Asa: The King with Bad Feet

2 Chronicles 14:1-15; 15; 16:1-9

When it comes to judging the overall value of a man’s life, which is more important--the way he begins or the way he ends? If you say, “The way he begins,” what about the fellow who starts well but really bombs out before it’s over (like King Saul or some American televangelists)? And if you say “The way he ends,” what about the fellow who deliberately wastes his life and then comes to the Lord in the last years or months or weeks or days of his life?
Asa was King of Judah from 910 to 870 B.C. The third king after the nation split in two after the great Solomon’s death, he was the first good king of that era (he’s even mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus; see Matthew 1:7-8). 1 Kings 15:4 contains this delightful note: “Nevertheless the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him.” We can summarize his life in this series of statements. He . . .
Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,
Followed in the path of David,
Removed idolatry from the land,
Made a treaty with Syria to remove the threat from Israel,
Did not seek the Lord when his feet became diseased,
Died and was buried with his fathers.
Overall, a very positive record. Not perfect but very good.

I. Asa’s Five Great Tests

Test # 1: Idolatry 2 Chronicles 14:2-8

PASSED. He cleaned house good and proper. He tore down all the idols, led in a revival of religion, fortified the land, built up the army, and gave all the credit to God. Here is a great beginning. How important it is in life to get your convictions settled, to make your life count early on, to influence others for good while you are young. Asa got in the habit of doing good no matter what the cost.

Test 2: Invasion from the South 2 Chronicles 14:9-15

PASSED. On the surface, he doesn’t stand a chance. Either he is full of folly or full of faith. Look at his great prayer. It is a classic. He refers 10 X to God, only 3 to the people! Asa trusted God for the seemingly impossible and it happened. Asa was poor in spirit. This kind of faith always defeats the Ethiopians.

Test # 3: Reformation and Revival 2 Chronicles 15

PASSED. This one was not so hard. All Asa had to do was keep on keeping on. But how hard that seems sometimes. We go through a serious period of testing with much prayer and sweat. Finally, victory comes and we relax. But Asa learned this lesson well. Victory is maintained the same way it is won—by continuing vigilance. If fellowship, Bible Study, prayer and witnessing have brought you great blessing, don’t stop now. Keep it up. Does it get easier? Not necessarily. For Asa it involved removing a beloved family member, upsetting the entire land, and getting serious about sin. But though it is difficult to maintain God’s blessing on your life, it can be done. The secret? Asa’s heart was “blameless,” not perfect, but wholly open to the Lord.

Test # 4 Invasion from the North 2 Chronicles 16:1-10

FAILED. On this occasion Asa took the quick and easy solution, and it worked out--for a time! But trusting in God rather in a military alliance would have done much more for him. Disobedience works, but only for a while! Asa made his choice based on the circumstances and failed to trust the Lord. God wants to fight our battles for us. We can either run to Syria or trust in the God who made the Syrians (and us). Which will it be? Asa’s alliance with Syria was an act of spiritual compromise, a terrible step away from the Lord. He “relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD [his] God.” When we make decisions based on external circumstances rather than on the Word of God, when we walk by sight rather than by faith, trouble is just around the corner.
Somehow he forgot the great lesson he had already learned. God is in the defeating business. Asa made a foolish choice. He judged this time by the circumstances and failed to trust God. What is God looking for? 16:9 says he is looking for people to fight for. Was Asa’s heart wholly God’s? Not then, it seems. How important this is. God wants to fight our battles for us. We can either run to Syria or trust in the God who made the Syrians. Which will it be?

Test # 5: Bad Feet 2 Chronicles 16:11-14

FAILED. Sore feet can be awfully painful. Ask anyone with a corn, or a pulled Achilles tendon or a broken toe or a sprained ankle or even with a sunburn on the top of the foot. If your feet hurt, you will soon hurt all over. Poor Asa, his feet got a disease and he went rushing out to the doctors. Correct? No, bad move. This is just like that battle with Syria. Nothing at all wrong with doctors. Just ask my brothers. But when you trust in the doctors instead of the Lord, look out, you may be healed but there’s trouble ahead. The question is this: Who will really get the credit for the healing in your life? Apparently, it never even occurred to Asa to seek the Lord. But God remembered the slight and put it in the book. This is the final test of a great king … and he failed. It seems inconsequential but it’s not really. God wants us to trust Him fully, to be wholly His in every area of life. It is nothing more to God to defeat the Syrians than to heal someone’s big toe. The point is: God wants us to trust Him in every area of life. The big and the little.

Two final notes:

1) 2 Chronicles 15:17—Asa had a blameless heart God looked at his heart and saw a devoted man who honestly meant to trust the Lord. Did he do it perfectly? Even this verse says no. He failed to be thorough in his crusade against sin and it stuck around to plague the Jews for generations to come. But the overall thrust is clear. If we’re giving him a grade, maybe he got a B+ or an A-, but he definitely passed the course.
2) 2 Chronicles 20:31-32 tells us about his son Jehoshaphat. His son, not surprisingly became just like his Dad and followed the Lord. You won’t be surprised that Jehoshaphat also was weak in making foreign alliances and not trusting God completely, but what direction was he walking? He walked as Asa his father had walked … doing right in the sight of the Lord. There’s nothing better that can be said about a man than that his children follow him and do right in the sight of the Lord. That’s the highest compliment of all.

II. Asa’s Life in Review

1. When God evaluates a person, he looks at the overall direction of his life.

We sometimes get obsessed with specific flaws or failures and can’t see the general tenor of our life and walk. Though Asa at times failed miserably, down deep he had a heart for God, and that is why he is remembered as one of Judah’s good kings.

2. As we grow older, our early success may cause us to become self-reliant instead of God-reliant.

Something like this happened in Asa’s life. It can happen to any of us if we grow spiritually complacent.

3. The smallest seeds of spiritual compromise may lead to a bitter harvest for us and for those we love.

Asa did a lot of things right, but he didn’t pull down all the high places. This would lead to further trouble in Judah in the years following his death. Today’s compromise may lead to tomorrow’s defeat and to a disaster the day after tomorrow.

4. A good beginning does not guarantee a good ending.

Asa started well by ridding Judah of most of the high places. But near the end of his life, he did not seek the Lord about his diseased feet. So despite all the good things he accomplished, he did not end on a triumphant note of faith in God.

5. God is still looking for a few men and women whose hearts are fully committed to him.

Here is a challenge for each of us today from Asa’s life: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). The challenge given to D. L. Moody still stands today--who knows what God can accomplish through a heart (and life) that is fully given to him. Much more than any of us can possibly imagine!

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Ray Pritchard

RAY PRITCHARD

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