For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.
2 Chronicles 16:9 | NIV | Other Versions | Context
In 2 Chronicles 16 we read about the last of Asa’s days. The third king of Judah, a grandson of Rehoboam son of Solomon, he was known to be a good king, a righteous king, a god-loving and god-fearing king. He was recorded to have done what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, removing foreign altars, smashing sacred stones and cutting down the Asherah poles [2 Chron 14:2-3]. Most notably, he deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made a Asherah pole [2 Chron 15:16]. Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life [2 Chron 15:17]. We read great things about King Asa in the last two chapters, however, as he approached his last years, we see a weakening of resolve and faith in the life of Asa, and he began to depend on men rather than the Lord whom he served so faithfully all his life. 2 Chronicles 16:9 was a reprimand to the King by Hanani the seer, whose reward for his warning was imprisonment. In today’s study, we will review the warning of Hanani – a characteristic of God that Asa had forgotten in his older years – the omniscience of God.
Analysis – the eyes of the Lord
From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind [Psalm 33:13]. He doesn’t only watch the ‘bad guys’. He doesn’t only watch the Christians. He is not a security camera that only switches on at night. God sees – he knows what has happened. He knows what we’ve suffered. He knows what we’ve done. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account [Hebrews 4:13]. The most well-known example for this would be the first sin – when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil [Gen 3:6] and tried to hide from the Lord God among the trees of the garden [Gen 3:8]. But, how could they possibly hide from the Lord? Another well-known case – David’s great sin: Bathsheba. When Nathan the prophet came to tell him of the sin, David, blinded by his own sinfulness, became upset at the unrighteousness of it – then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. 6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” [2 Sam 12:5-6]. Through Nathan, this was the Lord’s response – Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun [2 Sam 12:12]. Even if we hide the truth from the whole world, we cannot hide it from God. Even if we fool ourselves, and blind ourselves to our own sins, we cannot fool God. God sees. My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes [Jer 16:17].
The omniscience of God may be hard to accept for some people, especially those privacy advocates who reject the idea of security cameras and trackers for the sake of privacy. It is uncomfortable to know that you every action is being watched, isn’t it? It is disturbing to know that God knows every little thought in your mind, and everything you’ve done under the cloak of darkness. The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth – prompting David to ask, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? [Psalm 139:7|Article]. The Lord sees us, even if we cannot see him, even if we cannot feel him, even if we are purposefully hiding away from everything and everybody. “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD [Jer 23:24]. The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth, but in this verse, Hanani emphasizes that the omniscience of God is for our good, to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. If you recall, that was a phrase used to describe King Asa earlier on in chapter 15 – Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life [2 Chron 15:17]. Indeed, the omniscience of God would have been for Asa’s good and not for his bad, because he had been fully committed to the Lord. What does this mean?
For a person whose heart is fully committed to the Lord, obeying his decrees and following his word, the fact that God knows every little thing you did wouldn’t be a problem at all, would it? It wouldn’t – because you wouldn’t have anything to hide from him. In fact, God’s omniscience will become your hope, because God is aware of your suffering, God sees the bad done to you by others, God knows what you’ve been through – you can be heartened in trusting in him to deliver you. You don’t have to do anything – you don’t have to go anywhere, you don’t have to tell anybody. God, almighty God, knows. For Job, the omniscience of God was his only remaining hope when family and friends had turned against him – Does he not see my ways and count my every step? [Job 31:4]. The only reason why the omniscience of God would be a problem for us is when we’ve yet to fully commit our hearts to the Lord.
Indeed, while the main purpose of God’s omniscience being applied to us is to strengthen and not to threaten us, we need to remember that the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good [Proverbs 15:3].
Analysis – a foolish thing
Asa, as we’ve discussed, was a man whose heart was fully committed to the Lord. If he had just stayed on his path, he would have been delivered. Yet, he strayed, his faith wavered, and he began to depend on others and not the Lord. Now, if God were a mere mortal and he did not find out about it, Asa would have been fine. But in straying from his faithful path, and in assuming that God wouldn’t find out, Asa had erred foolishly. In fact, Asa was not the first king to err in folly. Saul did – “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time [1 Sam 13:13]; and so did David- David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” [2 Sam 24:10]. There are plenty of foolish people, but this phrase becomes extremely poignant when used on a person who should have known better. Saul, David, Asa – they were all great men, all godly men, and all of them should have known better.
Even after the rebuke of Hanani, Asa did not repent – he imprisoned Hanani, and even till the end he depended on men instead of the Lord – In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians [2 Chronicles 16:12]. Asa was a good king, but he was blinded to the omniscience of God. Whether he did not know that he could call upon the strength of the Lord, or whether he willfully chose to seek his own strength, we do not know – however, in our case, let us not be deterred by the omniscience of God, but fully commit ourselves to the Lord and take hope in his omniscience.