The Rise and Fall of Asa: 5 – A Wholehearted Life for the Giver

There is a difference between a skilled person using their skills well, being known for that skill but with a character that lacks and a person who may not have outstanding skills but commits their life to having an outstanding character.

The end of the life of Asa is tragic. Tragic because of the character he displayed for the vast majority of his life. This was an outstanding character, one that impacted his country for good because it was not in pursuit of power, fame or riches. It was not desperate for acclaim or to boast in a lofty position. It was not even fussed about security and maintaining a quiet life in the status quo.

The life and character of Asa leaves a challenge for any serious observer as to how they will spend life. Half-hearted meandering between different interests leads to nowhere of any substance or worth. Wholehearted devotion to the wrong cause in as much as it can be commended for commitment, would still be a life wasted.

There is a reason we are given life. Recognising it is a gift should lead us on a wholehearted quest to seek the Giver. When we find the Giver and understand how He wants us to make the most of this life that devotion should lead us to make radical decisions. Even in the face of overwhelming opposition, that connection with the Giver should lead us to trust Him. That connection should lead us to utilise all positive outcomes to reinforce our commitment to the Giver and learn to be givers ourselves leading others to the Giver as well as being givers themselves.

Asa leaves a strong legacy of a life committed to God. It is a precursor to a king who would spend His entire life committed to inviting people to a righteous rule founded on the Giver. It’s an indicator of the life that is available to us as we pursue something wholehearted rather than just a life given to using a skill well but with a lacking character.

Asa’s life is a good one to consider again as one that pursues the Giver wholeheartedly.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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The Rise and Fall of Asa: 4 – How It Went Wrong

Obedience and faithfulness is based on a humble attitude. Without it there is the danger of all of that being replaced by something far uglier.

Asa has a good reputation among the Kings of Judah. In a reign that lasted longer than that of any of his predecessors the large majority of it was spent humbly and obediently looking to follow what God wanted. If you read the account of his reign in the book of 1 Kings, you wouldn’t get the impression all that much went wrong with Asa. Chronicles on the whole tends to paint the Kings of Judah in a better light. They don’t do that with Asa though.

The indication of things going wrong is seen at an interesting crossroads at the end of 2 Chronicles 15 and beginning of chapter 16. At the end of 15, in the height of the national devotion to God, Asa puts all the treasures back in the temple. It’s a sign of keeping the treasures where they belong. At the beginning of chapter 16, however, evidently with a number of years having passed, Asa does something very ominous. He exchanges the treasures of God for political alliances with godless strangers.

It’s amazing how pride can express itself. In the tragic final years of the reign of Asa we see just how pride rears its ugly head. That decision to buy favour to prevent a threat is in complete contrast to his dependence on God when facing the vast Cushite threat. It’s the decision of someone who lets fear leads to self rather than beyond.

Pride then rises when his acts are challenged by God’s prophet. Where once before he was desirous to follow the instructions of the Lord, now he is so caught up with himself, he even imprisons the man of God. It is as if to say having governed in peace for so long, he doesn’t need the word of God anymore and to question him now, even if you’re God, is bang out of order.

The turn leads to the people being ill treated by the belligerent King. Like his great grandfather Solomon, pride leads him to neglect God and neglecting God leads to neglecting people. It’s a sour end compounded by even refusing God when he suffered sickness and preferring medicine rather than the great healer.

Reading this catalogue of the dreadful made me wonder why this happened to the man? Any answer would have a strong hint of the speculative, what is clear, however, is that the man lost his heart for God and in the same way he wholeheartedly devoted himself to God, he had allowed that heart to be lead to the pride of life and his accomplishments.

It’s a tragedy that we should learn from. It’s a tragedy that should remind us that we cannot afford to take obedience and humility for granted. It’s not something that we can assume will stay with us over time. There’s a real risk of getting complacent and allowing pride to set in. It may appear justifiable at first, but any turn from relying on God in humility and obedience can spell trouble before long.

It’s why God gives us people to help us stay humble – friend or foe, relationships and events should be taken to keep humble. To defeat pride and thus to ward off the tragedy of many of kings it is for us to learn these lessons. These episodes are here to warn us and teach us. We don’t have to succumb to prude. Our end need not be worse than our beginning.

It’s all a matter of staying humble and obedient.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Rise and Fall of Asa: 3 – What To Do When Things Go Well

When things are tough, it’s more than understandable that the pressure will either bring you down or challenge you to persevere more. What happens, however, when things turn massively in your favour? What if things really appear to be working out for you?

Asa made a very good start to his reign as far as his commitment to God was concerned. He made sure his foundation was about returning to the Lord and ensured the people were in on it.

The episode is then told of the people of Judah being under pressure from the vast Cushite army. Asa applies his reliance on God and sees the situation turn in his favour to such a degree that the opposition are routed by the Lord.

Think about it. The ultimate in turnarounds, a massive victory that establishes you as a force to be reckoned with. This is the greatest position of strength you could possibly consider. You’re on top of the world. Great things beckons and even the word of God through a prophet appears to bolster your position. What do you do?

Look at what Asa did. He built on a position of strength. He used that position to further drive the fundamental religious reforms in the country. It wasn’t about being complacent and resting on your laurels. It wasn’t about taking things easy and boasting in how good things were going.

From here, Asa goes as far as to depose his own grandmother from her regal position because of her idolatrous influence. That’s no easy act, because you can understand how influential she would have been for generations, but Asa saw that as something that had to be removed if the people were to make the most of this golden opportunity to truly reaffirm their commitment to the God who rescued them.

Such is the zeal of Asa that the people are caught up in it committing themselves to a covenant of their own to seek God wholeheartedly. What a state of affairs – what a way to make the most of a position of strength. Things have reached a peak for the people because of their leader’s commitment to God. It’s a powerful lesson to learn of how to reaffirm the foundation for success is the foundation of faithfulness that helped you in challenging times.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Rise and Fall of Asa: 2 – A Rise Based on Faith and Obedience

The world we grow up in is the result of decisions made by people before us.

Those decisions influence behaviours that set up patterns of existence. In time these become so embedded in society that they become norms. One generation exercises it, the next generation continues it and the following generation takes it for granted.

The people of Israel knew their history very well. They were slaves in Egypt, but God rescued them and established them in their own land with a specific call to be a covenant people. The deal was simple. As long as they remained true to their Saviour, He would be with them and for them. When they chose someone other than Him, they left themselves open to being put in a whole lot of trouble.

By the time Asa takes the throne, the Kingdom of Judah had been through three kings who lead the people of God away from with idolatry. Despite occasional references to the Lord, they became a people who over the generations were more than used to worshipping a variety of idols.

Asa’s stance on taking the throne is amazingly bold. The call to return to God is not insignificant. He is telling a people culturally entrenched in serving many gods, to ditch that which will lead to their ruin. He is actively commanding a return to the one true God. He could have made his time as king based on any number of policies – Kingdom advancement, treaties with other countries via marriages, seeking economic and political stability through various means. Not for this King, though. He wants the primary policy of his reign to be about repentance and obedience to the one true God.

It was incredibly bold then. It would be incredibly bold to do that now. We don’t need to be in charge of a country. We already have a responsibility to ourselves and those in our sphere of influence. A responsibility to centre everything on living for, loving and obeying the one true God who has rescued us from a slavery even worse than that suffered by the people of Israel in Egypt.

That can sometimes run against the cultural norms that have been set up for generations. In the new life, we often struggle against pleas to return to the old life with its trappings and habits we used to enjoy. The call to repentance and obedience is just as radical and bold in our individual walk with God as the national call was for Asa.

It says much for Asa that despite his father and grandfather forsaking God, he wanted to make a difference – he wanted to be the difference. He wanted to return to God and he wanted those in his care to return with him.

That passion for the primacy of God in all things is at the heart of how Asa’s rise in influence and being a blessing to his nation.

That’s worth reflecting on.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Rise & Fall of Asa: 1 – Context

Listening to scripture being read has become one of my favourite things to do in life. There’s a dramatised version of the New International Version that I love listening to especially when it comes to texts with the necessary narrative.

So whilst listening, I came across 2 Chronicles. I gotta say, 1 and 2 Kings usually do it for me. I love these books. Chronicles … Well, they’re good, but I tend to listen to Kings more. On this occasion, however, I was listening to 2 Chronicles and was taken up with some of the characters mentioned.

One of those was the reign of Asa King of Judah. Son of Abijah, grandson of Rehoboam, the last monarch of the united tribes of Israel and great grandson of the wisest men in scripture, Solomon. This man had a very rich heritage.

Rich though it was, it was also fraught with a history of men who started well and then ended not so well at all. This makes the summary of the rule of Asa all the more intriguing.

Bearing in mind that these scriptures were put here for us to learn from and see them through the lens of our relationship with God through Jesus, I was stirred to consider this episode of a fascinating king a little closer. I hope to share some of my reflections on these in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, it’s worth reflecting on where you’re coming from in terms of your parents and key influences. Are there key life lessons to learn from their commitments, passionate areas, great successes and failings?

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 150 – Praise Him, Praise Him! 


In the relatively short period of time that I have breathed the breath of life on planet earth, I have come across a number of ways and means to highlight the worth of something. 

Without in anyway suggesting I am at the Grandmaster level of expressing myself in the English language, I do take pleasure and delight in using words to convey the benefits of my passions and interest. It will not take much for me to wax lyrical about the beauty of the game of football, TV programmes I have loved, meals I enjoyed consuming, blogs I enjoyed reading and so on. 

What I am currently developing an even greater appreciation for is the capacity to express my love for God. If there’s one thing that studying the book of Psalms has made profoundly clear is if I think I know how to praise Him, I have another think coming. Just when I think I get it, there’s more to get, just as there’s more to know about Him. For everything I know there’s a reason to praise and there are so many outlets on which that praise can be expressed. 

Praise Him on the keyboard, praise Him on the synthesiser, praise Him on the sitar, praise Him on the harmonica, praise Him in the dance, praise Him in the rap, praise Him in word, sound and deed.

Praise Him with every fibre of my being, lifelong praising said lifelong loving if an amazing God who has done great things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 149 – Call To Praise … And … 

Here’s a good Psalm to pay attention to carefully. 

Reasons to praise God? Sure, they are there and offer strong encouragement for the readers to remember how great God is and what He does for His people. It’s all going well and then … 

“Two-edged swords … execute vengeance … punishments … bind with fetters … judgment … ” One or two folks pick up words like that and get to thinking of bloodthirsty and violent religion again. Giving permission for folks to get happy putting people forcefully in their place. 

This misses the point of the Psalm. Misses it quite significantly. Honour on God’s people is for those who are keen to see put in action godly justice. Godly justice that deals with those who oppress others and give licence to iniquity and inequity subjecting others to misery. How this is done is always lead by God Himself. Indeed how this is practiced properly is always lead and shown by God. That’s why praise is the basis for activities of justice. 

Praise reminds us that we are subject to the ultimate authority who rules wisely and with fairness, especially to the meek and humble who put their trust in Him. That’s not a bloodthirsty solution, that’s a peacemaking practice in line with the Word of God. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden