Today we continue in Chapter 3, “The Rewards of Righteousness.” To go back to the beginning of Chapter 3, see “Living in the Light of God’s Lamp, Part 7.”
God’s rewards for our faithfulness to Him are not reserved only for heaven. They come in the here and now. The first reward God gave Asa was ten years of peace—something his father never knew throughout his lifetime. This gift from God gave him the opportunity to secure his nation’s defenses and strengthen his armed forces. And had Asa relied on his military strength alone, he would have been living in a house of cards. Fortunately, he realized that God was his real source of strength and power because the first battle of his reign was against the Ethiopian army, which was more than three times the size of the army of Judah! Although it was one million men to 300,000, Asa believed in the impossibilities of God:
Then Asa called to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. O LORD, Thou art our God; let not man prevail against Thee.”
So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Chronicles 14:10-12)
God did it again, right in front of Asa and all of Judah. In fact, the Bible says that so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover. “…they were shattered before the LORD, and before His army.” (2 Chronicles 14:13) God fights for those who trust in Him, who follow His commandments, and who know, who know, that He is their God. The fight began in Mareshah, a city in Judah, and ended in Gerar, a city belonging to the Philistines.[i] As the dread of God’s army spread far and wide, Asa’s troops went on to plunder other cities around Gerar. They came home laden with the spoils of their conquests.
One commentary explains that the Ethiopians served as Egyptian mercenaries, and that two generations prior, Rehoboam, (Asa’s grandfather) had had a similar run-in with the Egyptian army, but with opposite results. When Shishak, king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, they took the treasuries of the house of the Lord and of the king’s palace. In fact, Shishak took everything.
What was the difference? Why was Asa aided by God and granted an incredible conquest, yet Rehoboam was left with only his clothing and a title? You already know by now:
It [Egypt came against Jerusalem] took place when the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong that he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:1)
Bingo. Rehoboam got too big for his britches and thought he didn’t need God or God’s laws anymore. His kingdom was established and strong. After all, he was King Solomon’s son, and Solomon had been the richest, wisest and most powerful king on earth. All the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon and to hear the wisdom God had given him. Rehoboam figured he’d simply inherited God’s favor. So when Egypt came against Rehoboam, they despoiled the richest, most illustrious kingdom in the world. That’s what happens when you forsake God. What’s here today can be gone tomorrow. However, when you align yourself with God and follow His commandments, just as Asa did, you can conquer things in your life you never dreamed—and be rewarded handsomely in the process. In fact, Asa’s conquest of the Ethiopians (in service to Egypt) was so complete that Egypt was unable to come against Israel again for another 160 years.[ii]
When you consider the trade-off between what God asked of Asa, and what God gave to Asa, the scales were tipped so ridiculously on his side, it’s a wonder that the entire world doesn’t get a clue, and give their hearts completely to God. It’s a no-brainer. God’s love for us is so intense, that all He wants is our devotion and a day-to-day love relationship with Him. And out of His great love comes a desire to help us, defend us, protect us, provide for us, and reward us. God also asks us to follow His laws, because He knows that our righteousness brings about our peace and well-being.