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Lessons from the Life of Asa
2 Chronicles 15:1-19
We wish to present to you "The life of rest," from certain verses found in chapter 14. These verses are really introductory to the 15th chapter, which is to be studied today.
1. In 2 Chronicles 14:1 we read that Asa had quietness: "And Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years."
Now comes a statement which explains why the land was quiet. 2 Chronicles 14:2 says, "And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God."
It is interesting to observe that Asa took away the altars of the strange gods. He broke down the images and cut down the groves. Then Asa commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers. Thus it was that the kingdom was quiet before him.
If we want a quietness of spirit and a rest of heart, we must get it from God; but we must get it by entering into the way of obedience. Christ said, "Come unto Me, * * and I will give you rest." That is the rest which is given. It is the rest from our sins.
Christ also said, "Take My yoke upon you, * * and ye shall find rest." It is of this rest that we speak just now. It is a found rest, and it is found in the place of obedience and of worship.
2. In 2 Chronicles 14:6 we read, "And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the Lord had given him rest. This verse shows us that when we have rest, we can do constructive work for the Lord. As long as there are wars and fightings in our members; as long as we live in confusion and in strife, there is no opportunity whatsoever to build ourselves up in those spiritual attributes which should be ours in Christ Jesus. We cannot do two things at once. We cannot at the same time develop our spiritual life and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, while we are disturbed in spirit and mind over the conflicts of this life.
3. In 2 Chronicles 14:7 we read, "We have sought Him, and He hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered." Our minds go back to those days when the Children of Israel had overthrown their enemies in the land of Canaan, It is then that we read that they had rest. It was not until the nations of the land of Canaan had been overthrown and the people established in the land that the Lord gave them rest.
We are reminded of the statement in Hebrews where it says "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." As the Lord gave Israel rest, He would also give us rest. He will give us rest from our enemies. He will give us rest from the ravages of Satan. This rest is known as the Millennial rest. It is a rest to the physical creation which has, for six thousand years, been travailing in pain. It is a rest to the nations of the world, which for six thousand years have been given over to war among themselves.
It is a rest for the Jews, who, during the centuries, have been driven from pillar to post, despised and rejected of men.
God grant that we may enter into that rest.
I. SACRED PARALLELISMS (2 Chronicles 15:2 )
1. "The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him." The wonderful promise of our Lord Jesus, which He made as He was about to leave the earth, was "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." The Lord certainly promised in good faith and He will verify His pledge; however, the condition as suggested in our Scripture is that He is with us while, we be with Him. This seems to us to very plainly suggest that the Lord desires to be with us at all times, and yet His presence and blessing are dependent upon our being with Him.
Could we imagine, for one moment, that our Lord can be with us to own, to guide, and to bless us, if we are walking in the ways of the world? He may be with us in one sense to chasten us and to woo us back again into His favor. However, He cannot be with us in that intimate fellowship, that comradeship, that partnership, with which He is with us when we are walking in His will and way.
2. "If ye seek Him, He will be found of you." Somebody perhaps says that the Lord is out seeking the lost, and that He is also seeking those who wander from the fold. This is very true: however, He never truly finds us until we seek for Him. If there is a seeking Saviour, and a seeking sinner, each hunting for the other, it cannot be long until they get together, at any rate. The man who is lost in trespasses and sins can never expect to find the Lord until he asks, and seeks, and knocks. Is it not written "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near"? God would place upon man the responsibility of seeking.
3. "if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you." Can God manifest Himself unto one who is a disobedient and gainsaying son? What else can a just God do, but forsake the one who leaves Him? The prodigal son in the far country had forsaken his father, and, although his father loved him, he could not follow him in any deeper sense of the word, and dwell with him in his evil way.
II. WITHOUT GOD AND WITHOUT PEACE (2 Chronicles 15:3-5 )
1. 2 Chronicles 15:3 says, "Now for a long season Israel hath been without the True God." The Children of Israel had gone away from God and had worshiped Baalim.
In the Book of Ephesians we read, "At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." These words were spoken about the Gentile world when they went after false gods. Now Israel had left their own God. The verse tells us further that they were without a teaching priest, and without the Law. Could anything be sadder than this?
2. 2 Chronicles 15:5 says, "In those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in." This is always the result of having no God. If I am without God, I am without peace. We have just learned of how the people had peace and rest when Asa, their king, did good and right in the eyes of the Lord; however, when they had left their God, they were driven from pillar to post, and suffered untold vexations because of the inhabitants of the country, which led them into captivity.
Think you that the young man or the young woman who leaves the Lord Jesus to enter into the world, will have peace in his heart or soul? This is impossible. Jesus Christ alone is the Prince of Peace, and He is our Peace.
An old Scotch woman was dying. Her pastor said, "Janet, have you made your peace with God?" She said, "No, but Christ made peace for me." It is then that the God of Peace comes to rule in our hearts. It is then that we have a peace that surpasses understanding; a peace which the world did not and could not give. When we are walking with God, and have the peace of God, then we have the God of Peace.
III. REBUILDING THE ALTAR (2 Chronicles 15:7-8 )
1. Asa was encouraged by the Prophet Oded. When Asa sought the Lord, the Lord sought him. When Asa was for the Lord, the Lord was for him. Thus it was that Oded encouraged Asa, saying, "Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded." "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him." There are so many of us "who run well for a season. Who hinders us?" The Apostle Paul said, "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
2. Asa renewed the altar of the Lord. It was all very well for the king to put away the false idols, but it was necessary for him to go a step further and to enthrone the Lord his God. Thus it was that he not only turned from the wrong, but he did the right.
If any of the young people who read this think that to turn away from their evil ways is enough, they must remember that unless they enthrone Christ in their hearts, in the place of the idols they tear down, they will utterly fail.
We read how Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees. We also read that he went into the land of Canaan. The one step should ever be only the prelude to the other. It is written, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Forget not that it is again written, "Keep yourselves from idols." Turning away from all such things, let us yield ourselves wholly unto God, and rebuild the altars which are fallen down. Let us adore the Lord Jesus Christ, and in all things give Him the preeminence.
IV. RALLYING TO A GOD-ENDUED LEADER (2 Chronicles 15:9-10 )
1. Asa gathered all the people together. He sent for Judah and Benjamin and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh and out of Simeon. These all came gladly when they saw that the Lord his God was with Asa. This was the right thing for them to do. Paul said, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." When we see a man who is endued with power from on high, a man who is separating himself from evil, and dedicating himself fully to God, let us rally to him.
We should never, indeed, seek to serve men, nor to follow them, only as they follow Christ. We are not to be led along by every man who may appear on the horizon of our lives. We are to cease from men whose breath is in their nostrils. However, when a man is following the Lord and turning from his evil way, we should hold up his hands and encourage him.
2. God has His chosen leaders. God called John the Baptist from among the masses and the multitudes followed Him. The Lord called twelve men, whom He called disciples. These men, because of their union with Christ, and their special calling, became leaders among the people. God called the Apostle Paul and sent him forth as a leader and a teacher. He also called Philip, and Stephen, and Apollos, and Barnabas, and Titus, and Timothy, and many others.
God still calls men. He maketh some to be apostles, some teachers, some pastors, some evangelists. He has Divinely appointed elders, stewards, and deacons, to whom He delegates authority and power in the churches. To all such men, called of God, we should give honor we should give due recognition "Honour to whom honour" is due.
So long as the leaders among us are subject to Christ, it is all right for us to recognize their temporary leadership. However, we should never become followers of men to the exclusion of being followers of Christ.
V. BRINGING IN THEIR TITHES AND OFFERINGS (2 Chronicles 15:11 )
"And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep."
1. They brought in their offerings. This was customary in Israel. The time came, however, according to Malachi, when the people brought unto the Lord the blind, the lame, and the halt. They gave to the Lord the worthless and the diseased; for this the Lord God gave them a just rebuke.
He said, "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master": but "you * * despise My Name." He told them that they offered polluted bread upon His altar. He said, "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?" Thus it was that God sent a curse upon Israel.
When we think of offering unto the Lord our gifts, our minds go to the churches of Macedonia. It is written of them: "How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." They first gave themselves unto God, and then they brought their gifts to Him. This church became a witness and an ensample to other churches everywhere.
2. They gave their offerings unto the Lord. We must recognize in all our gifts that they are given to our God. "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord." When we give to God we give to the greatest Giver there is, for He "giveth us richly all things to enjoy." Let us, therefore, give "not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
It is written, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over." It is true, and cannot be denied, that "he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." If we give to God, "God is able to make all grace abound toward you." The more we give, the more we receive.
VI. COVENANTING WITH GOD (2 Chronicles 15:12-15 )
1. They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God.
This was a new step with them who for many years had wandered away from God. Now, however, they turned toward Him with all their heart and all their soul. According to 2 Chronicles 15:13 they went so far as to say, "Whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death." In this decision they knew no difference and showed no partiality toward the small or the great, toward man or woman.
Have we entered into a covenant with our Lord? Have we told Him that we are His, and that all we have is His?
2. They sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with the trumpet and with the cornet. The people had no desire to leave any loopholes. They made their Lord the Lord of all. They vowed that they would serve Him not partly, but wholly. Their vow was made with joy and happiness. They were genuine and sincere. Let us measure our consecration with theirs. Have we come to Him and made our oath of utter allegiance? Have we been ready to say, "I am Thine, and all I have is Thine"? If we have not done this thing, then we have been robbing God.
3. They gave not only their money and goods, but they gave themselves. This is exactly what the churches of Macedonia did. The truth is that God would not be satisfied with us if He did not possess our hearts. The greatest giving we can do is to present ourselves a living sacrifice. This is our rational and reasonable service.
So all Judah rejoiced. They sought the Lord, and they were found of Him. They entered onto a higher ground, and into a new sphere of service. Any gift, whether it be of goods, money, or ourselves, that is not given with joy and rejoicing, is an unworthy gift. Back of our gifts God looks to see the Spirit in which the gift is made. He wants to see a heart abounding with love and joy.
VII. FAITHFUL TO GOD AT ALL COSTS (2 Chronicles 15:16-18 )
1. Putting God above mother. 2 Chronicles 15:16 tells us concerning Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, "He removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove." This must have been hard to do. The ties that bound Asa to his mother were just as strong as the ties that bind us to our mothers. In the action of his mother, Asa saw a heart that was not right with God. She was worshiping a god that saw not, neither knew, nor understood.
2. Cutting down a mother's idol. Asa went so far as to cut down the idol of his mother, and he stamped it, and burned it. It always costs to go through with God. Somewhere, perhaps in the very home itself, we will find that our consecration is a step toward sacrifice and the sacrifice of that which may be dear to our souls.
3. Asa's heart was perfect toward the Lord all his days. He never rescinded his decree. He brought into the House of God the things that His father had dedicated; thing's of silver and gold and vessels, all were acclaimed of the Lord.
4. There was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa. Thus it was that God watched over His servant and protected His people. Is it not true that it pays to serve Jesus every day? In the world we may have tribulation, and our fidelity to God may cost us even the giving up of a loved one, such as a mother; however, in spite of all the sufferings and persecutions, God will make up to us a hundredfold of blessing. He surely shows Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.
The biggest thing about King Asa was not his kingly regalia, but his love to God.
A touching incident occurred in connection with the arrival of Lord Chelmsford, the State Governor, at Brisbane. The swearing-in ceremony took place at Government House, his Excellency wearing the Windsor uniform. After the actual swearing-in part was over, his Excellency was returning thanks for the kindly welcome he had received, etc., and during a pause in his speech a. childish voice corning from the gallery said, "Why, it's daddy!" It was one of the small Chelmsfords, who until then had never seen her father in Windsor uniform. Relationship was more dear to the child's heart than regimentals. Is it not so in eternal matters? Beyond all the pomp of earth is the privilege through becoming children of God (John 1:12 ), of crying, "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15 ), for "like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalms 103:13 ).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Chronicles 15". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14