Summary: Our families sometimes leave us legacies of sin. God can help us stand up to this sin and overcome it.
Overcoming the sins of our families
In the brief story of Asa a string of family problems dominates. Yet Asa stands out as one of the kings who did what God wanted. He was not without problems of his own, but he was able to overcome his family’s influence and live a life pleasing to God anyway.
In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. Asa cut the pole down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated. (1 Kings 15:9-15 NIV)
Look at the family situation
Rehoboam strays from the path of wisdom and tries to be tough, splitting the kingdom – conflict with the Northern kingdom is the rule of his reign
Abijah, his son is sinful, followed in the footsteps of both his father and his mother, who was probably the daughter or grand daughter of Absolom, David’s son.
Abijah seems to have ruled along side his father who was usually away at war. When his father died, he continued the wars with Israel in the North.
It is in this environment that Asa is born and begins his reign. He is the great-great grandson of David and he has a bit of his ancestor in him. He determined to follow Godly practices in his public policy.
When he did this, he was bucking a powerful family system. Paganism had been established as an acceptable thing by his great-grandfather Solomon.
His grandmother, Maacah, had erected an Asherah pole. Asherah was a fertility goddess of the Canaanites, usually associated with Baal. Their shrines were often placed side by side. The Asherah shrine was a tall, thick pole made of a stripped tree trunk. Women often venerated Asherah, believing that she would help them have children.
The woman herself was powerful. In ancient times, the Queen Mother was incredibly influential. The position was reserved for the mother of the king. In these societies, the king had many wives, and it was somewhat uncertain which one would bear the son who would be the next king. Many times, no single wife would rise to the power of queen. When a son actually took the throne and overcame his rivals, that’s when the mother of the king became clear. She was also a direct link back to the former king and usually represented conservative policies.
The power of Maacah is evident. In spite of the fact that her son Abijah had 14 wives, including Asa’s mother, she held on to the position of Queen Mother, for two genrations. Asa had no wife strong enough to take the authority of queen. His own mother did not take the position. So his grandmother must have been an imposing person.
• A great-grandfather who was Solomon and had introduced paganism
• A grandfather who had divided the kingdom
• A father who maintained constant war with the neighbors
• A grandmother who was a powerful and persistent queen and a strong proponent of paganism
As Asa took the throne, he had incredible family inertia and tradition to overcome. He was not perfect. 2 Chronicles records some of his failures. But if he was to follow in the footsteps of David, he had an up-hill road to trudge.
Perhaps you can identify with Asa
Nobody gets a perfect family. All our histories have some rough spots.
In my family, we have a few powerful and very bad generational habits:
• Epidemic divorce
• Destructive substance abuse
• Widespread sexual promiscuity
There are Christians in our family, some very active and devoted. But these nearly genetic problems have plagued our family and continue to do so. How do we express appropriate love for our families and still forge ahead with the kind of life that God has called us to lead?
Asa was in a tight spot. The throne of Judah was not just a political office, it was a ministry and a calling. The responsibility to be the anointed of God among His Chosen People was an awesome responsibility. If he was to succeed, he had some difficult decisions to make. Some of those decisions involved breaks with his family’s traditions and behaviors.