Gracious but firm resistance to cultural sin that would compromise one’s faith and biblical worldview
Darash was main theme of David’s first great Psalm of thanksgiving at ark’s dedication:
Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers.
    Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
         make known his deeds among the peoples!
    Sing to him, sing praises to him;
         tell of all his wondrous works!
    Glory in his holy name;
         let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
    Seek the LORD and his strength;
         seek his presence continually! (1 Chronicles 16:7-11)
It was his final instructions to both Solomon and the nation:
“Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 22:19-23:1)
“Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:8)
The “conditionalness” of God’s covenant. We must be reminded of His faithfulness, His mercy. God does all the real work in us, but we must cooperate through surrender. Our great presumption is to want the blessing of darash without its action.
vs 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
vs 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
v6 – God sometimes troubles us to get us to seek Him
v7 – Be Strong and don’t give up!
v8 – The word of God encouraged Asa.  Why?  Because His heart was for God.  That same word could have been seen as a discouragement.  How does God’s word affect you?  Where is your heart?
Asa completes the reforms he had started earlier. Was this a message because he had become distracted?
* reforms reach into territory of Israel
* repair to altar
How do they allow something so central to worship in their lives to become in need of repair? May not have been because of neglect but because of busyness/ritual? Just learned to live with the fraying, bumps and bruises. But not representative of giving God their best.
Familiarity brings contempt…
v9 – He assembled the people… He used the influence He had.  He called people to life!
This is evangelism and discipleship at it finest.   People are drawn to life, to hope. Are they drawn to you?
v10-12 – 15 years into his reign, 3rd month; covenant to “seek the Lord” (darash)
With all their Heart and Soul – With everything they had they sought after Him.
V13  Whoever would not seek him the penalty was death.
This is is still true today.  Those who do not seek Jesus the ultimate penalty is death.  That is why it is so important for us to share the Good News with those we have contact with.  We may not be killing them physically, but If we do not share with them we are killing them spiritually and eternally.
All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 15:15)

Seeking God Brings Rest, Peace and Blessing.

Notice the two words Wholeheartedly and Eagerly.   Is that a description of your life with Jesus?  Is that how you seek Him?  That is what He calls us to.  Wholeheartedly… holing nothing back from Him.  I give you my whole heart God.  And Eagerly… I anticipate, I expect God to do something.  One thing we have lost in the church is a sense of expectation.  When we come together do we expect God to show up and do something?    Look at the results of this kind of seeking God.
Rest. This fulfilled state of peace comes in and to those who seek the Lord with all their hearts. It’s one of the most bedrock, consistent, testament-bridging promises in the Bible.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
Fulfillment of Azariah’s prophecy in v2 and also:
Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:12-14)
Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)
Best of all:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Seek Him today! darash. With all your heart!
V16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole.
Even members of our own family are not exempt from the requirement to put God first…it can’t have been easy for Asa to depose Maacah… after all, she was ‘family’…
I don’t know about you but that is a hard place to be when you have to correct a family member.  But God wants all of you.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.
Asa cut the pole down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life.
V18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. 19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
In those war-torn days the lack of war was a miracle indeed! God doesn’t promise that we won’t have tribulation but He does guarantee that He will be with us and give us peace in our hearts despite circumstances.
Blessing:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.