“As we continue our journey together at a pivotal time in history, I am encouraged by the sentiments Moses shared in Psalm 90. We are not forgotten by God. He knows us intimately—our strengths, our weaknesses, and our struggles—and can teach us how to live out our days for His honour.”
Reminders for every generation
“Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God” (Psalm 90:1-2, NLT).
A reminder that often comes to me is that “the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth,” generation after generation, strengthening the hearts of those who are truly committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). He knows there is so much over the course of each lifetime that can make one’s courage fail or cause apathy to set in—if not in one season, then most assuredly in another. The thought also comes to me—how much God must see that grieves His Spirit as He searches the earth. Some of it we know about from living out our own lives or through updates that may appear in the news. Much of it occurs covertly and will be revealed only when time, as we know it, changes gears. I draw encouragement from being a place where He can dwell, and I take delight in our relationship because of my standing in Him through faith in Christ (Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1-2). And there is no denying the pleasure God receives in taking up tangible residence in spaces where we gather to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
As often as I have heard 2 Chronicles 16:9 quoted, what isn’t always mentioned is why the prophet Hanani spoke those words about God strengthening human hearts. King Asa, son of Abijah, became king of Judah after his father died and started out doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God. He pointed people toward seeking God, removing foreign altars and pagan shrines, and using the time of peace God had granted him to build up the fortified towns throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 14:1-6; 1 Kings 15:9-14). But as Judah’s victories against their enemies increased, so did King Asa’s tendency to rely on himself.
Before that happened, though, the Spirit of God came upon Azariah, who went out to warn the king: “The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him! Whenever you seek him, you will find him. But if you abandon him, He will abandon you” (2 Chronicles 15:2, NLT). King Asa took courage from that message and continued focusing his efforts on keeping God as a priority for the nation, removing more idols, and repairing the damaged altar at the temple. People from Israel even began moving to Judah when they saw that God was with King Asa (v. 9).
Three decades later, it was clear that apathy had won the day. When King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah, Asa immediately reacted with his own solution, not considering that he could ask God for help. “Asa responded by removing the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of the LORD and the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message: ‘Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone’ ” (2 Chronicles 16:1-3; also see 1 Kings 15:18-19). God sent Hanani at this point to tell him: “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and charioteers? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them over to you. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9).
This time, Asa’s response to a prophet’s message was resentment: “Asa became so angry with Hanani for saying this that he threw him into a prison and put him in stocks. At that time Asa also began to oppress some of his people” (v. 10). The tactic he employed to avoid being conquered by King Baasha may have worked, but his sensitivity to God’s voice was no longer evident. While he never strayed outright from serving God and adopting idols (1 Kings 15:14), it seemed he was not holding on to God as tightly as he once had. King Asa died a few short years later of a severe foot disease for which he also failed to turn to God, instead seeking counsel only from physicians (vv. 12-13).
As we continue our journey together at a pivotal time in history, I am encouraged by the sentiments Moses shared in Psalm 90. We are not forgotten by God. He knows us intimately—our strengths, our weaknesses, and our struggles—and can teach us how to live out our days for His honour. His Word endures so that we might gain both encouragement and caution from what occurred in the lives of those who have already gone before us. Our time here may be brief, but the message of the life, death and resurrection of Christ—and the forgiveness, peace and joy He offers to all who believe—remains our task to share in word and deed. It is even more important now that we have a plan for sufficient rest and frequent refocusing, remembering to whom we belong and recalling what God has already brought us through. “Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good” (Psalm 90:14-15, NLT). May we continue in faith, hope and love, God adding His blessing to our efforts (Psalm 90:16-17).
This article appeared in the July/August/September 2022 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2022 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.