King Ahaz of Judah
(2 Chronicles 28.1-27)
1Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah in the seventeenth year of Pekah's rule in Israel. 2He was 20 years old at the time, and he ruled from Jerusalem for 16 years.
Ahaz wasn't like his ancestor David. Instead, he disobeyed the Lord 3 and was even more sinful than the kings of Israel. He sacrificed his own son, which was a disgusting custom of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. 4Ahaz offered sacrifices at the local shrines, as well as on every hill and in the shade of large trees.
5-6 While Ahaz was ruling Judah, the king of Edom recaptured the town of Elath from Judah and forced out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath, and they still live there.
About the same time, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel marched to Jerusalem and attacked, but they could not capture it.
7Ahaz sent a message to King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria that said, “Your Majesty, King Rezin and King Pekah are attacking me, your loyal servant. Please come and rescue me.” 8Along with the message, Ahaz sent silver and gold from the Lord's temple and from the palace treasury as a gift for the Assyrian king.
9As soon as Tiglath Pileser received the message, he and his troops marched to Syria. He captured the capital city of Damascus, then he took the people living there to the town of Kir as prisoners and killed King Rezin.
10Later, Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath Pileser. And while Ahaz was there, he saw an altar and sent a model of it back to Uriah the priest, along with the plans for building one. 11Uriah followed the plans and built an altar exactly like the one in Damascus, finishing it just before Ahaz came back.
12When Ahaz returned, he went to see the altar and to offer sacrifices on it. He walked up to the altar 13and poured wine over it. Then he offered sacrifices to please the Lord, to give him thanks, and to ask for his blessings. 14 After that, he had the bronze altar moved aside, so his new altar would be right in front of the Lord's temple. 15He told Uriah the priest:
From now on, the morning and evening sacrifices as well as all gifts of grain and wine are to be offered on this altar. The sacrifices for the people and for the king must also be offered here. Sprinkle the blood from all the sacrifices on it, but leave the bronze altar for me to use for prayer and finding out what God wants me to do.
16Uriah did everything Ahaz told him.
17 Ahaz also had the side panels and the small bowls taken off the movable stands in the Lord's temple. He had the large bronze bowl, called the Sea, removed from the bronze bulls on which it rested and had it placed on a stand made of stone. 18He took down the special tent that was used for worship on the Sabbath and closed up the private entrance that the kings of Judah used for going into the temple. He did all these things to please Tiglath Pileser.
19Everything else Ahaz did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 20 Ahaz died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem, and his son Hezekiah became king.
Coupled with parallel texts on Ahaz’s life (Isaiah 7-8 and 2 Chronicles 28), it is not hard to enumerate all the ways this king offended God. Take a moment to review the texts and make a list of the various ways that Ahaz deviated from the prescribed instructions of God. Little wonder that verse 2 says that he was not at all like King David. The war with Rezin and Pekah (v. 5-6) and his disastrous strategic alliance with the Assyrian, King Tiglath Pileser, did not help.
Ahaz followed a successive string of faithful kings who followed God. Amaziah (2Kings 14: 3-4), Azariah (15:1-2), and Jotham (15:32-35) preceded him. For about 100 years Judah had leaders who lived the way God wanted and generally did what was right. Then Ahaz departed from the ways of the Lord.
Consider what led to Ahaz’s disastrous reign. Look back on your life and identify the patterns of God’s direction. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, discern the things that may have or did lead you away from fully following God.
LORD God, direct me today by your Spirit to see the patterns of behaviour that could so easily cause me to leave your path and not follow you fully. I listen to you afresh today. Amen.