Ancient Lessons for Today’s Politics
Asa became king of Judah about 911 BC. The fourteenth chapter of Second Chronicles records that he did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. During the early years of his 41-year reign, he removed the pagan influences in Judah, and God gave Judah ten years of peace. Asa attributed this peace to the Lord’s blessing but also realized his duty as king included assuring, as best he could, the safety and security of his people. He also saw that Judah was surrounded by potentially threatening pagan enemies, and built fortified cities. He built up a well-trained reserve army of 300,000 from Judah and 280,000 from the tribe of Benjamin, armed and trained with spears, shields, and bows. Scripture says of them that they were “mighty men of valor.”
But Zerah, the Ethiopian, came out against them with a powerful army of a million men and 300 chariots. As Asa brought up his army to meet the larger Ethiopian army with its impressive and intimidating battle chariots, he cried out to the Lord his God with this prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 14:11:
“O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God, let no man prevail against you.”
Scripture also records in verse 12:
“So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.”
Asa and units of his army pursued the fleeing Ethiopian army and completely destroyed it. According to Scripture, not one of the Ethiopian invaders remained alive.
The lesson for all times here is that when God’s people are assaulted by the seemingly overwhelming numbers, wealth, and intimidating advantages of their enemies, they should confess their own weaknesses and appeal to heaven, to the Lord God of Hosts, redeemer and protector of his people.
In Psalm 7:11-12, David appeals to God’s justice and righteousness against those who have made themselves his enemies. Of the wicked, God says that He is angry with them every day and is already bending his bow against them. Verses 14-16 warn that the wicked may travail with iniquity, conceive trouble, and bring forth falsehoods, but they will fall into a pit of their own making, and their evil will fall upon their own heads.
In Matthew 1:6-7 and 16 we learn that King Asa was a descendent of King David and that Asa was the ancestor of “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus [the Savior], who is called Christ [the Anointed One].” In the Old Testament, only prophets, priests, and kings were anointed. Jesus actually fulfilled all three of these offices.
The Old Testament book of Esther also tells a history in which the warning of Psalm 7:16-17 prevails. Although the wicked may trouble and bring forth falsehoods against the righteous, their evil plots and deeds will be the cause of their own humiliating demise. The story of Esther takes place about 480 BC in Persia, under the rule of Ahasuerus, who ruled over 120 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. At that time, many Jews were living there in exile. The book of Esther never mentions God by name, yet He is clearly orchestrating all its events.
The book of Esther is only ten chapters or eight pages of my Bible, yet it records a spell-binding history of a genocidal plot to annihilate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Moreover, and more importantly, it provides an encouraging account of God’s awesome and mysterious Providence over the affairs of men and nations. The Jewish observance of Purim celebrates Israel’s survival and God’s faithfulness.
While many of the Persians despised the Jews because of their relative prosperity, by God’s Providence, Esther, a young Jewish woman, became Ahasuerus’s queen. She did not, however, reveal her Jewish parentage. Meanwhile, Haman the Agagite, became the King’s powerful chief executive officer. Haman was a fierce enemy of the Jews and later convinced Ahasuerus that there was “a certain people,” a dangerous and troublesome minority in the Persian Empire, that should be annihilated. Haman sweetened his proposal by offering to pay for their annihilation with his own wealth. Thus, Haman manipulated the king into decreeing that that the Jews should be killed on a given date. Through her uncle, Mordecai, who had raised her in his home, Esther found out about the plot and courageously approached Ahasuerus at the risk of her life to counter Haman’s plot to kill the Jews. Mordecai was apparently influential enough that Haman had recently taken offense at Mordecai’s failure to bow to him and show him homage. In rage, Haman had a 150-foot high gallows built and planned to ask Ahasuerus for permission to hang Mordecai on it. Meanwhile during a sleepless night, Ahasuerus arose and read some recent chronicles that brought to remembrance that Mordecai had saved his life by revealing a previous assassination plot against him. The next day Haman was forced to honor Mordecai rather than hang him. A day later, at a small banquet prepared by Esther for Ahasuerus and Haman, Esther revealed Haman’s wicked plot against the Jews. The king was outraged. Esther 7:10 reveals the justice Ahasuerus decreed for Haman:
“So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai…”
At Esther’s request the Jews were allowed to defend themselves. From Esther 9:1 we read;
“…On the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.”
The Jews were helped in their defense by Persian authorities, and 75,000 of the enemies who had hoped to destroy the Jews were killed.
Jerry Bridges has a good short definition of Providence:
“God’s providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all creation for His own glory and the good of His people.”
Margaret Clarkson adds to our understanding:
“The circumstances surrounding our lives are no accident; they may be the work of evil, but that evil is held firmly within the mighty hand of our sovereign God. All evil is subject to Him, and evil cannot touch His children unless He permits it.”
- C. Sproul confirms the ultimate goodness of God’s wisdom:
“When God ordains anything to come to pass, His purpose in doing so is altogether and absolutely good.”
Psalm 34:19 and 21 summarizes:
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all…. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.”
Thus, the wicked may bring troubles and bear false witness against the righteous, but their prosperity will not last, and their demise frequently comes as a result of their own plots. They fall into their own trap and hang themselves with their own rope.
May the God of Truth open our eyes to all that is false or dishonest and deliver our people from corruption and tyranny.
Mike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.
He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.
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