1 Kings 15:9-15
In the twentieth year of Israel’s King Jeroboam, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.
Asa did what was right in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. He banished the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all of the idols that his fathers had made. He also removed his grandmother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. Asa chopped down her obscene image and burned it in the Kidron Valley. The high places were not taken away, but Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his entire life. He brought his father’s consecrated gifts and his own consecrated gifts into the Lord’s temple: silver, gold, and utensils.
The history of the kings of Israel and Judah after the civil war that began with Rehoboam and Jeroboam was a history of spiritual ups and downs for the descendants of Israel. For the northern tribes (a.k.a. Israel) it was a steady stream of rebellious kings. The only positive glimmers of light came through the prophets that were still devoted to Yahweh. With the southern tribe (a.k.a. Judah), the ups and downs found their expression in generations of kings that either followed Yahweh and those who rejected Him (or at least did not follow Him with their whole heart). After two kings that had not followed the ways of Yahweh, Asa emerged on the scene as a spiritual reformer in Judah.
What stands out among Asa’s many reforms is the personal cost it had for him when he removed his grandmother Maacah, third wife of Rehoboam and daughter (or granddaughter) of Absalom from her position in the royal family because of her role in leading Judah into idolatry. We can only speculate what personal cost this meant for Asa in relation to the rest of his family. After two generations of kings that were half-hearted in their commitment to Yahweh, Asa was making a serious generational shift.
Sometimes we are called to break generational cycles to follow Jesus. Jesus, Himself, said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, 27) Obviously, we seek to love our family, honor our parents, and our heart’s desire is to see them join us in the Kingdom of God. Still, Jesus uses this strong language to remind His would-be followers that they may need to separate from their closest loved ones in order to follow Him, as hard as that may be.
We need to allow the decisions of Asa and the words of Jesus to challenge us today.