While you are with Him

2 Chronicles 15:1-7
1 Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded.
2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.
3 “For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law;
4 “but when in their trouble they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them.
5 “And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands.
6 “So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity.
7 “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

For those who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” this kind of passage is a great stumbling block. Many people want to believe that God is simply, as a beloved friend of mine used to say, “all things good,” and so anything that might show God as Righteous Judge is rejected as wrong or simply inaccurate. Similarly, as often happens in today’s “seeker-sensitive” churches, some people just ignore such troubling passages to focus on the sweeter stuff. They wallow in the promises of God’s bounty and goodness without ever noting that there is a condition attached to all such promises, that God’s covenant of blessings requires us to acknowledge our sinfulness, to repent and then remain faithful to Him. For those who only believe in the blessings of God, such faith–if we can call it that, based as it is solely upon God’s promises of goodness–is weak and fickle, easily broken at the first sign of trouble. When tragedy strikes, such people are the first to ask “How could God let this happen?” And yet they never ask themselves if they have been as faithful to God as they expect Him to be faithful to them.

Like his father Abijah before him, King Asa of Judah relied upon the Lord God. He removed the idols set up by other people, and when Egypt attacked, he called out to God, “O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!” (1 Chronicles 14:11) Yes, Asa was a man after God’s own heart, a king who brought peace to Judah for thirty-five years.

In today’s verses, the prophet Azariah is telling Asa what we all need to hear: “The LORD is with you while you are with Him.” (v.2) It’s a harsh truth, but one we should not avoid. Joshua heard a similar thing from an angel just before the Israelites attacked Jericho. Joshua asked the angel “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” And the angel replied “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13-14) You see, it is not a matter of God being on OUR side, but a matter of US being on GOD’S side.

The mistake so many people make is that they live their lives as if there were no God, no Righteous Judge, no One with holy standards and guidance. Instead, many people half-believe in a God who will reward their good deeds and overlook their bad, never thinking for a moment that it is those bad deeds that are sin needing repentance. And then when it seems like the Lord has abandoned them–which, due to their sin, He quite possibly has–they wonder why they have no peace in their lives. They read the promises of God without ever reading the part that says “but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (v.2) And lest anyone think this is just an Old Testament thing, let us remember the words of our Savior:

Matthew 10:32-33
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

If we but seek the Lord God, then He will give us peace. No, it may not be a peace with all men–after all, not all men seek the Lord, and many are opposed to Him–but it will be a peace with God, a peace in our hearts and minds that truly does surpass all understanding. But if we do not seek God, if we live our lives in denial of His holiness and righteousness, in denial of our own sinfulness and selfishness and pride, then we cannot expect God to give us His peace.

Later in his reign, King Asa relied on a treaty with men to secure his peace, and then the Lord left him to his own fate. Asa got angry with the seer who told him he needed to return to the Lord, and even threw that prophet in prison. King Asa had once called on the Lord and routed an Egyptian army, but he later forsook the Lord and oppressed the people he had once led to the Lord. Eventually, Asa got ill and relied on physicians, and he died from his illness. It is plain from his story that in those times that he sought the Lord, then he was healthy and at peace, but when he abandoned the Lord, then the Lord abandoned him.

Is that the way we want to live our lives, relying on God only when it suits us? It’s not that we should not seek God in our trouble, but should prayer be the “spare tire” of our journey rather than the fuel for our faith? Should we seek sustenance only from the sweet parts of God’s Word rather than from the full range of His wisdom and love?

It’s not impossible for us to live as Asa lived his early life. We can seek God and know peace, and we can live our everyday lives with God first in our hearts and minds and souls, just as He ought to be. We really can join sides with God and live by His holy standards, and we don’t need to withdraw from the world to do it. Peter told us to live such good lives AMONG the unbelievers that they would glorify the Lord. (1 Peter 2:11-12) Azariah the son of Oded tells us how:

2 Chronicles 15:2b,7
2 “The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
7 “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

Like Asa’s forefather David, we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6) Let us not expect God to reward our half-faith and our double-minded ways, but let us look wholly to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us join sides with God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–and let us seek Him while He may be found, and know that He is indeed One who rewards such faith. (Hebrews 11:6) Let us not forsake God for even a moment, but be faithful to Him every minute of every day. Then we can be sure that while we are with Him, He will indeed be with us.

Lord God of heaven and of earth, holy is Your name and worthy to be praised. Help me, Father, to only have eyes for You, to seek only Your will and Your way in my life. Teach me repentance and faith, that I may be sure of Your blessing. Never leave me nor forsake me, O Lord, and strengthen me in Your name and for Your glory. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s