Those of you who read my blog are familiar with the fact that I read a devotional Bible that is split into sections for each day. By the end of the year, I've read the Bible through once again.
But, isn't it amazing no matter how many times I've read the scriptures through, verses and new truths still pop out?
As I read the section from the Old Testament today, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between that time and ours.
"The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Obed. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.'" 2 Chronicles 15:1-7.
Asa in this passage is the king of Judah. He was trying to follow God and receives this message from Azariah, encouraging him in his right ways.
Notice the troubles that were upon Israel - unsafe travel, lands in great turmoil, one nation being crushed by another, and one city by another. Why did this happen? The verses before the listing shows the answer plainly - Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach them, and without the law.
Do these troubles seem familiar? And does the cause seem all too similar to our time?
Let's face it, much of what is happening around us is the result of not following God, ignoring His teaching, and His commands. Just as the verse states above, if we forsake God, He will forsake us. God doesn't force anyone into His kingdom. Jesus might be persistent at knocking on the door of hearts, but you'll never find Him knocking it down. And where there is no God ruling, there is distress and trouble.
Let's turn to the remedy for this distress and trouble. The verses also tell us that the people turned back to God. They sought Him, and He was there.
I believe in some ways that King Asa felt a bit like a lone ranger. Other nations much larger were coming against him, but he was victorious because he called on God. I truly believe that God wanted Asa to know that he was in the right by seeking and serving Him. It didn't matter the size of the opponent, Asa would be victorious because God was on his side.
Here's where I caught some encouragement for myself and other believers. Don't we so often get defeated? We feel we are up against such large obstacles and large majorities of peoples who don't follow God. Wouldn't it just be easier to join the other side? How can we prevail in the face of such troubles?
Take heart and courage from this passage of scripture. As Christians, we have to stand strong on our beliefs, not give up, and know that we are heading toward reward.
Don't let the turmoil of this world keep you from focusing on the true God. Hear anew and afresh the words of Azariah. Reread the passage above from Second Chronicles and remember that the Lord is with you when you are with him!