Summary: God did not give up on Ahaz, despite his idolatry and unbelief. God came to him through prophet Isaiah, assuring him and urging him to trust Him.
We are going to look at our unrelenting God, the One who never give up on us.
We looked at the five kings of Israel in chapter 15. It ends with an account on King Jotham of Judah.
• Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but not perfectly because he did not remove the high places of pagan worship.
• His son Ahaz succeeded him as King and we are going to read about him today in chapter 16.
Unlike chapter 15, this entire chapter covers just one King. Read 2 Kings 16:1-20.
Another very sad episode. The author puts it upfront – Ahaz “did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” (16:2b)
• This has been the common phrase for the kings in Israel but not in Judah. Ahaz is the ONLY king of JUDAH to get this comment.
• Judah has a few bad kings but not like those in Israel.
• The author adds in verse 3 “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.”
And as expected of an apostate, Ahaz showed no regard for the Temple of God.
• We are told of this account when he visited Damascus (ARAM), after the King of Assyria conquered it.
• He saw an altar there and decided to make a replica of it back home, with his priest Uriah blindly obeying him.
• The new altar was made and Ahaz had all the sacrifices done on this pagan altar, pushing the old one out of the way to a less prominent place.
• And he made alterations to the bronze basins and destroyed other furnishings within the Temple of God, according to his own wishes.
We have to remember that the design to the Temple was God-given, to King David.
• 1 Chron 28:11-12 “Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things.
• 1 Chron 28:19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”
Ahaz did whatever he likes with the Temple of God. Eventually 2 Chron 28 tells us he destroyed all its furnishings and closed the doors to the Temple of God.
• He set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem (28:24) and in every town in Judah, he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods (28:25).
• 2 Kings 16:4 “He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” Practically everywhere.
And that’s Ahaz. A king who has no regard for God, no regard for His Temple, and did nothing right in His eyes.
• We read that when ARAM (King Rezin) and ISRAEL (King Pekah) came against him, he sought instead the help of Assyria.
• 2 Chron 28:5b-6 “The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him. 6In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah - because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers.”
• Judah suffered greatly but Aram and Israel did not overpower it.
What was most amazing in this encounter was that God actually came to Ahaz and spoke to him, through prophet Isaiah - Isaiah 7:1-9.
1 When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.
2 Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field. 4 Say to him, `Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood--because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it." 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: