A Rare Breed.
“Asa did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight, as his ancestor David had done.” – 1 Kings 15:11 NLT
One of the saddest, yet most repeated phrases found in the Scriptures is “But he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of his father” (1 Kings 15:26 NLT). You see it over and over again in the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. It seems that virtually every king these two nations ever had were unfaithful and worse than the one before them. And only occasionally was the long line of losers broken by someone like King Asa of Israel. And the writer of 1 Kings makes it clear that this was God’s doing. “But for David’s sake, the LORD his God allowed his dynasty to continue, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem. For David had done what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight and had obeyed the LORD’s commands throughout his life” (1 Kings 15:4-5 NLT). It was because of the faithfulness of David that God would allow an occasional king to rise up who would call the people back to a right relationship with Yahweh. Asa was that kind of a king. He breaks the pattern of apostasy and begins to do what was right in the eyes of God. Asa institutes a series of reforms, including the removal of the male cult prostitutes who “assisted” the men of Judah in their worship of false gods. He also removed the idols set up by his predecessors and took the bold step of removing his own grandmother as queen because she had assisted in the moral decline of Judah by erecting what was probably a highly obscene image or statue for the worship of Asherah.
Asa was swimming against the tide. He was battling a pattern of unfaithfulness and moral apathy that made his reforms especially hard to enact. The people would not have easily or eagerly embraced his reforms. Removing their idols and the myriad replacements for God they had grown used to turning to would have been met with skepticism and resistance. He probably was not popular in a lot of places within Judah. I doubt he had the best of relationships with his grandmother Maacah either. And while his reforms did not result in the complete iradication of idolatry from Judah, “Asa remained faithful to the LORD throughout his life” (1 Kings 15:14 NLT). He provided a 40-year respite from the pattern of moral and spiritual decay that plagued both Israel and Judah. During Asa’s reign in Judah, Nadab would come to power in Israel and he “did what was evil in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins of idolatry that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (1 Kings 15:26 NLT). Nadab would be assassinated by Basha, who would take over the throne of Israel. “But he did what was evil in the LORD’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins of idolatry that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (1 Kings 15:34 NLT). The pattern continues. Good and evil, faithful and unfaithful, righteous and unrighteous. But because God is in control and He has a plan for the people of Israel, He occasionally raises up a man after his own heart – a man who is willing to stand up for God and against the tide of moral and spiritual decay taking place all around him. God is still raising up individuals like that today – even with the church. Men and women who are willing to swim upstream and do the difficult job of calling the people of God back to faithfulness to God. The reality is, we can be just as prone to the erection of God-replacements in our lives as the people of Judah and Israel were. We can end up “worshiping” all kinds of things, turning to them instead of God for our comfort, encouragement, happiness, provision, protection, etc. Instead of trusting God, we can end up trusting a long list of other things that we expect to deliver what only God can. Like Asa, we need to do the hard task of removing the idols from our own lives and encouraging those around us to do the same thing. It won’t be popular or pleasant. But the life of faithfulness seldom is. We are called to be salt and light – agents of influence and change in a dark and dying world. Will it be said of us, they did what was pleasing in the sight of God? I hope so.
Father, You are still raising up a faithful few who will stand in the gap and do what is right in Your eyes instead of their own. You are calling out a remnant of faithful followers who will do the right thing, even though it is the hard thing. May I be one of them. May I live my life in such a way that I challenge the status quo and model a life of faithfulness in the midst of the rampant unfaithfulness around me. May I be an Asa in my generation. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men