Asa, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 11, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

While Jeroboam was still king of Israel, the nation of Judah crowned its third king – Rehoboam, then his son Abijah, then his son Asa. The crown continued to be handed down along family lines.

Asa was king of Judah for 41 years, and he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done” (1 Kings 15:11). David was actually his great-great-grandfather, but David’s Godly influence can be clearly seen in Asa’s reign. We read in 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 that “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.”

A few years later, after God granted him a victory in a battle with the Cushites (2 Chronicles 14:12-15), he instituted a second reform, which you can read about in 2 Chronicles 15. This reform came about because of that victory and also through a prophet known as Azariah son of Oded, who we know nothing about outside of this passage. During this reform, Asa brought the people of Judah back to focusing on God. “They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul” (2 Chronicles 15:12). This happened in the 15th year of Asa’s reign.

But, as time passed, the people fell into idolatry yet again. By the 35th year of his reign (20 years later), we see that “He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated” (1 Kings 15:12-15).

The first time, Asa removed everything that had to do with idol worship, including the high places. The second time, however, Asa left the high places intact. The high places were where there were idols from the Canaanite inhabitants when Israel first entered the promised land. Israel was commanded to destroy all of them in Numbers 33:52. The one true God would not be worshiped in the same places as the Canaanite idols. After King Solomon built the temple, the nation was brought together to worship God in one place, not in the more remote high places.

The presence or lack of high places can be seen as an indicator of the spirituality of God’s people. If the people are worshiping at the high places, they are practicing idolatry and not worshiping God as He desires. If the high places are torn down, then they are focusing on God and only God. While some kings tore down the high places, often the kings that followed them would allow the high places to be rebuilt.

While Asa was king, Jeroboam died, and the northern kingdom of Israel crowned a new king – Nadab. Nadab was assassinated within 2 years, and then Baasha became king. Asa of Judah and Baasha of Israel went to war. Baasha quickly took the city of Ramah in Judah, which cut off trade routes and communications between Judah and Israel, putting Baasha in control (1 Kings 15:16-17).

So what did Asa do? Based on his previously-reported actions of getting rid of idolatry and following God, you would think he would turn to God and ask for deliverance. But instead, Asa took all of the riches that were left in God’s temple and in his own accounts and basically used them as a bribe to get the Arameans to join forces and help Judah defeat Israel. Ben-Hadad of the Arameans had a treaty with Israel, and Asa was hoping that the bribe would get him to break that treaty and instead turn against Israel and help Judah (1 Kings 15:18-19). Asa’s bribe worked, and Ben Hadad and the Arameans helped Judah, and they regained control of Ramah and the important trade routes.

This narrative is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 16:1-6, but that account goes on beyond the one in 1 Kings. The seer (basically a prophet) Hanani scolds Asa for not trusting in God for this battle but instead relying on the king of Aram. This angers Asa, and he got so mad that he threw Hanani in prison for this and also oppressed some of the people (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).

A few years later, Asa became ill with a disease in his feet. Instead of seeking healing from God, he only turned to his physicians, who failed him, and Asa died less than 2 years later (2 Chronicles 16:12-13).

Asa definitely had some ups and downs during the course of his reign, but overall, he was one of the best kings of Judah. He got rid of all idol worship, trusted God in battle, and helped the people turn to the one true God, but unfortunately, that didn’t last. Then he got rid of most idol worship and did not trust God in battle. As his reign progressed, he appears to trust God less and less.

Asa’s reign is like when a person first becomes a believer in Jesus Christ. They seem to be on fire for God at first, doing just what He calls them to do and with a passion for Him. But as time goes on, they become less on fire for their faith as they realize some of the struggles they face in life because of following Jesus. Perhaps they still keep up some of their spiritual disciplines, but they start to get lazy with them. Eventually, they lose those healthy spiritual habits and are following and trusting God less and less.

We can learn from Asa’s reign that we need to continue always trusting God fully, no matter what comes our way. When Asa began relying on human wisdom more than on God, things still went okay for him for a little while. But the more he trusted in himself rather than on God, the worse things turned out for him.

It is also important for us to learn to listen to those God sends us to help correct us when we stray. Earlier in his reign, Asa listened to Azariah and brought the people back to worshiping God. Later, rather than listening to Hanani’s rebuke, Asa got mad at him, and both he and the kingdom of Judah suffered negative consequences in his life because of that.

Trust God in all things, and listen to the people God sends to help correct you when you stray from fully trusting God. That’s easier said than done of course, but pray for the Holy Spirit to empower you with the wisdom and discernment to continue living out your faith!

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