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Seeing Things Differently Now

Twenty silent years. That's how much water has passed under the bridge since we last observed King Asa. We have seen his reforms in the religion of his nation those many years ago. As we re-connect with him some 20 years later, I can't help but wonder how things are going now that his reign has extended from the 15th year to the 35th year?

It doesn't take long for an uneasiness to emerge. Something has happened in the last 20 years that has changed the heart of this man. What is it? When did this 'thing' take place? What has been the impact on the nation and, more particularly, what has happened to Asa?

The second part of Asa's life begins with a declaration of war!  King Baasha of the Northern Kingdom invaded Judah and Benjamin and fortified the city of Ramah. But not to worry, Asa has faced this kind of intimidation before. The lesson then was to learn complete dependence on the Lord God. So, having been part of that miraculous victory (2 Chron. 14/9-12), Asa would have known exactly what to do. He would call the nation to prayer, call on the name of the Lord his God and watched as the Lord accomplished another victory.

But, no!  Asa takes the gold and silver from the Temple; gold and silver that he and his father had put there because it was devoted (belonged) to the Lord (15/18) and, instead of calling on the Lord he went to a traditional enemy of his nation and bought a military alliance with the King of Aram.

This is a stunning turn of events. It seems that God doesn't have a place in Asa's calculations. There is no mention of waiting on God for directions. God is just ignored.

Is this really the same Asa that we left 20 years ago? If so, then his passion for God and for his nation has virtually vanished. That he would take the gold and silver from the Temple disturbs me greatly because it has echoes of the story and Achan  in Joshua 7. He was the man who, during the conquest of Jericho, took some of the plunder that had been devoted to the Lord, buried it in his tent and thereby brought about the defeat of the nation at Ai.

In taking the treasures from the Temple, Asa was, in effect, stealing what belonged to the Lord. In that action he displayed a careless, presumptuous and even arrogant attitude. He showed little regard for sacred, consecrated objects and what they represented.  In his early years Asa was very dependent upon the Lord. Now he uses God's treasures to buy an alliance with the enemy.

There is no mention of prayer. No mention of consulting the Lord for guidance or direction. Years ago when that Ethiopian warlord came against Asa and his nation, Asa's first response was to pray to God for victory. (14/9-12). Did he learn anything from that experience? It would seem that spiritual solutions have been replaced by human effort and ingenuity. If Asa knew the proverb.....

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths Prov 3:5-6 . 

.....then he certainly did not believe it or practice it in this situation.

Well, as it happened, the alliance with the King of Aram paid off and Baasha was driven back to his own borders which, some would say, justified Asa's strategy and the job got done. Let's consider that in Part 7 of "Finishing Well"

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