Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
The scripture revealed that God created man in His own image. It also revealed that God is a Spirit. When the two revelations are compared, a deduction could made that God created a spirit living, righteous, incorruptible and immortal man in all attribute of the Living God in His image.
At the cool of the day, the Creator of the whole universe would come to the Garden of Eden to fellowship with man. On this remarkable cool of the day, He came to the garden; He did not see Adam and Eve in the spot He used to see them. Then God asked, “Where are you?” The all seeing eyes of Almighty God see all the affairs of humanity. This question was not a hypocritical question. God had earlier warned Adam that, ‘You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16) Remember that the scripture told us in the book of Psalm 34:15 that “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry.” Immediately Adam and Eve broke the law of God, they were out of spiritual focus of God. Because the incorruptible nature of Adam has been corrupted, their immortal nature had become mortal and the spiritual candle light of God burning in them was quenched by sin. God could no longer behold the beautiful spiritual image of Himself in Adam and Eve because they now possessed cloudy sin-tainted nature. The very moment Adam and Eve fell into sin, they are spiritually dead. Adam and Eve had a brilliant beginning but ended up in a cloudy end.
A BRILLIANT BEGINNING
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the scared stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He build up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace, No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest. (II Chronicles 14:2-6)
Asa was the king of Judah and he was a brilliant example of a beginning of Christian life. The beginning of the reign of King Asa was remarkably wonderful. The king did something uncommon during his generation. He completely separated himself and the people of Judah from the idolatry that became prevalent among the people. He removed the ungodly foreign altars and destroyed the high places and the scared stones. The Asherah poles (wooden images) example: (Opa Oranyan of Ile-Ife) were cut down. Asa dethroned his grandmother, Maacah from her position in the kingdom as queen mother because she had made a repulsive Asherah pole. He championed the course of godliness among his people. He used his office as a king to direct the hearts of the people of Judah to God with express commandment of the king, he directed them to seek the face of God. He did not relax during the peaceful time in Judah. He redeemed the peaceful time positively in that he used it to build the fortified cities of Judah.
The book of Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Becoming more active in the church activities is very good, especially your good deeds are awesomely acceptable unto God but this alone does not hold any water, if you failed to eliminate the idols in your hearts and discard all the sinful practices from your lives. When you separate yourself from sinfulness of this world, you are paving way for God to manifest His own way in your life and at the same time you are positioning yourself for the divine blessing of God.
When you separate yourself from the world and you pave way for God to move mightly in your life, it does not mean that problem will not come. But when it comes, God will show up and prove Himself as a righteous Father that rewards his faithful children in your life. At the end of the tenth year of reign of Asa, the Cushites (Ethiopians) marched in war against the Judah. The Cushites armies were over a million and that of Judah was little more than half of a million. However, Asa called upon God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” (II Chronicles 14:11) Then God arose in His mightiness and struck down the Cushites in the presence of Asa and the people of Judah. They defeated the Cushite fled and their property became a plunder for the people of Judah.
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded, 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.” (II Chronicle 15:1-7)
Many times in this Christian life journey, we seemed to be traveling alone in the path of righteousness, when we think that we are trying all our best and yet there is no patting on the back. Perhaps it seems that all our efforts are not appreciated, not only necessarily in the eyes of man, but also in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. At times we tend to ask God on our knees when we are seeking His face, perhaps we say, “Lord, is my way pleasing to you? Brethren, if you are walking in the path of righteousness and you put your total trust in Him and you did not allow the situation of this world to cloud your vision, cheer up, beloved of the Lord, your encouragement is on the way.
God’s encouragement comes in various ways the Heavenly Father chooses Himself to deal in kindness with the vessel He’s is using. He assigned angel to bring forth the encouragement of Cornelius and directed him in the way of salvation. “One day at about three in the afternoon, he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, who house is by the sea.” (Acts 10:3-6)
It was as if the divine help that King Asa received from God when the Ethiopians invaded Judah was not enough. God also raised Azariah, a prophet, with the divine message in his mouth to encourage King Asa. In the prophetic message of God to King Asa, God laid a set of options before the king. The Lord made it clear to him that He would be with the king if the heart of king was with Him. If he sought the face of the Lord, he would find the Lord Almighty, but if he disregarded God the king will be disregarded. The king had tasted the faithfulness of God and he had choice to continue living in the meadow of His mercy or to come out of the mighty wings of Almighty in order to dwell in vanity of the world. The message went further with a brief history of Israelites how they have been living in distress because they did not have spiritual leaders and no spiritual direction; as a result, they were subjected to undue hardship from all directions. When they sought the Lord, He delivered them. And lastly He encouraged Asa not to give up because he will be rewarded.
After the divine approval and assurance from God, King Asa confidently implemented his righteous programs in his kingdom for the people of Judah. He assembled all the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon and led them to sacrifice to the Lord God. They all entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and they wholeheartedly swore an oath to be faithful to their covenant. They sought God eagerly and He was found by them and the Lord gave the people rest on every side. For thirty-five years there was no war in the kingdom of Asa.
Your own divine encouragement is on the way. It may be an answer to a certain prayer. It may come in form of closing a certain desired door and at the same time opening an unexpected door that will bring forth glory to His holy name. If you are all expecting everything to happen exactly according to your expectation, honestly speaking, you are just settling for less. But if you allow God to have His own way in your life, it is then that you are settling for the fullness of His blessing.
Paul admonished the brethren in Corinth with three principles of receiving from the Lord, he said,
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye
(c) always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)
It is possible to be up and doing on this Christian life journey and at the same be easily distracted by personal ill feeling, rumors or a wave of doctrine or any other situations that becomes a clog-in-the-wheel of our walk with God. Therefore your commitment in the household of faith must not be shaky and in addition you must be abounding in the work of the Lord. Perhaps you are wondering, “What is work of the Lord?” The work of the Lord is not only limited to your excellent participation in the activities in your local churches, it encompass the beautiful life you live — a spirit filled man or woman in the church, a honorable man/woman at home and an ambassador of Christ in the street. When you allow the beauty of Jesus Christ to be seeing in your life it means you are abounding in the work of the Lord. If you are very sure that you will reap bountifully, then continue to sow in a good ground. Do not look at the direction of the wind.
THE VALLEY OF KIDRON
The Valley of Kidron was in the outskirt of Jerusalem between eastern wall of Jerusalem and the Garden of Gethsemane. The valley is a spiritual garbage dumping valley. Excavations of the valley disclosed that about eighty feet high of rubbish have been accumulated in it. The garbage consisted of accumulated rubbish of the city and all the broken pieces of idol gods of Baal and Chemosh and altars of darkness that were destroyed by many generations of the godly kings of Israel. Perhaps all the demonic forces of these idols dwell in the valley.
Facts revealed that, King Asa burnt the idols of his mother in the valley. “And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook of Kidron.” (II Chronicle 15:16)
King Josiah commanded the priest to remove the vessels made for Baal from the temple of the Lord and burn them in the valley of Kidron. “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.” (II Kings 23:4-6)
The Levites in the kingdom of Hezekiah dumped all the unclean things found in the temple of the Lord that had been desecrated by his father, Ahaz, in the valley of Kidron. “And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook of Kidron.” (II Chronicles 29:16)
Shimei was cursing King David when he was fleeing from Absalom (II Samuel 16:5-13) but when David returned to his throne, he apologized to King David and the king swore unto him that he would not be put to death. (II Samuel 19:18-23) When Solomon became king in Israel, Shimei was put under house arrest and was asked never to cross the brook of Kidron. Spiritual significant of this was, Shimei was like rotten garbage in a society ready to be disposed off. Fate had him well wrapped in a package of grace and store in storage of mercy as the king allowed him to dwell in the city. One day, however he stepped out of the mercy storage and overstepped his boundary into Kidron, the valley of garbage. He attempted to come back to the city and he was caught. The storage of mercy could not contain him again, he was returned to the garbage where he rightly belonged.
Lastly, in Jeremiah 31:40, the word of the Lord stated that, “And the whole valley of the dead bodies, ad of the ashes and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate towards the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.” A revival shall come upon Kidron, the valley of dead bodies. The spiritual garbage valley that was once considered dirty shall be made holy. This is a challenge to all of us. It is a wake up call for every one to look inward and search self in the mirror of God. It is time to separate those besetting sins from the godly image we possessed and dump them into the Valley of Kidron.
King David, who was known as an example of what the servants of the Lord that dwelt in the light of God should be, suddenly found himself at the verge of drifting into oblivion of darkness when he used his position as the king of Israel to commit a heinous crime against his faithful and loyal servant Uraiah. Thanks to Nathan the prophet of God that tap the king on his shoulder and apply wisdom and tactics in speaking the mind of God to the rulers. About a year later after David thought that all the scandals have been swept under the carpet, Nathan came to David with a proverbial account of a rich man and a poor man living in the City of David. The rich and wealthy man robbed the poor man of his only lamb and dressed it to entertain a visitor. King David instantaneously responded before the purpose of the parable was revealed, “the man that had done these things shall surely die and shall restore the lambs fourfold.” And Nathan applied the parable unto David, “Thou art the man.” Instantly David broke down and confessed his sin, “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.” The die was already cast. David could not undo the evil he had perpetrated but he saw the need to separate himself from the besetting sins. He sorrowfully visited the spiritual Kidron valley where he dumped all his sins in repentance and asked for forgiveness. And Nathan said unto David, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” The Merciful God forgave him and David was back to the path of light of God.
We always think that the sin of David was too grievous and it was the reason why he repented immediately. We also think at times that any sin that does not directly violate the Ten Commandments is not a serious sin. The truth is that there is no scale for measuring the weight of sin but every besetting sin is deadly enough to derail man on his pathway to the kingdom of God. If lust is your problem endeavor to separate the spiritual garbage from your life, and dump it in the valley of Kidron. If pride is dragging you down in your Christian life, discard it in the valley of Kidron and take the garment of humility. Let everyone of us examine ourselves in the mirror of God, and critically consider our ways before God and pay a sincere visit to the spiritual Valley of Kidron and let everyone of us empty every bag of sin in our life in the valley if we found any.
LAST STEP, WRONG MOVE
When one meditate about the reign of King Asa, one will come to the realization that the fact that you started the Christian journey very well does not provide a guarantee that you will end it well if you do not look unto Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith.
King Asa, the king of Judah and King Baasha, the king of Israel were both descendant of Abraham, although the harsh political climate during their reign clouded their understanding but nevertheless, God Almighty still remained the God of Israel and the entire Israelites, both Judah and Israelites remained the people of God. King Baasha should not have barricaded his territory against the kingdom of Judah. King Asa should not have sought an unholy alliance of Ben-Hadad, King of Aram, the once upon a time enemy of the Israelites in order to face King Baasha in battle. Worst still, King Asa dipped his hands into the treasury of the Lord’s temple and remove silver and gold, among other things, to bribe King Ben-Hadad to severe his peace treaty with King Baasha. After this, Asa launched an attack against the kingdom of King Baasha, and the important store cities of Israel were destroyed and captured. King Asa got the coveted victory but at the cost of his excellent relationship with God. When King Asa had problems with the Ethiopians the king turned to God for help and God gave him victory over the Ethiopians. But when there was a problem between Judah and Israelites, King Asa depended upon his wisdom instead of God to solve a problem between the two kingdoms. God did not allow this to lie low, He sent his servant, Hanani to Asa. The prophet told Asa,
“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thng, and from now on you will be at war. Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.” (II Chronicles 16:7-10)
God does not need a servant with a mediocre of faith. He wants his servant to possess wealth of understanding of His word and a significant experience in walking with Him but he does not want an experienced servant that cannot depend on Him. It is often said by some people that, “You do not need God to do what you have wisdom to do on your own.” This is absolutely wrong! To start with, your wisdom is a tiny piece of God manifesting in you to keep you and guide you in your up and down of life. The wisdom of man is shallow and unreliable and is subject to so many variables forces operating in the world. Even if your wisdom is defect free; you still need God in order to apply it in a righteous way. When a man begin to depend on his wisdom and experience instead of depending upon the wisdom of God and His divine ability, the person would make a wrong move and he will soon be heading towards disaster. Allow God have His own way in your life.
When the servant of God revealed the error of king Asa, instead of making peace with God and repented his sins, he was angry with the messenger of God and his message and he imprisoned him. Invariably, the action of the king was tantamount to an expression of anger towards God who sent His prophet to reveal the error of the king. Many times when the minister of God is lead by the Spirit of God in his inspired sermon or teaching and he hit the home run against our besetting secret sins, we tend to be angry with the minister. We usually concluded in our narrow thought that the servant of God is using our sinful error as subject of the sermon in the church. Perhaps, if we have power like king Asa, many of us would have arrested the minister and imprisoned him. But remember whenever we are in this state of thought, we are not only angry with the minister but also with God Almighty who ordained the message in his mouth.
Further, when King Asa was sick, he did not seek the face of God for healing his ailing legs. Instead, he called the physicians for treatment. Sincerely speaking, in our days the physicians are important forces to recon with in our society. And in a plain language, this study is not intent to point anyone to disregard the activities of these precious people in the medical world. Rather, we are admonishing you to take and important step further. We are pointing you to seek the face of God in prayer concerning your health in addition to the medical treatment you are receiving. The reason is very simple, the medical world provides treatment after diagnosis of the ailment but the power of healing is in the hand of God. Secondly, the medical wisdom of the physicians originated from Almighty God who created delicate networks of organs in our body.
There are so many approaches to solve a problem but only the righteous approach will give glory to God. When your choice of solving a problem is different from the righteous ways of God, you will reap the temporary blessings attached to your selfish choice and you will also reap the everlasting pains and pangs of your choice. It is certain that you cannot have the fullness of the blessing of God in your ungodly choice. Apart from the poor health of king Asa towards the end of his life as king of Judah, the era of peace ceased in his kingdom. Brethren, remember that, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds not trouble to it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
WHERE ARE YOU, TODAY?
There is no clear-cut way of measuring one’s level in the Christian life journey but God has given each man on earth the grace of determining the spot where he is at any point in time. Being a self-ascribed born-again believer does not determine your Christian level before the Lord. The Christian titles conferred upon people in the church might have come through the Holy Spirit leading or in some cases are based on human opinion and assessment about an individual that is so honored. All these can be described as a brilliant beginning but it is not a yard-stick to measure where you are in the Lord today. Your ways before the Lord, your works in His vineyard and your righteous fruit that bring glory to His Holy name determines where you are before Him. Job put it beautifully in his afflictions when he said, “But if I go the east, he is not there; if I go the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10) Of course, God surely knows the paths we take, whether crooked or upright but can we come out boldly like Job and say, “When God test us we shall come forth as gold?” Are you on the righteous side of the Lord today? The Israelites were liberated from the Egyptians through the Red Sea. When Moses asked the Israelites in the wilderness, “Who is on the side of the Lord, let him come to me?” The level of their relationship with God and the work on their hands (whether righteous or not) determined whether they were on the Lord’s side. Sadly, not all of them were on the Lord’s side. The Israelites that were on the Lord’s side came to Moses and were all preserved but those who did not come to the righteous side of the Lord were cut off from the camp of the righteous that very day.
Even when you do not know where you are in the Lord, apply the holiness formula. The word formula is defined as ‘a method of doing or treating something that relies on an established, uncontroversial model or approach.’ The holiness formula says, “This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…” (Jeremiah 6:16) At the crossroads of your life, at the very point of decision you want to take, always ask for the ancient paths. Demand to know the will of God in your decision. The ancient path is the law of God that has become unpopular in our worldly age. In this ancient path, locate the good way – the righteous way – and walk in it. God assured you that you will find rest for your souls.