in the Christian Library
2 Kings 16; 2 Chronicles 28
1. A study of King Ahaz reveals how blessings can turn into curses! When Ahaz ascended to the throne, Judah was enjoying wonderful prosperity. King Uzziah had begun the prosperity and the righteous reign of his son King Jotham continued it. The prophet Isaiah said there was no end to the treasures; the land was full of horses; the chariots could not be counted. The national commerce was thriving. But before King Ahaz died (after reigning only 16 years) all was changed! Enemy armies followed one another as foreign invasions swept away treasures and killed thousands. The land became desolate. The King was reduced to a figure-head in subjection to the powerful Assyrians. “Instead of the sunshine of prosperity, there was on every side the dark shadow of desolation and decay ... Ahaz began badly, and every fresh movement in his life was a step from bad to worse. His history is a further illustration of how one sin leads to another. It was a continuously downward path” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 5, 321).
Ahaz was thoroughly evil! There is not one good thing recorded about him or his career. He is chronicled as “a king literally devoid of religion ... the career of this son is written, apparently, without one redeeming feature to be put to his account” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 6, 334).
2. The history of this King can be summarized by the word “failure.”
a. His FAILURE AS A SON
1) The father of Ahaz was King Jotham. In Jotham’s memory the historian reminds us that there was a desire to obey God (2 Chron 27:6). However, Ahaz had little regard for his father’s devotion because he rejected God and is known as the first King of the Southern Kingdom who began making the images of pagan gods.
2) He lacked his father’s goodness. A father may give his son wealth, learning, power, and fame but he cannot give him a good heart – this must be chosen by the son! “Example may be potent but it is not omnipotent!”
b. His FAILURE AS A KING
1) He ascended the throne with a passion of idolatry. This was his devotion and he was consumed with loosening all restrictions. His heart was wholly devoted to evil.
2) His evil passions were demonstrated in the corrupt changes he introduced to worship. Ahaz was very “religious.” However he was religiously wrong! His religious errors would ruin himself and all of Judah!
a) He rejected the true worship commanded by God. The Temple ceremonies were not acceptable to him.
b) He adopted the worship of those opposed to God (2 Chron 28:2). Baal worship was typical of the Northern Kingdom. Ahaz encouraged it in Judah. He adopted the worst practices of the worst Israeli Kings of the North
c) He utilized the idolatrous sites and neglected the Temple (2 Chron 28:3, 4). Ahaz not only used the old sites but he created new ones (2 Chron 28:25).
d) He introduced the horrible worship of Moloch (2 Chron 28:3). This was open defiance to God (cf Lv 18:21; Dt 18:10). Not only did he introduce this but he participated in the abomination as well.
e) He introduced the pagan worship of foreign nations (2 Chron 28:23; 2 Kings 16:10ff). He thought these foreign gods would give him victory. He was blind to the Truth that he suffered defeat because he was rejecting God.
f) He subtly removed the brazen altar that was constructed after the design given by God for a new altar designed for use in a pagan Temple in Damascus! The King’s new altar provides an excellent example of how innovations corrupt worship. Notice the simple steps by which innovations lead one away from God’s worship –
1) It begins privately (2 Ki 16:12). Ahaz was going to use the altar only for his personal/private sacrifices.
2) It gains more acceptance (2 Ki 16:14) – Having introduced the altar, Ahaz was not satisfied to keep it on a private basis. Solomon’s altar was shifted to one side and the innovation became the “main altar.”
3) The innovation usurps complete authority and comes to be the only one used (2 Ki 16:15). Ahaz saw that the morning and evening sacrifices were offered upon it; the royal sacrifices; all the private offerings. Thus Solomon’s bronze altar became useless.
4) The authorized is destroyed (2 Ki 16:17). The authorized altar was mutilated! The King’s total abhorrence for the authorized way of worship was thus exposed.
3) In times of emergency this King should have turned his nation toward God, but he did not. Isaiah was sent to Ahaz with a message counseling the King to trust in God and not fear the petty kings plotting against him. The prophet assured Ahaz that God would give Judah victory (Is 7:1-13). Ahaz ignored God’s counsel and trusted in Assyria for aid.
c. His FAILURE AS A WARRIOR
This evil King brought calamity upon his nation. The Almighty sent punishment in the form of foreign armies.
1) Rezin, King of Syria defeated Ahaz and carried away captives to Damascus (2 Chron 28:5).
2) Pekah, King of Israel slaughtered the army of Ahaz (2 Chron 28:6).
3) The Edomites were victors and carried away spoil (2 Chron 28:17). These enemies had been defeated by Uzziah (2 Chron 26:2) but the weak leadership of Ahaz allowed them to regain strength.
4) The Philistines invaded and took cities away from Ahaz (2 Chron 28:18). These had also been conquered by previous Kings (2 Chron 26:6). But they reasserted their strength and captured and occupied a number of cities.
5) Previous Kings had gained freedom and won territory because they trusted in the Lord God and followed Heaven’s rule. All of the past victories were effectively voided by the conduct of one man! Victory and security were all lost because one chose to reject God!
d. His FAILURE IN DEATH
1) The death of Ahaz was not significant to Judah. “At length his sixteen years’ reign ended, and the people, by this time sick of his doings, marked their sense of his unworthiness by refusing him a sepulcher in the tombs of the kings” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol 5, 329).
2) Ahaz was thought unworthy of the honor of being buried in the royal catacomb.
3) Ahaz died leaving a tragic legacy of religious corruption – The religious situation in Judah could not have been worse! What a drastic difference this one man made in the nation’s life.
e. What was the reason for this miserable failure? The answer is simple – “He did not do right in the sight of the Lord.” By rejecting God’s Laws and disobeying God’s commands, Ahaz damned himself and his nation. By setting Self as the authority of his religion his life was miserable. He enjoyed “freedom” but in so doing he found himself enslaved to all around!
3. The progression of Ahaz into greater and greater depravity is easily outlined in his history. His life illustrates a frightening fact – one sin ALWAYS leads to another and another and ... One innovation always leads to another and another and ...!
a. The first step – He forsook the right way.
b. The second step – He substituted God commands.
c. The third step – He redefined fellowship limits.
d. The fourth step – He plundered the Temple of God (2 Ki 16:8,9,17,18). He had already dishonored God by rejecting the divine fellowship restrictions but now he desecrated the Holy Temple. The silver and gold that were set aside for God were used for Self! Those who pursue fellowship with the rebels of righteousness will give what belongs to God in exchange for worldly friendship!
e. The fifth step – He set up a heathen altar in the place of God (2 Ki 16:10-17). This is the end. Man will worship something – if not the Almighty God then some god fashioned by hands and mind. Those who begin by rejecting the “right” way will be eventually lead to this tragic state (cf 2 Chron 28:23). When this happens, one may as well shut the doors of the Temple!
f. NOTE: What a tragic condition! One who forsakes the “right” way, neglects the clear warnings from God will find only greater iniquity, greater punishment, and greater degradation! All of life will be in ruin.
5. Contemplate all that King Ahaz experienced because he chose to reject the right way of God –
a. All restraints in life were removed (2 Chron 28:19).
b. Multiplied tragedies existed instead of help (2 Chron 28:20).
c. Life’s situations progressively worsened (2 Chron 28:23).
d. God’s Temple was closed (2 Chron 28:24).
e. God was provoked to anger (2 Chron 28:25).
f. One is forever separated from godly fellowship (2 Chron 28:27).
g. The progress of the past is undone (2 Chron 28:17-18).
h. One thinks s/he is buying “relief” but it is too costly (2
Chron 28:20, 21b, 23b). “For all Ahaz paid and bribed ... he bought a master
for himself, servitude, tributariness, and the humiliation of disgrace
itself. The temporary relief he obtained ... from one enemy rivetted round
his neck the yoke of another and greater” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 6, 334).
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
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