As you read 1 Kings, there are repeated verses. It is a passage about what the kings of Israel or Judah were like 'in the sight of the Lord.' The unfortunate thing is that the evaluation of these kings is unanimous: 'They are evil in the sight of Jehovah.' In the Bible you read this week, Jeroboam, the king of Israel, was like that, and Rehoboam, the king of Judah, was like that. The case of Abijam, king of Judah, is even more tragic.
It is written, 'Abijam committed all the sins his father had committed; his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David (1 Kings 15:3).'
The Bible records that because of this, division and war continued to occur between Judah and Israel. The record that follows is today's text. However, today's text still contains some welcome content among the content we have read during the week. This is because the name of the king, who walked a different path from others, is mentioned. Asa, king of Judah, 'did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father David did.' This tells us that he took a different path from his father, King Abijam. Here are the things King Asa did:
He said, 'He drove out the sodomites out of the land. He destroyed all the idols his ancestors had built. Dethroned her mother, who served the goddess Asherah. King Asa was evaluated as a perfect man before the Lord all his life. Also, what I promised God I gave separately.
There is a reason why this image of King Asa is welcome to us living in modern times. That's because we, like King Asa, try to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Am I right? I hope I'm right. Of course, as I say this, I also pray to be a person who strives to act honestly in the eyes of God.
In fact, the very fact that we are gathered here is "to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord."
What kind of people are we? I'm trying to think about it. We are like this.
"How can I please Jehovah? How can we live according to the word of God? "How can we live like people who have the hope of heaven?" We are the ones who worry.
Of course, for various reasons, we can forget about it, but through worship, we are the ones who gather to find things that please God and to ask for God's help. We used to only look at the world, but as we gather on Sundays to worship, we try to reexamine where our eyes are fixed. From that perspective, the story of King Asa could be a reflection of us. King Asa is like a mirror that shows us, so I am glad to read today's text. I wonder if we, too, can live like King Asa, who, although weak, still lived before God.
Who are we?
We are people who live 'before Jehovah.' God's eyes are not on the achievements we have made or the wealth and fame we have achieved. God's eyes are not on the balance in our bank account. God's eyes are on how we live. I hope and pray in the name of the Lord that all of us, like King Asa and King David, will be judged by the Lord for having acted honestly.
Of course, the era in which King Asa lived is very different from the era in which we live, but I have summarized three things to apply from today's text.
First, we must check whether we are living before God. It's a book that came out a while ago, and there was a book with this title among Pastor Bill Hybels' books.
'Who are you when no one is watching?'
This question is: Are we living before God? It seems similar to the question:
We all care about how we appear to others. This is important, but how we live before the invisible God is more important. Of course, we must have the attitude and resolve to live before God.
When you think of a person who lived before God, Joseph comes to mind. As you all know, Joseph, who was sold as a slave in Egypt, was tempted by Potiphar's wife and asked her to sleep with him, and he said this.
'My master has not interfered with everything he owns but has entrusted everything he has into my hands. There is no one greater in this house than me. Although he has not forbidden me anything, the only one who has forbidden it is you because you are his wife. Then why should I commit this great evil and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8-9)
Joseph suffered in return for rejecting temptation, but because of this, he experienced God's prosperity.
This story lets us know what a person lives before God and what blessings God gives those who decide to live honestly before God. Even if we lose money right now and get criticized right now, I hope we will think before God about whether it is good or bad.
Second, the path taken by those who lived honestly before God differs.
This is the title of the book written by Kim Chang-ok.
'Will I continue to live as I have lived so far?'
If I have no regrets about my life, I will say yes and continue to live like that. On the other hand, if you regret the time you have lived so far, the answer would be no. King Asa was a man who decided to live a different life from previous kings. Above all, King Asa walked a different path than his father, Abijam.
A life without regrets is a life that strives to live according to the word of God. Religious reformation is a movement that does its best to live according to the word of God. So, the beginning of reform is removing the things that God hates.
The sodomites expressed in verse 12 are called 'temple male prostitutes' in the new translation. It tells us that people who worship idols were in a place where they glorified God. They accuse the temple of degenerating into a place where physical pleasures prevail instead of the joy of worshiping God. King Asa corrected this. This is, as Jesus said, the leaven, or grime of the world, has been removed. In other words, eliminating things God hates is the beginning of reform. These things are likely to meet extreme opposition. This is especially true for items that have long-standing habits and practices. It is also easy to give up on something difficult to fix.
There is something I am learning these days. High water pressure is required to remove dirt from the pavement. This is what I learned while cleaning the road with a power washer. It is so tricky and complicated to remove old dirt. However, as difficult as it is, there is also joy in seeing the road become cleaner.
The joy of getting rid of sin. I pray that we all have the pleasure of removing the leaven from our lives.
God blesses King Asa when he removes old male prostitutes and idols from the temple. The blessing God gave him was peace. 2 Chronicles 14:6 states more specifically:
'The Lord gave Asa peace, and the land was peaceful, and there was no fighting for many years. He built fortified cities in Judah.
When we remove the old stains of sin in our lives, God will also give us peace. I pray for this peace to be with you and me.
Third. Relying on God when you have difficulties.
This part is also something we know well. However, sometimes, it is difficult to understand what it means to rely on God when faced with difficulties. When I think of a person who relied on God, the person who comes to mind is George Mueller, who worked at an orphanage. He declared that George would seek only God and not men when he was in trouble. I wonder if this is possible, but the person who showed that it is possible is George Mueller.
If you read his biography, you will see that when people asked him if he could help them, he told them to pray. He said that if you pray, God will speak to you. Of course, I don't know if everyone heard God's voice and sponsored him, but in any case, George handled the orphanage ministry well. Relying on God means living a life of prayer to God.
One of the Bible characters that comes to mind when thinking of people who relied on God is David. When David fought Goliath, he rushed towards him. The reason he had such courage was because he relied on God. And he was able to experience the victory given by God. Relying on God means that even though he lacks strength, he moves forward believing that God will help him.
And King Asa, who appears in today's text, also had the experience of winning a war by relying on God during difficult times. In 2 Chronicles 14:8, Asa had 300,000 soldiers from Judah armed with shields and spears and 280,000 soldiers from Benjamin armed with shields and bows. They were all brave elite soldiers. King Asa had power. But when we get to verse 9, a problem arises. The story goes that Zerah the Ethiopian came to attack Judah with an army of one million men and three hundred chariots. Fighting against them was a daunting and scary task for King Asa. It would be a natural reaction since an army more than twice as powerful as his own attacked. Then King Asa cried out to the Lord his God. He prayed to God. Doing this means relying on God.
If you look at verse 11, you will find the prayer that King Asa said.
'O LORD, between the strong and the weak, no one can help but you. Help us, O LORD our God. We trust in you, and in your name, we have come against this multitude. 'O LORD, you are our God; do not let man overcome you.'
After this prayer, King Asa does not avoid battle but boldly runs toward the enemy. Relying on God means telling the Lord about your weaknesses and moving forward while seeking the Lord's help. What does this show us?
There is something we can experience when we face difficulties. The difficulties in our lives and our difficult situations are opportunities to learn how to rely on the Lord. And what you experience is an opportunity to experience God's help and experience God's power.
To rely on someone, you have to relax. In Kim Chang-ok's book, a part explains how important it is to let go of your strength. I would like to introduce you to some of the content.
"When difficult situations come, people put a lot of effort into their bodies, thinking they must come to their senses. When I feel like there is no Maginot Line behind me, I give strength to my whole body when I think there is a cliff behind me. But what happens if you apply strength to your entire body? … "It means you will get more seriously injured." Rather than solving the problem, another problem arises.
Children do not get seriously hurt when they fall. This is because it does not put much force on the body. On the other hand, it is said that adults just fall down, but their ligaments are stretched, their joints are cracked, and even their legs are broken. If you fall, you will get hurt hard because you give strength to your body.
Therefore, it is crucial to relax when difficulties arise. There is no need to fret. He also says that one of the ways to relieve strength is to pray, 'Please help me.'
Trusting in Jehovah drains our strength. "God help me. God becomes our background. "There is someone who receives us when we fall."
Knowing this can help you relax. Removing strength from the body means that we rely on God.
What George Mueller did was to let go of his own strength and rely on God. What David did when fighting Goliath also took away his power. The victory resulted from not believing in his abilities but God's help. King Asa defeated the Ethiopian army, even an army of as many as 1 million people, because he relied on the Lord.
Are you having difficulties? Close your eyes and pray. 'Lord, please help me.' Lord, please help me. This is the training we need to do. There are times when you need to let go, times when you need to rest, and times when you need to relax.
The way we rely on the Lord is to 'take strength away from our bodies.'
What happened when King Asa trusted God is in 2 Chronicles 14:12.
'The Lord struck down the Cushite before Asa and the men of Judah and defeated them, and the Cushite fled.' The Cushites are Ethiopians.
When times were difficult, King Asa cried out to God. We also have difficulties. This is a really great opportunity. It is time for us to rely on God. It is time for us to pray to God like this.
If we say, 'God, please help us,' then we too will have the testimony that 'God has defeated us and enabled us to win.'
King Asa, who used to rely on God like this, also shows himself relying on people rather than God as he ages. In his thirty-sixth year as king, Baisha, king of Israel, attacked. At that time, Asa gathered all the silver and gold from the temple and royal treasury and sent it to King Benhadad of Syria in Damascus to ask for help.
Can you see the strength going into my whole body?
What was different from King Asa when he was young was that he could not relax his body. In addition to the silver and gold he offered to God, he was boasting about the power represented by the gold and silver he had. Because of this, God later speaks through the prophet Hanani.
'Because you trusted in the king of Aram and did not trust in the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram escaped from your hand (2 Chronicles 14:7).'
And the following word of warning is this. 'The eyes of the LORD are to run throughout all the earth, to be strong on behalf of those whose heart is devoted to him. Because you have done this in vain, there will be wars on you from now on. (2 Chronicles 14:9)'
We can see that the difference between relying on God and relying on people lies in 'prayer.' Prayer is about relaxing your body. And prayer is turning to God with your whole heart.
I hope that we will be able to pray when there are difficulties.
I hope that we can honestly tell the Lord about our weaknesses. "Lord, please help me. I rely on the Lord. Lord, please help me. "I rely on the Lord." This prayer must be in our community. It must also be in your life and mine. Only when we relax our body can we rely on the Lord. It means to relax our bodies and embrace the Lord without focusing on what we have.
I hope you rely on the Lord in difficult times.
When King Asa relaxed and relied on God, it was victory and peace. However, when King Asa relied on people with all his might and showed off his strength, what came back was a severe reprimand from God and war.
There is a sad record in 2 Chronicles 14:12. 'In the 39th year of his reign, Asa suffered from a severe foot disease, but instead of asking Jehovah for help, he relied only on doctors.' Thus, King Asa relied only on doctors and died two years later.
Difficult times can become opportunities because you can rely on God.
Relying on God means asking the Lord for help. Lord, please help me. I pray in the name of the Lord that this kind of prayer will be available to all of us. Amen.