Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 13-17.
Where do you turn when you are in trouble? A lot of us would say we put our trust in God, but sometimes we give in to practical atheism and look for human solutions to our problems. Sometimes it’s right to handle it on our own; sometimes we need to let God take care of it. There is a tension here between relying on God and taking matters into our own hands. For instance, how do you handle a medical problem? Do you see a doctor, try to handle it yourself with home remedies, or turn to God for healing?
Solomon’s great-grandson Asa was king of the southern kingdom of Judah when King Baasha of the northern kingdom tried to prevent travel to and from Jerusalem by closing the border. Asa needed to take some kind of action in response to Baasha’s aggression. Would he solve it himself, seek another’s help, or turn to God?
Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.” 2 Chronicles 16:2-3
Asa’s reaction seems pretty shrewd at first glance, but compare it to another crisis earlier in his reign. Then he faced attack by the Cushites. Instead of going it alone, or seeking another country’s help, he cried out to God.
“LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11
Asa saw God give him a great victory over the Cushites. I’m sure he also knew the story of how God had delivered his father, Abijah, in a great battle with Jeroboam and the northern kingdom of Israel. Yet in his less-threatening conflict with Baasha, Asa ran to Ben-Hadad for help, and in order to buy his assistance gave him treasures dedicated to the LORD. Hanani the prophet condemned Asa for his action and reminded him of the previous occasion when he relied on God.
- Asa was condemned for not acknowledging that the nation’s security, first and foremost, was a matter for God.
- He was condemned for making an alliance with an enemy rather than asking for God’s help to overcome them.
- He was condemned because he did not trust in the LORD when the LORD had already proven himself in similar situations.
- He was condemned for showing fear rather than faith.
- He was condemned because he took God’s things and gave them to a man.
Asa’s mistake reminds me that I often leave God out of the problems in my life. If I’m sick, it’s OK to get medical advice, but I should start by praying for God’s healing. It’s fine to put a lock on my door, but my confidence should be in God’s protection. I shouldn’t give up what belongs to God, whether it’s time or money, in order to make myself feel more secure. I shouldn’t try to earn my salvation. Most of all, I shouldn’t fail to do the things God want to help me do (defeat my enemies). I should rely on him to give me the strength and step out in faith.
image by andjohan on Flickr, CC by 2.0