So I'm reading through 2 Chronicles and I come to this verse in chapter 16: In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah . . . . (verse 1).
What happens next is (for me, anyway) confusing -- and instructive.
But first -- some back story. In chapter 14, Asa ascended the throne of David in Judah. Ten years later a million-man army from Ethiopia attacked Judah. When Asa prayed for help (verse 11), [T]he Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.
Think of it. The entire Ethiopian army -- chariots, horsemen, soldiers -- the whole million-man army fled before Asa's army which was half the size.
But twenty-five years later, we are at chapter 16. This time Asa is besieged by another army, but instead of relying on God, he paid a foreign king to come to his aid.
I put the Bible down for a moment and wondered what happened in the intervening 25 years between the million-soldier rout and chapter 16. The Scripture is silent, so I can only make an assumption based on human nature -- and I know human nature pretty well. I've lived with myself for nearly 60 years.
I can guarantee Asa forgot Whose he was, and to Whom he belonged. Some time during those 25 years Asa stopped praying, stopped worshiping, stopped reading God's word. And his slow drift bore fruit when he faced a situation he could not handle alone.
His turn from God didn't happen overnight. It occurred by degrees, over the years. I can guarantee it happened that way because in my 37 years with Christ I've known many Christians who slowly lost touch with God. They stopped, by degrees, attending Church. They left their Bibles closed for a week. And then three. Then a few months which turned into years. Their prayer life slowed to a halt, and they exchanged Christian friends for non-believers. And, to no one's surprise, when difficult situations fell across their path they relied on anything else but God.
I can guarantee it happened that way because -- bound by human nature myself -- I remember the many times the spiritual desert loomed around me, and I nearly forgot Whose I am and to Whom I belong. The temptation to leave my Bible closed, or toss a quick and nearly mindless prayer toward heaven, or to sleep in on Sunday began to whisper its seductive arguments at me.
Yes, all of us are at risk to follow in Asa's footsteps.
And all of us can learn from his error.