Judah had been attacked on every side. The king of Aram had come in and carried off captives. The Israelite army had utterly humiliated them, and the result was that Ahaz repented of his evil ways and turned to God, right? Nope. He turned to Assyria, asking this powerful nation to protect them.
After all, “The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev of Judah. They had already captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages” (II Chronicles 28:17-18).
Why was all this happening? “The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord” (II Chronicles 28:19).
At last Ahaz’s deliverer rode into Judah. Problem is, “when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him. Ahaz took valuable items from the Lord’s Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But this did not help him” (II Chronicles 28:20-21).
Oftentimes a raiding army could be bought off with tribute. Hoping to satisfy Tiglath-pileser, Ahaz cleaned out the coffers of Judah and handed it over. “But this did not help him.”
You’d think by now Ahaz would get the message, huh? But no, “Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 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.
The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors” (II Chronicles 28:22-25).
Good grief! Ahaz may as well have painted a big red bull’s-eye on top of Judah. If there was anything that could be done to infuriate the Lord even further, Ahaz did it. Not that the people themselves weren’t doing wrong, too, but as their leader, Ahaz had dug a huge pit by setting such a sinful example before them. Judah really couldn’t have sunk very much lower; when at last “Ahaz died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the kings of Judah. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king” (II Chronicles 28:27).
Had Hezekiah learned more from his father’s mistakes or from his example? We’ll learn the answer tomorrow.
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Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates