Baasha king of Israel went to war against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.
I. THE OBJECT WAS RIGHT.
1. The war was provoked by the enemy.
(1) Baasha was the aggressor (ver. 17). War is such a fearful evil that whoever provokes it is greatly culpable.
(2) Therefore on Asa's part it was defensive. If human war is ever defensible it is when defensive.
2. It was provoked by impious intention.
(1) Asa had set his heart upon the reformation of true religion, in which he was blessed by God with peace and prosperity (2 Chronicles 14:1-7).
(2) The more pious Ephrathites were attracted in great numbers to Jerusalem to join in the pure worship of the temple; and the reformation was influencing the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 15:9).
(3) Baasha now feared, as Jeroboam did when he set up his calves (1 Kings 12:26-28), that his people would return to the house of David. To prevent this he proceeded to fortify the frontier town of Ramah (2 Chronicles 16:1).
(4) This was to coerce the Ephrathites to transgress the law of God (see Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 14:28-26; 16:2). To resist this persecution was as pious in Asa as the persecution was impious in Baasha.
II. THE MEANS WERE WRONG.
1. They were human.
(1) Asa did not rely upon the Lord. This was the less excusable since God had wrought such signal deliverance for him from the vast multitude of the Ethiopians (see 2 Chronicles 14:9-15). What was the host of Baasha compared with that army?
(2) He did not even inquire of the Lord. Had God sanctioned his recourse to Ben-hadad then had he been blameless.
(3) Though in other particulars he had listened to the advice of Azariah, the son of Oded, with blessed advantage, yet in this he had disregarded that advice (see 2 Chronicles 15:1, 2).
2. They were unworthy.
(1) What right had he to engage a heathen to fight with his brethren?
(2) What right had he to bribe a heathen to break his covenant (ברית purification) with Baasha, in which the blood of sacrifice had been sprinkled to express his purity of intention, as we now take the sacrament? What opinion could the heathen form of the religion of one who could offer a bribe for such a purpose?
(3) What right had he to take the treasure of the temple for such a purpose?
III. THE SUCCESS WAS PARTIAL.
1. The end was answered.
(1) The Syrians attacked Israel in the north. The news of this drew Baasha away from Ramah (vers. 20, 21).
(2) This gave Asa the opportunity to demolish the fortifications in progress so as to open the road Baasha sought to close. He also removed the material so that the road might be kept open.
(3) The material was useful to him in building Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.
2. But the price was too great.
(1) He missed an opportunity of spoiling the Syrians as he had spoiled the Ethiopians. This fact is revealed, though by what means Providence purposed to have brought it about is not disclosed (2 Chronicles 16:7).
(2) The treasures of the temple and of the palace were therefore needlessly alienated.
(3) His brethren in "Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-beth-Maachah, and all Cinneroth," or Gennesaret, "with all the land of Naphtali," were exposed to the horrors of the Syrian invasion. The heart of Israel would be alienated from Asa in consequence, and the reformation hindered.
(4) Asa's own heart became hardened, else he would not have imprisoned Hanani, and oppressed some of his people (who probably sympathized with the prophet).
(5) And he inherited the judgment of wars to the end of his days. Also a disease in the feet, respecting which he sought to "physicians rather than the Lord" (2 Chronicles 16:10, 12). Note: Asa's blunders followed upon his prosperity. Few abide this test. Loss of spirituality and religious zeal accompanies the growing worldly prosperity of churches! - J.A.M.
Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord.
I. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF MAN'S ARRIVING AT A SINLESS STATE OF PERFECTION SO LONG AS HE IS CLOTHED WITH THIS MORTALITY. In Asa we have a proof that a man may be perfect before God, and yet have sin. "In many things we offend all," and "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" — if we were to infer that a state of faultless perfection were attainable in this world from the fact that there are many who, like Noah, Abraham, or Asa, are said to have walked perfectly with God, it would he difficult to reconcile such an inference with the sins they are known to have committed. When we find such injunctions as this — "Walk thou before Me, and be thou perfect." It is plain that the word "perfect" must be interpreted in that sense of general uprightness of character which it is only possible to apply to the best of men in this world. The main difference between the righteous and unrighteous — and this we ought chiefly to bear in mind — lies in habitual character. It is this which God principally regards, and not occasional sins, grievous though they be. The pith of all true religion, the grand substance of the doctrines of both Old and New Testaments, is summed up for us at the conclusion of both — the last words of the Old Testament being: "Then shall ye return and discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not"; while among the last utterances of the Holy Ghost speaking by St. John, are these: "His servants shall serve Him" — "He that loveth not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha." Thus the constant service of God is spoken of in both Testaments as the distinctive feature of the righteous.
II. THE MORE PRACTICAL LESSON OF CAUTION IN THE MANNER OF OUR DAILY WALK. If Satan be suffered to exercise so great power over the hearts of the faithful servants of God, how watchful over our own hearts should we be! How necessary to each one of us the godly admonition of the apostle: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"! And how are we to take heed lest we fall? By standing always in the grace of God — this is the secret of final perseverance; this is the secret of Asa's heart being perfect all his days. It is a mere matter of history that the saving mercy of God is more generally shown to those in whom we find habitual goodness of heart to have pre-existed, or, more strictly speaking, by whom grace given has been constantly used and persevered in, than to those whose habit of life has been careless and negligent of God's service. The case of a seemingly virtuous child being led astray might well presuppose a want of real hearty piety, or a degree of pride and self-confidence which has withdrawn the special care and love of God, and left that child a prey of his enemies. This is not, however, the case of a really righteous person fallen from his uprightness. In all this we have a strong caution. If habitual piety is never forgotten, and rarely goes unrewarded at last, how much ought we to be on our guard lest we lose aught of that piety, lest we slacken the fervour of our zeal, and suffer our love to grow cold, or even lukewarm; lest, in a word, we forfeit aught of that grace wherein alone we stand.
(J. B. Litler, M. A.)
PeopleAbel, Abijah, Abijam, Abishalom, Ahijah, Aram, Asa, Baasha, Ben, Benhadad, Ben-hadad, Benjamin, Dan, David, Hadad, Hezion, Issachar, Jehoshaphat, Jeroboam, Maacah, Maachah, Nadab, Naphtali, Nebat, Rehoboam, Rezon, Sodomites, Tabrimon, Tirzah, Uriah, Urijah
PlacesAbel-beth-maacah, Chinneroth, Damascus, Dan, Geba, Gibbethon, Ijon, Jerusalem, Kidron, Mizpah, Ramah, Syria, Tirzah
TopicsAble, Allow, Anyone, Asa, Baasa, Baasha, Ba'asha, Buildeth, Building, Built, Entering, Fortified, Judah, Leaving, None, Order, Permit, Prevent, Ramah, Suffer, Territory
Outline1. Abijam's wicked reign
7. Asa succeeds him
9. Asa's good reign
16. The war between Baasha and him causes him to make a league with Ben-Hadad
23. Jehoshaphat succeeds Asa
25. Nadab's wicked reign
27. Baasha conspiring against him, executes Ahijah's prophecy
31. Nadab's acts and death
33. Baasha's wicked reign
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 15:17
LibraryDavid's Sin in the Matter of Uriah.
"And David said unto Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' And Nathan said unto David, 'The lord also hath put away thy sin; then shalt not die.'" The sin here referred to is that of David in the matter of Uriah. A strange and sad event--taken in all its circumstances and connections, it is without a parallel. But the circumstance most to be lamented, is that mentioned by the prophet, in the close of his message--"By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." …
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects
Whether Christ is the Head of the Church?
Whether it is Proper to Christ to be Head of the Church?
Whether Obedience is the Greatest of the virtues?
Whether Christ Died Out of Obedience?
Whether Disobedience is the Most Grievous of Sins?
Whether Predestination Can be Furthered by the Prayers of the Saints?
Whether it is Lawful for Clerics to Kill Evil-Doers?
Whether it is Becoming to Pray?
Asa's Reformation, and Consequent Peace and victory
Whether Vengeance Should be Taken on those who have Sinned Involuntarily?
Redemption for Man Lost to be Sought in Christ.
Question Lxxxiii of Prayer
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