2 Chronicles 14:8-12
8 King Asa had an army of 300,000 warriors from the tribe of Judah, armed with large shields and spears. He also had an army of 280,000 warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, armed with small shields and bows. Both armies were composed of well-trained fighting men. 9 Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of 1,000,000 men[d] and 300 chariots. They advanced to the town of Mareshah, 10 so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. 11 Then Asa cried out to the Lord his God, “O Lord, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O Lord, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” 12 So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled.
Where does the victory come from? Does it come through prayer? When Asa became king the people were worshipping other gods so he challenged the people to turn their hearts back to God. As he prayed and listened to God, others started to turn away from their false gods and began to tear down their altars. 10 years into his rule after the reforms were in place King Zerah brought a vast army toward Judah. Asa’s army was half the size of Zerah’s army and technologically inferior because Zerah’s had the latest war technology. War chariots, the equivalent of the modern tank, able to provided shielding and mobility for archers, allowing troops to arrive at the front fresh and rested. This threat tested Asa’s leadership and even though he had a lot of worldly resources at his disposal he trusted in God. Asa was on his face before the Lord crying out “We’re not trusting in our army [our resources] but in you Lord.”
Asa revealed a willingness to hope and trust in God and turning to God’s heart in prayer admits human helplessness. So the Lord struck down Asa’s enemy and they fled in fear, broken and scattered and Asa gathered a great plunder. 25 years later (chapter 16) Asa was again threatened, and he faced a similar situation to what he had faced before. What would you do? This time (2 Chron 16:3) “Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus.” “Let there be a treaty[a] between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
Asa had wealth from God’s blessings in the past and now he tries to use it to work out his problems on his own. The crazy part is that it worked, Asa and Ben-Hadad advanced, Baasha retreated and Asa was able to break the enemy and get even more plunder. Everybody was happy, well almost everyone: (Chapter 16)
7 At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. 8 Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians[c] and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers?[d] At that time you relied on the Lord, and he handed them over to you. 9 The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” 10 Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people.
Asa stopped trusting God and turned to leaning on self, he eventually had a foot disease that took his life and even in his last days he did not turn to the Lord for help. The contrast between chapter 14 and 16 is stark: Ch 14 He trusted in God when everything was on the line. Ch 16 He trusted only in self and turned away from God. It’s not the start but the finish that counts and it’s easy to start out strong and finish weak. How did the change take place? I wonder if Asa began to take God for granted, maybe he began to think that God was lucky to have him. He stopped praying, and instead leaned on his own ability and resources to solve his problems. I even wonder if he began to congratulate himself for his own success. How is your prayer life today? Has God answered some of your prayers, so many that you have forgotten him? Have you gotten the girl, or the job, or the home, and now you no longer need God. Has your passion for prayer slipped away? As you reflect on the experiences of your life, what happened when you were on your knees, what happened when you were not? Faith is about trusting God and prayer is an invitation to step into a deeper reliance on Him and see His power at work. Prayer is always about change, it is one of the vehicles that God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change we will abandon prayer and it will not become a practiced part of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Him.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Poverty stricken as the church is today in many things, most stricken in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, but few prayers; many singers but few lingerers; lots of pastors but few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, but little passion; many interferers, but few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”
So where does the victory come from? Where did it come from for Asa, where are you turning, is it to God in prayer?