Intro. When Asa first became the king over Judah, he immediately instituted spiritual reforms. He rid the land of the idols and places where the people had been worshipping false gods. As he sought to turn the people back to God, God blessed him. The nation was then faced with a serious problem, a huge million-man army from Ethiopia with three hundred chariots invaded the land and Asa sought the help of the Lord through prayer. God heard his prayer and they defeated the huge army, and took much spoil. As he was coming back from the victory, the prophet came out to meet him with a word from the Lord. "The Lord is with you if you will be with Him and if you seek Him, He will be found of you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. Having just seen how that the Lord had given them victory over that great army, no one was about to forsake the Lord, in fact there was a renewed commitment to God, and a second cleansing of the land from all of the vestiges of false worship. Asa had a long and
prosperous reign over Judah.
I. THE TYPICAL STORY, SO TYPICAL THAT YOU COULD WRITE THE SCRIPT.
A. When he sought the Lord completely, God honored him and prospered him; he became wealthy.
B. In His prosperity he forsook the Lord and began to rely on his own wealth and power.
C. The King of Israel who was probably jealous of the wealth that he had amassed, decided to invade the land of Judah.
1. He began to build a fortified city of Ramah, just north of Jerusalem, so as to cut off supplies from Jerusalem.
2. He thus began his siege.
D. Asa took money out of the treasury and sent it to Ben Hadad the king of Syria to hire mercenaries to attack Israel in the north.
1. As the Syrians began to invade Israel from the Golan Heights the king of Israel had to redeploy his troops to the north to protect against this invasion.
2. Asa sent his troops to dismantle the fortifications that were being built at Ramah, and they used the materials to strengthen the fortifications of several of his cities.
3. It seemed like a very clever strategy, at least it worked.
4. Asa was no doubt very proud of himself, and of his wealth, knowing that he could buy his way out of trouble.
II. THE REBUKE FROM THE PROPHET HANANI.
A. Because you trusted on the king of Syria, and not on the Lord, now the Syrians have escaped out of your hand.
B. He reminded him of the past when he had been invaded by the huge host of Ethiopians, how that at that time, because he trusted in the Lord the Lord delivered them into his hand.
C. He then uttered these remarkable words:
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.
1. This tells me first of all that God, wants to work.
2. For His own reasons, has chosen to work through men.
3. That God is looking for men and women, through which He can do His work.
4. It tells the kind of man that God is looking for a man whose heart is perfect toward Him. That Hebrew word (shaw lame) which is translated perfect in our text could also be translated completely. A man whose heart is completely toward Him.
D. This brings up an interesting point of how God gives.
1. With men you have three basic types of givers with variations in each.
2. Say we are wanting to build a new youth center because we have a real problem in our town because the kids have nothing to do but to just hang out and get into mischief.
3. We get the plans all drawn up, and have an option on the property. Now we need to go to the community for the financing, we will find that there are three types of givers.
a. The first is the man that must be sold on the project. You point out the problem of the juvenile delinquency. You tell him how he can benefit from his gift, all of the donors will be listed in the paper, we can even have a photographer out to take the picture of him handing over his check. His competitor down the street has just given a healthy check for the project, and he finally sees the value and writes out a check.
b. The second has to become aware of the problem and what you are doing to solve the problem and he readily writes out his check.
c. The third is aware of the problem and feels that something needs to be done to help these young people. He asks around to find out if anything is being done, and he discovers what you have planned, so he calls you up and asks you to come over and get a check.
4. Which one of these givers most closely resembles how God gives?
a. There are many as you hear them pray seem to feel that the first comes closest to how God gives, for their prayers are real sales pitches. First of all informing God of the problem and then showing God how He can benefit with all kinds of good publicity if He will just come through.
b. There are many that seem to think that the second type best represents the way God gives. So that prayer time is share time, informing God of all your needs. However, Jesus told us that our Father knows our needs before we ask Him.
c. According to our text, the third best represents how God gives. He has a work that He wants to do, He is seeking a person whose heart is in harmony with His that He might invest through that person His resources in order to get the work done that is on His heart to do.
d. The tragedy is that God can't always find that person. God said to the prophet Ezekiel:
The rulers are like wolves tearing the prey, they have a lust to enrich themselves and are willing to destroy others for their own gain.
The prophets have lied to them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD said that He had not spoken.
The people of the land have used oppression, they commit robbery, and have taken advantage of the poor and needy: they have oppressed the strangers.
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with my wrath: their own ways have I turned on them saith the Lord GOD.
e. In spite of all of their evil, God is so merciful he was reluctant to bring His judgment upon them and was looking for a man to intercede so that He could exercise His mercy in forgiveness. Having found none, justice must prevail and so they were destroyed.
f. I believe in these evil days, where the conditions parallel those described in the days of Ezekiel, that God is again seeking for men and women to build up the hedge, and to stand in the gap, to intercede in prayer so that we would not be destroyed. But there are so very few whose hearts are perfect toward Him. I fear for our country when God begins to bring His righteous judgment upon it.
III. THE UNGODLY RESPONSE OF KING ASA.
A. He did not like the rebuke of the prophet and ordered him to be put into prison.
B. He was probably pretty proud of himself. He used his wealth to deliver him from his enemies; it was a clever strategy and it worked.
C. Remember that some twenty-six years earlier the prophet had said to him that if he forsook the Lord, that the Lord would forsake him?
1. At the time, when he had just seen God deliver in such a miraculous way, in his mind I believe that he was thinking I would never forsake the Lord.
2. Pay attention when God warns you of something, for God never warns needlessly.
3. Here we are 26 years of prosperity and the amassing of wealth. Now when trouble threatens, he is relying on his riches to deliver him.
D. This is not the end of the story. We find that he develops a disease in his feet, and he seeks the aid of physicians and not the Lord, and he died of that foot disease. The inference is that had he sought the Lord that the Lord would have healed him. The psalmist said, "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put your confidence in man."
1. Lessons to be learned:
a. God wants to work.
b. He is looking for men though which He can accomplish His work.
c. He is looking for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him, or are in harmony with His heart.
d. When God gives you a warning, listen and never forget it.
e. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put your confidence in man.
f. We sing, "The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own."