I think that we all know – intellectually – that knowing something isn’t generally useful if we don’t do something about it. However, when we consider this, we also have respect for those who learn what needs to be done, and then do take action. Here’s the reaction of a Judean king who was told that he could find God if he sought Him:
When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD’s temple.
2 Chronicles 15:8 NIV
I like that this verse says that Asa “took courage”. Whether he was brave to tear down idols (like Gideon being brave to tear down an altar to Baal, per Judges 6:25-27, even if he did so at night), or if Asa just lived with confidence that God was with him, living with courage is one of the blessings of knowing that we’re aligned with God’s will.
(As a side note, Bible commentator Matthew Henry calculates that this time of needing to repair the altar was no more than 35 years since Solomon’s death, just to give us an idea of how quickly a people can turn away from God.)
In a world broken by sin, God shows us the consequences of bad choices. Sin doesn’t just harm the sinner; it harms others, and sometimes harms the innocent. If our world hadn’t been cursed by Adam’s sin, we might not have understood how bad it was to rebel against the holiness of our Creator, in whose image we were created. Sometimes this fallen world just causes suffering without any direct connection to a particular sin, because our planet and our society are corrupted by sin (including our own sins).
However, God also invites people into blessings that He illustrates on a regular basis in the lives of those who follow Him.
God’s offer is clear and available, allowing each person to make their own choice. It is no secret that following God is better than forsaking Him. Yet, the smokescreen of evil forces and selfish pride clouds the eyes of those who are given the choice to live a better life with God, and do not take that opportunity to do so.
In verses 14-15, the nation of Judah also made a good choice. They agreed to follow God, offered sacrifices to Him, and at least some of the pagan worship sites were destroyed.
The result? Just what God had promised: “…the Lord gave them rest on every side.” (see verse 15).
It may seem daunting to do the right thing, especially when it’s going to be a challenge. However, consider that sin requires a lot of work, too: Lies require work to maintain. Secret sins require work to keep hidden. Pride requires work to put down others in order to make ourselves feel better.
On the other hand, God offers us rest. Rest is what God gave the people here, and rest is what we can look forward to if we courageously follow God.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for July 11, 2021
- The Lookout, July 11, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.