Sunday, May 30, I was privileged to speak in both of our morning services. If you missed it, you can access the sermon on the Maple City Chapel website under the media tab or by clicking the link.
I spoke from 2 Chronicles 14-16 which features Asa, the third king of Judah after the split of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms. He was a force for good, with a heart completely devoted to Yahweh his entire life. He made radical religious reforms, declaring allegiance to God for the entire kingdom. He and all the people agreed together they would seek the Lord and those who didn’t would be put to death. He drew a really thick line in the sand.
9Then Asa called together all the people of Judah and Benjamin, along with the people of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them. 12Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13They agreed that anyone who refused to seek the Lord, the God of Israel, would be put to death—whether young or old, man or woman. 14They shouted out their oath of loyalty to the Lord with trumpets blaring and rams’ horns sounding. 15All in Judah were happy about this covenant, for they had entered into it with all their heart. They earnestly sought after God, and they found him.2 Chronicles 15:9-15
Toward the end of Asa’s reign, he faced invaders from the north. Rather than crying out to God for help, he paid off the king of Aram to help him. This brought swift denunciation from Hanani the seer. He says it like this:
“Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been!2 Chronicles 16:7-9
In the last week, I have pondered King Asa and his decision to trust the king of Aram. But more than that, I pondered why he didn’t humble himself and repent, surrendering to the One who had been with him all those years. Instead, he was angry and oppressed his people.
10Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.2 Chronicles 16:10
Asa drew a really thick line in the sand regarding worship of the Lord. Anyone who didn’t would be put to death. Perhaps when Hanani came to Asa, he realized he had crossed that really dark line and deserved to die. Perhaps he realized the dark line didn’t take grace into account. Perhaps he realized it was a hasty edict.
I understand his angst. I understand because I have been there. I have made really strong statements about an issue and later regretted it. I have drawn dark lines in the sand and then later realized I had crossed it. Now what?
Guilt and embarrassment make us do funny things, like oppress those closest to us.
Have you drawn a line in the sand and now regret it? Was the stand or vow you took made hastily and without regard for grace for yourself or others?
It’s not too late to humble yourself and surrender your will to the One who loves you completely. Even now! Perhaps especially now!
Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash