2 Chronicles
Introduction 1-8 Asa King of Judah 9-15 Victory Over the Ethiopians
Introduction

To the history of Asa – his name means “healing” or “restoration” – are dedicated in the first book of Kings only sixteen verses (1Kgs 15:9-249So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam the king of Israel, Asa began to reign as king of Judah.10He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.11Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father.12He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his fathers had made.13He also removed Maacah his mother from [being] queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned [it] at the brook Kidron.14But the high places were not taken away; nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the LORD all his days.15He brought into the house of the LORD the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.16Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.17Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent [anyone] from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.18Then Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the treasuries of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying,19“[Let there be] a treaty between you and me, [as] between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you a present of silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”20So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah and all Chinneroth, besides all the land of Naphtali.21When Baasha heard [of it], he ceased fortifying Ramah and remained in Tirzah.22Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah—none was exempt—and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had built. And King Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.23Now the rest of all the acts of Asa and all his might and all that he did and the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.24And Asa slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.), while this second book of Chronicles dedicates three chapters to him.

From the long reign of Asa, the chronicler selects four events:
1. His first reformation with the resulting peace (2Chr 14:1-81So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days.2Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God,3for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the [sacred] pillars, cut down the Asherim,4and commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment.5He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him.6He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the LORD had given him rest.7For he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround [them] with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.8Now Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, bearing large shields and spears, and 280,000 from Benjamin, bearing shields and wielding bows; all of them were valiant warriors.);
2. his victory over the Cusjiet Zera (2Chr 14:9-159Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah.10So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.11Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”12So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.13Asa and the people who [were] with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder.14They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.15They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.);
3. his second reformation as a result of his victory (2Chr 15:1-191Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded,2and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.3For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.4But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him.5In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands.6Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress.7But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”8Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the LORD which was in front of the porch of the LORD.9He gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.10So they assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign.11They sacrificed to the LORD that day 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep from the spoil they had brought.12They entered into the covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and soul;13and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.14Moreover, they made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns.15All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the LORD gave them rest on every side.16He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the [position of] queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed [it] and burned [it] at the brook Kidron.17But the high places were not removed from Israel; nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.18He brought into the house of God the dedicated things of his father and his own dedicated things: silver and gold and utensils.19And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.);
4. his act of unfaithfulness and its consequences (2Chr 16:1-141In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent [anyone] from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.2Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying,3“[Let there be] a treaty between you and me, [as] between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”4So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim and all the store cities of Naphtali.5When Baasha heard [of it], he ceased fortifying Ramah and stopped his work.6Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had been building, and with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah.7At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand.8Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand.9For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”10Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.11Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.12In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.13So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign.14They buried him in his own tomb which he had cut out for himself in the city of David, and they laid him in the resting place which he had filled with spices of various kinds blended by the perfumers’ art; and they made a very great fire for him.).

We can use these four events to divide his history into, as it literally says when the end of his life is described, “the first and the last” (2Chr 16:1111Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.). His life has a first and a last part. The contrasts can be seen in 2 Chronicles 14-15 on the one hand and 2 Chronicles 16 on the other hand. His history makes clear that there is a blessing attached to the search for God, but also how foolish it is to seek help from people.


Asa King of Judah

1So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days. 2Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God, 3for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the [sacred] pillars, cut down the Asherim, 4and commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment. 5He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him. 6He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the LORD had given him rest. 7For he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround [them] with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. 8Now Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, bearing large shields and spears, and 280,000 from Benjamin, bearing shields and wielding bows; all of them were valiant warriors.

There is war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (2Chr 12:1515Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment? And [there were] wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.) and between Abijah and Jeroboam (2Chr 13:22He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.), but in the days of Asa – he reigns from 911-870 BC – there is ten years rest (verse 11So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David, and his son Asa became king in his place. The land was undisturbed for ten years during his days.). This is because he does what is good and right in the sight of the LORD (verse 22Asa did good and right in the sight of the LORD his God,). This rest has not been there since the tearing of the realm.

Asa with Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah is one of the eight kings of Judah who do what is right “in the sight of the LORD”. The “sight of the LORD” speak of the absolute attentiveness of the LORD; nothing is hidden from him. “His eyes … like a flame of fire” (Rev 1:1414His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.) see and see through everything. These eyes also note that of these eight kings, seven deviate from Him at a later age. Only from Jotham no deviation is mentioned (2Kgs 15:32-3832In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah became king.33He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name [was] Jerusha the daughter of Zadok.34He did what was right in the sight of the LORD; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done.35Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD.36Now the rest of the acts of Jotham and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?37In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.38And Jotham slept with his fathers, and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.). The general testimony, however, is that they have done what is right in His sight. When someone gets older, it doesn’t automatically mean that he becomes more spiritual. None of the kings of the ten tribes did what is good in the sight of the LORD, except Jehu in the beginning of his reign.

Asa starts his reign with a big cleaning (verse 33for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the [sacred] pillars, cut down the Asherim,). All idolatry goes out. He also commands Judah to seek God and to observe the law and the commandment (verse 44and commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment.). Because Asa removes everything that dishonors God, there is rest in the kingdom during his reign (verse 55He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. And the kingdom was undisturbed under him.). The seeking and doing of the Lord’s will gives peace. It is good to remove evil, but if seeking the Lord does not replace it, a vacuum will arise that will be filled by the evil one (cf. Mt 12:43-4543“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find [it].44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds [it] unoccupied, swept, and put in order.45Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”).

Also, observing “the law and the commandment” provides protection against an invasion by the enemy. If the believer feeds on the truth of God’s Word and lives up to it, it will make him strong, and his life will be to the glory of God. A time of rest is a time when the flesh is not active and the fruit of the Spirit becomes visible.

Asa makes good use of the time of rest by strengthening the cities (verse 66He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the LORD had given him rest.; cf. Acts 9:3131So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.). In a time of rest we should not be unemployed, but busy. Strengthening the defense (verse 77For he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround [them] with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.) can be applied to strengthening our spiritual life:
1. Walls” speak of separation from the world to God, which gives security.
2. “Towers” are lookouts and speak of being attentive to an attack by the enemy, so we can see him from afar.
3. “Gates” speak of allowing the good and closing for the wrong.
4. “Bars” ensure the safety of life, that nothing is allowed in it that is detrimental to the new life.
Asa does all this at the beginning of his reign.

The example of Asa is therefore especially applicable to the newly converted or the youth, for whom life with the Lord is still ahead of them. The seeking of the Lord gives rest. From that rest can be built a healthy spiritual life. It is important that young believers feed on God’s Word and read books that explain God’s Word and work confirmation in faith. Those who do so will be prosperous in the growth of their faith life.

The rest that Asa has, does not make him carefree. He also has a well-equipped army to repel any possible attack on the people. The men of Judah can fight with spears if they have to deal with an enemy nearby (verse 88Now Asa had an army of 300,000 from Judah, bearing large shields and spears, and 280,000 from Benjamin, bearing shields and wielding bows; all of them were valiant warriors.). The large shield can stop the arrows being fired at them from a distance. The men of Benjamin can shoot with the bow to hit an enemy from a distance. The small shields can repel the sword from the enemy when it is close to them. The men from Judah and Benjamin are all “valiant warriors”. They stand shoulder to shoulder and are complementary in their abilities.


Victory Over the Ethiopians

9Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah. 10So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” 12So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13Asa and the people who [were] with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder. 14They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. 15They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

In these verses we have a second history in the life of Asa. The LORD has given him rest. Everything is in peace. Then comes the trial. If Asa has everything in order, “the evil day” comes (Eph 6:13a13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.). Then it turns out that he stands firm because he has put on the armor. The fact that the enemy comes here to Asa (verse 99Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah.) is not the result of deviation. Then the enemy’s attack would be a disciplinary act of God to make the people return to Him through it. However, the people here have not deviated from the LORD. The LORD has another intention with this attack. He allows the enemy to go up against Judah to test the faith of the people.

The way in which Asa engages in the battle provides proof of his loyalty and consecration. When the enemy goes up against him, he goes out to meet him (verse 1010So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.). Asa is not afraid. The lack of fear is not because he relies on his trained and well-equipped army. The enemy’s attack leads him to prayer (verse 1111Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”). He is not blind to the superiority of the enemy. The enemy’s army is twice as big as his army. He sees himself facing a huge crowd and realizes that he lacks the strength to overcome this enemy. However, he knows the power of the LORD. He calls to Him and thereby places the LORD between himself and the enemy.

If God stands between us and our difficulties, the difficulties will not fade away, but we will measure them according to the power of God and not according to our own strength, or better: the lack thereof. If our cause and that of God are one, we are invincible. Asa, who sought God in his prosperity, approaches to Him with boldness in days of trial. He goes to Him as “His God” (verse 1111Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help [in the battle] between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”). This personal relationship with God is of the utmost importance in every circumstance in which we find ourselves.

The prayer of Asa is short, but rich in content. In it he expresses his unconditional confidence in God’s omnipotence (cf. 1Sam 14:66Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.”). He knows and pronounces that the LORD is the only One Who can help. Asa relies only on Him. He also knows that the LORD is there for everyone who recognizes his own powerlessness and therefore calls upon Him. Asa can also say that he did not end up in this situation because of willfulness. He knows that he is in the way of the LORD, and that in His Name he has come against the enemy, “this multitude”.

Therefore he boldly appeals to God, that He proves Himself strongly to these mortals. He makes it a matter between the LORD, the Almighty God of His people, and man. What will man be able to do against that almighty God? There is a great faith and also a great knowledge of God in what Asa says about God and in the way he speaks to Him.

His prayer is heard. The LORD stands up for Asa and Judah. He strikes the Ethiopians in such a way that they flee (verse 1212So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.). Asa and the people pursue them and kill many. As a result, there is no power left for the enemy to resume battle. God gives a great victory. The army of Israel is the army of the LORD, “His army” (verse 1313Asa and the people who [were] with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder.). The cities that are overwhelmed are aware that the judgment comes over them because of the LORD, the God of Israel (verse 1414They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.; cf. Exo 23:2727I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn [their] backs to you.; Deu 11:2525No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you.; Jos 2:99and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.; Rev 6:1616and they *said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;). After the victory the booty is taken to Jerusalem, God’s center (verse 1515They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.).


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