By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: I Kings 15.9-14
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Books of Kings in conjunction with this article.
Asa Had a Choice
As we close out our examination of I Kings, there are many passages that could serve as study points and many lessons are to be learned from the Kings. Last week we looked at a lesson from chapters twelve and thirteen. It was a lesson about deception that was designed specifically to determine the validity of prophecy. While insightful, the lesson came from the beginning chapters of the Divided Kingdom.1 While this writer would like to end the month with a powerful positive article, the setting of I Kings makes the process difficult. So this writer will attempt to find a couple of bright spots within the balance of I Kings. It is somewhat ironic that a focus of this article is about choices and this author had to make a choice as to what was to be presented.
If life could be described by one word, it could possibly be summed with choice. Life is full of choices. We make choice daily. We make the choice to get up. We choose to go to our occupation, whether it is school or work. We choose to accomplish the tasks of the day. And then as the day closes, we choose to succumb to fatigue or fight it and stay awake. But just as we choose to accomplish the day, we can choose to achieve less than complete daily success. We choose which project can wait an hour, a day, or a week. We make these choices everyday. Some choices have become so habitual that we are not even aware that the choice was made, like taking a brush and paste to your teeth.
Awareness of choosing the choices that are before oneself is something each one must choose to be aware of. Choosing awareness is as much a part of choosing as choosing when to fill up your car. Awareness is a choice. And being conscious of life’s matters goes beyond accountability to life’s demands. It is this mindful spirit that is challenged every day. And as life lives itself around us we choose to be cognizant or we choose to remain unaware. Either way, it is a choice.
Life is simply not limited to physical choices. It also involves spiritual choices. Options abound for spiritual dilemmas. Each of us is offered a plethora of options. Our options range from total disbelief in a superior being, to believing that everything from the rocks and trees, the entire earth if you will, is the superior being. Tragically, not every belief can be equal in value. What can one really liken spirituality to? Any parabolic example seems to have its shortcomings to assisting any full revelation of spiritual truth. But simply stated, not everything is true truth.
Some people will choose not to believe in any superior being, whether in singular or plural form. That is their choice. Other people will choose to believe that there are many superior beings, instead of a singular being. That is their choice. And still others will choose that the superior being is all, and all is the superior being. That is their choice. And yet others will choose one superior being. That is their choice.
In reality, what one chooses to believe as true does reveal a great many things about the person and their character. But even greater than their belief is the actions they portray because of their beliefs. Beliefs define a mindset, and the mindset is one’s worldview, and one’s worldview defines how one perceives the world around them and how one engages and responds to that world.
Those who choose to serve YHWH have chosen to serve a God by a specific name and thereby have chosen not to serve any god by any other name.2 This is what Asa knew. Therefore, when he was faced with a nation that had chosen by covenantal agreement to serve the God named YHWH, they agreed to live life by his teachings, but when Asa became king, his people had not been faithful to the teachings of the God they agreed to serve and honor. Asa was faced with a dilemma, what does a king do in the midst of such a setting? He chose to do the best he could to reform the behavior of the society around him. He had that right. He had chosen YHWH as God.3 And he was king.4 Much to the shagrin of the people around him who lived by a different moral choice, Asa made changes.5
While we might want the power that goes with Asa, we do not live in a monarchial theocratic culture. We live in a multi-cultural society, where everyone’s point of view is accepted as equally valid. We have atheists, monotheists, pantheists, polytheists, and theists that live and breathe the very air we do. By the greatest gift of any god, but specifically YHWH, the creator of heaven and earth, everyone is given freewill. And with freewill comes good and bad choices. While we are not Asa, and we do not have the legal right nor ability to make grand sweeping reform in the name of YHWH, we still have to make the choice of whether Jehovah will be the God that we serve.
The choices that we make as believers, affect the perceptions of those around us. Let us make choices that are wise, yet reveal the kindness, tolerance and patience of Jehovah. Remember Daniel was a Hebrew, one who respected Jehovah and lived faithfully in the land of Babylon. May the Jehovah bless us as we choose to listen to His instructions and aim to positively affect those who live around us.
1. “Divided Kingdom.” I Kings 12 through II Kings 17; NASB.
2. “Choosing a God.” Context: Exodus 19.1-24.18; cf. Exodus 20.1-17; 24.7; NASB.
3. “Asa chose YHWH.” We know this because Asa is born from the line of David, but Asa is specifically Hebrew, but was also born into the covenant that Israel’s Egyptian slave fathers entered into in the desert at Mt. Sinai. While born into that covenant, he had remained in covenant status by choosing to stay faithful to Jehovah’s teachings.
4. “Asa was king.” I Kings 15.9-10a; NASB.
5. “Asa’s changes.” I Kings 15.11-14; NASB.