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

Advertisements

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

When A Revelation Leads To A Reformation

For those of you looking for a piece on Martin Luther and the last book in the Bible, this is not that kind of article.

2 Chronicles 34 outlines an impressive chapter in the life of the nation of Judah. The new king Josiah lives up to the standard of David, one of the few kings to live up to it. It started well at an early age and stage after stage he continued to pursue God wholeheartedly.

One of the most impressive aspects of his reign was what happened when the book was revealed to him. The book read and the findings lead to him renewing an even greater zeal of national reformation to bring God’s people back to proper wholehearted devotion to God as He instructed.

While I don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility of a national fervour for the things of God, something of great importance for the church of the Living God is to realise from time to time, how we need to have the Word revealed to us again to make the necessary changes. Oh for the heart like Josiah to get rid of all the competing gods so as to establish the worship of the one true God as supreme over all.

2 Chronicles 34 – It’s a chapter worth considering …

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

A Brief Word On A Big Book 

There is no Psalm 151.

Unlike the continuation of the book of Acts where the good news is still being shared around the globe, there isn’t the same thing with the collection of Psalms. The collection ends at 150. That’s not to say there are no other great works written and included in this collection. There’s no room for more either. That collection is sound as a set. 

It has been an incredible journey through the collection over the previous 150 days. I know I haven’t done justice to some of them in blogging about them. With others, I like to think I left a decent reflection on what I read and what read me. Overall, I have loved this journey and my appreciation for the collection has gone up considerably. The amount of Psalms I just plain never read and were powerful highlighted just how wonderful this experience has been. It’s worth appreciating all that God has laid out for us in the collection. 

Thank you for following me on the journey. I trust your love for the book has likewise increased. Special thanks to Authrine, Rae, Gyaps, and so many others for the likes and words of encouragement.

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