1 And the Spirit of Elohim came upon Azariah the son of Oded:

2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; Yahweh is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

3 Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true Elohim, and without a teaching priest, and without law.

No peace, and much vexation, and mutual hurt: the people would not be aware that God was complicating their affairs, that God was

"distributing sorrows in His anger" (Job 21: 17).

They would simply feel irritations and exasperations that would appear natural and justifiable in the circumstances. It was the incipient fulfilment of what God had told them by Moses when they came out of Egypt:

"If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, . . .the Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do. . . . A trembling heart and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life"

 (Deuteronomy 28: 15, 20, 65).

It may occur to some that if we are to read providence thus, we have strangely difficult problems to deal with in a world where the wicked are on high and in peace, and the righteous seeking, "through much tribulation," to enter into the kingdom of God. The explanation is to be found in the fact that God's providences run in certain well-marked and narrow channels only. Thus, of Israel it is said,

"You only have I known of the families of the earth; therefore, will I punish you for all your iniquities" (Amos 3: 2);

Whereas, of the Gentiles in general, Paul's testimony is, that God had

"suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Acts 14: 16).

The mass of mankind are as the beasts that perish (Psalm 49: 12-20). God chose Israel for Himself, and made them a kingdom under a divine administration. Therefore, a relapse from obedience was directly visited with evil consequences.

The Gentile nations were left with little regulation of their affairs that belongs to limited responsibility. It may be said that this renders the lessons of Israel's experience valueless to us; the answer is that every obedient believer of the gospel is in the circle of Israel's privileges in their highest form. Gentiles adopted through Christ are

"no longer strangers and foreigners" (Ephesians 2: 19).

They are fellow-citizens. They are brought within the channel of divine dealings (Hebrews 12: 7). All things are made to work together for their good (Romans 8: 28; Hebrews 1: 14).

The lessons of Israel's experiences are most valuable to them. They were expressly recorded for their benefit: so Paul says (1 Corinthians 10: 11), consequently, we have to be on our guard. Our sins may bring upon us chastisement to save us from

"condemnation with the world" (1 Corinthians 11: 32).

Ways of Providence Ch 21

4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto Yahweh Elohim of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

5 And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

6 And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for Elohim did vex them with all adversity.

7 Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.

8 And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of Yahweh, that was before the porch of Yahweh.

9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that Yahweh his Elohim was with him.

10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

11 And they offered unto Yahweh the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek Yahweh Elohim of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

13 That whosoever would not seek Yahweh Elohim of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

14 And they sware unto Yahweh with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.

15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and Yahweh gave them rest round about.

16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.

17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.

18 And he brought into the house of Elohim the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.

19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.