Azariah prompts Asa's reforms, Bible Historiale
2 Chronicles 15:1-2 (ESV) “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, 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.'”
Outline. The Chroniclers brief summary of Asa's reign opens the previous chapter with his spiritual, political and military successes that earned him the designation of doing “...right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” A large portion of the narrative is devoted to fortifying Judah and building an army, which were necessary when Ethiopians attacked the land; however, victory is credited to God after king Asa cried out to Him for deliverance. Chapter 15 then depicts the word from Azariah, which prompts Asa to begin radical reforms ridding the land of idols and reviving the sacrificial system in a well received revival. The following chapter reveals Asa did not purely rely on the Lord later in life when he called on Syria instead. Asa's anger, when confronted about it, led to the abuse of the people and his refusal to seek the Lord even as he lay on his deathbed.
Historical Context. Asa was the third king of Judah following the rise of the divided monarchy at Solomon's death, reigning from 911BC to 870 BC (Walton, 56).1 At this point in Judah's history, Solomon's temple is now competing with Jeroboam's high places in Israel and other illegal worship sites constructed by Solomon for his wives. The people are violating God's covenant with David by seeking after other gods, and cycles of revival and greatness followed by sin and decline have begun since the “the covenant faithfulness of the Davidic heir is the necessary prerequisite for restoration of covenant blessings” (Elwell, 283)2. God's Spirit spoke to recover the Kingdom.
Message Summary. The blessings of the Davidic Covenant (though everlasting) are conditional upon the people and their king desiring and seeking God's presence through heartfelt obedience.
Dominant Theme. God's self-revelation about the continued Promise of His presence, or dwelling among the people of Judah is clearly conveyed in 2 Chronicles 15:1-2. For Asa's reforms begin only after God takes the initiative to reveal His loyalty to the Davidic Covenant when His Spirit came upon the prophet Azariah. Then the message itself explicitly deals with God's presence. The Hebrew root of “with,” a common term used to speak of God's presence is used twice in God's revelation, reminding Asa of the human responsibility of seeking God in order to find His presence, that “the LORD is with you while you are with him” (2 Chronicles 15:2).
OT & NT Correlation. While different motifs of God's presence fill the Old Testament, David's words of admonition to Solomon about continuing in the covenant God (1 Chronicles 28:6-9) made with him (the Davidic Covenant) seem to be the most relevant, especially since: Asa is of their lineage, thereby inheriting that same admonition to keep the Covenant and “...Azariah proceeds to illustrate this truth from Israel's past history” (Pfeiffer, 402).3 Asa's reforms also lead to “...the first covenant renewal ceremony since David's day” (Elwell, 284). The fact that Asa's son Jehoshaphat continues and furthers the reforms speaks to God's presence during this period of faithfulness. The New Testament also refers back to God's covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:5-16) in Hebrews 1:5 which applies the covenant promise “I will be his father, and he will be my son” (v14) to Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is the offspring of David (Matthew 1:1), God remained true to David that “your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (v16) when Jesus suffered the cross and was resurrected with all authority as the promised Messiah not for a renewed Kingdom of Israel, but the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, Jesus, the third member of the Trinity, was the literal embodiment of God's presence, as God literally walked among and saw His people face to face, even being called “Emmanuel” - that is “God with us.”