Perhaps you’re familiar with this verse:
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” ( 2 Chronicles 16:9)
Yeah? Me too. I’ve been so taken by it that I often leave off the final clause:
“You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”
Huh? What? That’s in there too?
What began with such hope and promise falls flat at the end. Just like the guy it was addressed to. Asa was an honorable king over God’s people, a covenant-keeping man, fearless and obedient. Under his reforms the nation of Judah cleaned up its act. Worship was restored. Idols were toppled and high places–some of them–were bulldozed.
Yep. That Asa.
The chapter goes on to say the “acts of Asa–from first to last–were recorded.” Sometimes I wonder if the chronicler should have stopped with the “first” and left off the “last” (five years) of the king’s life because the last part is too yucky. Ditto with the verse I referenced above.
But God includes it all; lock, stock and barrel.
The king who swung the pendulum back to divine order because his allegiance was first to Yahweh–in his earlier years–royally blundered in his final years by striking a covenant with a nation of anti-Yahweh ruffians, namely the Syrians.
God was miffed. Righteously so.
So he made Asa the subject of a weekly sermon.
“I have been looking for a man who would fix his heart to Mine. I longed to put My fierce might in such a man and accomplish heavenly things through such a one, and, at first, Asa, you were a good candidate. But you have gone your own way. You have gone on public record and given your loyalty to another. So I will let you write your own final chapter, which won’t be pretty.”
Unfortunately Asa didn’t go to the altar at the invitation. What he did was he got mad. And imprisoned and tortured the preacher for telling him the truth. Asa has the distinction of being the first king of God’s people to persecute a prophet of God.
Yeah. Sweet, young, loyal Asa.
The dude went from first to worst. His story ranks high up there with the Shakesperean tragedies, I’d wager. What do you think?
No, this isn’t meant to be some rant about how God writes us off if we blow it. If you knew me, you’d know that’s not my style. I believe, even for Asa, there is mercy that is accessible and grace aplenty for our blowouts. Some of us have even gotten more second chances than centipedes have legs. However, when grace is refused, it will be removed.
I suppose this post does carry this central idea: it may or may not matter how you start, but it surely does matter how you finish. Like He did for Asa, God keeps the record on you as well. From “first to last.”
I am grateful that He who is the First AND Last is the One who is over me and the One who saves me to the uttermost. Thanks be to God for His inexplicable grace through His Son, Jesus Christ.