King Ahaz takes the throne in Judah and things get MUCH worse. He is NOT a godly king and he goes so far as to dismantle many of the Temple items.
Judah had a run of godly kings who almost pulled them back in line. But none of them went so far as to tear down the high places and bring the worship of God back to Jerusalem. God was working on Jotham and confronting his sin by bringing Israel and Syria against him. This was just the tip of the iceberg of what Ahaz was about to face from them.
Ahaz was an idolatrous king. He fit more with the kings of Israel than those of Judah. Even his name reminds me of Israel’s worst king, Ahab. Ahaz went so far as to offer his son up as a burnt offering to whatever gods he was serving. This was something that the original inhabitants of the land did and God ordered their destruction because of it. He would not let this go unnoticed.
God sends the king of Israel and the king of Syria in force against Ahaz. They take Elath but were not able to take Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s walls and last gate had been restored after Jehoash of Israel tore them down when he battled Amaziah. I don’t know how the strength of the city fared in comparison to when David took it but Jerusalem was a tough city to conquer throughout history.
I’m curious why God didn’t allow Ahaz to fall when He was the one who brought the two nations against him. Was it to keep Israel and Syria humble or because He was still watching over His promise to David? Ahaz certainly didn’t turn to Him for help. Ahaz turned to the Assyria instead. They were the ones who had taken so much of Israel’s territory. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Ahaz didn’t just get military help from Assyria. He also got ‘decorating tips’ in the form of new ideas to redo God’s Temple. He saw an altar to another god that he fell in love with and had reproduced for the Temple. This altar replaced the one Solomon had made. He moved the original altar and took all its purposes away. Ahaz also cut the frames off the mobile carts that carried small basins and took the Bronze Sea off the backs of the 12 oxen and put it on a stone instead. I’m wondering what he did with the metals from the things he removed. Did he melt it down for his own use? Did he send it as tribute to Assyria? These were things dedicated to God. I doubt God looked favorably on his actions.
What blows my mind though is that he kept the original altar for his own use when seeking the Lord. With all he did, did he REALLY expect God would answer him just because he used the original altar?! I would just about bet on the fact that he wouldn’t seek God unless he had exhausted ALL his other options and he was in DESPERATE straits.
I just checked in on my bible helps and they say that Ahaz used the altar to inquire of other gods; “for divination (the interpretation of omens)” (ESV Study Bible notes on 2 Kings 16:10-16). I could already see that Ahaz was perverting the Lord’s temple but I didn’t realize it was this bad until reading this section of notes. This section also tells me that the altar Ahaz had copied was one for the god Hadad and that Ahaz actually made Judah subject to Assyria with his alliance. Rather than turning to God for deliverance “Ahaz accepts vassal status to Assyria and requests his new overloard’s help, which arrives in the form of the Assyrian campaigns of 733-732 B.C. in Syria-Palestine” (ESV Study Bible note on 2 Kings 16:7-9).
I’m hanging on the edge of my seat to see what long term repercussions this has for Judah. Israel is on the brink of going down because of their sin. There is only one more king before they are removed from the land. I have a feeling this is the beginning of the end for Judah. We already know they will be carried away too but is this what set up that fate?
HOW did Ahaz go so far afield? Did he not see the faith of his father and grandfather? Why were the other gods so appealing to him? Was he looking to please the king of Assyria so much that nothing else mattered? He even changed the covered way in the Temple because of the king of Assyria. I’m curiosity and disgust are both piqued to see the rest of his acts and their consequences in future books. I know his son Hezekiah rules next and he is a very godly king. Hopefully he will undo a lot of the damage Ahaz inflicted on Judah. But that is a story for another day.
Father God, how do some people COMPLETELY miss what is right in front of them? Ahaz HAD to have been exposed to Your word and Your Laws. Yet his face refuses to even look Your way. His grandfather, father and even his son see the truth. How did he get ‘skipped’?
What are my blind spots Lord? What is it that I refuse to see? I NEED to open my eyes to ALL You have for me. I give You my express permission to smack me upside the head if need be to open my eyes to ALL You would have for me to learn. I refuse to seek ANY other source but You. NO OTHER GODS! I’m Yours completely. And if I EVER begin to look elsewhere PLEASE drag me back by the hair if necessary.