2 Chronicles 14-16
King Asa of Judah
14 Abijah died and was buried in Jerusalem. Then his son Asa became king, and Judah had ten years of peace.
2 Asa obeyed the Lord his God and did right. 3 He destroyed the local shrines[a] and the altars to foreign gods. He smashed the stone images of gods and cut down the sacred poles[b] used in worshiping the goddess Asherah. 4 Then he told everyone in Judah to worship the Lord God, just as their ancestors had done, and to obey his laws and teachings. 5 He destroyed every local shrine and incense altar in Judah.
6 The Lord blessed Judah with peace while Asa was king, and so during that time, Asa fortified many of the towns. 7 He said to the people, “Let's build walls and defense towers for these towns, and put in gates that can be locked with bars. This land still belongs to us, because we have obeyed the Lord our God. He has given us peace from all our enemies.” The people did everything Asa had suggested.
8 Asa had a large army of brave soldiers: 300,000 of them were from the tribe of Judah and were armed with shields and spears; 280,000 were from Benjamin and were armed with shields and bows.
Judah Defeats Ethiopia's Army
11 Asa prayed:
Lord God, only you can help a powerless army defeat a stronger one. So we depend on you to help us. We will fight against this powerful army to honor your name, and we know that you won't be defeated. You are the Lord our God.
12 The Lord helped Asa and his army defeat the Ethiopians. The enemy soldiers ran away, 13 but Asa and his troops chased them as far as Gerar. It was a total defeat—the Ethiopians could not even fight back![e]
The soldiers from Judah took everything that had belonged to the Ethiopians. 14 The people who lived in the villages around Gerar learned what had happened and were afraid of the Lord. So Judah's army easily defeated them and carried off everything of value that they wanted from these towns. 15 They also attacked the camps where the shepherds lived and took a lot of sheep, goats, and camels. Then they went back to Jerusalem.
Asa Destroys the Idols in Judah
15 Some time later, God spoke to Azariah son of Oded. 2 At once, Azariah went to Asa and said:
Listen to me, King Asa and you people of Judah and Benjamin. The Lord will be with you and help you, as long as you obey and worship him. But if you disobey him, he will desert you.
3 For a long time, the people of Israel did not worship the true God or listen to priests who could teach them about God. They refused to obey God's Law. 4 But whenever trouble came, Israel turned back to the Lord their God and worshiped him.
5 There was so much confusion in those days that it wasn't safe to go anywhere in Israel. 6 Nations were destroying each other, and cities were wiping out other cities, because God was causing trouble and unrest everywhere.
7 So you must be brave. Don't give up! God will honor you for obeying him.
8 As soon as Asa heard what Azariah the prophet said, he gave orders for all the idols in Judah and Benjamin to be destroyed, including those in the towns he had captured in the territory of Ephraim. He also repaired the Lord's altar that was in front of the temple porch.
9 Asa called together the people from Judah and Benjamin, as well as the people from the territories of Ephraim, West Manasseh, and Simeon who were living in Judah. Many of these people were now loyal to Asa, because they had seen that the Lord was with him.
10 In the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's rule, they all met in Jerusalem. 11 That same day, they took 700 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats from what they had brought back from Gerar and sacrificed them as offerings to the Lord. 12 They made a solemn promise to faithfully worship the Lord God their ancestors had worshiped, 13 and to put to death anyone who refused to obey him. 14 The crowd solemnly agreed to keep their promise to the Lord, then they celebrated by shouting and blowing trumpets and horns. 15 Everyone was happy because they had made this solemn promise, and in return, the Lord blessed them with peace from all their enemies.
16 Asa's grandmother Maacah had made a disgusting idol of the goddess Asherah, so he cut it down, crushed it, and burned it in Kidron Valley. Then he removed Maacah from her position as queen mother.[f] 17 As long as Asa lived, he was faithful to the Lord, even though he did not destroy the local shrines[g] in Israel. 18 He placed in the temple all the silver and gold objects that he and his father had dedicated to God.
19 There was peace in Judah until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's rule.
King Baasha of Israel Invades Judah
16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's rule, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and captured the town of Ramah. He started making the town stronger, and he put troops there to stop people from going in and out of Judah.
2 When Asa heard about this, he took the silver and gold from his palace and from the Lord's temple. Then he sent it to Damascus with this message for King Benhadad of Syria: 3 “I think we should sign a peace treaty, just as our fathers did. This silver and gold is a present for you. Would you please break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel and force him to leave my country?”
4 Benhadad did what Asa asked and sent the Syrian army into Israel. They captured the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-Maim,[h] and all the towns in Naphtali where supplies were kept. 5 When Baasha heard about it, he stopped his work on the town of Ramah.
6 Asa ordered everyone in Judah to carry away the stones and wood Baasha had used to fortify Ramah. Then he fortified the towns of Geba and Mizpah with these same stones and wood.
Hanani the Prophet Condemns Asa
7 Soon after that happened, Hanani the prophet went to Asa and said:
You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the Lord your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army. 8 Remember how powerful the Ethiopian[i] and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the Lord to help you then, and you defeated them. 9 The Lord is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again.
10 When Asa heard this, he was so angry that he put Hanani in prison. Asa was also cruel to some of his people.[j]
11 Everything Asa did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his rule, he got a very bad foot disease, but he relied on doctors and refused to ask the Lord for help. 13 He died two years later.
14 Earlier, Asa had his own tomb cut out of a rock hill in Jerusalem. So he was buried there, and the tomb was filled with spices and sweet-smelling oils. Then the people built a bonfire in his honor.
- 14.3 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
- 14.3 sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
- 14.9 Ethiopia: See the note at 12.3.
- 14.9 Mareshah: About 40 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem.
- 14.13 the Ethiopians could not even fight back: Or “not one of the Ethiopians survived!”
- 15.16 queen mother: Or “the mother of the king,” which was an important position in biblical times (see 1 Kings 2.19).
- 15.17 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
- 16.4 Abel-Maim: Also called “Abel-Bethmaacah” (see 1 Kings 15.20).
- 16.8 Ethiopian: See the note at 12.3.
- 16.10 Asa was also cruel … people: Or “Asa also started being cruel to some of his people.”
God's Choice of Israel
9 I am a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a witness to my conscience. So I tell the truth and I am not lying when I say 2 my heart is broken and I am in great sorrow. 3 I would gladly be placed under God's curse and be separated from Christ for the good of my own people. 4 (A) They are the descendants of Israel, and they are also God's chosen people. God showed them his glory. He made agreements with them and gave them his Law. The temple is theirs and so are the promises that God made to them. 5 They have those famous ancestors, who were also the ancestors of the Christ.[a] I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever![b] Amen.
6 It cannot be said that God broke his promise. After all, not all of the people of Israel are the true people of God. 7-8 (B) In fact, when God made the promise to Abraham, he meant only Abraham's descendants by his son Isaac. God was talking only about Isaac when he promised 9 (C) Sarah, “At this time next year I will return, and you will already have a son.”
10 Don't forget what happened to the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. 11-12 (D) Even before they were born or had done anything good or bad, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger one. The Lord said this to show he makes his own choices and it wasn't because of anything either of them had done. 13 (E) That's why the Scriptures say that the Lord liked Jacob more than Esau.
14 Are we saying God is unfair? Certainly not! 15 (F) The Lord told Moses that he has pity and mercy on anyone he wants to. 16 Everything then depends on God's mercy and not on what people want or do. 17 (G) In the Scriptures the Lord says to the king of Egypt, “I let you become king, so that I could show you my power and be praised by all people on earth.” 18 Everything depends on what God decides to do, and he can either have pity on people or make them stubborn.
God's Anger and Mercy
19 Someone may ask, “How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?” 20 (H) But, my friend, I ask, “Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did? 21 (I) Doesn't a potter have the right to make a fancy bowl and a plain bowl out of the same lump of clay?”
22 (J) God wanted to show his anger and reveal his power against everyone who deserved to be destroyed. But instead, he patiently put up with them. 23 He did this by showing how glorious he is when he has pity on the people he has chosen to share in his glory. 24 Whether Jews or Gentiles, we are those chosen ones,
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)
The Wonders of God and the Goodness of His Law
1 The heavens keep telling
the wonders of God,
and the skies declare
what he has done.
2 Each day informs
the following day;
each night announces
to the next.
3 They don't speak a word,
and there is never
the sound of a voice.
4 (A) Yet their message reaches
all the earth,
and it travels
around the world.
In the heavens a tent
is set up for the sun.
5 It rises like a bridegroom
and gets ready like a hero
eager to run a race.
6 It travels all the way
across the sky.
Nothing hides from its heat.
7 (B) The Law of the Lord is perfect;
it gives us new life.
His teachings last forever,
and they give wisdom
to ordinary people.
8 The Lord's instruction is right;
it makes our hearts glad.
His commands shine brightly,
and they give us light.
9 Worshiping the Lord is sacred;
he will always be worshiped.
All his decisions
are correct and fair.
10 They are worth more
than the finest gold
and are sweeter than honey
from a honeycomb.
11 By your teachings, Lord,
I am warned;
by obeying them,
I am greatly rewarded.
12 None of us know our faults.
Forgive me when I sin
without knowing it.
13 Don't let me do wrong
on purpose, Lord,
or let sin have control
over my life.
Then I will be innocent,
and not guilty
of some terrible fault.
14 Let my words and my thoughts
be pleasing to you, Lord,
because you are my mighty rock[a]
and my protector.
- 19.14 mighty rock: See the note at 18.2.
Words of Wisdom Are Better than Gold
20 It isn't smart to get drunk!
Drinking makes a fool of you
and leads to fights.