Summary: It is to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that we must turn in a time of trouble, and not to our own ability or the abilities of others.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
1. THE EARLY CAREER OF ASA
The beginning of the reign of King Asa of Judah was marked by ten years of peace and quiet in the land, and Asa seeking to do what was good and right in keeping with the teaching of the LORD. Asa removed the altars and images of the false gods, and instructed his people to seek the LORD, and to obey His law, and to keep His commandments. Although it was a time of peace, Asa wisely took precautions against the eventuality of war.
When an Ethiopian army of a million men and three hundred chariots attacked Judah, Asa’s trust was not in his preparations, in his army or in his fortifications, but in the LORD his God. It is to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that we must turn in a time of trouble, and not to our own ability or the abilities of others.
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” (2 Chronicles 14:11).
In response to this prayer of faith, the LORD defeated the large Ethiopian army before Asa and Judah.
2. ASA’S REFORMS
The encouragement and warning which the prophet Azariah gave to King Asa of Judah is still relevant today: “The LORD is with you, while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2).
When we begin to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to be strong, not to give up. “Be strong and of good courage,” Moses exhorted the children of Israel collectively, and Joshua individually (Deuteronomy 31:6-7).
Shortly before his death, Joshua gathered the children of Israel and instructed them: “Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” When the Israelites seemed enthusiastic to follow the LORD, Joshua warned them: “If you forsake the LORD and serve other gods, He will turn and consume you, after He has done you good” (Joshua 24:15-20).
The teaching of Jesus concentrates on the positive advantages of seeking the LORD: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (what to eat, what to drink, what to wear) will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
Before the Israelites entered their land, the Canaanites had places of worship under every stone and tree, and the country folk of Israel must have been reluctant to abandon the connection between the so-called “gods” of the land, and their agricultural life. Israel had to sever that link, and to show the right way to worship the true and living God. After all, she alone had been singled out to worship the LORD, and from her the call to serve Him would go out to all the nations through the disciples of Jesus.
King Asa was encouraged by the message of Azariah, and began to reform the irregularities in Judah's relationship to God. Again we are told that King Asa had idols removed throughout the land, and he also had the altar of the LORD repaired. There was a high level of commitment to the service of the LORD, and there was peace throughout the land for another 25 years.
However, there is the echo of one recurring Old Testament refrain: “But the high places were not taken away out of Israel” (2 Chronicles 15:17).
Even in our best moments, we want to hold onto our pet sins. We might argue that our own sin is just a little one. Abraham’s nephew Lot was fleeing from the condemned cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but he set his eyes on the city of Zoar, arguing with the very angels of God, “is it not a little one?” (Genesis 19:20).
Sin is not a small matter though: it is a deadly one. The penalty of sin is separation from the LORD in this life, and condemnation to an eternity without Him in the life to come. We must seek the LORD, and destroy those things in our own hearts which keep us from the right worship of Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The farmers and shepherds of Israel had to learn that the LORD is not to be sought under stones or trees, in fields, on hills, or under hills, or in temples of man’s design. For us, too, there is a danger in building faith in the myths and fantasies inherent in other religions. The LORD is to be sought, as Jesus taught the Samaritan woman whom He met at Jacob’s well, “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).