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Study Series:                         FINISHING WELL                                                Session No. 4

                                        Bible Reading:  2 Chronicles 15/1-19


It's a great privilege to win a battle in the realm of spiritual warfare. The sense of elation is very powerful. But such times can be marked by a vulnerability that can be dangerous. High places of victory may see us letting down our guard and victory can become the setting in which the enemy launches a successful counter-attack.

INTERACTION:  Read 2 Samuel 11/1-5.  This event took place when David was at his victorious best - the high point of his success. Talk about the factors you see in these verses that set him up for this downfall. What did he do?....what should he have done?. Can you see the sequence of the temptation?

Now we are introduced to Azariah, one on whom the Spirit of the Lord came: a Prophet no less!  Let's pay particular attention to the Word of the Lord that he delivered to Asa following the mighty victory they had witnessed.

 Read 2 Chron. 15:2-7

Let's do a breakdown of this "word from the Lord" and see if there is a "word" for us in it. What strikes you as being very relevant and timeless to us today? It might help if you were to write one word at the end of each section in the space provided.

a)  "Listen to me, Asa!" he shouted. "Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him!  Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, He will abandon you."   [ ____________________]         

 By the way, how would you explain the apparent contradiction here with Hebrews 13/5? For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

 b)  For a long time, Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without God's law.  But whenever you were in distress and turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him out, you found him.  [______________]

c)  During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the nation on every hand.  Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling you with every kind of problem.        [_______________]

d)  And now, you men of Judah, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded. [_________________]_                                              

Somewhat surprisingly, the message through Azariah was not all congratulations with streamers and balloons and marching bands!  Azariah seems somewhat "underwhelmed" by the victory over the enemy. He certainly didn't get taken away with enthusiasm.

I think Azariah knew the truth that we mentioned at the beginning of this session; that times of victory were times of vulnerability; dangerous times when the sweet taste of success could cloud one's judgment and distort reality. This, in turn, could leave the way open for some kind of counter attack which could reverse a victory into a defeat.

So Azariah, at the risk of being a 'party-pooper', reminded Asa that the decision to seek the Lord with all his heart was a daily decision, not a decision made back in history somewhere.

Although victory was theirs and the immediate threat from external forces had, for now, been thwarted, Asa now begins to address some of the internal issues; issues that, left unchecked, could begin to undermine the position that had been granted to them by the Lord.

Victory over an external enemy who is visible, recognized and confronted is one thing. But to identify the negative forces of temptation that are more subtle in their presentation is quite another. Rarely does our enemy confront us head on. No, he knows how to wait for the right time, the right opportunity. Read  Luke 4:13 (MSG)   " That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

With evangelistic zeal Asa removed all the idols in the land. Wait just a minute! Hadn't he already done that (14/3)? True, but removing idols is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge; it never ends because when they finish at one end they start all over again. Idols are like that. They keep seeking a place in the human heart and therefore removing them is a never-ending crusade.

Concurrent with that removal came the repairing of the Altar of the Lord which, presumably, fell into disuse in favour of the idols.

INTERACTION:  Can you think of another occasion when the Lord's Altar had to be repaired because it had fallen into disrepair?  Read 1 Kings 18/30.  Did you notice that it wasn't neglect that caused the altar to be in need of repair? It had been torn down!  Does that suggest anything to you?

What a celebration flowed from this renewal or revival!! Seeking the Lord became a passion for the people. They entered into a Covenant with all their heart and soul. As with all such powerful movements, there were the inevitable excesses that embarrass us as we look back from our New Testament position (v.13).

The purging of idolatry from the nation reached even into Asa's own family network when his own grandmother was deposed as the Queen Mother because she had made an Asherah pole

We will need to take this further in Session 5 of "Finishing Well" because between chapters 15 and 16 there is a 20 year period of silence. And something happened to Asa that changed his life and outlook and created distance between himself and his God.


 FOOTNOTE:  Not only do I hope that you and I will "finish well" whenever our time here on earth is concerned, I hope we will finish each of these study sessions well! One way to encourage that is for us to ask two questions at the end of each session

a) What am I supposed to KNOW (learn) from this session?

b) What am I supposed to DO as a result of this session that is a practical application?


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