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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14

14:1 (13:23) Abijah passed away and was buried in the City of David. His son Asa replaced him as king. During his reign the land had rest for ten years.

2 (14:1) Asa did what the Lord his God desired and approved. 3 He removed the pagan altars and the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. 4 He ordered Judah to seek the Lord God of their ancestors and to observe his law and commands. 5 He removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah. The kingdom had rest under his rule.

6 He built fortified cities throughout Judah, for the land was at rest and there was no war during those years; the Lord gave him peace. 7 He said to the people of Judah: “Let’s build these cities and fortify them with walls, towers, and barred gates. The land remains ours because we have followed the Lord our God; we have followed him, and he has made us secure on all sides.” So they built the cities and prospered.

8 Asa had an army of 300,000 men from Judah, equipped with large shields and spears. He also had 280,000 men from Benjamin who carried small shields and were adept archers; they were all skilled warriors. 9 Zerah the Cushite marched against them with an army of 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots . He arrived at Mareshah, 10 and Asa went out to oppose him. They deployed for battle in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.

11 Asa prayed to the Lord his God: “O Lord, there is no one but you who can help the weak when they are vastly outnumbered. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you and have marched on your behalf against this huge army. O Lord, you are our God; don’t let men prevail against you!” 12 The Lord struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army chased them as far as Gerar. The Cushites were wiped out; they were shattered before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah carried off a huge amount of plunder. 14 They defeated all the cities surrounding Gerar, for the Lord caused them to panic. The men of Judah looted all the cities, for they contained a huge amount of goods. 15 They also attacked the tents of the herdsmen in charge of the livestock. They carried off many sheep and camels and then returned to Jerusalem.

15:1 God’s Spirit came upon Azariah son of Oded. 2 He met Asa and told him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! The Lord is with you when you are loyal to him. If you seek him, he will respond to you, but if you reject him, he will reject you. 3 For a long time Israel had no true God, or priest to instruct them, or law. 4 Because of their distress, they turned back to the Lord God of Israel. They sought him and he responded to them. 5 In those days no one could travel safely, for total chaos had overtaken all the people of the surrounding lands. 6 One nation was crushed by another, and one city by another, for God caused them to be in great turmoil. 7 But as for you, be strong and don’t get discouraged, for your work will be rewarded.”

8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he was encouraged. He removed the detestable idols from the entire land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had seized in the Ephraimite hill country. He repaired the altar of the Lord in front of the porch of the Lord’s temple.

9 He assembled all Judah and Benjamin, as well as the settlers from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had come to live with them. Many people from Israel had come there to live when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. 10 They assembled in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. 11 At that time they sacrificed to the Lord some of the plunder they had brought back, including 700 head of cattle and 7,000 sheep. 12 They solemnly agreed to seek the Lord God of their ancestors with their whole heart and being. 13 Anyone who would not seek the Lord God of Israel would be executed, whether they were young or old, male or female. 14 They swore their allegiance to the Lord, shouting their approval loudly and sounding trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah was happy about the oath, because they made the vow with their whole heart. They willingly sought the Lord and he responded to them. He made them secure on every side.

16 King Asa also removed Maacah his grandmother from her position as queen mother because she had made a loathsome Asherah pole. Asa cut down her loathsome pole and crushed and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 The high places were not eliminated from Israel, yet Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord throughout his lifetime. 18 He brought the holy items that his father and he had made into God’s temple, including the silver, gold, and other articles.

19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. 16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel attacked Judah, and he established Ramah as a military outpost to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the land of King Asa of Judah. 2 Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace and sent it to King Ben Hadad of Syria, ruler in Damascus, along with this message: 3 “I want to make a treaty with you, like the one our fathers made. See, I have sent you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel, so he will retreat from my land.” 4 Ben Hadad accepted King Asa’s offer and ordered his army commanders to attack the cities of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard the news, he stopped fortifying Ramah and abandoned the project. 6 King Asa ordered all the men of Judah to carry away the stones and wood that Baasha had used to build Ramah. He used the materials to build up Geba and Mizpah.

7 At that time Hanani the prophet visited King Asa 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 from your hand. 8 Did not the Cushites and Libyans have a huge army with chariots and a very large number of horsemen? But when you relied on the Lord, he handed them over to you! 9 Certainly the Lord watches the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him. You have acted foolishly in this matter; from now on you will have war.” 10 Asa was so angry at the prophet, he put him in jail. Asa also oppressed some of the people at that time.

11 The events of Asa’s reign, from start to finish, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a foot disease and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease, he did not seek the Lord, but only the doctors. 13 Asa passed away in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out in the City of David. They laid him to rest on a platform covered with spices and assorted mixtures of ointments. They made a huge bonfire to honor him.