“There Exists a Reward for Your Activity”
KING ASA leads his army through a deep valley. They are going from the mountains of Judea to the flatlands by the coast. When they come to the wider part of the valley, Asa stops. He is shocked by what he sees. The huge Ethiopian army is camped down below! There must be one million enemy soldiers, but Asa’s army is only about half that size.
Asa will have to fight a battle. At this moment, what is the first thing he does? Does he give orders to his generals? Does he encourage his troops? Does he send letters to his family? Absolutely not! In this dangerous situation, Asa prays.
Before we read about his prayer and about what happened next, let us talk about the kind of man Asa was. What made him ask God for help? Could he expect God to help him? What does this account teach us about how Jehovah blesses his servants when they do what is right?
THE KIND OF MAN ASA WAS
Asa became king in the year 977 before Christ. For twenty years, Israel and Judah had been divided into two kingdoms. During that time, Judah had become completely corrupted by false worship. Even high officials in the government worshipped Canaanite gods of fertility. But the Bible says that Asa did “what was good and right in the eyes of Jehovah his God.” Asa “removed the foreign altars and the high places and broke up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles.” (2 Chronicles 14:2, 3) Asa removed from Judah “the male temple prostitutes,” who had sex with other men as part of their false worship. But Asa did more than remove false worship. He also told the people to “search for Jehovah the God of their forefathers” and to “do the law and the commandment” of God.—1 Kings 15:12, 13; 2 Chronicles 14:4.
Jehovah was pleased with Asa’s zeal for true worship and rewarded him by giving Judah many years of peace. The king himself said: “We have searched for Jehovah our God. We have searched, and he gives us rest all around.” The people used this period of peace to make the walls of the cities in Judah stronger. The Bible says: “They went building and proving successful.”—2 Chronicles 14:1, 6, 7.
ASA FIGHTS THE BATTLE
Asa knew that Jehovah rewards those who show faith by their actions. That is why Asa prayed to Jehovah when he had to fight the largest human army mentioned in the Bible. In his prayer, he begged Jehovah for help. Asa knew that if he trusted in God and had his support, it did not matter how large or powerful the enemy’s army was. Asa also knew that the result of this war would affect Jehovah’s reputation. So Asa prayed: “Help us, O Jehovah our God, for upon you we do lean, and in your name we have come against this crowd. O Jehovah, you are our God. Do not let mortal man retain strength against you.” (2 Chronicles 14:11) That was like saying: ‘The Ethiopians are attacking you, Jehovah. Do not allow these weak humans to defeat your people and dishonor your name.’ God answered Asa’s prayer. The Bible says that “Jehovah defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah” and that the Ethiopians ran away.—2 Chronicles 14:12.
Today, Jehovah’s people have to fight powerful enemies. We do not fight with physical weapons, but we can be sure that Jehovah will give victory to his faithful servants who honor his name. Each one of us may have to fight long and hard battles against the wrong thinking of the world, our own weaknesses, or anything that could damage our family’s relationship with God. Whatever our trial is, Asa’s prayer can encourage us. It was Jehovah who gave Asa victory. If we trust in Jehovah, he will help us win any battle we may have. He is more powerful than anyone or anything else.
ENCOURAGEMENT AND A WARNING
When Asa was returning home from battle, the prophet Azariah came to meet him. Azariah gave Asa both encouragement and a warning: “Hear me, O Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you leave him he will leave you.” He also said: “Be courageous and do not let your hands drop down, because there exists a reward for your activity.”—2 Chronicles 15:1, 2, 7.
These words can strengthen our faith. They show that Jehovah will be with us as long as we serve him faithfully. We can be sure that he hears us when we beg him for help. Azariah said: “Be courageous.” We often need great courage to do what is right, but we know that we can do so with Jehovah’s help.
Asa’s grandmother Maacah had made “a horrible idol to the sacred pole.” So Asa had to remove her from her royal position as “lady,” even though this must have been difficult for him to do. He also burned her idol. (1 Kings 15:13) Jehovah blessed Asa for courageously doing what was right. We too must loyally obey Jehovah and keep his righteous requirements whether our relatives are loyal to God or not. If we do, Jehovah will reward us.
Part of Asa’s reward was to see many Israelites from the unfaithful northern kingdom come into Judah. They realized that Jehovah was with Asa. They loved pure worship so much that they chose to leave their homes to live among servants of Jehovah. Later, Asa and all Judah joyfully agreed “to search for Jehovah the God of their forefathers with all their heart and with all their soul.” What was the result? God “let himself be found by them; and Jehovah continued to give them rest all around.” (2 Chronicles 15:9-15) Today, too, it gives us joy to see sincere people choose to worship Jehovah.
In his words to Asa, the prophet Azariah also gave him a serious warning. He told Asa that if he left Jehovah, Jehovah would leave him. We certainly do not want that to happen to us. The results can be tragic! (2 Peter 2:20-22) The Bible does not say why Jehovah sent Asa this warning, but we know that Asa did not pay attention to it.
“YOU HAVE ACTED FOOLISHLY”
When Asa had been king for almost 36 years, King Baasha of Israel started a war against Judah. Baasha strengthened the city walls of Ramah, which was on the border between Israel and Judah and only eight kilometers (5 miles) from Jerusalem. Perhaps he did that because he did not want his people to go into Judah and serve Jehovah and King Asa. Asa did not ask God for help as he had when the Ethiopians attacked. Instead, he asked humans for help. He sent a gift to the king of Syria and asked him to attack Israel. After the Syrians started attacking Israel, Baasha stopped fortifying Ramah.—2 Chronicles 16:1-5.
Jehovah was not pleased with Asa and sent the prophet Hanani to tell him so. Asa should have learned from his victory over the Ethiopians that Jehovah’s eyes are searching the whole earth “to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” Perhaps Asa received bad advice. Or perhaps he thought that Baasha and his army were not very strong and that he could think of his own way to defeat them. Whatever the reason, Asa trusted in humans instead of trusting in Jehovah. Hanani said to him: “You have acted foolishly respecting this, for from now on there will exist wars against you.”—2 Chronicles 16:7-9.
When Asa heard these words, he became extremely angry and put Hanani in prison. (2 Chronicles 16:10) Could Asa have thought, ‘I have been faithful for many years, so do I deserve to be talked to this way?’ Or was he not thinking clearly because of old age? The Bible does not say.
When Asa had been king for 38 years, he became very sick with a disease in his feet. The Bible says that “even in his sickness he searched not for Jehovah but for the healers.” It seems that Asa’s relationship with Jehovah was not as strong as before, and it probably continued that way until his death, about 41 years after he had become king.—2 Chronicles 16:12-14.
Jehovah seems to have remembered Asa’s good qualities and zeal for pure worship instead of his errors. Asa never stopped serving Jehovah. (1 Kings 15:14) So, what can we learn from Asa’s life story? If we always remember how Jehovah helped us in the past, we will pray for his help when we have new trials. Also, we should not think that we do not need counsel just because we have served God faithfully for many years. Jehovah will give us the discipline we need, no matter how long we have been his servants. We should humbly accept his discipline so that we can benefit from it. The most important thing we learn is that our heavenly Father will be with us as long as we serve him faithfully. Jehovah’s eyes search the whole earth for those who are faithful to him. He wants to use his power to help them. Jehovah did that for Asa, and He can do it for us.
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Jehovah rewards faithful ones
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We need courage to do what is right