(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
If you seek Him, He will be found by you
2nd June 2006
This week, we continue our study of 2 Chronicles chapter 15. The first few verses contain this prophecy:
2 Chronicles 15:1-7
Last week, we looked at just the first two verses of this prophecy. We saw the vital importance of drawing near to God.
This week, consider verses 3 to 7. The prophecy gives King Asa a short history lesson. It's worth noting that it's about the past as well as about the future. A lot of prophecy is. The lesson that Asa was learning from Israel's past can also be learnt from personal stories, and from national stories. It's been proved in my life and perhaps yours, and is learnt over and over again in countries all over the world:
Then we experience "great turmoil" (verse 5).
This is so easy to see in nations. Those that rebel against God, either deliberately or just through a gradually growing coldness of heart towards God, experience all kinds of problems. This is particularly true in the sense of such societies becoming either extremely repressive or spiraling out of control. We shouldn't be surprised; when a society forsakes God, then He forsakes them (verse 2). Sadly, this includes our own nation in our generation. Yet God has not totally abandoned us.
The same principle also applies in individual lives. If you're a Christian, have there been periods in your life when you've effectively tried to live without God, without the church and without His law? Was it a peaceful time? Probably not. Perhaps that's your state right now. But God has not totally abandoned you.
Learn the lesson of history (yours, Israels, and everybody else's). When, in your distress, you turn to God, and seek Him, he will be found by you!
But the conclusion of the prophecy is not only about returning to a serious relationship with God and staying in it. It says "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded".
Sometimes it takes a certain strength of character to obey God and to trust Him. But God will strengthen you as much as you need. Sometimes it takes courage to do the right thing. But God will give you the courage you need, if you ask Him.
There are times when all your work, all your striving to serve God with integrity and to make a difference for His kingdom on this Earth, seem to be having no effect. Sometimes, you feel like your own character is not improving, your own life is not any more glorifying to Him than before and your effect on your friends and neighbours, both in and out of the church, seems negligible at best. So what are you going to do at those times? You could give up. Or you could believe the word's of Oded's prophesy: Your work will be rewarded.
Verse 8 says:
When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORDís temple.
When Asa heard the prophesy, he did what it said.
And when we hear the word of God - whether through prophecy, preaching, Bible study or prayer - we must do the same. The word of the Lord is not there so we can debate it, or just to make us feel nice. It's certainly not there so we can find a reason to say that it applies someone else but not to us. God speaks to us so that we do something.
If you're a Christian, you should be training yourself to hear God when He speaks, and to distinguish His voice from the others (John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me). And the best way to prevent yourself developing that ability to hear God is this - disobey what He says. And you'll find it oh so easy to disobey next time. And you'll find that it's more and more difficult to hear or to obey God's word to you the more you disobey it. Your heart can become calloused - hard - through repeated refusals to respond to instructions from your Maker and Redeemer.
Asa's first response to this word from God was to do two things. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land and he repaired the altar of the Lord. Our response to God and to His word should be the same:
Let's get back to putting God first, through purity of heart and worship to Him.