Winners and Losers: Part 15 - ASA
Asa: The Man of Faith Who Faltered
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Asa was a king of Judah who was “committed to the LORD all his life”. He was committed to ridding Judah of all idolatry, to standing firmly in God’s protective favor, and to trusting in God even in the face of invasion. He led his people to a great revival of true religious practice so that they “sought the LORD eagerly, and He was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side” (2CH 15:15). All went well in Judah until the 36th year of Asa’s reign when Baasha, king of Israel, brought his vast army to Ramah (which was well into Judah’s territory and on the ridge to Jerusalem), effectively blockading the entrance to Judah. Asa had a choice; to trust God as he had done successfully in the past, or to rely on his own capabilities to expel Baasha. Asa chose to abandon his faith in a providential God and hire Aram as mercenaries to defeat Israel. Why would Asa choose this route? What happened? And how did God deal with Asa after that? Turn in your Bibles to 2CH 14 or 1KI 15 and let’s read about this king who walked so courageously in faith but later came to falter.
I. Who Was He? 2CH 14-16; 1KI 15:9-24, 16:15.
A. What was his name? His name was Asa, possibly meaning “gather”.
B. When and where did he live? He ruled Judah for 41 years (2CH 16:13), from 910-869 B.C. He reigned from the 20th year of Jeroboam, Israel’s 1st king (911/910 B.C.), through Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omri, and into the 4th year of Ahab (870/869 B.C.)..
C. Who were his people?
1. His father was Abijah, 4th king of Israel and 2rd king of Judah after the division: 2CH 13, 14:1; 1KI 15:1-8). He ruled only 3 years because “his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, like the heart of David his father [grandfather]” (1KI 15:3). He “walked in all the sins of his father [Rehoboam]” (1KI 15:3), which were forsaking God and the Law (2CH 12:1,2) and practicing Canaanite idolatry (1KI 14:22,23).
2. His mother is unnamed in Scripture.
3. His grandmother, the Queen Mother, was Maacah, wife of Rehoboam and granddaughter of Absalom (2CH 11:20-22; 1KI 15:10). Her mother was Tamar, Absalom’s daughter (2SA 14:27, 18:18) who was married to Uriel (2CH 13:2).
4. His grandfather was Rehoboam, his great-grandfather was Solomon, and his great-great-grandfather was David, king of Israel.
5. His son, Jehoshaphat, co-reigned with him from 872-869 B.C. and succeeded him as king upon his death in 869 B.C.
II. What Did He Do?
A. He had strong faith
1. He was zealous for God, longing for His glory (2CH 14:2-6)..
a. He cleansed Judah of idolatry
b. He decreed faith and obedience to God.
2. He walked in faith, confident of God’s support (2CH 14:7-14).
a. He fortified Judah against attack.
b. He maintained an army of 300,00 well equipped men fit for war.
c. He stood fast against Zerah the Cushite in his 10th year of reign (2CH 14:9-15).
WHO WERE THE CUSHITES?
They were people from the south; they have been identified as Egyptians or Ethiopians (not modern Ethiopians, but those in Sudan, immediately south of Egypt.)
(*This is a key event for Asa’s early efforts).
1) Zerah invaded Judah with an army of thousands of thousands and 300 chariots.
2) Asa prepared to meet the enemy.
a) He took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephatah near Mareshah (this valley marked the entrance to a road that led into the hills of Judah and upward to Jerusalem; Mareshah was a fortification in the valley half way between Gaza and Jerusalem that had been constructed by Rehoboam: 2CH 11:9).
b) He called upon the LORD to save him.
3) God “struck down the Cushites” so that they were crushed and Judah plundered them.
4) Asa was commended by God through Azariah son of Oded and encouraged to “not give up, for your work will be rewarded”.
3. He reformed Judah (in the 15th year of his reign).
a. He further cleansed his territories (2CH 15:8).
b. He deposed Maacah from her position of power because she had made an Asherah (2CH 15:16).
c. He repaired the altar (2CH 15:8).
d. He led Judah into a new covenant with God (2CH 15:10-15).
e. He laid up in the Temple treasury all the gold and silver that he and his father had dedicated (to idols: 2CH 15:18).
*The key to Asa’s success is found in 2CH 15:2, “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”.
B. His faith weakened (in the 36th year of his reign: 2CH 16:1).
1. He faced a test of faith (2CH 16:1-6).
a. Baasha, king of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah (2CH 16:1).
WHO WAS HE?
Baasha was the 3rd king of Israel who had deposed Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, to assume the throne. After ascending to the throne Baasha slew all of the surviving members of Jeroboam’s family (1KI 15:29). But he continued in the idolatrous path of his predecessors and would fall under prophetic denunciation that “those who died in the city would be devoured by dogs, and those who died in the open country by birds”. Baasha was at war with Asa “throughout their reigns” (1KI 15:16).
b. 21 years of peace in Judah, apart from border skirmishes, from Asa’s 15th year to his 36th year of ruling, were ended. Asa had to respond but:
1) Asa had not seen God’s intervention for 21 years.
2) Asa may have become lax and weak in his spiritual life because everything had been well- he had had no needs to drive him to the LORD. (See David in 2SA 11).
3) Asa’s military may been weakened by the war with the Ethiopians of 2CH 14,15.
4) Idolatry had weakened the spiritual strength of Judah in the form of the return of the high places (2CH 15:17).
2. He doubted God
a. He did not call upon God.
b. He hired foreign help against Baasha, king of Israel (2CH 16:2-6), rather than trust God.
1) He stripped his treasury and the Temple of the silver and gold and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram (Syria) to form an alliance.
*Asa had no excuse for this because God had never failed him, and had in fact, shown Himself powerful and willing to defend Judah.
2) Syrian troops fought against Israeli towns until Baasha abandoned his campaign against Judah.
3) Baasha withdrew from Ramah and Asa scavenged the building materials left there and used them to fortify Geba and Mizpah.
C. He was disciplined (2CH 16:7-14).
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (HEB 12:7-11).
1. He was rebuked by Hanani (2CH 16:7-9).
a. He was chastised for his lack of faith in God.
b. He was criticized for his alliance with Aram:
1) He had “let Aram escape from your hand”, ie. forestalled God’s defeat of that country.
2) He had rejected God’s help and acted foolishly.
3) He had brought war on his country: “from now on you will be at war” (2CH 16:9).
*This war would be the result of Aram’s military superiority and success over Israel, who had bested Judah.
c. He was not repentant:
1) He did not humble himself in repentance.
2) He became angry and enraged.
a) He put Hanani, the seer, in prison for rebuking him (2CH 16:10).
b) He brutally oppressed some of the people (2CH 16:10).
“My son do not despise the LORD’S discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in” (PRO 3:11,12).
2. He was afflicted
“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (PRO 29:1).
“A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (PRO 29:23).
a. He was afflicted in his feet (in the 39th year of his reign:2CH 16:12). *This was possibly dropsy (or edema).
WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WERE SMITTEN WITH ILLNESS AS DISCIPLINE?
Uzziah, Miriam, the Corinthian believers who misused communion, Ananias and Sophira.
1) Asa did not turn to God (2CH16:12).
“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find…” (MAT 7:7).
“You do not have because you do not ask…” (JAS 4:2).
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF HE HAD SOUGHT GOD’S HELP?
Remember Hezekiah’s illness (2KI 20:1-7)? He prayed to God when he learned he had a mortal illness and God healed him and gave him an extension of 15 years of life (2KI 20:6-11).
2) Asa turned to man, to physicians, for help (2CH 16:12).
b. He died 2 years later, for his disease was severe (2CH 16:12).
3. He was honored after his death:
a. He was buried with honor:
1) He was buried in his own tomb in the City of David (2CH 16:14).
2) He was laid “on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes” (2CH 16:14).
“When the righteous increase the people rejoice”
b. A huge fire was made in his honor (2CH 16:14).
*It was apparently customary to burn spices at the burial of a king but here a large amount was consumed. This passage does not refer to cremation; Jews buried their dead except in extraordinary circumstances.
WAS HE A WINNER OR A LOSER?
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
A. The adage “attempt great things for God, expect great things from God” is true; He Himself said “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2CH 16:9). When we rely on God to overcome evil He will, for then He receives glory and we have encouragement.
B. Holiness must be nurtured; anyone who neglects his/her spiritual life will grow weaker until tests of faith cannot be met with success.
C. Anyone who refuses light chastening from God will be disciplined more and more severely.
D. Those who love the LORD, though they fall into sin, will be remembered for the good they did, as well as the bad.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:
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