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2nd Chronicles 16:1-9

A "PERFECT" HEART IN THE EYES OF THE LORD!

A STUDY IN THE LIFE OF KING ASA OF JUDAH

 

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

"In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease. Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah. And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars." 2nd Chronicles 16:1-9

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

After the death of King Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel split into two entities.

Once twelve united Tribes, she now consisted of ten Tribes living in the north, still called Israel, and two Tribes living in the south, called Judah.

Thereafter, once this "division" had occurred, Bible historians usually dated one King, say Asa of Judah, by referencing him to the reign of his counterpart, the then current King of Israel.

Let me show you what I mean.

"In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." 2nd Chronicles 16:1

Asa, son of Abijah, reigned over Judah for forty-one years! 1st Kings 15:11 adds: "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father."

Asa, the name, according to many Bible experts, means "healer!"

On the other hand, Baasha, that name, means "wickedness." At least some text books say so. And here's his "report card," straight from the Lord: "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin." 1st Kings 15:34 tells us this. Surprisingly, Baasha was allowed to reign twenty-four years!

Oh, one more thing! Today's "historical" note needs to mention also: "And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days" So adds 1st King 15:32.

Civil war!

Brother fighting Brother!

And it is this on-going conflict that is referenced in our verse today, "In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." 2nd Chronicles 16:1

This verse records an event that happened five years before King Asa died, year thirty-six of forty-one.

To "come up against" a Nation, in Bible language, is to fight them! To be at war against them!

The verb "built" is "banah" and here likely indicates constructing the city in this sense, fortifying it for battle! Transforming it into a military outpost! The first time Ramah is mentioned in Scripture is back in Joshua 18:25, where the land allotments were being dispensed to the Twelve tribes respectively. Benjamin inherited Ramah. Ramah means "hill" in Hebrew.

Ramah was near Jerusalem, about five miles away, and was situated on the main road into and out of the Capital City.

In effect Baasha just blockaded Asa and his people!

It appears that both something political and spiritual was happening, and Baasha did not like it at all!

People from Baasha's Kingdom were returning to Judah by the droves! Here's why, people from Ephraim and Manasseh and Simeon, the Northern Kingdom, were moving back "home" in abundance, when they saw God was with King Asa, blessing what he did! See 2nd Chronicles 15:9. The Spirit of God was moving!

Back to our Text verse: "In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." 2nd Chronicles 16:1

Now no one could reach Jerusalem, at least from the north, from Baasha's Kingdom!

Look what we have here today!

Politics placed ahead of godliness!

These Jews of the north, when they moved back to Jerusalem and its environs, experienced revival! Read about this crowd, along with their Brethren of the south: "So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul." 2nd Chronicles 15:10-12

And the "government" of Baasha didn't like that at all!

They could not allow spirituality, love for Almighty God, to supercede the making of money!

To hurt the economy!

Or to change the demographics of their land!

Or alter the popular notions, the accepted ideas!

And that is the very battle that is raging in America today, folks!

Many do not like it when we Bible believers gain a following in the areas of creation ... versus evolution!

Or a little unborn baby's right to life as opposed to the culture of death's desire to "abort" him or her, murdering them in Mother's womb!

Liberals see "red" when the courts of the Land issue a rare Biblically based ruling!

No wonder the atheists and so-called progressives and free-thinkers and a-moralists want to "blockade" Christian thinking!

People, when they really "come to themselves" as did the Prodigal a long time ago, will return "home" to the Bible!

And the "Baashas" of this world can't stand that!

This "civil war," this culture battle, will rage until Jesus returns!

Then, and only then, will it be won!

Surely I don't have to tell you Who is the Victor?

"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

With so many of the Kings of Judah, their reigns do not end as well as they started.

King Asa is such a case.

Having done so many good things in his earlier years, purifying his Nation from much apostasy, he made several grave errors later in his administration.

For example, 2nd Chronicles 16:2 tells us: "Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying ...."

What is to us an adverb opens the Text for today, but to the Hebrews it's a conjunction. Either way we are driven back to verse one for some background. Wicked King Baasha of Israel had virtually declared war against Asa and his Nation, little Judah. Ten tribes versus two tribes!

The thought of such overwhelming odds apparently frightened King Asa, leading him into the mistake of verse two.

Yes, Asa the wise "healer," the definition of his very name, has become Asa the "salesman!" He is "renting" an ally to help in the coming fight with Baasha! Good political and military sense The Jerusalem Times would have called it! But it was a deadly decision spiritually!

In those days Kings had nearly absolute power ... even over the national treasuries it seems! And rightly so when the "treasures of the King's house" are involved. But NOT rightly so when it the "treasures of the House of the Lord" are concerned!

The noun "treasures" translates "otzsar" and means "garners" for holding grain or "storage" facilities for warehousing precious goods of all kinds, even including "cellars" and an "armoury" in the King James Version. The Temple Solomon built had such storage rooms attached, many of them!

King Asa raided God's wealth ... silver and gold deposits the Israelites had brought during worship ... and sent it to a wicked heathen King, Benhadad of Syria, for support in the coming civil war!

Earlier in his reign, under similar circumstances, King Asa wisely depended solely on the Lord! A Lord "mighty in battle" you might remember! See Psalm 24:8.

Second Chronicles 14:9-12 relates how Asa, relying just on the Lord, had defeated an Ethiopian army of a million soldiers!

But now, sadly, King Asa has grown fearful, and "buys" protection from afar, from a wicked source!

"Benhadad" means "son of the god Hadad," an idol of the heathen people surrounding Judah!

By committing this sin, misappropriating the Lord's funds, Asa perpetuated this form of godless robbery! Several Kings later again did this very thing, desecrating the House of the Lord! Ahaz, Jehoash and Hezekiah are examples of such "copy-cat" sinning.

What made Asa do such an unwise thing?

"The righteous are bold as a lion," says Solomon in Proverbs 28:1. Maybe by now King Asa is not living as close to the Lord as he once did! He certainly on this occasion has lost his bravery!

Maybe he forgot this verse too. "The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD." Proverbs 21:31

And King Asa had certainly drifted far from the words of an earlier Prophet, Azariah son of Oded, who once told the King: "The LORD is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you." 2nd Chronicles 15:2

Asa the King just may have had access to these verses also: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Sadly, here good King Asa made a terrible mistake.

Folks, let us, unlike Asa in today's Text, trust the Lord completely, fearing nothing the enemy can do!

After all, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Friend reading here today, do not be guilty of misappropriating God's money either!

By the way, did we all tithe last Sunday?

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

King Asa of Judah, like so many others, believed that money could buy anything!

Even friendship!

When Baasha, wicked King of Israel's Ten Tribes, prepared to war against Judah, Asa tried to hire some help in the coming battle!

Here's what the King proposed to the heathen Leader of Syria: "There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me." 2nd Chronicles 16:3

The noun "league" is spelled "beriyth" and is the same word as "covenant." KIng Asa, who knows better, desires to enter into a partnership with an ungodly Gentile named Benhadad. This would be a classic "unequal yoke!"

It is historically hard to pinpoint what league existed between Benhadad's Father and Asa's Father, King Abijah. I'm not sure that this confederacy is described in Scripture.

Anyway, the King of Syria, again his name is Benhadad, was already involved in some kind of treaty with Israel, the northern Kingdom!

"Have army ... will travel!"

A mercenary military!

Protection to the highest bidder!

This sounds like a "mob" scene, a page from the underworld's daily operations!

The silver and gold Asa sent to Benhadad was NOT his to send either! It belonged to God! It was surplus, unused gifts from God's people to Jehovah, their mighty Lord!

To "break" a covenant or league, using the verb "parar," means "to make void, to disannul, to dissolve or even to cause to cease."

To "depart," Asa's real goal for King Baasha, literally means "to go up!" It's "alah" and here demands that the forces of Baasha return northward to their own Land.

But what a confusing situation King Asa is creating here!

"There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me." 2nd Chronicles 16:3

He is asking disloyalty from King Benhadad! Break your current contract! Come help us instead!

He furthermore is stealing money from God's House for political and military purposes!

He indirectly is implicating the Syrian King, already wicked enough by far, in the theft!

And perhaps most important of all, King Asa is trusting someone other than the Lord for protection!

This whole process might be called "chain sinning!" It just can't be stopped! One wrong leads to another!

David fell into that pit with the Bathsheba affair!

Peter did too, warming his hands by an enemy's fire one night!

Not to mention Lot or Samson!

Folks, at the first prompting of the Holy Ghost, that gentle "tug" He often gives you, at the first "no" you hear ... drop whatever you've planned! It's wrong!

Stop it immediately, before the "snowball" effect of sin can get started!

King Asa had been a sterling example of faith once in his reign, during the early years!

Now he's caught in the web, a sinful web, one of his own making!

Where will it end?

Its resolution is one sad story!

The wages of sin still is death!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

Sold to the highest bidder!

King Benhadad of Syria could have easily said those words to anyone needing his services, his military services.

The Syrian army had no loyalty.

It would work, fight really, for whomever paid the highest amount, cash of course!

In 2nd Chronicles 16:3 Syria was in league with Israel. A sort of mutual defense treaty existed between them.

But by verse 4 that treaty had been broken and Syria was at war with Israel, her former ally!

And just what precipitated this drastic change?

Money!

King Asa of Judah, smaller sister nation to Israel, paid to enlist Benhadad's military services!

Why?

Because King Baasha, the wicked ruler of Israel, was preparing to attack little Judah!

Here's how the Chronicler records it. Judah's threat from the north: "In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." 2nd Chronicles 16:1

King Asa's sinful move, virtually stealing money from God's House: "Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying ...." 2nd Chronicles 16:2

Asa's proposal, to a heathen King mind you: "There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me." 2nd Chronicles 16:3

Then today's verse, what King Asa bought with God's money: "And Benhadad hearkened unto king Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelmaim, and all the store cities of Naphtali." 2nd Chronicles 16:4

There's just one problem with all this military posturing. Why could Asa not have trusted the Lord God Himself to protect him and his nation from the wicked Israelites?

He had so leaned on the Lord earlier in his reign. When another reprobate King attacked Jerusalem, Asa begged God for deliverance! Zerah the Ethiopian had a million soldiers too! And God gave the humble Asa a great victory, even against such overwhelming numbers!

How soon King Asa seems to have forgotten God's power!

How soon we forget too!

So, no longer trusting God alone, Asa watches as the Syrians, hired guns that they are, attack their former friends, the Israelites!

Verse 4 tells us that Behadad "hearkened" to Asa's offer, money apparently being on his mind. "Shama" just means "to hear." But usually it carries the notion of hearing and obeying also. That's certainly the case here.

The noun for "captains" is "sar" in Hebrew. However, once the word is translated "general" in Scripture. These men know how to fight.

Three of Israel's cities are mentioned, all up north! "Ijon" means a "ruin" in Hebrew and was only eight miles north of Dan, meaning "judged!" And "Abelmaim" meaning "a meadow of waters," was situated only four miles west of Dan! The place was probably not so pleasant after the attack!

The vicious Syrians then proceeded southward and took "all the store cities of Naphtali." The verb being used here for this military action is "to smite," in Hebrew "nakah." It often just means "to slay, to kill!" Five times it is "slaughter" in the King James Bible.

"Store" cities were apparently places where the King's treasures were kept in reserve, perhaps even including his military weaponry. "Naphtali" means "wrestling" and this Tribe's allotment was in the northern part of Israel, northwest of Galilee.

Benhadad's tactic was to draw Baasha away from his stronghold at Ramah, thus freeing Judah from oppression!

By the way, the plan worked! Using the standard of pragmatism only, this whole scheme of Asa's was a great success!

But, as we shall soon see, God is not pleased!

Today's lesson: just because something "works," does not mean God is in it!

Many Churches today are growing like wildfire, but the Lord is not the Author of such things as these Churches are using to draw their crowds!

Remember this too. King David won the military battle the night he committed adultery with Bathsheba! He just lost the spiritual battle!

THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP IN THE LIFE OF ANY MAN OR WOMAN OR FAMILY OR NATION IS ONE'S WALK WITH THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!

To violate that aspect of life, abiding in Christ Jesus, is to err everywhere else too!

Let me close with a New Testament verse that summarizes this whole article, Matthew 6:33. Jesus taught: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And "these things" include safety and protection!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 5:

Mission accomplished!

But it might have been a case of "victory at any cost!"

To put it another way, King Asa of Judah just might have sacrificed the permanent on the altar of the immediate!

Our verse simply says: "And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease." 2nd Chronicles 16:5

Civil war was about to erupt!

Wicked King Baasha of Israel was about to attack good King Asa of Judah, even though the two Nations were related!

Asa panicked!

He took silver and gold form the House of God and hired a gun-slinging heathen King named Benhadad, from the idolatrous land of Syria! He hired him for military purposes, to attack Israel!

The plan was successful!

Asa's scheme made Baasha King of Israel refocus his attention ... away from Judah!

"And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease."

"And it came to pass," this string being used 396 times in the Bible, means something like "in the process of time." Its key word, the verb "hayah," shows the constant movement of time and is framed in the active voice. Spiritually speaking however, we Believers see behind the clock the Hand of God! Providence, the old-timers used to call it! By the way, "hayah" here is the "root" of God's great Name Jehovah, the God who is! The eternal "I AM THAT I AM!" "Hayah" means "to be."

And do remember what the name "Baasha" means, "wicked" or "the wicked one!"

The verb "heard" is the common "shama" and means "to hear with perception." He got the message! He knew he was at war, on a different front!

Baasha had placed the southern city of Ramah as his focus of attention, building and fortifying it for the coming war with Judah his neighbor. Now all of a sudden he was being devastated from the north! And his former friend, Syria, was the perpetrator!

"Left off" translates "chadal" and means "to stop, to desist, to forego or even to forsake." The parallel verb "cease" is spelled "shabath." What does this look like to you? It's our word "sabbath" virtually! Which day is a day of "rest!"

Forget about Judah!

Baasha has bigger problems now!

And that's exactly what King Asa of little Judah intended!

"Brilliant," the military strategist would say!

"Shrewd," would add the psychologist!

"Real leadership," would chime the local media!

Victory!

But as was said earlier, maybe victory "at any cost!"

We are soon going to learn from our Bible Text that, while tactically useful, even successful on the surface, Asa's actions here displeased the Lord!

After all, King Asa on this occasion did not even "think" of trusting Jehovah! Yes, our great God Who, in Exodus 15:3, is called a Man of War! What an offense to the Lord that was!

And Asa also confiscated, stole really, treasures from the Temple to finance his little back-stabbing effort! Some of the monies he used were from his own savings, that was perhaps acceptable. But that which was seized "out of the treasures of the House of the Lord," was theft, absolutely!

Furthermore, by his little plan, King Asa was promoting disloyalty and truce-breaking! Maybe insignificant to many, especially when a Land is threatened by war, but a big thing to Almighty God! Kings were expected to keep their word! Not lie and cheat and deceive their way through life!

Yes, Asa achieved temporary victory.

But doing so offended God, ignoring His Power!

It also released the "devourer" on Judah, having stolen God's tithes and offerings from the Temple!

And it violated an honest lifestyle!

Big costs ... even for such a clear-cut accomplishment!

Asa got what he wanted, Israel off his back, but he paid for it the rest of his life!

Reminds me of Psalm 106:15, "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness to their soul." Yes, God allowed this devious plan to succeed ... but the spiritual cost was overwhelming, never-ending in fact!

Oh, that hurts!

Today's Lesson surely gives a new perspective on the dear old song, "Have Thine Own Way, Lord!"

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 6:

The Lord does so every time it happens!

He frowns upon brothers or sisters fighting one another.

Beginning as long ago as Cain and Abel, our God asks that harmony and love and cooperation be a mark of family life.

But today's verse shows one King, Asa of Judah, trying to "outdo" his counterpart, King Baasha of Israel.

Now it's true that Baasha had first sought to harm the little Kingdom of Judah. Here's Baasha's initial move, wrong as it can be: "In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." 2nd Chronicles 16:1 records a virtual blockade!

And just as suddenly Asa retaliates! He "hires" Benhadad King of Syria as an ally, who then begins sacking the northernmost cities of Israel. This action, drawing Baasha's attention and armies, vacates the occupied city of Ramah as Israel marches to defend itself! Therefore, naturally: "It came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building of Ramah, and let his work cease." 2nd Chronicles 16:5

What's next, as the battle builds? "Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah." 2nd Chronicles 16:6

Thus, the conflict escalates at every turn!

Now, truthfully, part of what Asa did cold be considered "self-defense," plain and simple. That is, if one could forget his prior actions! His failure to trust God for protection! His "stealing" money from the Temple to "hire" a "heathen" body-guard! His promotion of disloyalty and truce-breaking! And now, in today's verse, his spirit of competition.

Again, removing the stones might could be called reasonable, if the "spirit" of this conflict were not already known.

Asa's name, according to some, means "healer," but he apparently does not know that! He makes no effort to live up to that noble definition anyway!

The city of Ramah, if under Judean watchcare, could have remained fortified, strengthened by the many stones Baasha had placed there, probably around its walls. Why not just situate your army in a position that Ramah could not be taken again?

Instead, Asa removes every stone, "eben" in Hebrew, meaning rocks of any size. Here however one gets the idea that they were heavy and massive!

Is Asa protecting his Country or frustrating his neighboring King? Remember that Judah, Asa's Nation ... and Israel, Baasha's Charge, are brothers! Sons of Jacob are they all! Yes, the ten tribes of Israel and the two tribes of Judah are Jews, to the last person!

"All" Israel helping frustrate their northern adversary might not promote much harmony either! While "all" Israel forbidding Baasha's entrance into their Land would have indeed been commendable! "Kol," here rendered "all," means every man who could help!

The verb "took" is "laqach" and can mean "to draft" or "fetch" someone, indicating a bit of force if necessary!

Yes, since King Asa deemed it proper, conscripted labor was enforced ... to fight one's Brother!

The noun "timber" is "etzs" and most often means "trees." Some real Israelite money has been invested here, wood being expensive then as now.

But, as we've already seen from today's verse, Asa is not finished! "Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Ramah, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah." 2nd Chronicles 16:6

If Baasha builds, Asa will build too!

Sounds a bit like jealousy!

In fact, if King Baasha fortifies one city, Ramah, then King Asa will build two cities, Geba and Mizpeh.

And if Ramah means "mount," which it does, Asa' new cities will be named "hill," which is Geba's root, and "watchtower," Mizpeh's definition.

I see a spirit of rivalry again!

Not merely national defense!

One can be sure of this, the next two verses proving so, God is displeased with Asa's tactics!

Israel fighting Judah!

Judah fighting Israel!

Stop it, Brethren!

But truthfully, we do not have to go hundreds of years back into history to find brother at war with brother!

In fact, such a thing happens nearly weekly in many Bible-believing Churches!

Christian friend, can you think of anyone now, a fellow saint I mean, with whom you are in conflict?

Not speaking?

Angry?

Bitter?

Then the "Asa versus Baasha" conflict still lives! Judah still dislikes Israel, or vice versa.

And the Lord?

How does He feel about such behavior? Today just one short Passage will suffice, purposely chosen from the Old Testament, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

See that last one?

Jealousy, rivalry, bitterness ... Paul might would have said even of these sins, "Let them not once be named among you, as becometh saints." That quotes part of Ephesians 5:3.

Not once!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 7:

God is jealous!

He Himself says so it in Exodus 20:5: "I the LORD thy God am a jealous God."

Jealous, but not in any wicked sense, mind you.

In fact, the adjective "jealous" here, "qanah" in Hebrew, has grown out of a root word that means "to be zealous!"

He is fervent and intense, especially when it comes to His Own Honor ... and the welfare of His Own children!

This quality of Almighty God is evident in an account given Second Chronicles chapter sixteen.

Asa, King of Judah, is a man who in many ways did "right" in the eyes of God. But at least once, beginning a downward slide too, King Asa ignored the Glory of God in favor of man's power and ability.

He hired a heathen King, Benhadad of Syria, to be his "bodyguard!" Using God's money to do so too, Asa suddenly refused to trust the God who had protected him for years!

Once the sinful treaty with Benhadad was ratified, the Lord sent a Prophet to Asa. Here's the Bible account: "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand." 2nd Chronicles 16:7

A "seer" is a man who "sees" ahead! A Prophet of God who supernaturally, under inspiration, can foretell coming events, but only as directed by God. "Seer" is "raah" in Hebrew, the main verb for looking at something with perception! Seer is just another name for a Prophet in an eschatological sense.

The name "Hanani" means "gracious!" Its stem source, "chanan," means to bend or stoop down to an inferior, in kindness too! Here the Prophet is spiritually on a higher level than the King! Tell that in Washington or London or any other Capitol City!

Hanani's sermon deals with one theme, "leaning" on the Lord! Or rather, not leaning on the Lord!

The verb "relied," used twice in our verse, is "shaan" and means, just as I've implied, "to lean upon someone or rely upon him or to support oneself by him!" Asa ignored God, choosing instead to trust Benhadad of Syria.

Instead of some heathen King, our Text would have had King Asa rely on "the Lord God!" That's Jehovah Elohiym! The God Who eternally is! The God Who enters into covenant relationship with His Own people! The God of all Power! The God Who is Triune! Each of these four preceding thoughts is a derivation of one of those two great Names for our Creator!

Such blatant failure, or outright refusal maybe, to "rely" on God is not without consequence!

The King of Syria, who once could have been defeated by even the small Judea army, now will "escape" their orbit and be a nuisance and an enemy for years and years to come! "Malat" means "to slip away or to be delivered."

It's as if God said: "You like the Syrians, do you? Then I'll give you plenty of them with whom to contend ... for generations!"

Whomever one chooses to be god ... instead of the Living God ... will eventually become a snare to one's soul! "And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them." Psalm 106:36

It is important!

On Whom are you trusting today?

Who is your God?

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

To do otherwise greatly offends God!

Our jealous God!

That is, jealous for our welfare too!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 8:

It's a matter of history!

God has done some great things, especially for His people!

The Old Testament is filled with example after example.

Here's just one.

"Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand." 2nd Chronicles 16:8

These are the words of a nearly unknown Prophet of God, Hanani of Judah. He's speaking to King Asa.

Let me tell you about that battle, Judah and King Asa versus Zerah and his Ethiopian army. "And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour. And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah." Second Chronicles 14:8-9 tells us here, among other things, the size of that Ethiopian army, a million men! That indeed qualifies as "a huge host!"

Yet, "Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled." Look especially at that prayer! Capitalized words have been used on purpose.

The verb "rest," in Hebrew "shaan," means "to lean upon" Someone! To depend on Him, to have faith in Such a One!

That victory is certainly one great act of God!

To Him be the Glory!

But, and this is sad, several years later King Asa faced a less threatening situation, a much weaker enemy King and certainly a smaller army, this time failing to trust the Lord!

Instead of asking God to defend him from the Israelites, wicked King Baasha being their head, Asa "hired" godless heathen polytheistic King Benhadad of Syria to help him achieve victory!

This, needless to say, upset the Lord!

That's why Hanani is preaching so directly to the King. Again his words, "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand." 2nd Chronicles 16:7

The verb "relied" here is identical to the verb "rest" in the above Passage! In incident number one Asa "rested" on God, "shaan." In event number two Asa "relied" on the King of Syria, "shaan" again!

Then verse eight, "Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand."

The noun "Ethiopians" is spelled "Kushiy," the Cushites. These two names are used in reference to the very same people. The "Lubims," in Hebrew "Lybiy," were a neighboring people living in north African, west of Egypt. These armies have attacked Judah before, during the days of Jeroboam. See 2nd Chronicles 12:3.

The "chariots" are the war machines of their day, "rekeb" in Hebrew. The equivalent of our army "tanks" one might say. These "horsemen" are the cavalry, skilled and swift! "Parash" is the exact word.

But the size of an army does not matter! That's not the issue at all, if one is trusting the Lord!

And, as we would expect, "rely" is again "shaan," our oft appearing verb in this account! Yet it is only used 22 times in all the Bible! And three of those times are right here!

The first Scriptural use of "shaan" is in Genesis 18:4, where it is translated "rest." See: "Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree." Think of it, "resting" on the Lord!

God "delivered" a million soldier army into the hands of His King, one who relied on Jehovah! The verb "delivered" is spelled "nathan" and just means "to give." It's used that way over a thousand times in Scripture.

Oh, here's one more of the twenty-two places "shaan" appears in the Old Testament. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

With the Ethiopians Asa obeyed the first half of that verse!

With the Syrians he disobeyed the last half!

The Lord brought victory in the first instance, a great victory

Asa's own wisdom brought defeat in the second instance, an enduring defeat.

Rely, lean, trust, believe ... all are great verbs, when directed rightly ... straight toward the Lord!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 9:

We have studied one Passage of Scripture during the past eight days, 2nd Chronicles 16:1-9.

And now we arrive at the last verse, perhaps the most powerful of them all!

The Lord here speaks to Asa, King of Judah. He certainly needed to hear these words.

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars." 2nd Chronicles 16:9

The Lord is looking for someone whose heart is "perfect" toward Him! This Hebrew word, "shalem," means complete or whole or even full. A heart totally dedicated to the Lord! In Genesis 15:16 we are told that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet "full!" That's our word!

King Asa well may have once been such a man, but no more! His heart was now divided, partly given to the Syrians, King Benhadad especially!

But if God can find a man or woman or young person who is totally His ... He promises them something. He will "show Himself strong" on their behalf. "Chazaq" means literally "to fasten upon" or "to seize" someone! The verb's first Bible appearance, Genesis 19:16, has an angel "lay hold" upon the hands of the members of Lot's family, ushering them out of Sodom!

In fact, God is searching for a consecrated person like this. His eyes "run to and fro" in the pursuit! "Sut" means "to push forth." And the first time the verb here is used in Scripture, Numbers 11:8, the Israelites are "going about" gathering their manna for the day!

The "whole earth" means "all the land," every acre!

The prepositional phrase "in behalf of" translates "im" and means "with!" God desires to walk "with" us, sharing His mighty Power!

But sadly, Asa had "done foolishly," disqualifying himself regarding the empowering Presence of God! "Sakal" means "to be fat," spiritually sluggish or lazy. Then the word adopted the idea of foolishness.

This exact term is heaped upon King Saul by Samuel the Prophet too! "And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever." 1st Samuel 13:13

Such behavior reaps rewards, or the lack thereof! Asa, "Therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars." 2nd Chronicles 16:9

Sounds like God can send war or peace!

On what grounds?

"When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Proverbs 16:7

Question: is anyone reading with us today whose heart God has touched? Whose heart is totally dedicated to Him, the Lord Jesus Christ!

I hope so!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

THAT LAST VERSE IS ONE OF THE GREATEST IN ALL THE BIBLE! BUT, HAVING NOW STUDIED ITS CONTEXT TOO, IT MEANS MORE THAN EVER!

 

 

 

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