Then King Asa summoned all the men of Judah, with no exceptions, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timbers Baasha had used for building. And with these materials King Asa built up Geba of Benjamin, as well as Mizpah.
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.
They took away the stones of Ramah.
1. Is it not much the same as if a man should use the materials of his old self with which to build the structure of a new and nobler manhood? Suppose a man to have come over to what is expressively termed the Lord's side: we will ask, What have you done with the old material — is it to be left — is it to be utilised? Have you been so foolish as to leave all the old stuff in the enemy's hands? The stuff itself is not bad: it was only put to bad uses. We want you to bring away every stone and every beam, and with the old material to build a new palace. You have come over to the Lord's side, what are you now? How much of the old material have you saved and appropriated to better purposes? In some cases, we fear, the disguise is so complete that your own mother would not know you now. You have succeeded in burying every talent, powdering every stone, burning every beam — the old material is not found among the resources of your better life. Ramah has not become Mizpah. You were once musical; and now you scarcely mumble a hymn in church, much less sing. Ramah has not become Geba of Benjamin, or Mizpah. You have left the music with the enemy instead of bringing it with you and sanctifying it, by a new baptism, to higher and diviner uses.
2. What is true of the building up of the individual, is true also of the building up of the Church. It is recorded of one of the Wesleys that when he heard anybody singing a nice tune on the streets, he used to loiter about until he got the melody thoroughly into his head, and then he went away and set divine words to the prostituted music. He said, "The devil has all the best tunes." Persons looking at Wesley standing listening to the street singer, would say, "What, is he caught by the song?" and they might have attributed wrong motives to his standing there, but he was pulling down Ramah that he might build Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. The tune that was used to carry evil sentiments or bad language was brought over to tell the world the great gospel. Here is a man whom we have taken from the enemy who has a gift of music: what is he going to do with it in the Church? Let us employ him at once as a singing missionary; send him out to sing. He will find the voice, we find the words. Is it possible to sing the gospel? Verily so. In a recent walk I saw some little fellows about two feet and a half high — little bunches of papers on their arms, sitting on the steps, and looking at one another so coyly and nicely, with unkempt hair, and their bare feet and their tattered garments — and there was I, poor dumb priest, on my way to talk to the luxury of the age, and I felt the tears in my throat as I cursed myself. I would that some lady could have gone to those little fellows and have sung them some little hymn or sweet song. It would have been odd: it might have been useful. It would have created a laugh for the time being: it might have won a conquest. It would have been called ridiculous: in heaven it might have been termed sacrificial. What are you doing with the old material? Here is a man we have captured, who used to be quite famous for his humour. He was in very deed a wit. He saw the comical aspect of every question, he had a keen eye for the ludicrous, a happy tongue for the expression of all that he saw and felt. He is now in the Church — what is he doing? Sleeping. The Church will not have him. The Church is wrong. We should make a modern Elijah of him, and he should taunt the priests of evil on their own ground and across their own altars, till they ran away for very shame. Such a man should have a function in the Church. But is there not danger in employing such persons to do such work? Yes, there is danger in doing it; but, as we view the case, there is more danger in not doing it. We are too much afraid of danger. There was great danger in entrusting the revelation of Christianity to a few fishermen, ignorant and feeble in every aspect of social importance. We dare not have done it. We should hardly have trusted any one of those men to have posted a letter. But Jesus entrusted them with a letter for the universe. Clothe men with responsibilities if you would call up their supreme, power to its best expression, its most solid and massive and dominating attitude. We want to know what has become of the old material. You were greater on the other side than you are on this. You made more of a figure, you created a deeper impression, you were better known as an actor than ever you have been known as a preacher — how is that? You were better known as a blasphemer than you are known as a suppliant — how is that? O that we could utilise all the old forces! Jesus Christ works in the spirit of this text in building up His kingdom. Jesus Christ will overthrow the fortress of the enemy, and take every stone and beam and timber away, and rear new edifices with them. Out of the ruins of the drunkard, Jesus Christ builds the apostle of temperance. Jesus is building His great house, and some day men will say about the stones that are in it, "What are these, and whence came they?" and Jesus will answer with a pride of satisfaction flooding and flaming His soul, "Every stone that is there is precious to Me: this is Ramah, rebuilt as Geba; this is the old fortress turned into the new sanctuary"; and as He looks upon that palace, wide as the horizon, high as heaven, what wonder if, seeing the travail of His soul, He is satisfied?
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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
TopicsAsa, Baasa, Baasha, Ba'asha, Benjamin, Builded, Buildeth, Building, Built, Carried, Exempt, Exempt-and, Exempted, Geba, Got, Issued, Judah, Judah-none, Lift, Making, Mizpah, None, Order, Proclamation, Ramah, Stones, Summoned, Thereof, Therewith, Throughout, Timber, Using, Wherewith, Wood
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 15:1-31
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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