Asa saw it as a boy during his dad’s reign as king of Judah. Their army of 400,000 up against the northern king’s army of 800,000 was out numbered 2 to 1, and yet they were victorious. How come? The divine record leaves no ambiguity as to what turned the tide in their favor:
Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.
(2Chronicles 13:18 ESV)
Then, like father like son. When Asa took the throne he too found himself in a similar situation–his army of 580,000 men nose to nose with an enemy horde of a million men and 300 chariots. And he too looked to the LORD. And the LORD looked with favor upon Asa.
And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like You to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.
(2Chronicles 14:11-12 ESV)
But in the thirty-sixth year of his reign, after decades of calling the people of Judah to seek the LORD with all their heart and soul (2Chron. 15), something changed in Asa’s heart.
In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, the king of the northern tribes again takes an aggressive stance against Judah and starts to build siege works. But now, rather than relying on the LORD, as he had in the past, Asa pulls out his checkbook (actually, it’s God’s checkbook as he takes “silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the LORD”) and hires the Syrians to distract the king of Israel.
And God calls him on it. He sends a prophet to confront the aging king of Judah:
” . . . you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God . . . ”
(2Chronicles 16:7 ESV)
And it get’s weirder. Rather than heed the LORD’s rebuke and repent, Asa gets angry at the LORD’s messenger and throws him in prison. What’s more he is so enraged and so cranky that he inflicts “cruelties upon some of the people at the same time” (16:10).
And for the next five years, until his death, this king who had known what it was to rely on the LORD and had repeatedly seen the power of God to defy insurmountable odds, would maintain a posture of independent, self-reliance. The divine record also chronicling for the ages to follow that even when Asa suffered a debilitating ailment in his feet, “yet even in this disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians” (16:12).
How does that even happen? Pride? I’m guessin’. Complacency? Probably. Having enough resources at hand to be self-sufficient? For sure.
Another reminder in Scripture that starting well doesn’t guarantee finishing well. That running the race diligently for most of the race doesn’t excuse us from running the homestretch with equal purpose and diligence. That without faith, regardless of whether you’ve been a man of faith for most of your life, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
O, to be protected from a prideful, independent attitude. O, to resist the temptation to use what’s been given in abundance as a means to avoid trusting in the Giver of that abundance.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
(2Chronicles 16:9a ESV)
O that I might never cease, in all things, to have a heart wired, by His enabling, to trust and depend on the LORD. That I might look to Him alone, in every situation, as my strong support.
That I would be a lifelong relier.
By His grace. For His glory.