|2 Chronicles 15 |
1 The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded.
2 He went out to meet Asa, and said to him, "Hear me Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you, while you are with him; and if you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
3 Now for a long time Israel had been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.
4 But when they were in trouble and then turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.
5 And in those times there was no peace to him who went out, nor to him who came in, but great troubles were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.
6 And nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city because God troubled them with all manners of adversity.
7 Therefore be strong, and do not let your hands be weak for your work shall be rewarded.
8 When Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD in the temple.
9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon. These men for they defected to him from Israel in great numbers, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11 They offered to the LORD at the same time, from the plunder that they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
13 That whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.1
14 And they swore to the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
15 All Judah rejoiced at the oath for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.2
16 Asa removed Maachah, king Asa's mother, from being queen because she had made an idol in a grove. Asa cut down her idol, crushed it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.3
18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated: silver, gold, and vessels.
19 There was no more war to the thirty fifth year in the reign of Asa.
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1 Whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. Up to this time, the Jews had not required their people to seek the Lord, with penalty of death for non-compliance. We have seen severe penalties for sin; we have seen death to children who were disobedient; we have seen severe penalties inflicted by God on entire generations who forsook the Lord to worship idols; or worse yet: those who walked after the imagination of their own hearts, Jer 16:11-1; but we have never seen an explicit death penalty for those who would not seek God. It violates the concept of free will and violates the concept of love, which does not insist on its own way. One great wonder of this life is how God stays hidden, with no force or compulsion to cause us to seek him. Rather, he draws us with a loving taste of his goodness, which generates the hunger and thirst for more.
2 they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around...Seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deu 4:29. What do you suppose they meant by "he was found by them?" How did they know they had found the Lord? Seek the Lord and His strength; yearn for and seek His face, to be in His presence continually! 1 Chr 16:11. And I will behold your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awaken by seeing your likeness. Psalm 17:15. Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence (before Your very face). Psalm 140:13. So when God is found, you see his face in your heart and you are aware of being in his presence continually. Even in the Old Testament, to find God was to see his face and dwell in his presence. Jesus Christ is the light that enlightens all men who come into the world, including those men in the Old Testament. So, the prophets of the Old Testament saw the face of Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Rock . "The children of Israel, who were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual meat; and did all drink of the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, (or went with them) and that Rock was Christ; 1 Cor10:2-4. And this was long before Christ came in the flesh; Christ was and is the Rock of Ages, and Foundation of many generations, both before and after his coming in the flesh. (G. Whitehead)." To find God is to see Christ's face, dwell in His presence, and be guided by Him.
Now look at what the New Testament says:
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ . 2 Cor 4:6. So we see his face when we find God.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor 3:18. We see his face in ever increasing glory.
Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me. John 17:24. And we are with him, in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is better than the what was possible in the Old Testament.
God...has raised us up together [with Christ], and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6. We sit with him at rest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Col 1:12. We live in the light.
That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us. John 17:21. We are one with Christ and the Father.
I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one. John 17:23. We are one with them and perfect with them.
3 the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. So here was one of several perfect men in the Old Testament. Those whom God also considered perfect were: Enoch, Noah, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Hezekiah, and David, (though David's was not lasting because of his adultery). After the Law and before Christ, the only people who received the favor of God were those who walked close to conforming to the Law's requirements; those who ignored his Law, were disregarded by Him, Heb 8:9. Because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, with only a belief in His name, with humble sorrow for the past, we can approach God and receive the operations of his changing grace to purify our hearts and consciences; whatever our burden of past sins may be. So, thousands in the early Church attained purity, holiness, perfection, union with Christ and God, and translation into their kingdom while still on earth. Thousands of 17th Century Quakers attained the same perfection to live in union with Christ and God, living in their Kingdom while still on earth. With faith in what Jesus speaks to us, by grace and the cross, He can now make you perfect in every good work to do his will, Heb 13:11; a forever cleansing and perfection with resulting union is now available to all who go to him for change. And yes, like Job, we too must be tested before we receive the reward of the increase in his Spirit, the Spirit of Love. (See How to Receive the Changing Power of God for the testing). And a little while after that, staying faithful, not tiring of faith energized acts of love, he returns in His glory to establish his Kingdom in your heart and to be your Lord forever.
Note, after Christ, the perfection is permanent, forever. After being perfect, David fell to temptation; before Christ the perfection was not permanent. In the next chapter, regretfully, perfect Asa also falls hard.
The difference is that Christ makes it possible to go beyond a man being purified, being made perfect. Christ makes it possible for that man to become an entirely new creature, to sit with Christ in the heavens, to be sanctified, to be holy, to be a part of Christ himself, who never fell, and who never will fall; a forever cleansing and perfection with resulting union is now available to all who go to him for change.
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