Bible · God

King Asa of Judah- The Early Years

I just wrapped up teaching about King Asa in my Sunday school class. I thought, “I have a blog just sitting there not doing anything. Why not write a post or three about him?” So that’s just what I did. I hope you enjoy it!

Read 2 Chronicles 14:2-16 and 1 Kings 15:9-15

King Asa is the great grandson of wise King Solomon and we’re about 20 years removed from Solomon’s death. The year is approximately 913-910 BC. We don’t know the age of Asa; no info is given to figure it out. (He reigned 41 years so it’s easy to image that perhaps he was in his 20s when he took over the monarchy.)

However old he was, King Asa was a good guy and wanted his whole country to follow God. During the last years of Solomon’s reign, he allowed false idols to be worshipped and even dabbled in idolatry himself. Ever since, God’s priests still worked in the temple and people still worshipped God if they chose, however, idolatry was still allowed and even practiced by the royal family. (Hence the shorter reigns of Asa’s father Abijah and grandfather Rehoboam.) It was basically a culture like ours, you worship who or what you want.

Thankfully King Asa was having none of that. He removed altars dedicated to idols, smashed sacred stones and cut down Asherah poles. He commanded all of Judah to worship God and follow his laws and commands. He wasn’t playing! And you know what happened? God blessed his kingdom with peace all around. Now Asa didn’t sit around twiddling his thumbs, he used this time of peace to build and fortify their towns. They built walls around towns and put up gates and towers. He was getting ready for whatever might come their way in the future. Verse seven says they “built and prospered”.

I equate this physical building to our spiritual building. When there is peace in our own lives, that’s when we need to be reading the Bible, learning, storing up our knowledge of God and His truths. When everything is going well is not the time to relax! When the enemy attacks (and we all know he will!), he wants to shake us so hard our faith cracks and falters, he wants us to doubt our Father. Satan can try but if we are already sure of who God is and know His promises, we will be strong and secure in our Protector.

In addition to fortifying his towns, King Asa also built up his army. He had 300,000 soldiers from Judah equipped with large shields and spears. These guys were used in close combat, at the front lines. He also had an additional 280,000 fighting men from Benjamin equipped with smaller shields and bows. These soldiers were used in longer range combat. They would stand near the rear of the action and rain down arrows on their opponent while the guys with spears advanced. “All of these were brave fighting men.”, says verse eight.

Again, I think of this in today’s world. Our battle is spiritual and our weapons look a little different but we’re fighting none the less. How do we fight? We see someone who needs help and get in the trenches with them! Cook and take a meal, sit and visit, babysit, drive them to a doctor’s appointment, cut their grass, change their oil. There are countless things you can do to help ease their battle. Maybe you physically can’t help with their “close combat” but you can still rain down arrows on their enemy by praying for them, calling and chatting, help monetarily if that’s the need. God equips all of us differently so we can help Him meet the needs of His followers. It is imperative that if you are feeling led to do something for someone, DO IT! That is the Holy Spirit telling you what that person needs. Whether it be supper to a family because that mom is bone tired, or a call to a shut-in that comes when they are feeling so lonely. Use your weapon and just do it!

For ten years Asa had peace all around him (except for minor squabbles at the Judah/Israel border, more on that later) and during that peace time he’s been busy fortifying his cities and getting his troops ready for whomever comes his way.

Enter whomever.

Zerah the Cushite came from Cush, which is thought to be the modern-day Ethiopia/Sudan area of Africa. Zerah came to Judah with a HUGE army. My Bible footnotes has it translated as a thousand thousands which equals one million troops. Zerah and his army came as far as the town of Mareshah.  Asa rounded up his 580,000 troops and went to meet him. Everyone took up their battle positions and waited for the battle to begin. I can only imagine what went thru Asa’s mind as he realized just how outnumbered they were. Instead of freaking out, he offered up the most beautiful prayer- “Lord, there is no one like You to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You.”

That last line- “do not let man prevail against You”– why didn’t Asa say prevail against us? Since he took over the kingdom, he’s been trying to rid Judah of the idols and pagan stuff that was running rampant in Judah. He’s proclaiming to serve the only true living God. Asa knew it wouldn’t look good for God’s case if they got their fannies handed to them.

As with our faithful God, He showed up and showed out!

Verse 12 says the Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. By the way this is worded, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Judean army didn’t even have to draw a single weapon! How awesome is that?!?! Asa called upon God and his enemy literally landed at his feet! (Sorry for all the !!!, this story gets me excited!) And y’all, we have that very same power that Asa had. All we have to do is call upon that same God, who is very much alive and present in our right now. He will guide us, sustain us, and help us overcome the enemy we are facing. All we have to do is ask. Sometimes asking is the last thing on my mind. I admit my default is to stew and worry, not ask and let it go. God wants better for us than to sit and be miserable. He’s so much more capable at handling everything. That’s a fact I have to constantly remind myself of.

Thankfully it was front and center on Asa’s mind to ask God for help. They pushed the Cushites back and pursued them as far as Gerar, which was in Philistine territory. While in Philistine territory, the Judean army plundered and destroyed villages all around Gerar. Don’t feel sorry for those villages. Remember, the Philistines did not worship God and wanted to destroy Israel. They were God’s enemy. On their way back home, the Judean army took all the valuables off the bodies of the dead Cushite soldiers. Eww, I know, but a very common practice back then. We’ll see in chapter 15 all the gold and silver recovered will be dedicated to the Lord and brought into the temple’s treasury.

 

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