"The Advice of Azariah"
BIBLE READING: 1 Kings 15. 1-24, 2 Chronicles 13-19
As we continue to read and study the nation of Israel, it doesn’t take very long before we see a tremendous downfall of the kingdom after the sins of Solomon. The kingdom has now been divided into two sections; the nation of Judah is now referred to as the Southern Kingdom and the nation of Israel now becomes known as the Northern kingdom. Judah is comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, while the remaining tribes make up the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Each kingdom has slipped back into idolatry and now has their own separate linage of Kings, and the remaining portions of I and II Kings and II Chronicles compile a brief history and description of these kings. As for the reading today, it is comprised of the accomplishments of one of Judah’s kings… Asa. Asa’s reign as king has a fantastic beginning. In I Kings 15.11, we read that he “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD…”. He begins by quickly removing the cult prostitutes, removing some of the nation’s idols and, in what must have been a difficult task, he removes his mother from her position of Queen mother and destroys her personal idols that she had built. As Asa’s positive God seeking momentum continues, God sends the prophet Azariah to remind him to not get caught up in his own accomplishments, but to continue seeking God first in all things (II Chronicles 15.1-7). Azariah tells Asa, “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” (II Chronicles 15.2). Asa’s positive momentum continues for 36 years, but then there is a change. The Scriptures do not give a reason why. It could have been a slight lapse in judgment, or maybe Asa had become over confident in his own abilities. Whatever the reason, in the last six years of his reign, he fails to seek the LORD when Baasha king of Israel creates a problem of Asa and the kingdom of Judah. Instead of seeking out God, Asa seeks out the help of Ben-hadad, king of Syria. He bribes Ben-hadad with the gold and silver from the House of LORD to help him. This lack of trusting in God caused a disconnect between Asa and the LORD. God sends Asa a prophet to reveal to him what he did; however, instead of changing his ways, Asa placed the prophet in stocks and placed him in prison. The last few years of his reign become very painful. Asa develops a disease on his feet, yet in his stubbornness he continues not seek the LORD’s help but rather trust in his own physicians. In the forty-first year of his regain, he dies and is buried in the city of David.
How is it that a man with so much promise and courage in the LORD, suddenly begins to trust more in self than God. Before we are so quick to judge, let’s take a moment to look in the mirror. How many times have we not sought the guidance of the LORD? How often do we think that we can handle our temptations on our own? How often do we grow rebellious when someone attempts to scold us or tell us our way is wrong? I think you get the picture! If we have seen anything throughout our study of Scriptures this year, we have learned that none of us are exempt from the pull of self. It doesn’t matter if you have a relationship with God, like David, or if you have the wisdom of Solomon; sin is no respecter of persons. We would be wise to heed the warning of Azariah ourselves, “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” (II Chronicles 15.2).