Then Azariah son of Obed, moved by the Spirit of God,
went out to meet Asa. He said, "Listen carefully, Asa, and listen Judah and Benjamin: God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he'll leave you.
For a long time Israel didn't have the real God, nor did they have the help of priest or teacher or book.
But when they were in trouble and got serious, and decided to seek God, the God of Israel, God let himself be found.
At that time it was a dog-eat-dog world; life was constantly up for grabs - no one, regardless of country, knew what the next day might bring.
Nation battered nation, city pummeled city. God let loose every kind of trouble among them.
"But it's different with you: Be strong. Take heart. Payday is coming!"
Asa heard the prophecy of Azariah son of Obed, took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves, and went to work: He cleaned out the obscene and polluting sacred shrines from the whole country of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He spruced up the Altar of God that was in front of The Temple porch.
Then he called an assembly for all Judah and Benjamin, including those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were living there at the time (for many from Israel had left their homes and joined forces with Asa when they saw that God was on his side).
They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's reign
for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of 700 oxen and 7,000 sheep for the worship.
Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back.
And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman.
They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams' horns.
The whole country felt good about the covenant promise - they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God - and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without - a most peaceable kingdom!
In his clean-up of the country, Asa went so far as to remove his mother, Queen Maacah, from her throne because she had built a shockingly obscene image of the sex goddess Asherah. Asa tore it down, smashed it, and burned it up in the Kidron Valley.
Unfortunately he didn't get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. But he was well-intentioned - his heart was in the right place, loyal to God.
All the gold and silver vessels and artifacts that he and his father had consecrated for holy use he installed in The Temple of God.
There wasn't a trace of war up to the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)