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In 1 Corinthians 10:11, the Apostle Paul refers to various incidents that occurred in the Old Testament, and points out that they are recorded for our instruction and admonition: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
There are some important lessons we can learn from the life of King Asa, a king of Judah. Unlike many rulers before him, King Asa started his reign on a positive note, removing the altars of pagan worship and encouraging the inhabitants of Judah to seek God and keep His laws and commandments. These righteous deeds pleased God and as a consequence, the nation enjoyed peace for ten years (2 Chronicles 14:1-6).
After this period of tranquility, King Asa faced one of his most challenging tests. Zerah, the Ethiopian, marched into Judah with an army of one million men and three hundred chariots (verse 9). Asa cried out to God, imploring Him for help (verse 11), and God granted Asa a resounding victory (verse 13).
After the battle, God sent His prophet Azariah to meet the victorious King, and convey an important message to him: "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" (2 Chronicles 15:2). Asa and the people responded positively and agreed, "to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul" (verse 12). As a result, the kingdom of Judah enjoyed additional years of peace and prosperity (verse 19).
For 35 years Asa endeavored to please God in the way he conducted his life and the affairs of his kingdom, and God was an ever–present help. Then, because of hostile threats against Judah by Baasha, the king of neighboring Israel, Asa sought a military alliance with Ben-Hadad, King of Syria. In order to secure his favor and support he even gave the Syrian king gifts from precious treasures of the house of God.
As a result of this alliance with the Syrians, Baasha was forced to abandon his militant plans against Judah (2 Chronicles 16:1-6), however Asa's unwise decisions had displeased God. The prophet, Hanani, was sent to confront Asa, and condemn him for relying on the Syrians for protection rather than God (verse 7), reminding Asa of the time God had intervened and defeated the Ethiopian army (verse 8-9).
Instead of acknowledging his guilt, Asa's reaction to God's admonition was one of anger and hostility. In a fit of rage he cast Hanani into prison (verse 10), and we are told that, "Asa oppressed some of the people at that time." The Bible does not tell us why or who they were, but it is possible these were friends or advisors who were trying to show Asa the error of his ways. Whatever the reason, Asa was acting irresponsibly and tarnishing his reputation as a God-fearing ruler.
Three years later Asa once again fell into the same trap of trusting men more than God: "And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians" (II Chronicles 16:12). Asa chose to rely on the physicians for healing to the exclusion of God. Where was the faith and trust Asa had previously shown in God? Asa was condemned for ignoring God, not because he got help from a physician.
For two years Asa was afflicted with this disease, but there was no indication he repented of his wrong-doings. Verse 13 merely states: "So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign." In the last years of his life Asa failed to nurture and maintain the marvelous relationship that had existed between him and God.
King Asa is an example of an individual who, even though righteous for most of his life, failed to faithfully endure and serve God until his death.There are repeated warnings in the Word of God about enduring and staying committed to God and His way of life until the end (Matthew 24:13). In Hebrews 3:6 we are encouraged to, "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." There are similar admonitions in Hebrews 10:38-39 and Hebrews 12:1.
If we do our part God's promises stand sure and steadfast: "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Don't give up, stay the course, remember Asa.
United News (Nov 1998)