2 Chronicles 14 – The Reign of Asa
A. The characteristics of the reign of Asa.
1. (1-6) The blessedness of the reign of King Asa.
So Abijah rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land was quiet for ten years. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God, for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him. And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the LORD had given him rest.
a. Asa his son reigned in his place: This great-grandson of Solomon took the throne of Judah at the end of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel, after his father’s brief reign.
b. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD: As is related in 1 Kings 15:11, Asa was more like his ancestor David in his character as a king than he was like his own father.
c. He removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places: Asa launched a reform movement that lashed out against both idolatry and officially sanctioned sin.
i. 1 Kings 15:12 says that he banished the perverted persons from the land. These state-sanctioned homosexual idol-temple prostitutes were introduced into Judah during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:24). Asa’s father Abijah didn’t remove these perversions and idols, but King Asa did.
ii. 1 Kings 15:13 also tells us that he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. This demonstrated the thoroughness of Asa’s reforms. He was able to act righteously even when his family was wrong, in particular his own grandmother (called Michaiah in 2 Chronicles 13:2). “It is in a man’s own family circle that his faithfulness is put fairly to the test.” (Knapp)
d. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers: King Asa could not force people to seek the LORD and obey him. Yet he could command them with moral force and with his own example.
e. He also removed the high places: Interestingly, 1 Kings 15:14 says of the reign of Asa, but the high places were not removed. 2 Chronicles 14:3 connects these high places with altars of the foreign gods. Therefore, Asa removed the high places that were dedicated to idols, but not the ones that were dedicated to the LORD.
f. The kingdom was quiet under him.… because the LORD had given him rest: 1 Kings 15:14 tells us that Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD all his days. Here we see the blessing he and the kingdom of Judah enjoyed from his loyal heart to God.
i. He built fortified cities in Judah: “Though he had no war, yet he provided for it. So did our Queen Elizabeth; and so must every Christian soldier.” (Trapp)
2. (7-8) Asa’s emphasis on strengthening the nation’s defense.
Therefore he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. And Asa had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah who carried shields and spears, and from Benjamin two hundred and eighty thousand men who carried shields and drew bows; all these were mighty men of valor.
a. So they built and prospered: The Chronicler includes this account, not previously recorded in 1 Kings, to encourage the people in his own day who had been allowed to rebuild the destroyed city of Jerusalem after its fall to the Babylonians.
B. Deliverance from the Ethiopians.
1. (9-11) The threat from Ethiopia and the cry to God.
Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, 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!”
a. Came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots: This fearful army obviously posed a great threat to the kingdom of Judah. Even though Judah had an army of 580,000 men (2 Chronicles 14:8), this enemy army was almost twice as large.
i. Asa could know that God’s power was not limited because the army of Judah was smaller, by what God did for Judah under the reign of Abijah, his father (2 Chronicles 13:3).
ii. “Zerah himself is most likely to have been a Nubian (= Sudanese) general in the army of Pharaoh Osorkon I (c. 924-884 B.C.), Shoshenq I’s son and successor (cf. 2 Chronicles 12:2ff.).” (Selman)
b. Asa cried out to the LORD his God: Asa’s prayer showed that he correctly understood that God’s power was not enhanced or limited by man’s apparent strength or weakness. He recognized that this battle belonged to the LORD and called upon God to defend His honor (do not let man prevail against You!).
i. “Remind God of His entire responsibility.” (Meyer)
2. (12-15) God gives Judah victory over the Ethiopians.
So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the LORD and His army. And they carried away very much spoil. Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem.
a. So the LORD struck the Ethiopians: God fought on behalf of King Asa and the kingdom of Judah; He fought so effectively that they were broken before the LORD and His army.
b. And they carried away very much spoil: Not only were the people of God delivered from this danger, they were also enriched when the LORD fought on their behalf. In this sense, they were more than conquerors in that the LORD did the fighting and they shared in the spoil.
i. “The spoil was immense, because the multitude was prodigious, indeed almost incredible; a million of men in one place is almost too much for the mind to conceive, but there may be some mistake in the numerals; it is evident from the whole account that the number was vast and the spoil great.” (Clarke)