2 Kings 16 (NIV)
Ahaz King of Judah
Perhaps the worst king of Judah.
1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
Leviticus 20:3 (ESV)
I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.
4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.
What must life have been like for a godly citizen under the rule of the worst king of Judah?
Micah 7:4-7 (CEV)
The most honest of them
is worse than a thorn patch.
Your doom has come!
Lookouts sound the warning,
and everyone panics.
Don’t trust anyone,
not even your best friend,
and be careful what you say
to the one you love.
Sons refuse to respect
their own fathers,
daughters rebel against
their own mothers,
and daughters-in-law despise
Your family is now your enemy.
But I trust the LORD God
to save me,
and I will wait for him
to answer my prayer.
5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him.
On the whole, Judah suffered terrible losses from this attack. King Ahaz lost 120,000 Judean soldiers and 200,000 civilian hostages in these battles with Israel and Syria (2 Chronicles 28:5-8). It was dark time for Judah, and it looked as if the dynasty of David would soon be extinguished, as so many dynasties in the northern kingdom of Israel had ended.
6 At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the people of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day.
7 Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal.
Why didn’t Ahaz say these words to the Lord, instead of to an enemy king?
Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.”
The prophecy of Isaiah 7 – including the announcement of the Immanuel sign – came from Isaiah to King Ahaz during this joint Israel-Syrian invasion. As the following verses reveal, Ahaz refused to trust in the Lord and instead put his trust in the king of Assyria. Yet for the sake of David, God did not allow this disastrous attack on Judah to prevail. He would not allow this Satanic plot against the Messianic dynasty of David to succeed.
8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9 The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.
How differently Ahaz’s ancestor King David would have responded to this crisis!
Psalm 18:6 (NLT)
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears.
10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria.
This is not an ordinary state visit. This is an official act of submission, Judah to Assyria.
He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 11 So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. 12 When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. 13 He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. 14 As for the bronze altar that stood before the LORD, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD—and put it on the north side of the new altar.
Using the plans sent from King Ahaz, the priest Urijah imitated the pagan altar at Damascus and had it ready by the time Ahaz returned from the Syrian capital. The king did this both to please his new lord Tiglath-Pileser, and to incorporate the latest trends in altar design into the national worship of Judah.
Why on earth would the king do such an awful thing?
2 Chronicles 28:23 (NLT)
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.
15 King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: “On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.” 16 And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.
17 King Ahaz cut off the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. 18 He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria.
All of this took place in the great temple that Solomon had built for the Lord.
19 As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20 Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.
Oh, Ahaz, and oh, my own heart — there is such a better choice! HERE is the Calvin College Alumni Choir and “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee.”