Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Lord Is For The Righteous (2 Chronicles 14)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Brothers and sisters. Let's turn to second chronicles, Chapter Fourteen, and here God's word, as he continues to give it to us through the history of his people. Second Chronicles, Chapter Fourteen. This begins a three part story of the reign of King Asa. Here now God's word. Second chronicles fourteen. Abijah slept with his fathers and they buried him in the city of David, and Asa, his son, reigned in his place in the days of in the in his days, the land had rest for ten years and asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, his God. He took away the foreign altars the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the ASHREM and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace, and he said to Judah, let us build these cities and surround them with Wall Les and Towers Gates and bars. The land is still ours because we have sought the Lord, our God. We have sought him and he has given us peace on every side. So they built and prospered, and ASA had an army of three hundred thousand from Judah, armed with large shields and spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand men from Benjamin that carried shields and drew beaus. All of these were mighty men of valor. Zarah, the Ethiopian, came out against them with an...

...army of a million men and three hundred chariots and came as far as Mershah and Assa went out to meet him and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zeph Atha and Marsha, and asa cried to the Lord, his God. O Lord, there is none like you to help between the mighty and the weak. Help us, oh Lord our God, for we rely on you. In your name we have come against this multitude. Oh Lord, you are our God. Let not man prevail against you. So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who are with him pursued them as far as Gar are, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah Care Right away very much spoil and they attacked all the cities around Gar are, for the fear of the Lord was upon them. They plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them, and they struck down the tents of those who had livestock and carried away sheep in abundance and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem. May God bless his word to us well. This is a fantastic story of strength, of power, of Godliness. That's the kind of story that makes you sit up and notice and reminds you a lot of David and of Solomon. These both this great warrior, when it's needed, with conquering power and plundering in the name of the Lord, ruling over enemies and all the rest. It also the peace of Solomon. We see here are because of Ace's obedience and his righteousness among his people. We see that there...

...was peace in the land, that they weren't for ten years fighting enemies, and during that time we're able to build up a lot of strength and power. But if you keep reading, as we will in the coming weeks, the story of ASA does not end well. We prefer our stories to start with a problem and end with a solution, to start with a question and end with an answer, to start with conflict and end with resolution, but ace's story works in the opposite direction. It starts with success but ends in failure. It starts with righteousness and ends in disobedience, and that's a frustrating story to hear. And I have to tell you that now, because we can't think about these great successes that Asas having here, without really knowing that there's more of the story to come. I wonder if you know anyone like that, someone who started well but did not end well, or perhaps doesn't seem to be ending well. Maybe a friend of yours? I do. I'm there are people. I went to seminary with, young men who wanted to be ministers, whose books were filled with great theology, good books, wonderful books. They talked about serving the Lord with passion and zeal. And some of them, of course, many of them, did find a calling in a church and are serving faithfully in the Lord. But some of them, despite all of these good things close friends are now, in fact now found themselves in divorce, in addiction and one of them with a long term prison sentence. We wonder how these kinds of things can happen. How can...

...we start well but and so poorly? We also wonder can they happen to us? The history of King as allows us to reflect on this, particularly in the context of the dividict covenant. I know that last clause just sounded like a bunch of theological Mumbo jumbo. It's not, though it's important. I hope it's not Mumbo jumbo because we've been talking about this for a long time. But the DIVIDIC covenant is important because King asays not just acting as a man before God, not just that he is a king king over Israel, with a calling that God has placed on his life. He is standing in the Line of David Sons and the promise that God made to David The dividict covenant. God told David that as his son's led after him or followed after him, if they reigned and ruled in righteousness, that God would bless them and reward them and that there would be peace and strength and victory and all the rest. There would there was consequences, in other words for the people of God dependent on the King's would who is Asa? What would he do? His rightousness before God not only earned him a measure of reward but had it effect on all, all the people. And that's important for us because our king, King Jesus, is also a divided king. He is the fulfillment of these promises, and what we learn about asa teaches us about Jesus. What we learn about a says he fulfills this role in this covenant, teaches us how Jesus fulfills his role, how he does it better and how we have safety and security in him. We're going to do that in...

...three sermons of fourteen, focusing on these chapters fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. This first sermon is about the good times, the great times, the times when there was a vital connection being lived out between the King's obedience and the King's success. In the story of Asa, we have a memorable reminder that the Lord loves the righteous and hates the wicked. Asa's story teaches us that faithfulness to God begets freedom in God, that righteousness before the Lord begets the Lord's The Lord's reward righteousness from righteousness before him be gets rewards from him. So let's consider that first H ASS righteousness. Want to take through these somewhat quickly. Asa In this chapter is a model of righteousness. You should read this and find your hearts inspired. I want to be like that. This is a good story, a good thing. He's doing a very well same thing in chapter fourteen. When we get there next time, ass example is one that's worth paying attention to and following. So let's note some of these praiseworthy things. The first verse two, Verse Two, Chapter Fourteen, asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. Now, of course that's a summary of that. Asa was good and that's important in and of itself, but we have to add here this perspective by which good is defined. He did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. A life divorced from God's will and God's way...

...will not and cannot be good. As has perspective, and the chroniclers perspective, is that good is defined by God. What is good is defined by what God what by God himself and what God declares. Imagine, for example, trying to sail across the Atlantic, from let's say the United States to Europe, and you're going to do this without a map? Right, you're not going to follow the map, or maybe you're going to do it blindfolded, or maybe you're even going to go the opposite direction. This is what life is like in this is what life is like when somebody says I'm going to do good, but I'm going to do it apart from the Lord, either not paying attention to what he says, doing it blindly or just going the other direction. At best, you're going to be steer it off course and wander all over the place, but eventually you're going to wind up shipwrecked. If you turn your ship around and sail it into the rocks of the eastern seaboard, it's going to end tragically. And that's what happens when people try to define good and live their lives in a good way apart from God. But that's not what asa did. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, his God. It's number one. Number two comes from versus three and five, and that's the ASA eliminated false worship in Israel. Now will speak a lot more on this next time in Chapter Fifteen, where this these particular things are focused on, but note it here as well. In verse three, we read that he took away the foreign altars and the high places, he broke down the pillars and cut down the ashuream verse five we continue. This thought continues. We read that out of all the cities of Judah, this is all the cities which were under his...

...control, the high places and the incense alters. He took them out and the kingdom had rest under him. Obedience to the Lord very much includes worship to the Lord. You can't do good before the Lord while worshiping another God. In other words, it's not enough to simply not steal from your neighbor but fail to worship the God who made you. They come together. If you know the ten commandments, you might say that the first, the second, the third and the fourth are very much intimately connected with the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and ten. How we live before man is very much connected to how we live before God. They all go together. Asa is concerned with this. He doesn't just want people not stealing and not committing adultery and not coveting. He wants them worshiping the Lord. This is a theocracy. After all. He is God's King, commanded to obey God's law. And that leads to the third point. As King, he commands his subjects to obey. He rules over them with the law of the Lord. In verse four and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law of the commandment. The righteous king of the Lord commands his subjects to follow his laws. You know, Jesus does the same with us. Jesus is a good and righteous king. He doesn't say holiness is important to me. Righteousness is a that my kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. Now, all you people that belong to me, just go ahead and do whatever you want. No, he commands us to follow the will of God. He tells us that we are to live righteously and according to him and the ethics of his Kingdom of grace. He...

...commands us to obey. This is the work of a good king. Number four, he strengthens himself against his and God's enemies. We read in proverbs a story about walking the the writer of the proverb says I walked by the House or the field I'm forgetting at the moment, of a sluggard and he sort of pays attention to all the ways in which it's in disrepair because the sluggard is refused to work. The walls fallen down, the vines are overgrown, all these kinds of things. Asa doesn't do that. Instead, he builds with what is God has given him. He's like the steward who has been given some money to take care of and invests it properly asas a king, King of the Lord. He's ruling under God and has been given authority to, I'm take care of and protect his people, and he's doing that. I'm DESA does this. When we read and versus thirteen and thirteen, fourteen and fifteen, that he fights when Zarah, the Ethiopian, comes against him with this mighty army, asa fights, he builds up his his resources during times of peace and in times of war. He doesn't hide from battle, but he fights in the Lord. And that brings us to number five and my last observation here, and that's the asa though. He fights and he builds and he works and he commands. He does this all not in his own strength, but in the Lord's this is another aspect of Ace's model for righteousness. Here, and you see that we read of his great fighting and is is attacking and all of this in verses thirteen through fifteen. But how does all that begin? In Eleven, we read and Asa cried to the Lord, is God, and listen to this beautiful prayer. Oh Lord,...

...there is none like you to help between the mighty in the week. Help us, oh Lord, for we rely on you and in your name we have come out against this multitude. Oh Lord, you are our God. Let not man prevail against you. You See, as has fighting, as has strength. Is All very theological. It's all very much based in his personal relationship with the Lord and his understanding of who he is. God is the God of his father's that's why the people are called to obey. There is none like God. He speaks to the Lord not as a hope or a principle or a faith, but as you. He addresses the Lord and the second person. Oh Lord, there is none like you. Help us, oh Lord, our God, for we rely on you. In your name we've come out against this multitude. It's worth noting again that every time he's saying oh Lord, here he's using the name that the Lord had given to him and his people, Yah way or Jehovah. He is expressing the Covenant Name that God gave Moses when Moses said, what shall I say to Pharaoh, or how shall I tell these people who has sent me to say these things? Yah Way, you are our God. Asa is extremely confident. I love that. I love his confidence in the Lord, his strength and his promises and as he goes out and he's leads his men in battle, these mighty men of Valor, they succeed because of the Lord.

So in some asa does everything that he does before the Lord, because of the Lord and in the strength of the Lord. Those are powerful words and they help us to see how a righteous person's life is to be lived out in real world scenarios. To live before the Lord, because of the Lord and in the strength of the Lord, is not just a nice thing. You right up and hang in the wall of your house, or are you paint on the side of your truck, as we heard from pastor hop these words, to live before the Lord in light of his eyes, to understand our ways in him, because of him and the things he has done, the covenants that he has made and in his strength, because he is powerful, to save and he protects the weak and he watches over his people. These aren't things just to hang up in your bathroom. They are a creed to live by. They are the intentions and principles which should drive every action of ours. And at this point in a says life. This is what he did, this is the life he lived, and he lived it very well. And we know that not just because it's so much resonates with the rest of scripture and godly living as it's expressed to us and every place, but it's also confirmed by God's reward. This righteousness led to this great reward of God, namely victory and freedom and peace. The Righteousness, the righteousness that asa exercised resulted in the power of God being a poured out on his people. All that asa had hoped for in God. God gave, God...

...promised this, these things to the righteous son of David, and they were fulfilled here. Peace in the land, victory over enemies, success in endeavors. Let me flip back to him eleven, which we sang earlier. Verse Three. His Wide Dominion shall extend from seed to utmost see and unto Earth's Remotest Bounds. His peaceful rule shall be yea. All the king shall bow to him. His rule, all nations hail. He will regard the poor man's cry when other helpers fail. This is the promise of God to his king, to the Messiah, so, the anointed one, to this divided king, who would stand up and rule? Why? Idly, powerfully, peaceably? And this is all happening under ASA. In this God treated asa exactly according to the terms that he had promised to David and, in a way also to Moses and even Adam, that righteousness begets rewards. Why does God do this? Why does God reward righteousness in this way? Well, one reason is that he must. God Is Holy, God is good and God is righteous. What kind of King would he be if he commanded anything less than the things that he desires, if he ruled in a way that wasn't in accord with who he is? He would be a King Worse Than Asa. Asa ruled according to the words that he had been given. Would it be right for God, who commands those words, to rule in another way? Asa commanded the people to obey the words of the Lord. Would it make sense for the Lord himself to command people to obey something else to...

...reward unrighteousness? Of course not. Another the reason the Lord Rewards righteousness is that it is for our good. There is no good apart from God. All of our hope, all of our blessing is found in him. Think about a father. Would a father they do right by telling his kids to go be homeless, to leave the House and fend for themselves and withdraw themselves from his love and protection and mercy and and provision? Of course not. A good father says, come to me and I will protect you and keep you and and all the rest. Our Good as children is found in our fathers and are good as in God. As God's children, is found in him as our heavenly father. Our lives are blessed when they are lived in his blessedness, in his household. One more reason God demands righteous or demands righteousness and rewards righteousness is that his justice demands it. God is not only a lawmaker but a law enforcer and a judge over those who break his law, and there's a lot of good in that. Think about how meaningless and how vain it is to live in a society where there are laws on the books that are never enforced. What point is that? How is that a good thing? And would God, who has made the law and issued it forth created the world and everything in it? Would he be good? Would he be holy? Would he be just? If he establishes righteousness and the in laws for how we should live and live in him and then simply walk away from that, choose not to enforce it's a Oh never mind, not...

...a big deal after all, when it's the very thing in which blessedness comes, when it's the very thing in which we live. So God's rewards for righteousness and, of course, the flip side of that, his punishments for disobedience, is a perfect equation. It's good, it's holy, it it makes sense of everything and it's true to who he is. The evil we face, however, when we consider this powerful equation, righteousness leading to reward, unrighteousness leading to punishment, the evil that we face in this problem is not in God's goodness or his justice or his blessing. The evil we face is our own sin, which flips this equation, righteousness leading to reward, in the other direction and we find, instead of blessing, condemnation and disaster again. The problem is not in the way that God has set things up. The problem is the way we act within that system. There are good laws, holy laws, which are enforced by a powerful enforcer and a just judge. Our problem is that we walk into that situation. We say, I don't want to live that way. I want to live in a gravity filled world, as though there was in gravity. I want to live in a world in which, dum, there are certain rules, as if there weren't rules. I want to travel to Europe, but in the other way. Well, how do things end up? In disaster and condemnation? It's only right, it's only logical, it's only good, it's only just and fair. And for asa this would eventually mean his disaster, as will come to in Chapter Sixteen. It meant would mean destruction from the hands of his...

...enemies, disease in his body and eventually his death. In the same is true for every single person who decides to be king apart from the Lord, for every single person who establishes good in their own eyes, righteousness in their own eyes and in their own ways, who decides to find not their righteousness in him but righteousness in themselves, and unfortunately for Israel, as the king goes, so goes the people, and so it wasn't just assa who suffered, it was the people who who suffered as well. And it would leave Israel, and all the world for who that was hoping, or at least should have been hoping, in, the Messiah, without a King. It would leave Israel without the righteous king, that righteous, dividic king that they needed, but only for a time, only for a time, because a day would come when God would provide a different sort of king, a king who would not only begin well but who would end well. When King Jesus came, he didn't just live perfectly according to God's commands, and I don't mean perfectly in the throat of human sense in which we approximate perfection, but I mean perfectly in every jot and tittle of the law, in his intentions, in his heart and his conscience, and every single thing that he did, perfectly obedient to the will of the Lord, not just at the beginning, but all the way up to the end, which included his willingly going to death, his own death on a cross, to suffer not for his sins but for yours and mine, for Israel's and all of God's people.

Jesus came into this world. God sent his own son into this were his into this world to secure a righteous kingdom through his righteous rule and provide reward for all of his objects. Where asa failed, Jesus succeeded. God sent his own son to rule as a king born from David, but he made all that possible that he was his own son, he was God's own son. All that asa did well, Jesus did perfectly. In every place that asa failed to succeed, Jesus knocked it out of the ballpark. When Jesus went to his death on a cross, he didn't just rise again from the dead, he rose again victorious for all who are in him, for all Israel, lifting all of us up in his own righteousness, so that we can leave behind our false claims to ruling our own lives and cling to him. Jesus is rule doesn't establish for us the sort of flip side of ace's life. In other words, asa lived great at the beginning, failed at the end. The moral of this sermon is not do like Jesus did, living good at the beginning and the end. That's not the point. The point is live in Jesus, who did this for you. If you try to do what Jesus did, you are going to end up doing just what asa did. You'll start out well, when you'll end poorly. You'll finally,...

...at some point or another, all of your righteousness, all of your hopes, will crumble under your feet. But if you live in Jesus, if you put your hope not in a man like asa or a man like yourself, but in Jesus, the God man, you will have a hope that is built on nothing less than on Jesus Christ's righteousness. That's a great hope. It means that you can have a lot of security. It means that the fear you feel about going astray, to fear I feel about going astray, about not ending well, this fear can be removed because Jesus promises to be the author and perfector of our salvation, as the author of Hebrews puts it, the beginning and the end. By finding our righteousness not in another man like asa or in a man or woman like ourselves, but finding our righteousness in the king, who is better than ASA and perfect in every way, we have a sure salvation, a sure salvation a perfect salvation. And so I want to say to you inclosing, if you find yourself straying from the paths of the Lord, if you find yourselves straying from righteousness in all his good ways, then here of King Jesus, tonight, here of the Messiah who God did send to rule over all the nations, the one who did extend his Wide Dominion From Sea to utmost sea, to Earth's remotest bounds. His peaceful rule shall be and is as he comes into our lives, as he establishes peace in us, the reward of righteousness that was promised...

...to a son's promise to all of us for righteousness. We can't have it in our own because sin keeps cut seeing, Sin keeps coming in, messing everything up, bringing us down and earning US destruction. But we can have it by trusting in Jesus and giving from God what he freely gives to us by His grace. Find Your Salvation in Christ that's where God offers reward and righteousness that can never fail, a peace that endures forever. Let's pray.

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