We know that after Solomon died the nation of Israel fragmented because of the folly of his son. In today’s readings events have moved on – after two disastrous reigns, Solomon’s great grandson Asa becomes king. In ch. 14 (of 2 Chron.) we read how he prospered and in ch. 15 how God’s spirit came on Azariah, a prophet, who “went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and all Benjamin (the 2 southern tribes over which he reigned): The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” [v.2,3]
Today, as then, the other nations around Jerusalem are in disarray, the prophet went on to observe, “there was no peace … for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands … Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you (Asa), take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” [v.5-7]
These words are so appropriate today, believers in Israel, although probably few in number, but God knows, would, if they noticed them, find them especially appropriate as they observe the ongoing troubles in Syria, Egypt, Damascus and Cairo. One day the nation of Israel will have its eyes fully opened to the reality of their Saviour and his father, their God of old.
Yet many who say they believe there is a God – do they really rely on him and take to heart the prophets words, “The LORD is with you while you are with him”? Let us make sure we are with him, Jesus puts our situation wonderfully well in his words to his disciples which we read today, “Whoever abides in me and I in him , he (or she) it is who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” [John 15 v.5] Is your fruit tree flourishing?