Asa: When a King Seeks God

Asa: When a King Seeks God

Forgotten Heroes of the Faith, part 5

 

Text: II Chronicles 14:2-12; 15:1-15; (II Chronicles 14-16); key verse: 15:2  (NASB)

 

Introduction:  God-given choices

¨      Throughout the Bible (esp. the OT), time and again God gives people choices (Adam & Eve, Cain, people of Noah’s day, Pharaoh, Israelites in Josh. 24:15—“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” etc.).

¨      Choices basically amounted to following God, obeying Him, having a relationship with Him, or not—not following, disobeying, rejecting a relationship.

¨      There were consequences for these choices—blessings for following, negative consequences for refusing. Vividly illustrated in the scene at Mt. Gerazim (blessings) and Mt. Ebal (curses) in Deut. 27-28; Josh. 8:30-35.

¨      This concept of consequences for our decisions and actions runs contrary to the worldview of modern society—people are taught that there aren’t consequences (or that they are avoidable).

o       In the West, we are experts at finding loopholes in laws, hiring a good lawyer who can get the guilty freed, or just flat-out trying to refuse the consequences (ex.- crazy stories of burglars who are injured and successfully sue their would-be victims; Clinton trying to get the Am. youth out of the punishment of caning in Singapore)

o       In the East, it takes the form of “saving face.” Lie, make up excuses, ignore problems, but do whatever it takes to avoid shame (ex.- creative excuses Koreans give to cover for other Koreans’ rude behavior)

¨      God spelled out clearly for Asa and the kingdom of Judah the choices and consequences in 2 Chron. 15:2— “Listen to me, Asa, and all of Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

 

Thesis: A study of the life of Asa demonstrates what happens when people seek—and stop seeking—God.

 

I. Who was Asa?

  1. Kingship & heritage

1.      Third king of Judah (divided kingdom)

2.      Reigned 911 – 870 BC (about 100 years after David)

3.      Family: father- Abijah, grandfather- Rehoboam, great-grandfather-Solomon, great-great-grandfather- David; son- Jehoshaphat

  1. Legacy

1.      Remembered as one of the “good kings” of Judah; known as a king of revival

2.      The Bible officially gives him the nod for following God (14:2-5)

3.      Enjoyed a long reign with an unusually long period of peace

 

Repeat Thesis: As we look at the choices Asa made and the consequences of those choices, we’ll see how important it is to seek God.

 

II.  How Asa sought God (14:2-11; 15:8-19)

  1. He sought God in times of peace

1.      Abolished idolatrous practices (vv. 3-5; 15:8)

a.       Cut down Asherim

b.      Removed altars & high places to false gods

c.       Deposed the queen mother for idolatry

2.      Commanded the nation to practice faith & obedience to God (v. 4)

3.      Recognized that peace came from God (vv. 6-7)

4.      Took advantage of peace-time to build and fortify the nation (vv. 6-8)

5.      Restored the Temple (15:8b, 18)

6.      Led the nation in a new covenant (15:10-15) (note—they covenanted that whoever didn’t seek God would be put to death! v. 13)

  1. He sought God in a time of war
    1. After 10 years of peace, Ethiopian army invaded

a.       Not modern Ethiopia, but Sudan

b.      Huge army—1 million to Asa’s ½ million

    1. Asa’s reaction—prayed (v. 11) à Declared his dependence on God

 

III.  The results of Asa seeking God (14:6,7 12-15; 15:1-19)

  1. Peace
  2. Spiritual blessing
  3. Deliverance from his enemy

 

IV. The results of Asa forsaking God (16) (the need to finish well)

  1. What happened (vv. 1-6)

1.      Baasha, king of Israel, invaded

2.      Asa bought an alliance with Ben-hadad of Aram (Syria)

3.      Asa & Ben-hadad turned back Baasha

  1. God’s response and Asa’s downfall (vv. 7-14)

1.      God chastised him for not trusting in Him

a.       God would’ve delivered Asa’s enemy as well as Ben-hadad, if Asa had relied on Him

b.      He lost the blessing of peace (v.9)

2.      Asa imprisoned God’s prophet (v. 10a)

3.      His reign went downhill—started oppressing his people (v. 10b)

4.      Contracted a foot disease; depended on physicians, not on God (v. 12)

5.      Resulted in his death

  1. The need to finish well

1.        “Professor Bobby Clinton [a graduate of the same seminary where I went] has done extensive studies of leaders in the Bible, and he’s come to the sobering conclusion that less than 30% finished well.  He defines “finished well” for the leaders he examined as walking closely with the Lord and being productive for Him at the end of their life.” (from Mission Trak, Nov. 2002)

2.      Saul, David, Solomon, Joash didn’t finish well

3.      Enoch, Caleb, Peter, & Paul did finish well

4.      The story of Chuck Templeton, Bron Clifford, & Billy Graham* (see below)

 

Conclusion

You have a choice to make—seek God or forsake Him. Do you recognize that all your blessings come from God? Does your relationship with God occupy a central place in your life? Do you recognize your dependence on Him? Are you committed to finishing well? God will do just what He promised—allow those who seek Him to find Him and forsake those who forsake Him. So what is your choice?

 

 

 

* The story of Chuck Templeton, Bron Clifford, & Billy Graham
It was in 1945 that Billy Graham seemingly came out of nowhere and began filling auditoriums across America, preaching to as many as thirty thousand per night. But in 1945 there were two other preachers that were packing auditoriums. Their names were Chuck Templeton and Bron Clifford. Both were accomplishing the same thing as Billy Graham and in even more.

One seminary president, after hearing Templeton preach to an audience of thousands, called him “the most gifted and talented young man in America today for preaching.” In 1946, the National Association of Evangelicals published an article on men who were “best used of God” in that organization’s five year existence. The article highlighted the ministry of Chuck Templeton. Billy Graham was not even mentioned.

Bron Clifford was a twenty-five year old fireball. In 1945, many believed Clifford was the most gifted preacher the church had seen in centuries. That same year, Clifford preached to a packed auditorium in Miami, Florida. People lined up ten deep outside the auditorium trying to get in. One wrote, “At the age of twenty-five young Clifford touched more lives, influenced more leaders, and set more attendance records than any other clergyman his age in American history. National leaders vied for his attention.”

Now we all know the name Billy Graham, but I doubt that many know the names Chuck Templeton and Bron Clifford. All three began their ministries in 1945 and all came out of the starting blocks like rockets. Why is it then that we are not familiar with the names Templeton and Clifford?

Just five years later, Templeton left the ministry to pursue a career as a radio and television commentator and newspaper columnist. Templeton had decided he was no longer a believer in Christ in the orthodox sense of the term. By 1950, he no longer believed in the validity of the claims of Jesus Christ.

By 1954, Clifford has lost his family, his ministry, his health, and then…his life. Alcohol and financial irresponsibility had done him in. He wound up leaving his wife and their two children. At just thirty-five years of age, this once great preacher died from cirrhosis of the liver in a run-down motel on the edge of Amarillo. Some pastors in Amarillo took up a collection among themselves in order to purchase a casket so his body could be shipped back East for burial in a cemetery for the poor.

Like Asa, Templeton and Clifford started well but did not finish well.

 

From “The Revival Kings #1 – Asa” by Howard McGlamery   http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=52919&ContributorID=9010

 

 

 

© 2003 by Jeffrey Westbrook

 

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