2 Chronicles 28 (NLT)
Ahaz Rules in Judah
Another account of the worst king of Judah.
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done. 2 Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel. He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. 3 He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 4He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
The ‘Valley of (the son of) Hinnom’ descended eastward below the southern edge of the city of Jerusalem. Here some of Judah’s most revolting pagan practices were performed (2 Chronicles 33:6). It was later defiled by King Josiah and converted into a garbage dump for the city (2 Kings 23:10). Consequently, the perpetual fires of ‘Gehenna’ became descriptive of hell itself (Mark 9:43).
5 Because of all this, the Lord his God allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and to exile large numbers of his people to Damascus. The armies of the king of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army. 6 In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel’s king, killed 120,000 of Judah’s troops, all of them experienced warriors, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 7 Then Zicri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah, the king’s son; Azrikam, the king’s palace commander; and Elkanah, the king’s second-in-command. 8 The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria.
So, Ahaz, all this idol worship — How is that working for you??
9 But a prophet of the Lord named Oded was there in Samaria when the army of Israel returned home.
A strange and wonderful event is about to happen! —
He went out to meet them and said, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and let you defeat them. But you have gone too far, killing them without mercy, and all heaven is disturbed. 10 And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the Lord your God? 11 Listen to me and return these prisoners you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!”
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
12 Then some of the leaders of Israel—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle. 13 “You must not bring the prisoners here!” they declared. “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the Lord’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel.”
14 So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people. 15 Then the four men just mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria.
Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the LORD will reward you.
Ahaz Closes the Temple
16 At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help. 17 The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. 18 And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev of Judah. They had already captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. 19The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord.
20 So when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him.
Tiglath-Pileser III was a prominent king of Assyria in the eighth century BCE (ruled 745–727 BCE), who introduced advanced civil, military, and political systems into the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
Tiglath-Pileser III seized the Assyrian throne during a civil war and killed the royal family. He made sweeping changes to the Assyrian government, considerably improving its efficiency and security. The Assyrian army, already the greatest fighting force in the world, now became Assyria’s first professional standing army.
Tiglath-Pileser III subjugated much of the Near East region; to the south, his fellow Mesopotamians in Babylonia and Chaldea, and further south still, the Arabian Peninsula. In the south west, Israel, Judah, Philistia, Samarra, Moab, Edom, the Suteans and Nabatea fell. To the north, Urartu, Armenia, and Scythia in the Caucasus Mountains, Cimmeria by the Black Sea, and in the north west much of eastern and south western Asia Minor, including the Hittites, Phyrigia, Cilicia, and Caria. In the west, the Greeks of Cyprus and Aram (modern Syria), and the Mediterranean City States of Phoenicia/Canaan were subjugated. To the east he subjugated Persia, Media, Gutium, Mannea, Cissia, and Elam, and later in his reign, Tiglath-Pileser III was crowned king in Babylonia.
Tiglath-Pileser III discouraged revolts against Assyrian rule with the use of forced deportations of thousands of people all over the empire. He is one of the most successful military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the Assyrians before his death.
21 Ahaz took valuable items from the Lord’s Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But this did not help him.
22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah.
24 The king took the various articles from the Temple of God (that is, Solomon’s temple) and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors.
So ended the reign of perhaps the worst king of Judah. Micah -– who prophesied during the reign of Ahaz –- describes the man who works to successfully do evil with both hands (Micah 7:3). The idea is that the man pursues evil with all his effort, with both hands. He may very well have had King Ahaz in mind.
26 The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign and everything he did, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 When Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.
How fortunate we are to live where we are free to gather together to worship the Lord! For thousands of Christians in our world today, doing so is a dangerous act. All the more reason for us, then, to be faithful in attending church and Sunday School and working for the kingdom of God! HERE is the Oslo Gospel Choir and “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.