Have you ever wrestled with using your own plan versus following God’s plan? We’ve all been there at one point or another, but we can learn much about the importance of following God’s plan by studying the life of a king named Asa.
The book of Second Chronicles holds an interesting account of the reign of Asa, king of the nation of Judah. Asa is described as a man who “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God“ (2 Chron. 14:2, NKJV). Early in his rule, Asa ignited a spiritual renewal across the nation by removing idols, altars, and other images dedicated to foreign gods. He commanded his people to seek Jehovah God and to observe His law. God blessed Asa for these actions, granting his nation a period of peace and prosperity.
However, after ten years of Asa’s reign, the Ethiopian leader Zerah led his troops to battle against Judah. Asa’s army of 580,000 was highly outnumbered by Zerah’s troop of over one million. Still, Asa set his troops against the Ethiopians, confident that his God would deliver them. “Help us, O LORD our God,” Asa cried, “for we rest on You and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (2 Chron. 14:11). God struck the Ethiopians before Asa and caused the army to flee. Asa and Judah pursued their enemies, overthrew them, and carried away great spoil. Though far outnumbered, the army of Judah miraculously won the battle, because their leader put his total trust in the Lord!
After this great victory, Asa continued his spiritual reform in Judah by ordering the people to seek the Lord with all their heart or face death! God continued to prosper the nation, causing many people from surrounding areas to move into the land. In response, Baasha, the king of Israel, built up the city of Ramah on their border between Israel and Judah in an effort to block the flow of traffic in and out of Asa’s country.
Unfortunately, Asa made a drastic mistake in dealing with this potential threat. This time, instead of trusting his God for victory as he had before, Asa developed his own plan by forming a pact with the king of Syria against Israel. Syria attacked Israel, drawing Baasha’s attention away from Ramah. Asa then led Judah to take over the border city and establish their own cities. On the surface, it seemed that Asa’s plan had worked. However, the prophet Hanani came to Asa to confront him for making the foolish mistake of relying on man instead of God. Hanani prophesied that Asa would have wars as a result of his mistake.
We can learn a lot from Asa, both good and bad. His life demonstrates how we need to rely heavily on the Lord instead of ourselves or others. We need to realize that God’s plan is always better than our plan. We would do well to keep the words of Hanani the prophet fresh in our minds: “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9).