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KING ASA'S REFORM WORK
-- AUGUST 22. -- 2 CHRONICLES 15:1-15. --
KING SOLOMON'S GREAT-GRANDSON--ADVERSE INFLUENCE OF THE TEN-TRIBE KINGDOM -- KING ASA'S OVERTHROW OF
IDOLATRY -- EGYPTIAN INVASION REPULSED -- A GREAT NATIONAL REVIVAL -- IDOLS OF BRONZE, WOOD, STONE, PEN
AND INK -- THE GOD OF THE CREEDS -- NEED OF AN ASA TODAY -- NEED OF ANOTHER SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT
-- HELP COMING THROUGH THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM.
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." -- James 4:8.
ASA, king of Judah, was the great-grandson
of King Solomon. The spirit of worldliness
which occupied the latter part of Solomon's
reign, and which led to the split-off of the
ten tribes under Rehoboam his son, met with
some measure of check during King Asa's
reign. When the ten-tribe kingdom, called
Israel, revolted and went into idolatry, the
influence affected the kingdom of Judah to
some extent. It became partially idolatrous.
Images of Baal and groves for the practise of the
licentious orgies of his worship grew in numbers in
Judah, until King Asa's time. As a reformer, he set
about the overthrow of all the idolatrous worship and the
substitution of the true religion of the God of Israel,
inaugurated by Moses and the Law Covenant. We know
not the influence operating upon King Asa to take a
course so different from that of his father and his grandfather,
but perhaps he was learning lessons from the experiences
of his people.
His first endeavors to obliterate idolatry seem to have
been only partially effective. He next turned his attention
to the fortifying of his own country. Then came a great
war with the Egyptian invader, Zerah, with an immense
host, one million strong, with three hundred iron chariots.
They came upon the kingdom of Judah from the south,
and their numbers and reputed strength made them a
terror. They sought for spoils.
Under these circumstances the Lord's message to
King Asa, through Azariah the Prophet, was especially
welcome. The Prophet pointed out the adversities of the
ten tribes as being because they were without the true
God, without the Law, without the teaching priests. They
had gotten into an anarchous condition, with no peace to
anybody; and yet the Lord had helped even them, in
proportion as they at any time had turned to Him. God
had always shown His willingness to let those who so
desired be in harmony with Him, and to bless them.
King Asa had manifested such a disposition; and now
he had the encouraging message, "Be strong and let not
your hands be weak; for your work shall be rewarded."
This message encouraged the king to put away further
the idolatries and to renew the altar of the Lord's House.
As a consequence, he had the support of the most godly
people of his own land; and, furthermore, there came to
his support many from the ten-tribe kingdom who still
respected God and His promises. They were glad to get
away to a place where the great God was worshiped.
God blessed King Asa and his people in their repulse
of the invasion of Zerah and his hosts. The spirit of
reverence for God was greatly increased. The people
were in a religious mood, and a great national awakening
along religious lines followed. They entered into a
covenant with the Lord that all opposed to God should
be put to death. "And all Judah rejoiced at the oath:
for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought
Him with their whole desire; and He was found of
them: and the Lord gave them rest round about."
THE LESSON'S IMPORT TO US
We have a double interest in this lesson. First, it is
a scrap of ancient history which reveals to us God's care
over His people and His willingness to be found of them
when they sought Him, even though they and their forefathers
had for a time been disloyal. Second, applying the
lesson to our day, we see the people everywhere in idolatry
--not only the heathen, who worship before idols of
bronze and wood and stone, but also the more civilized,
who have set up creed idols. These latter, printed with
ink upon paper, describe the character of God in terms
equally repulsive with the idols of the heathen. The true
God is little known, the God of love, "the God of all
grace, the Father of all mercies," "from whom cometh
down every good and every perfect gift."
Our creed idols represent God as a great monster, a
demon. They picture God as sitting down before the
creation of the world and deliberately planning for the
creation of our race, with foreknowledge and intention
that nearly all should spend eternity in horrible torture at
the hands of fire-proof devils. They picture the Church
as the elect class, taken to Heaven, to look over the
battlements of Heaven and witness the horrible sufferings
of all the heathen and all the Jews, because they rejected
Christ, and the sufferings also of nearly all of Christian
lands, because they did not become saintly under the
preaching of the Gospel.
These horrible idols are no longer respected by the
more intelligent; but they are still recognized, bowed
down to and worshiped by the masses. The true God is
still proportionately rejected and unknown to the people.
They are indeed told that He is a God of love, at the
same time that they are told that He is roasting thousands
of millions, and knew about their present sufferings and
premeditated the same from before the foundation of the
world. All talk about His Justice and His Love is thus
discounted in advance; and the people, bound by ignorance
and superstition to these idols, which are centuries old,
are suffering from their ignorance.
We need today an Asa to arise and, encouraged by
the promises of God, to break in pieces the great creed
idols of Christendom and to liberate the people from
bondage to them. He should have the support of all the
[R5734 : page 222] God-fearing people, as King Asa had. In proportion as
the idols and their worship would cease, the repair of
the true altar of God would progress, and many would
rejoice to present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and
acceptable to God, in His service. (Romans 12:1,2.)
Not by physical force, nor by cruelty, nor by literal axes,
would these great creed idols be destroyed, but by the
presentation of the Word of the living God. In proportion
as the Bible comes to be rightly understood, the
follies of the creeds and their unscripturalness will more
and more be appreciated.
TRUE COVENANTERS, ALL OF US
The account of how the people of Judah and Benjamin,
the most religious people of that time, bound themselves
with an oath, or covenant, to God is very interesting. It
reminds us of a similar religious movement in Scotland,
in which some of God's people swore allegiance to Him
to the best of their knowledge, and signed the covenant
with their own blood.
The day has come for other covenanters to come forward
and to enter into a covenant with God that they will
be loyal to Him and to His Word, and that they will put
away the creed idols. We have greater knowledge today
[R5734 : page 223] than had the covenanters of Scotland; but Christian people
need to have their spirit of full consecration, full devotion
to God. We have much more knowledge than had
the people of Judah, but we need to have their spirit for
destroying the idols and entering into a covenant with
the Lord to be faithful to Him. Such a company of consecrated
ones, covenanters in the highest sense, enlightened
as we have the privilege of being enlightened today,
would be a mighty force, a mighty power.
Many look sympathetically at such a statement, yet
have not the courage of their convictions. They are timid,
fearful and--shall we say it?--hypocritical. Many forget
that, in joining any church, its creed is endorsed
publicly; and that a private denial of it does not annul
their obligations. Many forget the Master's words, "His
servants ye are to whom ye render service."
Many say, "We do not believe the creeds; but they
are popular, and we will support them." They do this
because to take any other position would be to come into
conflict with some of the wise and great and rich, who,
although they do not believe the creeds themselves, seem
interested in maintaining them as shackles upon the
masses of the people. Under these conditions we are
not to expect any general reform nor to think that those
faithful to the Lord will be approved before men. We
are, however, to expect that when Messiah's Kingdom
shall be fully established the faithful ones will be His
associates in the Kingdom, which will then take full control
and fully overthrow the entire system of error which
has bound the world of mankind with shackles of ignorance
and superstition lo, these many years, and which
has kept the people from God, in that they cannot love or
from the heart obey the One who is represented to them
as a merciless God and an all-powerful Adversary.