2 Chronicles 16:11-14 – When Do You Call Off the Dogs?

Posted: August 26, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 16:11-14

Summary of Asa’s Reign in Judah

Opening Illustration/Comments

Back in October 2018, my father passed away after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma. This really aggressive tumor of a cancerous nature had grown at the back of my dad’s brain in between the two halves or spheres of the brain. It was tentacle like in nature in the way that it had attached itself to my dad’s brain. Therefore, there was no operation considered. Any attempt to remove the tumor would have meant paralysis of multiple functions of my dad’s body and certainly death was a great possibility as well. Surgery was out of the question for us and the doctors. What they recommended was that dad go through some pretty intense chemotherapy to therapeutically kill the tumor.

Having seen one of our friends with breast cancer go through chemotherapy in a much healthier and younger body I knew that chemo was no joke. This female friend of ours who was in her forties and in great health otherwise went through it for like 6 months. It kicked her butt and she was 30 years my dad’s younger. So the issue that we had to grapple with as family (my dad himself, my stepmom, me, my brother, and my oldest daughter) as to what was this going to gain my dad. The doctor told us with chemo my dad would probably live another 18-24 months. Without it, he would most likely die in 2 months. With the chemo, his quality of life would be horrible at 79 years old. Without it, he would have a short time with us, very short, but he would have his dignity and a decent quality of life to almost the end.

We chose not to pursue the medical intervention of chemo, because dad did not want to do it. He said he was tired and ready for the end. He was tired of fighting the fog of an ailing body. He was just ready to go to heaven. He did not want to fight this fight to eek out maybe 22 months of living. We had to respect that. Through prayer, we came to be at peace with that. And my father lived 7 weeks to the day after his terminal diagnosis. He slipped into Jesus’ arms in October 2018. I don’t regret supporting dad’s decision. If he had been 30 years younger, it would have been a tougher decision for sure. This is a big issue for Christians!

It is that idea of when to call off the dogs when it comes to medical science that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 16:11-14 Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

11 The rest of the events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a serious foot disease. Yet even with the severity of his disease, he did not seek the Lord’s help but turned only to his physicians. 13 So he died in the forty-first year of his reign. 14 He was buried in the tomb he had carved out for himself in the City of David. He was laid on a bed perfumed with sweet spices and fragrant ointments, and the people built a huge funeral fire in his honor.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that the criticism of Asa’s visit to the physician was not a general indictment of medicine. Rather, it was to point out that Asa completely ignored God in seeking a solution to his problem. Now, it is certainly worth noting that the physicians of the ancient Middle East were a mixture of superstitious and/or folk remedies. There was not necessarily a great deal of scientific methodology applied to the field of medicine at this time. Given that though, we should seek prayer (see James 5:14) for our sickness as we seek responsible medical help. Prayer is the first response and prayer will lead us to our proper direction with regard to seeking medical care.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that, according to John Piper, “God has ordained for us to pray about our needs, because we don’t know at the outset whether our circumstances are intended to last or be temporary.” God bids us to pray and says, in James 4:2, we have not because we ask not, often. He doesn’t treat prayer as an intrusion upon his sovereignty. He invites it as part of his sovereignty. It is part of his sovereign plan for ruling the world. It is the starting point for us as Christ followers. That’s where we must have a regular routine of daily seeking God in prayer. When we pray regularly to God, we increasingly learn how to clear out the white noise of the world around us and focus more clearly on God. When we get that routine of shutting out the world around us as we pray, we can hear his voice. In hearing His voice, we will be able to discern our path forward with regard to medicine.

It is no fluke that one of the earliest second generation disciples (i.e., first generation disciples were the apostles who were Jesus’ original 12) is a physician, Luke. Luke the writer of one of the gospels and of the Book of Acts and he was a physician of the first century AD kind. That Luke became a Christ follower means that medicine and faith are not incompatible. I think that God wants us to avail ourselves of available technology and medical advances when it is reasonable to do so. Just as God expects us to wear seatbelts when we ride in cars, I think he gave man the intellect to develop life-saving and extending techniques and medicine that we should avail ourselves of when it is reasonable to do so. I think the Lord will conform this in our prayer life in most instances. However, there may be times through our prayers that God shows us that we should refuse available medical treatment. In his sovereignty, he may show us that in particular instances that we gain nothing from using currently available medical technology and medicine.

Therefore, it’s prayer first and medicine use or non-use second. We should not make any medical decisions without consulting with our Abba Father, period. To be able to hear Him clearly, it points us toward an active and regular prayer life. Let us make God our first stop before deciding on medical issues.

Amen and Amen.

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