Bible Study for Aug. 4: Act of Courage

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2 Chronicles 15:1-9
Blake Dodd, pastor
Young’s Grove Baptist Church, Cedartown

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Courage is a rare commodity in the world in which we live. Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Truly, the Christian Life is a battle of consistency and continuity. When the whole world is quitting and walking away, the battled-tested Christian must press on with courage.

Perhaps no Bible character could speak about courage more than Asa. Asa was King of Judah, the southern kingdom after the time of Solomon from which our Lord would come. In a tumultuous time of Jewish history, he was called and ordained by God to lead the nation in a time of revival.

Jehovah was calling Asa to remove things from the daily life of Israel that had become dear to the average Hebrew. Though leading through change is never easy, Asa had the courage of his convictions and the help of his God to bring success.

Asa was not the only courageous one in his day. A man named Azariah stood out as one who would go against the grain and stand for truth and moral purity in a day rife with wickedness. Perhaps, Azariah’s exhortation of Asa was just what the doctor ordered. This story stands as a reminder to believers everywhere that courage in the midst of strife is the requirement for every child of God. Let’s examine each of these characters further:

Azariah’s Courage (vs. 1-7)

The first few verses of this chapter focus on Azariah. The Bible tells us that the “Spirit of God was on Azariah.” This was a common phrase used to describe supernatural activity of God in the Old Testament, especially when prophetic utterance was given. The Spirit had instructed Azariah to go to Asa, the king, primarily and also to all of Israel.

Asa did not leave the delivery of this message up to chance, but with courage he went out and found the king. His message was simple: “God is with you when you are for Him. You can either find Him or He will forsake you.”

That was a powerful message for a man to deliver to a king. That message is still as powerful today. When we seek God, we will find Him without fail. He will make Himself known to His children.

Azariah’s message served as a warning to Asa. He urged Asa to consider the history of Israel and, rest assured, that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Verses three through six highlight how Israel had gone through a cycle of unfaithfulness that resulted in God’s judgment. There seems to be four stages to this process:

  1. Israel rebels
    The Old Testament is full of stories of God’s people rebelling against God’s will. It seemed every time they started to get it right we were reminded that they were professionals at ruining every good thing God had given them. God would speak, but they wouldn’t listen.
  2. Israel is afflicted
    Disobedience to God never comes without cost. Israel was often afflicted because of their rebellion. Our text shows us that they were afflicted by being “without the true God.” God had removed His presence from them. Not only had He removed His presence, but He had also removed His Word and the teaching of it from the prophets.
  3. Israel repents
    Israel would respond to God’s affliction by repenting of their sins and turning toward God. The text says that “in their distress they turned to the Lord.” God was punishing them not for His enjoyment but for their repentance. He brought trials to their lives so that they might turn back to Him. Do you ever look around your own life or the world in which you live and wonder if God is doing that again?
  4. Israel is delivered
    God’s plans always worked to perfection, and when His people would turn back to Him, then He was always faithful to deliver. In those times, there was “no peace” for anyone who was an enemy of Israel. The God of Israel would crush the nation who stood against His people. God fights for His people.

In verse seven, Azariah encourages Asa to break this vicious cycle. “But you …” I can hear Azariah saying, “Asa! Be different! Don’t be like the rest of the kings! Keep your faith and your courage!”

Asa’s Courage (vs. 8-9)

Asa responded to the message of Azariah by removing all the idols from Israel that had beset them for so long. He destroyed everything that was destroying the spiritual life of his people. That’s what a good leader must do.

Not only did Asa remove the idols that were destroying the spiritual life in Israel, but he restored the thing that would put men back right with God: the altar. He restored the central place of worship back to the central place of their world. It was the place where sin was forgiven and fellowship was restored.

As Asa began to make these changes, people began to see the presence of God in Judah and in his kingship. So they followed after him. Even people from Israel, the northern kingdom, defected to his side and served him.

A question to ask

The Old Testament has many stories with sad endings of destruction and despair. Why does this story end differently? Because two men had courage.

Azariah stood up to the king and showed courage by speaking truth into Asa’s life. Asa showed courage by responding to the word given and confronting a sinful people and leading revival in their hearts and their land. What could God do with people of courage in this day?

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