Day One Hundred Fifty-Four, II Chron. 14-17, I Kings 14-16, 21
Today’s reading is an interesting one, but it’s a little lengthy and can be a little confusing as well, so you’ll have to keep up with me here, as we basically see the contrast between the kingdoms if Israel and Judah.
In Judah, Asa is king, and under him, Judah experiences peace. They are able to fight off the Ethiopians who attack them.
Asa does what is right. He rids the land of idols and high places and Asherah poles, even to the point of removing his own grandmother from her position as queen mother because she made an Asherah pole! Now that’s commitment, and you’ve gotta respect a man who is that committed to following the Lord’s commands.
Meanwhile, in Israel, there is a succession of one bad king after another. Jeroboam, the Nadab, then Baasha. Each “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” At one point, Baasha threatens war against Judah.
Here we see a mistake of Asa, who is trying to follow the Lord. But when Baasha threatens war, rather than relying on his God, Asa makes a treaty with Syria, enlisting them to help. For this, Asa is rebuked by a prophet of the Lord named Hanani. Asa is told that because he did such a foolish thing, he will be at war for the rest of his reign. And again, I can’t help but notice a contrast in Asa’s response to rebuke, as opposed to David’s response. David’s response, when confronted with his own sin, was, “I have sinned.” Here, however, we are told that Asa becomes angry.
Again…meanwhile, in Israel, the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, goes to warn Baasha of his coming destruction, because of the evil that he has committed. The Lord promises to destroy the house of Baasha. Baasha dies, and his son Elah becomes king. Elah reigns in Israel two years before he is promptly assassinated by one of his own officials, Zimri. Zimri kills Elah, then kills all the rest of Baasha’s family. Zimri has secured the throne for himself for a whopping seven whole days. But when the army hears that Zimri has killed the royal family, they declare Omri, their commander, to be the king over Israel.
When Zimri hears of this, he commits suicide. Omri gains control of Israel, and he arranges a marriage between his son Ahab and Jezebel, daughter of the Sidonian king. They’re an interesting couple, you’ll want to remember them, as they play a role in the trouble Israel has during the time of the prophet Elijah, which we’ll get to soon enough. I’m not typically one to pick favorites, mostly because I’m such an indecisive person, but Eljah’s one of my favorites in all the Bible!
Finally…meanwhile, in Judah, Asa is afflicted with a disease in his feet. A sad note is included that even through all of this, “he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” That makes me wonder…if Asa had gotten over his anger and humbled himself and prayed to the Lord his God, might the Lord have been willing to heal him? You gotta ask yourself that question, and also take the time to apply it to your life. Are you humbly seeking after your God, taking the time to talk to Him often? And if not, what blessings might you be missing out on. James tells us as Christians that we “do not have because you do not ask God.” Okay. End of sermonette. Back to the narrative.
After Asa dies, his son Jehoshaphat succeeds him as king. He is a good king as well, doing what is right. Under his leadership, Judah prospers, and…I love this part…he sends officials all throughout the land, “taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people”!!!!! Not only does Jehoshaphat follow the Lord, he wants to make sure that all his people understand how and why they should follow the Lord as well!
Now, I know this is a lengthy narrative, back and forth between the goings-on in Israel and Judah, and it’s a little more detailed than most of my posts. But I wanted to recognize the stark contrast between the events/lives of those who are trying to follow the Lord and those who don’t give Him a second thought. Judah, at the time, is prospering, while it won’t be long before Israel is defeated and taken into captivity for their sins.