No king can ever match up to Jesus. Our perfect, sinless Savior is also the King of Kings, and He’s coming again to claim His throne! He was also born into a family of kings. We’ll be studying 4 of His kingly ancestors in our 4-part series about the kings of the split Israelite kingdom. These leaders have a lot to teach us. Their decisions and experiences clearly demonstrate why we should always depend on the Lord for direction!
The first king we’re studying is Asa, Solomon’s great-grandson. At his best, he was one of Judah’s most faithful leaders. At his worst, he took his eyes off the Lord and failed while trying to lead by his own strength. Follow along with us as we look into the fascinating lives and leadership of the kings in the line of Jesus!
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover with me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. We're so glad you chose to join us today. Chris, where are we headed?
Chris Katulka: I'm very excited, first, before we get to the show, I want to let our listeners know that we have an upcoming live online Passover Seder coming up. I think our audience is going to love it, but details are coming in a little bit during the program.
But before we get to that, our program today is all about the Kings. Kings from Second Chronicles. We're going to be looking at four different Kings in particular. But Jesus is the King of Kings and he comes from a line of Kings that were looking forward to his ultimate reign. So, today we're going to begin our series on the Kings with King Asa, the great grandson of King Solomon.
Steve Conover: In the news Saudi Arabian lawyer, Osama Yamani, claimed last November, that Jerusalem is not Al-Aqsa. Yamani is referring to the temple Mount in Jerusalem where the iconic Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque stand. Muslims believe Mohammed was transported there from the great mosque in Mecca in a night vision. However, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the account, only the title Al-Aqsa, which means “farthest mosque.” Yamani argues the Saudi town Al-Ju'ranah fits the account better.
Chris Katulka: Yes, Steve, here's my take on the issue. Tension has always existed between Islam and Judaism over this important plot of land. Now, you know for the Jewish people, this site is number one when it comes to significance and for Islam, it's the third most Holy site to them. However, this month, certain Saudis even conducted a Twitter campaign, downplaying the importance of Jerusalem to Islam and one Saudi even expressed hope that the third Jewish temple would soon be built there. I'm going to tell you these are words I never thought I'd hear in my lifetime.
Okay. So let me start from the top and work backwards here, because we're starting a series on four of Israel's Kings after the split of the Israelite Kingdom following Solomon's reign. But let me start with Jesus. That's right, Jesus. Jesus is called the Messiah. Have you ever heard that before, Messiah? It's a Hebrew term. Mashiach in Hebrew. It means “anointed one.” And the term connects to the moment the King of Israel, when he's inaugurated as the King of Israel, is anointed with oil over his head as a symbol of the work of the Holy Spirit using him to guide and lead the people of Israel.
Saul, King Saul was anointed. King David was anointed. King Solomon was anointed with oil at the Gihon Spring. The kings of Israel became the anointed representatives of God on earth. That was their duty. And God made a promise to King David in Second Samuel chapter seven, that his kingly line would rule forever. That he would have a son that would build a house for the Lord and a son that would sit on his throne in perpetuity forever.
This promise looked both at King Solomon, and ultimately at Jesus. Jesus is the King of Kings, but as we study through Second Chronicles, we see that God preserved the line of David to get us to Jesus. The Kings of Judah were a part of the family line of Jesus. In fact, if you read through the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, you'll see the lineage of David's descendants found in First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles.
For the next few weeks, I want to invest our time looking at four Kings in the line of Jesus. And the reason Jesus is the King who reigns forever on the throne of David is because he did everything a King was required to do. In Deuteronomy chapter 17, Moses writes this about the Kings of Israel. "Moreover, a King must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so. For the Lord has said, you must never again, return that way. Furthermore, he must not marry many wives lest his affections turn aside and he must not accumulate much silver and gold. When he sits on his Royal throne," Moses writes as the Lord is speaking to him, "he must make a copy of the law on a scroll given to him by the Levitical priests. It must be with him constantly and he must read it as long as he lives so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and observe all the words of this law and these statues and carry them out. Then he will not exalt himself above his fellow citizens or turn from the commandments to the right or to the left. And he and his descendants will enjoy many years ruling over his kingdom in Israel."
Listen, Jesus didn't accumulate wives like Solomon. He didn't form an army or rely on chariots or advanced weaponry of that time to save him. Jesus didn't accumulate wealth for himself as Deuteronomy chapter 17 talks about. And Jesus himself is the great I Am. Did you hear how Kings were supposed to copy the law? Jesus created the law. If anybody knew it, it was him. And why were the Kings required to write the law out? Did you hear what it said? So that they would not exalt themselves above their fellow citizens or turn from the commandments to the right or to the left? And as a result, his descendants would enjoy many years of ruling over the kingdom of Israel. Listen, Jesus gave everything for his people. He healed them. He fed them. He gave them sight. He washed their feet. He went to the cross and bore the wrath of God in their place. Jesus definitely didn't exalt himself over his people.
The Kings of Israel and Judah between 1000 BC and 586 BC excelled in some areas and failed miserably in others. No King in Israel's history was perfect. And for that reason, there was always the hope that one day God would bring a King from the line of David who would rule his people with justice and righteousness. God brought that King in the person of Jesus Christ.
Okay. But it's important to see how these Kings from the past excelled in areas and failed in other areas. So today we're going to actually take a look at King Asa, a relative of Jesus. After the kingdom of Israel split following the death of Solomon, Solomon's son, Rehoboam, ruled the kingdom of Judah King Asa is Solomon's grandson. He ruled between 908 BC and 867 BC. Asa appeared on the scene after his father died. And you could see the fervor for the law that Asa had.
In Second Chronicles chapter 14, it says that Asa removed the pagan altars. He ordered Judah to seek the Lord, their God, the God of their ancestors, and to observe his laws and commands. Asa built fortified cities throughout Judah. And because of his dedication to the Lord, the land was at rest and there was no war during those years, and the Lord gave him peace. See the Lord gave him Shalom. Asa's heart for the Lord, think about this, his dedication to the Lord, gave the land rest for 10 years. That means there was peace. There was no infighting or wars to fight outside with surrounding nations. But that rest came to an end when Zerah the Cushite, this is from the South, this is below Egypt, when Zerah the Cushite brought 1 million soldiers up from the South to fight against Asa. And Asa had 500,000 fighting men.
Now from a human perspective, Asa has already lost the battle, but listen to Asa's prayer. Remember Zerah the Cushite has a million soldiers. Asa has 500,000. Listen to Asa's prayer. "Oh Lord, there is no one but you who could help the weak when they are vastly outnumbered. Help us, oh Lord our God. For we rely on you and have marched on your behalf against this huge army. Oh Lord, you are our God. Don't let men prevail against you." Amen Asa. Asa and his army defeated the Cushites because of his faith. Not because of their own strength, but because of the Lord's mighty hand. And this is exactly why Moses commanded the Kings in Deuteronomy chapter 17, not to amass a large army or chariots, because, see, if Asa had 1.5 million soldiers and all the chariots and all the right armor and all of the right weaponry, he would probably be less likely to trust in the Lord for the victory.
Look, there's a reason Jesus said that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter into the kingdom of God. It's not because Jesus hates rich people. It's because the rich have less need for any form of dependency on the Lord. In America, we're the richest country in the world and yet that “none” category for religion, which include atheists, agnostics and those claiming no religion, has grown exponentially. Think about this. Between 1937 and 1998 church membership in the US remained around 70%. But between 1998 and 2018, only two decades, it dropped from 70% to 50%. Look, I'm sure there's many factors at play for that significant drop, but I am certain one of those big factors is our opulence.
Look, where does our attention turn these days to fix our problems? Are we trusting God or are we looking to the government? Asa was the government at that time, and he was pressured into a very difficult situation. And yet at that time, instead of looking inward and trying to fix the problem on his own, he turned his nation's focus on the Lord. Trusting that the rock of Israel would defend and protect them, even though they were outnumbered. And who gets the glory? It's not an Asa. It's the Lord who gets the glory.
Now look, what makes Jesus such a great King is that he is the Alpha and Omega. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And the problem with humans is that we can think and do one thing one day, and then the next day lose sight. So you got to stay tuned to find out how Asa lost sight.
Steve Conover: We want to invite you to a special opportunity this Easter season. Chris Katulka and Steve Herzig will be hosting a free online Passover Seder Thursday, April 1 at 7:00 PM eastern standard time. This is for you and your family to enjoy from the comfort of your home. I can't imagine a better way to experience this Jewish tradition and the Lord's last supper just days before Easter.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we're going to be leading people through a traditional Passover Seder, the way Jewish families all around the world do, but with Jesus at the center of the celebration. And I'm especially excited that we're going to be sharing a Passover Seder grocery list ahead of time, so that families who want to participate in this way, can use the elements to be a part of the celebration, if they wish, from their home. Join Steve Herzig and me on April 1, and this is not a joke, we're not fooling around, April 1, live 7:00 PM eastern standard time.
Steve Conover: To learn more about this special free online event and to download recipes, Seder shopping lists, table setting ideas for you and your family, go to foi.org/passover. You'll find everything related to this fantastic upcoming event. Foi.org/Passover.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We are in our series on the Kings of Israel, specifically from the book of Second Chronicles. And today we're looking at Solomon's great grandson, Asa, who served as the King of Israel for 41 years. Asa dedicated his life and his nation, Judah, to the Lord. He was even encouraged by the prophet Azariah to continue following the Lord, which only compelled Asa to deepen his relationship with God.
However, the King of Israel in the North, King Baasha attacked Judah. And Asa immediately took all of the silver and gold from the temple treasuries and the Royal palace and he paid the King of Syria to make a treaty with him, to attack Israel together. And the King of Syria agreed. And both Syria and Judah attacked King Baasha and defeated him. I'm sure Asa was thrilled with the victory through the alliance that he made.
But then out of nowhere, Hanani, a prophet, visited King Asa and said, "Because you relied on the King of Syria and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the King of Syria has escaped from your hand. Did not the Cushites and the Libyans have a huge army with chariots and a very large number of horsemen, but when you relied on the Lord, he handed them over to you? Certainly the Lord watches over the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him. You have acted foolishly in this matter, Asa. And from now on, you will have war." Asa was so angry at the prophet that he put him in jail. Asa also oppressed some of the people at that time. And Asa later died and was buried in Jerusalem.
Listen, Asa's life is one marked by devotion to the Lord. He dedicated his life to God's glory, but in one moment he gave it all up. He sacrificed God's glory for his own. It's the reason why he imprisoned the prophet who came to remind Asa of the spiritual side of his reign as the King of Judah. That as God's chosen leader, he should have trusted in him instead of partnering with a nation he shouldn't have in order just to win. When he had history on a side, knowing that God would be faithful to protect him and his people.
But there's something interesting I want you to see here in Asa's life. Asa had two prophets speak to him. Once when he followed the Lord in his commands, and once when he opted to carve out his own destiny apart from God. Azariah, the first prophet, encouraged Asa for the way he handled the Cushites. And it says Asa felt good. He was encouraged. However, after Asa partnered with the Syrians to fight against the Israelites, Hanani came to Asa and challenged him and told him, this is not what the Lord wanted him to do according to God's word. And Asa instead of repenting and turning back to God, imprisoned the profit Hanani because he didn't like what he was hearing.
Let me ask you, how do you handle godly biblical criticism in your life? We all love encouragement. I love encouragement. But how do you respond when a friend looks at the scriptures and says, "Hey, are you living the way you should for Christ?" You may not stick your friend in jail, but maybe you stop calling or maybe you avoid them. Godly and biblical criticism from a trusted person God puts in your life is invaluable. They help us see areas that might be blind spots for us. God could be using them to bring us back into a relationship like Hanani was for Asa.
But let me stress this before we close. Any form of spiritual criticism must be backed by scripture, just as Hanani did for Asa. Let's not be like Asa, a man who lived his life serving God, but was too prideful in the end to take correction when the time came. Let's instead be open to the leading of the Spirit in our lives as God brings people along to help us grow deeper in the knowledge of him.
Steve Conover: You know Chris, I'm reminded early in Asa's career, he was told by a prophet that the Lord is with you when you were with him. And it seems Asa's life is a warning about not becoming complacent as we age.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, definitely. I think what happens is you can get comfortable in how you relate with God. And then by becoming comfortable, you can begin to carve out your own destiny and make your own decisions. And I think that prophet Hanani is a fresh reminder for us constantly, to always remember that it's good to always be in God's Word and to listen to good godly criticism from the scriptures, because that's the way God wants us to grow in him, to fill those blind spots. So, yeah, definitely, as we get older, I think we can tend to lose sight of those things. But I think that's the best time when it comes with wisdom and understanding and knowledge of who God is, how we can continue even then to grow deeper in him.
Steve Conover: Israel on the verge of becoming a state, a teenage Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know, his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations. Many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry, continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellog: The Lord Jesus said, "When they bring you to the synagogues, do not worry about how or what you should answer or what you should say. The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. I praise God, this truth strengthens me as I witness for him in the land of Israel.
On a pleasant Sabbath recently, I took my son's dog out for a walk. And as I was walking, an Orthodox family with many children approached me and the children began to play with the dog and their father was happy to see them having such a good time. As we watched his children, the little dog occupied himself by chewing on the tassels of the man's prayer shawl. I did not notice what the dog was doing or I would have stopped him. And while I had a good laugh about the situation, the man became angry.
He said, "I have made a great sin by allowing your unclean dog to defile my long tassels. He ate my most holy possession." I responded, "Your tassels were never Holy. If you know the Jewish scriptures, you should know in Numbers 15:37, the Lord commanded the Israelites to make tassels on their garments to serve as a visual reminder of his commandments. But God never said they were holy. He wants you to look at them and remember what he expects of you.
The man asked, "How do you know what the Lord expects of me?" I replied, "He wants you to keep his commandments. Joel 2:13 says, 'Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God.' Your tassels are more important to you than your faith in the Lord. But your faith in him is more important to God than your tassels. I will be happy to purchase more tassels for your prayer shawl, so people can see how holy you are on the outside, but that will not affect your heart's attitude toward God." He became extremely agitated and said, "As a Jew, you should know it is our obligation to wear tassels on our garments." I replied, "Receiving the Lord as your Savior is more important. Why keep his commandments if you do not understand why you are doing it."
In time, he became calm and eventually said, "Now I know with whom I should be spending time. It will be a privilege for me to visit you on my way home from the synagogue. Perhaps I can bring a lost soul back to God." I let him continue for a while and then his attitude changed abruptly when he sensed the irony in someone like him trying to bring another back to God. He told me he used to be a drug addict, but said he had repented.
I prayed silently and then said, "You must open your heart before the Lord and ask for the forgiveness of your sins." I thought this would make him angry, but instead he asked in whom I placed my faith and how I had come to believe as I do. And for the next hour, I had the great privilege of telling this Orthodox Jewish man, how I had found Jesus. Who would have thought a little dog could pave the way for such an opportunity. This was a work of God. Perhaps someday he will discard his tassels and place his faith in God, not in his garments.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us for the program today. One quick reminder as we close, to join us for our upcoming Passover event.
Chris Katulka: Yeah, for our listeners, April 1, don't forget April 1, 7:00 PM. eastern time. It's live. It's online. It's our Friends of Israel Passover Seder that you can be a part of by simply going to foi.org/passover. Again, one more time, foi.org/passover.
Steve Conover: And you can also find that information at foiradio.org. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. Mike Kellogg read apples of gold and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer.
Our mailing address is FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Once again, you can visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Online Passover Seder
Join our FREE online Passover Seder Thursday, April 1 at 7 p.m. EST! Steve Herzig and Chris Katulka host an authentic demonstration of a Jewish celebration of Passover with a key element added to our celebration: a focus on Jesus and the Last Supper. Experience this revered Jewish tradition from the comfort of your own home!
To learn more about this special event and to download recipes, seder shopping lists, and table setting ideas, please visit foi.org/passover.
Apples of Gold: A Little Dog Paves the Way
Who would have thought that a little dog could open the door for such an opportunity? That is what Zvi was thinking after an encounter with an Orthodox Jewish man and his family while walking his son’s dog. While the man put his faith in his tassels and garments, Zvi encouraged him to put his faith in God. Find out how a dog looking for a chew toy led to an examination of the heart.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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