A Good Restart

DSCN38002 Chronicles 14:1-15

Along with our thoughts on the psalms, we will also do a short series from 2 Chronicles on the reign of Asa, king of Judah. Asa was David’s great-great grandson; his reign began 60 years after David’s ended. He is listed as a good king of Judah. Asa’s reign divides neatly into three periods: his early years, a middle period of peace and progress, and the final six years of steep decline. Today, we will look at his good start as ruler of God’s people. And let us recall that all of this is written for our instruction. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 ESV; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11).

Asa’s reign began with repentance and return to the true worship of the Lord (14:1-5). It will help us to know the setting of these early years of Asa’s reign in Judah (14:1). He came to the throne after years of spiritual decline during the later years of Solomon and the reigns of Rehoboam and Abijah. As we consider this decline, it makes us ask, “How did the southern kingdom of Judah sink into such a condition?” Part of the answer lies in the passage of time; it is about 40 years after the midpoint of Solomon’s reign. A generation has passed since the building of the temple. Grace does not pass from parents to children. Godly parents may have spiritually apathetic children and godless grandchildren. Mostly, this spiritual condition sprang from the reintroduction of idolatry into Israel from Solomon’s many wives. The people were led astray from the Lord. Although their way of life was not good, God gave Judah a time of peace. Peace is a great blessing, and we ought to praise God for every day of peace we enjoy. God provided a young man with an opportunity to concentrate on the true worship of the Lord his God (cf. 14:6b). I make an appeal to our younger readers. Use your days of youth to serve the Lord. Everything you do by grace through faith when you are young can be a building block for greater service later. Hours of worship, prayer, Bible reading, and meditation provide resources that you can draw upon when you have less strength and are much busier.

Asa led his people in through repentant actions (14:2-5). A godly world and life view produces godly actions. When the Lord brings you to know the truth, he wants your way of worship to be transformed to agree with the Bible. We live in a day when people assume that worship style and forms are ruled by human pleasures and preferences. Yes, I know that one aspect of worship flows out from who we are, but the other aspect must be what the living God desires. A worship service is not to satisfy the felt needs of those present. “I like…” or “I don’t like…” are heard far too often in most churches. What does God like?

Asa had to remove false worship from his kingdom. First of all, this meant getting rid of the worship of false gods. The people had sunk deep into spiritual and sexual sin. The “sacred stones” were fertility gods, and Asherah was the supposed wife of El, the chief god. Worship of fertility gods involved sexual immorality. Asa also had to remove the incorrect worship of the living God. During the old covenant, the people were to bring all their offerings to the tabernacle or later the temple. But from the time of Eli, they had started to offer sacrifices on high places. This was contrary to what God had ordered; God was not pleased by this false worship. In the new covenant, all our worship must only be through the Lord Jesus Christ on the basis of his finished, once for all sacrifice. This is why we pray in Jesus’ name to the Father, and not to anyone else or on account of anyone’s merits but Christ’s; for example, wrongly assuming that fasting on some supposed holy day or during a holy season gives you a better position with God.

Asa had to reestablish a proper old covenant relationship with God. So he commanded them to seek the Lord (not other gods) and to obey God’s laws and commands (regulations about both the way of worship and the way of life). Consider Deuteronomy 4:29-31, 39-40.

Again, this requires us to live in God’s presence in Christ and his better covenant. Every part of our life and worship must be in Christ, with Christ, for Christ, and through Christ.

Grace and peace, David