Rehoboam’s son Abijam, or Abijah, left behind a sorry legacy. About all that is said of him is that “He reigned in Jerusalem three years. He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been” (I Kings 15:2a, 3, NLT).
But then comes Abijah’s son Asa. He “began to rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done” (I Kings 15:9-10a, 11).
But as it is with our lives today, Asa’s life wasn’t problem-free even though “Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life. There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel” (I Kings 15:14b, 16). Remember, Baasha is the guy who killed Jeroboam’s son Nadab, wiped out Jeroboam’s entire family and then took over the throne as king of Israel.
And Baasha was hardly Asa’s only problem. “Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots. Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, no one but You can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You alone. It is in Your Name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, You are our God; do not let mere men prevail against You!’ So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled” (II Chronicles 14:9a, 11-12).
Instead of stepping into the shoes and ways of his father, Asa chose to live differently. There's a word here for someone: don't let your past, be it your own or your family history, dictate your future. Asa chose to clean house. “He removed the foreign altars and the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His law and His commands. Asa also removed the pagan shrines, as well as the incense altars from every one of Judah’s towns. So Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace” (II Chronicles 14:3-5).
Asa took over as ruler of a people devoted to idolatry and “he commanded the people of Judah to seek the Lord… and to obey His law and His commands.” But notice what Asa calls Him: “the God of their ancestors.” How could he call Jehovah their God when they were worshiping everything but Him?
Yet Asa’s efforts to turn the people to the Lord were successful. Judah even “enjoyed a period of peace.”
What’s the takeaway from all this? God is the majority. Don’t worry about pleasing people; please God.
At one point in his ministry, English evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770) received a vicious letter accusing him of wrongdoing. This was his reply: “I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me. With love in Christ, George Whitefield.” George Whitefield neither let this letter sidetrack him nor prompt him to defend himself. He kept his focus on pleasing the Lord. We’d do well to do likewise.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates