Growing up with Abijam (also known as Abijah) as his father, how did Asa come to be such a godly king? Through the courage of one man named Azariah. After the Lord defeated the million-man Ethiopian army that had attacked Judah, “the Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, and he went out to meet King Asa as he was returning from the battle. ‘Listen to me, Asa!’ he shouted. ‘Listen, all you people of Judah and Benjamin! The Lord will stay with you as long as you stay with Him! Whenever you seek Him, you will find Him. But if you abandon Him, He will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the Law to instruct them. But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought Him out, they found Him.
During those dark times, it was not safe to travel. Problems troubled the people of every land. Nation fought against nation, and city against city, for God was troubling them with every kind of problem. But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.’
When Asa heard this message from Azariah the prophet, he took courage and removed all the detestable idols from the land of Judah and Benjamin and in the towns he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which stood in front of the entry room of the Lord’s Temple.
Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. For many from Israel had moved to Judah during Asa’s reign when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. The people gathered at Jerusalem in late spring, during the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.
On that day they sacrificed to the Lord 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep and goats from the plunder they had taken in the battle. Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death – whether young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found Him. And the Lord gave them rest from their enemies on every side” (II Chronicles 15:1-15), NLT).
Azariah wasn’t royalty, yet he courageously confronted the king of Judah, putting himself at great risk in the process. And because his courage came from the Lord, he was successful and his courage was contagious. When Asa heard the message the Lord sent him through Azariah, “he took courage.” He purged the land of idolatry and he and all the people “entered into a covenant to seek the Lord… with all their heart and soul.” Note that “heart and soul” is singular; the entire nation was as one in their repentance and reverence for Jehovah.
And because of this oneness of spirit, “They earnestly sought after God, and they found Him.” And the result? “The Lord gave them rest.”
“The inner peace given by God isn’t like the peace provided by the world… It isn’t peace that depends upon outward circumstances or inward rationalizations. Indeed, God’s peace often comes when events or reasons would provide just cause for worry. If you’ve never experienced this kind of peace, all of this talk can sound rather dreamy and unrealistic. But millions upon millions of Christians have known supernatural, inexplicable peace precisely in situations that would seem to demand fear and distress.” (Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates