“At that time Hanai 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. . . .Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Asa’s is really a sad story, but one that is repeated far too often in the lives of the people around us. Nearly all of his life he sought the Lord faithfully and the nation prospered for it. God led him to achieve incredible victories that would not have otherwise been possible. He elevated the spiritual lives of the people and the spiritual climate of the nation. He was a king in the model of David in nearly ever way. Until he wasn’t.
When the northern kingdom came and did this petty this, building up the military outpost of Ramah so that Israelites who were still faithful to the Lord couldn’t defect to Asa’s faithful southern kingdom, rather than dealing with the issue himself, or better yet, trusting in the Lord to provide for His people as He had over and over again during his reign, Asa paid off a pagan neighbor to deal with the problem for him. He forsook his trust in the Lord and instead trusted in his wealth to get the problem solved. Wealth that was his only because of the faithfulness of the Lord. Then, when he was called on his unfaithfulness, he doubled down on it. He got angry at God for not overlooking this one thing, and turned away from Him wholesale. In the end, he finished poorly.
How often have we seen someone live a long and faithful life only to turn away at the end and finish poorly Some use the excuse that they’ve put in their time and deserve a break. Some argue that if God isn’t willing to let this one thing go, then He isn’t worth their time anymore. Some just get tired of fighting temptation and give up on the battle. Whatever the pathway, the results are the same. It’s tough to watch someone finish the race of life poorly because of an embrace of unfaithfulness. Finishing well is, in some ways, even more important than having everything together at the beginning or in the middle. How we finish is what will remain on the minds and hearts of the people around us.
Let Asa’s story be a tale of caution for you. Whatever it takes to finish well in the faith is worth the effort to make it happen. You will be better for it and so will your children and grandchildren. And, because we don’t know when our end will come, finishing well isn’t something we can put off until later. We need to live every day with the thought of finishing well that day firmly in our minds and hearts. By this we will enjoy the ongoing pleasure and favor of our God.