(1 Kings 15:9-24)
Many of the most interesting Bible lessons are learned from
character studies. Some people think that reading about the kings of the
Old Testament is very boring, but the fact is that there are some very
interesting and important stories in this portion of the scripture. Most
Bible students know that following the united kingdom of Israel, during
which Saul, David, and Solomon reigned, the kingdom divided with the
northern ten tribes becoming the nation of Israel under Jeroboam and the
southern two tribes becoming the kingdom of Judah under Solomon's son
Rehoboam. Some of the kings of these two Hebrew kingdoms were very good,
such as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Others were very bad, such as
Ahab, Ahaz, and Manasseh. Most of them were a mixture of good and bad,
but all are recorded with a purpose in that which was "written
before...for our learning" (Romans 15:4). In Judah, Rehoboam was
succeeded by his son Abijam, who was in turn followed by his son Asa. The
aim of this article is to examine the reign of Asa.

His Good Beginning
Notice Asa's good beginning in 1 Kings 15.9-15. "Asa did what was
right in the eyes of the LORD" (verse 11). This means that he followed
the way of the Lord, not his own way or that set by his two predecessors
who were said to have done evil in the sight of the Lord. The way of man,
which often seems right to many, will not lead us to please God but will
result in death and destruction (Proverbs 14:12, Jeremiah 10:23). There
are not many ways to please God but only the way that is described as
"strait" and "narrow" (Matthew 7:13-14).
As a result of this attitude, he destroyed idolatry and its various
manifestations. "And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and
removed all the idols that his fathers had made" (verse 12). For
"perverted persons" the King James Version has "sodomites," referring to
homosexuals. Ritual acts of homosexuality were often associated with
pagan idolatry and this is one reason why they were condemned in the Old
Testament, along with idolatry in general (Exodus 20:1-5, Deuteronomy
23:17-18). Do we have idols today? Covetousness is a form of idolatry
(Colossians 3:5). And the homosexual rights movement has certainly made
an idol out of promoting diversity and tolerance for their ungodly
lifestyle (Romans 1:26-27). So we must keep ourselves from any idol that
would stand between us and God (1 John 5:21). But beyond this, we see
that to do that which is right in the sight of the Lord means opposing
all evil and sinful practices (Ephesians 5:11, 2 John 9-11).
In addition, Asa did not let family ties keep him from doing right.
"Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because
she had made an obscene image of Asherah" (verse 13). His was not just a
religion of convenience inherited from forefathers but of conviction in
which he did not allow physical relationships to become more important
than serving God. Today, people often refuse to obey the gospel because
of devotion to a departed parent who never was baptized. Or they continue
to attend a church involved in false doctrine or error because it was
where their dear grandparents went. Jesus said, "He who loves father or
mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37). And Asa restored right
worship. "He also brought into the house of the LORD the things which his
father had dedicated" (verse 15). Under the Mosaic covenant, the house of
God was the temple in Jerusalem.
Today, we know that God does not dwell in temples made with hands
(Acts 17:24). Under the new covenant of Christ, God's house is the
church, a spiritual people rather than a physical building (1 Corinthians
3:16, 1 Timothy 3:15). As a part of God's church, we need to make sure
that we are worshipping right, according to the teachings of Christ (John
4:24). Because of these fine attributes, Asa started his reign well.
His Mistakes
However, we find that Asa made some very serious mistakes in 1 Kings
15:16-22. What happened? There was war between Asa and Baasha, who was
fortifying Ramah to embargo Judah. So in an attempt to protect his
kingdom he "took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries
of the house of the LORD and...sent them to Ben-Hadad the son of
Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus,
saying, 'Let there be a treaty between you and me..." (verses 18-19). Asa
trusted in political alliances for defense rather than in God. We must
never rely upon political methods in our fight for the faith because "the
weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Claiming
to defend the truth, some resort to character assassination, smear
campaigns, name-calling, and other dirty tactics which are of the world
rather than of Christ. Instead, we should use the only offensive weapon
that God gave us, and that is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word
of God (Ephesians 6:17).
From a physical standpoint, the political alliance worked. "Now it
happened, when Baasha heard it, that he stopped building Ramah, and
remained in Tirzah" (verse 22). However, this would indicate that Asa
must have decided that the end justifies the means. A lot of folks today
seem to think the same thing. However, Paul plainly condemned the idea of
"let us do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8). While we are to wage a
good warfare which includes standing against all evil and error, we never
have a license to violate God's expressed will in the process, as this
will cause our good to be spoken of as evil (Romans 14:16).
Asa also made another mistake. According to the parallel account in
2 Chronicles 16:7-10, when God sent a seer named Hanani to rebuke Asa for
his political alliance, the king was angry and put the prophet in prison.
He did not like the message so he decided to get rid of the messenger.
When the Jewish leaders did like the truth that Stephen spoke, they
determined to get rid of the messenger by stoning him to death (Acts
7:51-60). Paul experienced the same attitude when some became his enemy
because he told them the truth (Galatians 5:16). There are people like
that today. When the preacher preaches the truth, such as on the subject
of divorce and remarriage, and it hits home because there are some in the
congregation who are involved in unscriptural marriages, often the result
is that the preacher gets fired. This is the same mistake that Asa made
and it results from a wrong attitude towards God and His word.

His End
Asa experienced a horrible fate. "...But in the time of his old age
he was diseased in his feet. So Asa rested with his fathers, and was
buried with his fathers in the City of David his father..." (verses
23-24). Why did he have such a terrible end? Again we go to 2 Chronicles
16:12 where we are told, "...Yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD
but the physicians." This does mean that it is wrong to go to physicians
but that in this case the physicians could not help one who had turned
away from the Lord. The Lord wants all of us to seek Him throughout our
lives because His ways are better than our ways (Isaiah 55:6-9).
Yet, this example shows the possibility of one who at one time was a
faithful child of God not continuing to seek the Lord and thus losing a
right relationship with God. In spite of what some in the religious world
teach, it is possible for a Christian to fall. Paul warns us against it
(1 Corinthians 10:12). He also cites examples of some in his day who did
just that (Galatians 5:1-4). Because of this possibility, it is so
important that we listen to the admonition of Hebrews 3:12-13, "Beware,
brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in
departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is
called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of
God may not strike sinners with physical illnesses as punishment
today as He apparently did Asa and others in Bible days (like Herod in
Acts 12:20-24). But He has a far worse punishment prepared for those who
will not seek Him. They will be "punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2
Thessalonians 1:7-9). Asa's end, as will be true of everyone who is
disobedient to God, was undesirable because of his sin. Why study about
Asa, or any other Old Testament character for that matter? Is this not
all just ancient history that does not concern us? The answer is, no, it
is part of the "all scripture" which is "given by inspiration of God" (2
Timothy 3:16-17). There are several important lessons that are
illustrated by Asa. We must always do what is right in the sight of God
(Matthew 7:21). We must trust in God and His will rather than the ways of
men (1 Corinthians 1:21). And we must seek the Lord all of our lives to
avoid an undesirable end (Revelation 2:10). Thus, such a study can be
profitable to everyone.

By Wayne S. Walker

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