You never know when you’re going to come upon a truth about God worthy of note. And sometimes promises of God show up in the least expected places. This morning both those things appear in a rebuke from God.
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He gave them into your hand. 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. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
(2Chronicles 16:7-9 ESV)
Asa king of Judah, a royal enigma.
At one time he knew what it meant to depend on God. Had faced down an enemy army of a million men, 320,000 more men than he had under his command. Had defeated them soundly. And that, because He had cried out to the LORD. Had believed that there was no God like His God “to help, between the mighty and the weak.” Had relied on the Name above every name even as he drew up battle lines against an enemy which thought they had the upper hand (2Chr. 14:9-12).
But then, fast forward to another time. A time after King Asa had known decades of peace, power, and prosperity. A time when another enemy shows up at the king’s door. A time, unlike the previous time, when no prayer is prayed. When no reliance is required. Because it’s a time when the king can simply buy his way out of trouble with the silver and gold at his disposal. No need to cry out to the Lord, because he had things under control. No faith exercised, for his resources were sufficient. Problem solved. (2Chr. 16:1-6).
Problem solved, but opportunity missed. The enemy’s threat was gone, but the enemy remained. God’s people were again safe, but God’s power never showed up. While the money was sufficient to buy an earthly solution, it did nothing to foster and strengthen a heavenly relationship.
And so, the LORD sends a spokesman to rebuke the self-sufficient king. And in that rebuke there is a truth to learn about God. And in that rebuke there is a promise to claim from God.
First, the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth. Chew on that for a sec. Our God is not some passive God. Our God is not a God who has set this world He created spinning on its axis only to sit back, put His feet up, and be amused by how things play out. No, our God is a God who leans over the balcony of heaven and looks down. Whose eyes are searching, roaming, throughout the whole earth. Our God is a God who is “constantly on the lookout” (MSG).
Does God know? Yes, He knows. Does He care? Yes, He cares. That’s a truth to know.
What’s more, His eyes “range throughout the earth” (NIV) looking for opportunities to intervene — “to give strong support.” He wants to strengthen those He has made in His image even as He shows Himself strong on their behalf. And that’s a promise to claim.
So what’s the key to experiencing this truth about God that He’s constantly seeking for situations to be actively engaged in? The key to appropriating the promise of God that His power will be deployed on His people’s behalf?
The key is a “heart blameless toward Him.” A heart “at peace” with Him. A heart wholly devoted to Him. A heart wholly reliant upon Him.
The lesson of King Asa’s life is the lesson of reliance upon the Lord. Of a heart devoted to, and dependent on God.
And in that reliance we are visited by the God who sees. And in such dependence we are strengthened by the God who promises to give strength.
Not by our might. Not through our wisdom. Not due to our merit.
But by His grace. And for His glory.