Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Only True, but Jealous Defender

If you believe in God and have known of his blessings and have seen his miracles, be warned--don’t backslide. The nature of faith for ‘the faithful’ is it’s an all-or-nothing affair. Once the decision for God is made, there’s no turning back to the old way. I reckon not many converts are told this. (There is a ‘good news’ ending to this truth, however, so please keep reading.)

The history of the faith tells of this fact over and over again. Take, for instance, Asa, son of Abijah. This king of Judah,[1] like many of the kings during the period of Judah’s history, started well, doing “what was good and right in the sight of the LORD his God” –2 Chronicles 14:2 (NRSV).

But, he didn’t finish this way...

The seer Hanani reveals in 2 Chronicles 16:7-10 that Asa’s warring over Baasha, king of Israel, would have eventually succeeded if he’d have continued to have relied upon the LORD; but as it was, Asa having struck a deal with Aram’s king Ben-hadad, would now be condemned for the action. In biblical tradition, “peace and rest are the lot of the righteous king; disobedience brings warfare and defeat” [and often death].[2]

It is significant that Hanani alludes to God’s faithfulness in his speech to Asa:

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him” –2 Chronicles 16:9 (NRSV). It is amazing to think that God sees in ways that we’ll never truly understand. For Asa’s persistent faithfulness of heart, the LORD had delivered the mighty armies of Ethiopia and Libya--victories against the odds. For us, when we’re faithful, he’ll deliver us victories that are against our own capability to manufacture, of ourselves.

Imagine having a God whose supernatural ‘sight’ ranges throughout the entire earth to strengthen the heart of those who’re true to him? What will he also do for the person whose heart is not true to him, especially when it should be? (i.e. the backsliding Christian.)

This has always been the truth. The nature of life has always been so, particularly for God’s anointed people; faithfulness begets faithfulness and eventual blessing whilst disobedience begets cursing. God noted Asa’s disobedience and struck him soon after with an eventually fatal foot disease.

The anthropomorphic[3] features of God, in this case regarding “eyes,” are of course not literal. But in many ways God does see ‘throughout the entire earth,’ and even to the motives inside the human heart. His ‘sight’ is wonderfully incisive.

The prophet Zechariah also highlights this for those of us discouraged to think God does not see all our disciplined hard work:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world.) –Zechariah 4:10 (NLT).
This is why the Spiritual life is an all-or-nothing life. We’re blessed when we faithfully and obediently follow God in truth, and we’re cursed when we, even situationally, leave his side.

And he does these things so that when we do backslide (and the odds say many of us do), we might be chastened back into accord with him, the Lord of all. Indeed, many of us have learned the hard way. But God does not condemn us for learning the hard way, not since the grace shown us in his Son, Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

Finally, Asa’s example is a good one for us today. Although he failed to destroy all ‘the high places from Israel,’ his heart was fully committed to God; for this, God did not condemn him, as God’s always more interested in the condition of the heart.[4] This is an encouragement to us; though we might not do everything perfectly in practice, the condition of our heart is what God sees i.e. and is most interested in.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.
[1] See 2 Chronicles 14-16.
[2] Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Chronicles (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002) (Word Biblical Commentary 15), S. 126
[3] This word means, “ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things” [as God is Spirit]. From, anthropomorphic. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from
[4] Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chronicles: A Mentor Commentary (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), p. 37. It is interesting that even though Asa proved unfaithful to God in his alliance with Aram, his heart “was true all of his days” –2 Chronicles 15:17 (NRSV).

No comments: