Ahaz takes the throne in Judah next. He is NOTHING like his father or grandfather in his service to the Lord. He could be Ahab’s twin!
Within the first verse of our reading we see where Judah is headed. For sixteen years Ahaz is unfaithful to the Lord in leading the people. We already had unfaithful people under Jotham. Now the king joins in with the peoples’ corrupt practices.
When I first saw Ahaz’s name, the name of Ahab jumped into my mind. I wonder if Jotham named his son something close to Ahab’s name for a reason. Did he somehow know in his spirit that his son would turn out just as corrupt? Was hid name somehow inspired by God? Or were these two names totally independent of one another in the language of their origin?
Regardless of his name, Ahaz was still responsible for his own actions. He was responsible for throwing away all the practices of his father that related to following the Lord. He made metal images for the Baals. He offered sacrifices under every tree and high place. And he killed his own sons by offering them as human sacrifices to his new gods! A wholly detestable king!!!
I could almost feel sorry for Ahaz because he didn’t have a father who modeled a close personal relationship with the Lord. If my timeline of the kings is right, Uzziah was still alive when Ahaz was born. The chart I have though puts Ahaz’s birth after Uzziah’s sin and punishment with leprosy. Maybe he wasn’t allowed visits with his grandfather. Is it possible he was bitter with God over Uzziah’s punishment? Jotham knew better than to test the Lord but apparently Ahaz had no such restraints.
God protected Judah because of Uzziah and Jotham’s faithfulness to Him. There is NO DOUBT that this is going to end. God will not tolerate the practices we see from Ahaz. Even if we couldn’t read ahead, that first verse still tells us disaster is coming.
I am purposefully not reading ahead because I want to really see what is going on in Judah. I want to first point out that Ahaz took his time in growing into the detestable king he was. It took practice. His actions were not a ‘one time’ slip up. It takes intention to craft metal images. He went throughout all the land of Judah making offerings and sacrifices, not just near his home. And he burned his SONS in the fires. This means there were multiple children he killed this way. His process reminds me of rotting fruit. I can see the decay happening before my eyes. By the time he gets through with his rotting process he isn’t even fit for pig food!
Did Ahaz start off planning to get so far from God? Did he see his father’s life and think, “No way! Not for me!” or did it just happen over time? Where he ended up seems impossible for me to think about but at what point does it become ‘normal’ when everyone else around you is doing it? How far do you have to go before sin no longer shocks you?
I know I’m going to step on toes here, but it wasn’t that long ago when many of the things we see happening today were unacceptable by most people. Same sex relationships is one of the biggest. Even some of our churches have chosen to embrace these changes. God loves us all but He has standards. Jesus loved the sinners, those who were not living up to God’s standards, but once He freed them from their sin He told them to “go and sin no more.” We are changing it to “it’s not sin anymore” instead. If we don’t stop we will eventually end up in the same place as Ahaz; fruit not fit for pigs.
If you have been with me for very long, you know how I don’t like stepping on toes but I am reminded of this one quote. “If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” I DON’T want to fall for anything and call it ‘good’ with God. I want to stand for His precepts and principles. The first among these is love of my Lord. The second is love of my neighbor. I will always choose love but it won’t be a sloppy love that ignores the issues. It will be a love that encourages, uplifts, and directs others to the Lord. I will always ‘love the sinner but not the sin’.
Father God, please don’t let me fall into the trap of ‘how far is too far’ thinking. Help me to hold fast to Your hand. My heart’s desire is to draw EVERYONE to You but I don’t want them to run up against Your holiness and end up like Uzziah. I KNOW You have standards You call Your people to live by. Otherwise why would You even have bothered to give Israel Your laws? I KNOW I am not bound to following all the rules and rituals contained in them since Jesus fulfilled the Law. But I am still expected to uphold Your standards in my life. And I am loved and forgiven when I bring my failures to You.
THEN I am to again go and sin no more. Thank You for each and every one of those ‘again’ moments. Help me walk in the last ‘again’ instead of needing another. And let me NEVER become rotten fruit unfit for even pigs!