Monday, August 25, 2008

Asa's Finish

Reading: 2 Chronicles 14 – 16   
Have you given much thought to how you will finish the race? Do you contemplate that there is going to be a need for strong endurance to finish well? Paul frequently contemplated the finish of the race (see Philippians 3:13-14; 1 Corinthians 9:24). King Asa of Judah began well, but he did not finish so well.
In 2 Chronicles 14-15, we read of Asa, king of Judah and how he began his reign.
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. 5He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. (2 Chronicles 14:2-5)
Asa was given peace—no longer was the nation in turmoil. “they built and prospered.” (2 Chronicles 14:7). Then, in about the 15th year of his reign, a Cushite king marches out against Him.
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, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you."  12The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
After this Asa was encouraged with prophetic ministry (2 Chronicles 15:1-2). This prophecy encouraged Asa and all Judah. The response to this prophecy was astounding. They removed idols, they repaired the altar (no doubt at great expense) because they valued the presence of God, and they sought the Lord with all their heart. They went all out in devotion (2 Chronicles 15:11-15).
Note that last line: “So the Lord gave them rest on every side.” This was a real seeking of God, a real experience, a real encounter. Real enough that God gave them rest. Real enough that they made great sacrifices which are worthy of note in Scripture. In fact, they enjoyed rest for the next 20 years.
In 2 Chronicles 16, we read how Asa finished his reign. Indeed, Judah had peace from God as a gift for 20 years, but during that time lost their fire for the Lord; during that time they grew cold and comfortable; during that time they began to rely on themselves and their stuff rather than the Lord. For, at the end of that time, Baasha, king of Israel went up to attack Judah. Now, rather than seeking the Lord, they sent silver and gold from the Lord's temple and his own palace and sent a payoff to another king to help him out.
7At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: "Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.  8Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war." (2 Chronicles 16:7-9)
Starting fully committed to the Lord is long as you finish fully committed to the Lord. Judah had grown comfortable, and didn't want to stir themselves up out of their temporal peace to seek the Lord. So instead, they inherited lasting war. Better to be radical for the Lord, and have eternal peace, than to have the easy peace, the comfortable peace, and have lasting war. Many have a history that reveals a radical start. And we have experiences that reveal the Lord's gracious favor on our lives as a reward. Now, let's make certain we have a radical finish.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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