“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that’s important.”
Very cliche, perhaps, but also very true. And it’s exemplified in the life of Asa, king of Judah. He had a very good start to his reign as king. It says in II Chronicles 14:2,
Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God.
He tore down all the pagan altars and ordered all the people to worship God, as the Israelites had done in the beginning. With God’s blessing, he made Judah strong, and at a time when Judah was under attack by a superior army, he put his trust in God, and God delivered him.
At this, God spoke through a man named Azariah to encourage Asa in what he was doing. He said,
Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you…Be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work. (II Chronicles 15:2,7)
Asa took all this to heart, and he went on to remove all the pagan idols from the land, and even went so far as to depose his own grandmother as queen mother because she was an idol worshiper.
Everything was going well. And then it all fell apart. Why? Three things.
First, he stopped putting his trust in God. Rather he trusted in his own wisdom and strength. The king of Israel, Baasha, boosted by a treaty he made with the king of Aram, Ben-Hadad, attacked Judah. Instead of trusting in God as he had done before, he instead made a treaty with Ben-Hadad to turn against Baasha, and in the process, gave not only his own gold and silver, but gave gold and silver from the temple that rightfully belonged to God. Asa’s ploy worked, but God was not pleased. And that led to the second problem.
Asa refused to listen to reproof when he was wrong. God sent a prophet named Hanani to rebuke Asa for his treaty with Ben-Hadad. Hanani reminded Asa of how God had helped him against superior forces before, and then he concluded by saying that Asa had acted foolishly, and would face wars from other fronts from that time on.
What was Asa’s response? He got so angry that he threw Hanani in prison. Perhaps it was out of his anger at God’s word that he then started to brutally oppress the people.
Finally, he refused to repent, even when God’s discipline came. Late in his life, Asa got some kind of foot disease, but he was still so upset with God that it says,
Even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. (II Chronicles 16:12)
How about you? Are you stumbling in your relationship with God after a good start? Let us not repeat the mistakes of Asa. Let us put our trust in God, in good times and bad. Let us always have ears to listen, even when God tells us things we don’t want to hear. And let us have hearts that are quick to repent. As Hanani told Asa,
For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (II Chronicles 16:9)
May your heart be completely his.