Life seems so much simpler in the Old Testament. Obey God = get blessed. Don't obey Him = expect trouble. It's a simple theology that satisfies our craving for justice. The story of King Asa offers a textbook example of this apparent cause-and-effect relationship with God.

Asa was an excellent leader who turned his people from worshiping false gods (2 Chronicles 15:8). But late in his reign, he depended on his own strength and judgment instead of on God (16:2-7).

Eventually, Hanani the prophet told Asa: "The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (16:9). Asa's heart was evidently not fully in tune with God, for the balance of his life was marked by war and disease (v.12). It's easy to look at this story and say that people get what they deserve. But we don't always see that happen in life. Good people often suffer. Bad people sometimes get away with murder.

A closer look at Scripture reflects these deeper nuances accurately. Even in the Old Testament, we see how the wicked seem to prosper while heroes of the faith suffer terribly. Joseph, an innocent man, languished in prison for years (Genesis 39:19–41:1). Asaph lamented that the ungodly seemed to prosper, before concluding that justice would eventually prevail (Psalm 73). In raw honesty, Jeremiah actually accused God: "You misled me" (Jeremiah 20:7). Does God care? Yes, He does! The greatest injustice in all of history took place when Jesus suffered and died on the cross. God permitted His innocent Son to pay the horrid penalty for our sins. Is there justice in that? "God helps those who help themselves," some say, But the truth is, God helps those who are fully dependent on Him. , Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Journey

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