Explore the Bible Study: Return

2:14 PM

 

Have you ever used correction fluid or tape to correct a typo in a document? How effective was it? Correction fluid can cover a mistake. However, once the mistake is corrected, you must be careful when writing over the spot so that you don't mess it up again. This is true when we make corrections in our lives regarding sin. We can ask forgiveness and it is freely given by Jesus Christ. However, we must be careful because there is the possibility that we might mess up the corrections by choosing to sin again. The Explore the Bible Study: Return, reveals how this plays out in the life of King Asa in 1 Kings 15:9-22.

1 Kings 15 is about correcting the sin of the people of God. After Solomon’s reign as king over a united Israel, his sin and unrepentant heart broke apart the kingdom. This took place during his son Rehoboam's  reign as king (1 Kings 12:1). The united kingdom of God’s people split into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam was the king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

After Rehoboam died, his son Abijam became king but only reigned for three years. Sadly, he continued in his father’s evil ways rather than following the spiritual example of his great grandfather, King David. Asa became king of Judah following his father Abijam’s death (1 Kings 15:9). Asa tried correcting the sin and evil practices that had become engrained into the culture of Judah.

As you examine Asa’s corrections, you will see how repentance can stop the spiraling effects of sin, but you will also discover the cautions one must make after making these corrections.

You must be decisive and specific when making a correction (repenting)—1 Kings 15:9-15

Asa became king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, around 910 BC. During this time, Jeroboam was still king of Israel, the Northern Kingdom.  Asa reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem, and his long reign brought stability to Judah. Notice that the biblical writer stated that Asa did what was right in the Lord’s sight (v.11). The word translated "right" also can mean “just” or “upright” and has as its root meaning the idea of straightness. Asa followed straight after the Lord for most of his reign.

Asa knew that sin had to be dealt with both decisively and specifically. He began with the practice of idolatry.

  1. First, he banished the male cult prostitutes from the land. Many of the Canaanite peoples practiced sexual rites as part of their pagan worship. This was not to be practiced by God’s people, so Asa rid the land of male cult prostitutes who provided sex as part of pagan worship.
  2. Second, Asa removed all of the idols that his ancestors had made. Both Solomon and Rehoboam were guilty of making idols. Asa knew that he needed to encourage the people to worship God but also to remove the sources of temptation they faced to maintain their idolatry.  
  3. Third, Asa’s reforms included action against members of his own family. Asa determined that his own grandmother could no longer hold the role of queen mother because she had made an obscene image of an Asherah, a Canaanite goddess of fertility.
  4. Fourth, Asa took action against the image his grandmother had made. He chopped down her obscene image and burned it in the Kidron Valley. He likely did this publicly so everyone could see his desire for the people to worship God alone. The narrow Kidron Valley lay immediately east of Jerusalem between the city and the Mount of Olives.  
  5. Fifth, Asa brought his father’s consecrated gifts and his own consecrated gifts into the Lord’s temple. The word consecrated occurs twice in this verse and comes from a root that means “set apart” or “separate.” Asa desired to set these gifts apart for the Lord’s service. The king’s actions again testified to his determination to follow the Lord.

Do you consider Asa’s approach to repentance too harsh? Why or why not?  What are your thoughts on how he dealt with his grandmother? What application can we draw from Asa’s example? How would people react if this were to take place today in the church? In your home? In our country? What keeps you from responding to your own sin in this manner?

Asa was king and he needed to set the example by correcting what he could as the leader. This passage does remind us that Asa didn’t take away all the high places, yet affirms that Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his entire life. Perhaps this is stated so that we might understand that Asa could not solve every spiritual issue in Judah, or perhaps it was intended to remind us that Asa didn’t go as far as he should have when making corrections. In either case, Asa’s forty-one-year reign did correct the sinful direction Judah was heading and positively impacted Judah’s spiritual climate.

God expects believers to follow Him wholeheartedly. Our decisive and specific actions to correct sin in our own lives can have a profound spiritual influence over others. If we aren’t willing to be decisive and specific regarding correcting sin in our lives, it is difficult for others to follow our lead.

Notice next that, while Asa was known for wholeheartedly following God, he still struggled with depending on God completely.

Difficulties can cause one to forget past corrections—1 Kings 15:16-19

2 Chronicles 14:1 tells us that Asa did experience a ten-year period of peace. However, after Baasha became king of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), conflict eventually resumed between the two kingdoms again. This passage refers to one of the occasions when King Baasha went to war against Judah, and Baasha’s attack left Asa in a vulnerable position. Baasha blocked a key passageway, cutting off trade and communication with Judah and restricting Asa’s travel northwest to the Mediterranean coast or northeast to the Jordan Valley. 

Asa could not allow Baasha to block him in. This is when he made some mistakes. 

  • First, he didn’t depend on the Lord to protect him but sought protection from a pagan king. Ben-hadad, reigned over Aram (Syria) and was a strong leader.
  • Second, he removed the consecrated gifts and his own consecrated gifts from the Lord’s temple that he had previously given back to the Lord (v.15) and paid them as a bribe to this pagan king along with the treasuries of the royal palace. Not only did he dishonor God, but he emptied his treasury of valuable resources.

2 Chronicles 16:7-10 tells us what was wrong with Asa’s decision: 7 At that time, the seer Hanani came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Aram and have not depended on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from you. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a vast army with many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on the Lord, he handed them over to you. 9 For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on.” 10 Asa was enraged with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.

Under what kinds of pressures might make a person resort to taking matters into their own hands? What is the danger of making desperate decisions? Do you sometimes find it difficult to trust God when faced with a challenging situation?

Believers must guard their hearts when they face difficulties. Sometimes human means of solving an issue may fall outside God’s plan. God calls on us to trust in Him rather than pursuing an action that may be less than ethical. When we face difficult decisions, we should pray, perhaps seek counsel from other believers, and only proceed when we are convinced our course of action is what God wants (Romans 14:5).

You must continue to depend on God after a correction—1 Kings 15:20-22

Ben-hadad listened to King Asa. Aram’s king sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel in Israel’s northern territory. When Ben-hadad attacked, Baasha knew his northern border was vulnerable. Asa’s strategy achieved its purpose. 

Baasha’s advance had ended, so King Asa commanded the people to come and remove Baasha’s barricade and open the highways again. Then King Asa used the stones and timbers used in the barricade to fortify Geba and Mizpah. On the surface, this appeared to be wise actions taken by a wise king. Yet, the focus was on the outcome of an agreement with a pagan king and the dependance on barricades built by the people for protection.

There is no mention of God’s protection or guidance in this situation. While Asa did make some corrections that brought about some spiritual renewal, his actions here indicated he continued to ignore God in other areas of life. Overall, Asa was a good king who wholeheartedly followed the Lord. Nevertheless, here Asa chose to trust his own strategy rather than God’s protection.

What About You?

Asa received a favorable judgment from the writer of 1 Kings for stopping the downward spiral of sin; yet it’s obvious he was continually plagued with making sinful mistakes. Repentance from sin can stop sin’s spiraling effects and turn us in the direction God desires. Yet, this doesn’t mean we stop evaluating every action after a correction. We must continually protect ourselves from making the same sinful mistakes after making a correction.

You have seen the correction Asa made with God that brought about spiritual renewal, and you have seen the sinful decisions made as well. Can you relate to Asa? How many times have you made corrections to sin in your life through repentance and confession, only to find yourself making sinful choices later? 

How can you protect yourself from making mistakes after making a spiritual course correction?

What advice would you give someone who struggles with constantly sinning after a spiritual correction is made?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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