14 [a]Abijah lay down in death with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. His son Asa succeeded him as king. In Asa’s time the land had peace for ten years.
2 Asa did what the Lord his God considered good and right.
3 He got rid of the altars of foreign gods, broke down the sacred stones, and cut down the poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah. 4 He told the people of Judah to dedicate their lives to serving the Lord God of their ancestors and follow his teachings and commands. 5 He got rid of the illegal places of worship and the altars for incense in all the cities of Judah. The kingdom was at peace during his reign.
6 He built fortified cities in Judah because the land had peace. There was no war during those years because the Lord gave him a time of peace. 7 So Asa told Judah, “Let’s build these cities and make walls around them with towers and doors that can be barred. The country is still ours because we have dedicated our lives to serving the Lord our God. We have dedicated our lives to him, and he has surrounded us with peace.” So they built the cities, and everything went well.
8 Asa had an army of 300,000 Judeans who were armed with large shields and spears and 280,000 Benjaminites who were armed with small shields and bows. All of these men were good fighting men.
9 Then Zerah from Sudan came with 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots to attack Asa. Zerah got as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went to confront him, and the two armies set up their battle lines in the Zephathah Valley at Mareshah.
11 Asa called on the Lord his God. He said, “Lord, there is no one except you who can help those who are not strong so that they can fight against a large army. Help us, Lord our God, because we are depending on you. In your name we go against this large crowd. You are the Lord our God. Don’t let anyone successfully oppose you.”
12 The Lord attacked the Sudanese army in front of Asa and Judah. The Sudanese army fled. 13 Asa and his troops pursued them as far as Gerar. Many of the Sudanese died in battle. As a result, the Sudanese army couldn’t fight again. It was crushed in front of the Lord and his army. The Lord’s army captured a lot of goods. 14 It attacked all the cities around Gerar because the cities were afraid of the Lord. The army looted all the cities because there were many things to take. 15 It also attacked those who were letting their cattle graze and captured many sheep and camels. Then it returned to Jerusalem.
15 God’s Spirit came to Azariah, son of Oded. 2 Azariah went to Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all you men from Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you will dedicate your lives to serving him, he will accept you. But if you abandon him, he will abandon you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest who taught correctly, and without Moses’ Teachings. 4 But when they were in trouble, they turned to the Lord God of Israel. When they searched for him, he let them find him. 5 At those times no one could come and go in peace, because everyone living in the land had a lot of turmoil. 6 One nation crushed another nation; one city crushed another. God had tormented them with every kind of trouble. 7 But you must remain strong and not become discouraged. Your actions will be rewarded.”
8 When Asa heard the prophet Oded’s words of prophecy, he was encouraged and put away the detestable idols from all of Judah, Benjamin, and the cities he had captured in the mountains of Ephraim. He also repaired the Lord’s altar in front of the Lord’s entrance hall.
9 Then Asa gathered all the people from Judah and Benjamin and the foreigners who had come from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon. (Many of them had come to him from Israel when they saw that Asa’s God, the Lord, was with him.) 10 In the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign, they gathered in Jerusalem. 11 On that day they sacrificed to the Lord a part of the loot they had brought with them: 700 cattle and 7,000 sheep. 12 They made an agreement with one another to dedicate their lives to serving the Lord God of their ancestors with all their heart and soul. 13 All people (young or old, male or female) who refused to dedicate their lives to the Lord God of Israel were to be killed. 14 Asa and the people swore their oath to the Lord with shouts, singing, and the blowing of trumpets and rams’ horns. 15 All the people of Judah were overjoyed because of the oath, since they took the oath wholeheartedly. They took great pleasure in looking for the Lord, and he let them find him. So the Lord surrounded them with peace.
16 King Asa also removed his grandmother Maacah from the position of queen mother because she made a statue of the repulsive goddess Asherah. Asa cut the statue down, crushed it, and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although the illegal worship sites in Israel were not taken down, Asa remained committed to the Lord his entire life. 18 He brought into God’s temple the silver, the gold, and the utensils he and his father had set apart as holy.
19 There was no war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
16 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah to keep anyone from going to or coming from King Asa of Judah.
2 Then Asa brought out all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace. He sent them to Damascus to Aram’s King Benhadad. 3 He said, “There’s a treaty between you and me as there was between your father and my father. I’m sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
4 Benhadad did what King Asa requested. He sent his generals and their armies to attack the cities of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the storage cities in the territory of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard the news, he stopped fortifying Ramah and abandoned his work on it.
6 Then King Asa took everyone in Judah to Ramah. He made them carry the stones and lumber from Ramah. Baasha had been using those to fortify the city. Asa used the materials to fortify Geba in Benjamin and Mizpah.
7 At that time the seer[b] Hanani came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Syria and did not depend on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped your grasp. 8 Weren’t the Sudanese and Libyans a large army with many chariots and drivers? But when you depended on the Lord, he handed them over to you. 9 The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to him and to strengthen them. You acted foolishly in this matter. So from now on, you will have to fight wars.”
10 Asa was furious at the seer. He was so angry with Hanani that he put Hanani in prison. Asa also oppressed some of the people at that time in his reign.
11 Everything about Asa from first to last is written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa got a foot disease that became progressively worse. Instead of asking the Lord for help, he went to doctors.
13 Asa lay down in death with his ancestors. He died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had prepared for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bed full of spices and blended perfumes. And they burned a bonfire in his honor.
9 As a Christian, I’m telling you the truth. I’m not lying. The Holy Spirit, along with my own thoughts, supports me in this. 2 I have deep sorrow and endless heartache. 3 I wish I could be condemned and cut off from Christ for the sake of others who, like me, are Jewish by birth. 4 They are Israelites, God’s adopted children. They have the Lord’s glory, the pledges,[a] Moses’ Teachings, the true worship, and the promises. 5 The Messiah is descended from their ancestors according to his human nature. The Messiah is God over everything, forever blessed. Amen.
6 Now it is not as though God’s word has failed. Clearly, not everyone descended from Israel is part of Israel 7 or a descendant of Abraham. However, as Scripture says, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” 8 This means that children born by natural descent from Abraham are not necessarily God’s children. Instead, children born by the promise are considered Abraham’s descendants.
9 For example, this is what the promise said, “I will come back at the right time, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 The same thing happened to Rebekah. Rebekah became pregnant by our ancestor Isaac. 11 Before the children had been born or had done anything good or bad, Rebekah was told that the older child would serve the younger one. This was said to Rebekah so that God’s plan would remain a matter of his choice, 12 a choice based on God’s call and not on anything people do. [b] 13 The Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”
14 What can we say—that God is unfair? That’s unthinkable! 15 For example, God said to Moses, “I will be kind to anyone I want to. I will be merciful to anyone I want to.” 16 Therefore, God’s choice does not depend on a person’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
17 For example, Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I put you here for this reason: to demonstrate my power through you and to spread my name throughout the earth.” 18 Therefore, if God wants to be kind to anyone, he will be. If he wants to make someone stubborn, he will.
19 You may ask me, “Why does God still find fault with anyone? Who can resist whatever God wants to do?”
20 Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay.
22 If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? 23 Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory? 24 This is what God did for us whom he called—whether we are Jews or not.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky displays what his hands have made.
2 One day tells a story to the next.
One night shares knowledge with the next
3 without talking,
without their voices being heard.
4 Yet, their sound has gone out into the entire world,
their message to the ends of the earth.
He has set up a tent in the heavens for the sun,
5 which comes out of its chamber like a bridegroom.
Like a champion, it is eager to run its course.
6 It rises from one end of the heavens.
It circles around to the other.
Nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The teachings of the Lord are perfect.
They renew the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is dependable.
It makes gullible people wise.
8 The instructions of the Lord are correct.
They make the heart rejoice.
The command of the Lord is radiant.
It makes the eyes shine.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure.
It endures forever.
The decisions of the Lord are true.
They are completely fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even the drippings from a honeycomb.
11 As your servant I am warned by them.
There is a great reward in following them.
12 Who can notice every mistake?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep me from sinning.
Do not let anyone gain control over me.
Then I will be blameless,
and I will be free from any great offense.
14 May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender.
Wine makes people mock,
liquor makes them noisy,
and everyone under their influence is unwise.