King Asa - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Asa - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Asa
Previous King: Abijam   Next King: Jehoshaphat


Contents

Summary
Asa's First Revival
Rescue from the Invasion by Ethiopia
Asa's Second Revival
Asa's Decline
For Discussion

Summary

King Asa was the third king of Judah, and the first one characterized in the Bible as a man of integrity. His 41-year reign was marked by revival in the worship of the LORD, and removal of paganism and its associated evils; by safety and reduced crime; and by military peace, interrupted by only two brief incidents.

As a measure of the stability that existed in Judah during Asa's time: his reign spanned the reigns of seven kings of Israel!

Unfortunately, late in life his faith wavered, and at two points of crisis, he ignored God and turned to secular sources of help. Nevertheless, God's overwhelming verdict is that “Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.”1

Where to read Asa's story: 1 Kings 15:10-24; 2 Chronicles 14 - 16

Note:
  1 2 Chronicles 14:2

Asa's First Revival

As soon as King Asa took the throne, he instituted a series of religious reforms. He went from town to town throughout the land, removing pagan altars and shrines and prohibiting the sins associated with them, and he restored proper worship of the LORD as the national religion.

In recognition of this good work, the LORD gave Judah military peace on every front for the first 10 years of Asa's reign.

Recognizing that peace would not last forever, Asa wisely used that time to build and supply border fortifications, and to train and equip an army of 580,000 men.

Source: 2 Chronicles 14:1-8

Rescue from the Invasion by Ethiopia

After this time of peace with preparation for war, the army of Ethiopia invaded Judah. The number of soldiers recorded in the Bible is one thousand thousand (i.e., one million), though this may have been hyperbole for “vast beyond numbering.” At any rate, Asa's forces were far inferior. In addition, Syria boasted a mechanized army of 300 chariots, for which Asa's foot soldiers were no match. In a beautiful prayer, Asa expressed his helplessness and his faith in God to defend them.

When the battle began, the Ethiopian army was massacred. As they retreated, Judah's army pursued them to the Philistine border, inflicting such heavy casualties that Ethiopia could not recover. On the return trip, they gathered a great amount of plunder from the fallen soldiers. The LORD had indeed defended them.

Source: 2 Chronicles 14:9-15

Asa's Second Revival

As the victorious army returned from this against-the-odds rout, a prophet named Azariah took the opportunity to remind Asa and the entire nation that this success had come from the LORD. He reminded them of the military vulnerability and crime that had prevailed in the pagan days of Kings Rehoboam and Abijam, compared to the peace and safety that existed since the revival ten years ago. And he urged them to renew their commitment to the LORD.

Hearing this, King Asa redoubled his efforts, and the former revival took on new life. He again toured the nation, destroying idols, abolishing the immoral practices associated with their worship, and reinstituting worship of the LORD. This effort lasted five years, at which time the king called for a meeting of the entire population at Jerusalem. Here he added yet more force to his efforts, drawing the people into a renewed covenant with the LORD, even to the point of threatening with capital punishment any who maintained their pagan habits — in accordance with the law of Moses. The public was thrilled, and the celebration intense.

As a result of their dedication, God gave them peace on all borders for yet another 20 years.

Source: 1 Kings 15:9-15; 2 Chronicles 15

Asa's Decline

Late in King Asa's reign, King Baasha of neighboring Israel began to prepare for war with Judah. He closed the borders and fortified border cities.

Naturally, Asa saw this as a threat to be taken seriously. When Baasha's preparations were well along, Asa entered negotiations with Benhadad, king of Syria, now at peace with Israel, but historically an enemy. Asa reminded Benhadad of a treaty between the two kings' fathers, and paid him a large sum to break his peace with Israel, looting Solomon's temple and his own palace for the bribe. Benhadad agreed, and sent armies to attack various towns in Israel.

Baasha, finding his kingdom under attack, abandoned his preparations against Judah and left to defend his kingdom. Asa took the opportunity to dismantle the abandoned work and confiscate the building materials, implementing a nationwide draft to provide the work force.

And so Judah was safe; Baasha never rejoined the project. However, the LORD sent the prophet Hanani to tell Asa that he had been negligent. God had intended to bring disaster on Benhadad, who was always hostile to Israel and Judah. But Asa had failed to consult God in this crisis, and so Benhadad had escaped. Hanani reminded Asa that years ago he had faced a great crisis, called on God, and God had rescued him. But this time he had ignored God, and because of this, the remainder of his reign would be marked by war.

But rather than repenting, King Asa was furious. He had Hanani arrested, and abused his sympathizers.

A few years later, King Asa contracted a serious disease in his feet. Once again, he refused to turn to the LORD, seeking only the help of his powerless doctors.

In spite of these lapses late in his life, King Asa's legacy is one of a man faithful to the LORD, and the benefits of his faithfulness spilled over into his entire kingdom.

Source: 2 Chronicles 16

For Discussion


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