At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. II Chronicles 16:7-10, 12 ESV
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:12-15 ESV
Have you seen any of the Star Wars movies? Anakin Skywalker lived in a galaxy far away, and he trained to become a Jedi knight as a boy. He trained with a master named Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he showed the promise of becoming the most powerful Jedi knight ever. During the Clone Wars he became a hero who did amazing things such as rescuing Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. However, Palpatine was secretly a Sith Lord who served the dark side, and he talked Anakin into going over to the dark side as well. Anakin became Darth Vader, a very powerful force for evil who caused death and fear throughout the galaxy.
Asa had made a wonderful start as the king of Judah. He had gotten rid of false gods and goddesses and their places of worship, and he had trusted in God to help him with a battle against the Ethiopian people. But then Asa started to turn away from God. He trusted his own cleverness and money to fight against the northern kingdom of Israel, and when a prophet warned him about his mistake, he got very angry and punished that prophet rather than repenting and turning back to God. He started treating other people in his kingdom with cruelty also. God wanted Asa to turn back to him. He allowed him to have a painful disease in his feet, but Asa didn’t turn to God for help. He went to physicians instead, and in those days physicians were magic workers who used spells. No matter how painful his disease became, Asa didn’t turn back to God.
Asa’s story is a warning to us not to take our faith in God for granted. God loves us and wants us to be his children forever, and he sends us his Holy Spirit through his word, the Bible, to keep us strong in our faith. God watches over us and hears our prayers because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can stay close to God through hearing and learning his word and being with other Christians in worship. We never need to worry that God doesn’t want us to come back to him if we start to turn away from him. We can always be sure of God’s love and forgiveness for our weakness and sin.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our sins and help us in our stubbornness and weakness. Keep us close to you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.