You know, one of the best ways to be sure that our lives will turn out well in the long run is to do the right thing — not the “right things” as in making the “right” investments, making sure that our children go to the “right” schools, or knowing the “right” people. But doing the righteous thing. Today’s reading makes this point.
But before we examine a few principles to apply to our lives, let me explain a phrase that may have been unfamiliar to you, “covenant of salt”. Covenants are very special relationships; they are essentially the making of family with all the loyalties, duties, obligations, and love that accompanies that relationship. Marriages are covenants (e.g., Mal. 2:14), and adoptions are another example of them. They were a form what American Indians called being a blood brother. One form of covenant was a “covenant of salt” that came from the sharing of a meal, particularly salt. Israel was to include salt in its meal offerings: “‘Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” Leviticus 2:13, NAS95. Abijah’s point (13:5) to Israel’s army was that God had made a solemn promise to David about the kingdom that Jeroboam had divided.
Victory is in trusting in the LORD — Here’s a point that is made a couple of times in the reading today. The writer-prophet who wrote 2 Chronicles tells us
“Thus the sons of Israel [Jeroboam’s army] were subdued at that time, and the sons of Judah conquered because they trusted in the LORD, the God of their fathers.” 2 Chronicles 13:18, NAS95.
“Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, ‘LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.’ So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.” 2 Chronicles 14:11, 12, NAS95.
“and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, ‘Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.’” 2 Chronicles 15:2, NAS95.
Get the point? Trust in the LORD and things will work out. This isn’t always easy for us humans to grasp; doing things God’s way sometimes seems counter-intuitive, while doing things man’s ways seems so practical and effective. So, we do things our own way and then wonder why things went so poorly.
There is a reward for your work — It’s a common question among active and involved Christians: “Will what I’m doing really make any difference? Or am I doing all of this for nothing?” Paul answered, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58, NAS95. One of the hardest things about storing up treasure in heaven is that you don’t exactly get a monthly statement to give us humans the tangible assurance we’d like. It takes faith. The LORD’s encouragement to king Asa for the hard work routing out the remnants of idolatry and trying to get the whole nation back on track is that it would indeed have its reward. And it always does and not just in the sweet bye and bye — peace, love, joy, meaning, and hope (the fruit of living a godly life) are priceless, and as it turns out, righteousness actually is a better way to act for yourself, for your family, for society, for the nation, and the for the world. Never get discouraged, there is a reward for your work, you can count on it.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.