If we seek the Lord, He will be found by us. When we delve into His Word, He shows us His character and how He operates. Moreover, what has happened in the past with Israel is often a harbinger of things to come. Prophetically, God foreshadows and gives us insights into our present day in His Word when we study Israel’s actions, right and wrong.
King Asa of Judah is considered one of the few “good” kings. After the nation of Israel split following the reign of Solomon, ten tribes under Jeroboam became the Northern Kingdom and retained the name of Israel. The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin became the Southern Kingdom, called Judah, and were initially under Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. Every king in the Northern Kingdom followed the perverse ways of Jeroboam and incited God’s righteous anger against them. Periodically in the Southern Kingdom, a king would arise who, by and large, did the will of Yahweh. Asa was one of these until his very last couple years in which a rebellious streak developed in him.
For the great majority of Asa’s reign, he pleased God by his many righteous actions. In fact, the Lord sent a prophet to him to proclaim God’s favor, which we see in 2 Chronicles 15:2:
“… The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”
In these words, we see the usual disclaimer, which was so important for ancient Israel and remains so for us today: the if-then clause that God lays out. God promises He will bring blessing and favor if the people seek Him. However, the stipulation that they inevitably forget is the then statement. God will forsake them if they turn away from Him. If they follow Him righteously, then He will provide; if they don’t, then all bets are off. Throughout Israel’s history, the people wanted God to bless them at all times, in war and peace, but even while wanting His goodness, they abandoned Him.
The prophet speaking to King Asa reminded him of exactly this as we see in 2 Chronicles 15:3-6:
For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.
Because Asa obediently sought the Lord during most of his tenure, God gave peace to the land (2 Chronicles 14:6). As night follows day, however, when God’s people forget and forsake Him, He’ll bring them trouble as a reminder and warning. In Asa’s last two years, instead of beseeching Yahweh for His help when the king of the Northern Kingdom came against him, Asa foolishly sought assistance from Assyria. Through a prophet, God called him out on it, and in his anger, Asa persecuted the seer. That resulted in God bringing Asa a disease in his feet (perhaps gout or diabetes?). Again, he didn’t seek Yahweh for healing, and he died, likely in some amount of pain.
Through our key verse of 2 Chronicles 15:6 today, we gain an understanding of the difficulties we face as a nation. It’s one thing for unbelievers to ignore God or to do things which anger Him. When His church forsakes Him, that’s huge and becomes a tipping point. This, of course, is what has happened as apostasy has overrun what is expected to be the Bride of Christ. Because of the falling away of those who are supposed to be the people of faith, great disturbances [have] afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. Worse, God [has] troubled them [us] with every sort of distress. Let us not be ignorant in how we read this. We in America are among the inhabitants of the lands, and we in America are them who are troubled with every sort of distress.
The end game for Israel and Judah was God allowing them to be destroyed and their inhabitants scattered. Despite that, God’s promise was that He would some day regather His people, and that in the very end of days, they would revere and worship Him once more. In our case, the true church will be Raptured, and many who are part of the apostate church will perhaps return to Christ during the Tribulation. Our end game as true believers is the Millennial Kingdom in which we will rule and reign with Christ our king.
Let us never forget that God is always present and watching. We do nothing in secret, just as 2 Chronicles 16:9 reminds us:
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.
Knowing that, and loving Him as our Savior and Lord, shouldn’t we also be obedient to Him in every way?