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.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden