The Lord used “the king of Aram” as in instrument of His wrath, allowing many of the people Judah to be taken away to Damascus. Fellow Israelites even swooped down on Judah and killed 120,000 of their soldiers. Why so many troubles? “Because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors” (II Chronicles 28:6b, NLT). Zicri, one of Israel’s warriors, killed Ahaz’s own son, Maaseiah.
“The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria. But a prophet of the Lord named Oded was there in Samaria when the army of Israel returned home. He went out to meet them and said, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and let you defeat them. But you have gone too far” (II Chronicles 28:8-9a).
The prophet Oded acknowledged that God had allowed Israel their victory over Judah, but it was one thing to give them a sound thrashing and quite another to treat them as absolute foreigners. Oded continued his message from the Lord: “All heaven is disturbed. And now you are planning to make slaves of these people from Judah and Jerusalem. What about your own sins against the Lord your God? Listen to me and return these prisoners you have taken, for they are your own relatives. Watch out, because now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!’” (II Chronicles 28:9c-11).
“What about your own sins against the Lord your God?” The Lord had used pagan kings as His instruments on more than one occasion. Using Israel as his wake-up call to Judah was in no way a sign that God was pleased with Israel – and He certainly didn’t condone the merciless slaughter Israel had inflicted. As Oded warned them, “now the Lord’s fierce anger has been turned against you!”
For a change, the Israelites listened. “Then some of the leaders of Israel – Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai – agreed with this and confronted the men returning from battle. ‘You must not bring the prisoners here!’ they declared. ‘We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt. Our guilt is already great, and the Lord’s fierce anger is already turned against Israel” (II Chronicles 28:12-13).
“Our guilt is already great.” The Israelites knew they weren’t living according to God’s teaching. Yet they persisted. Still, they had enough sense to say, “We cannot afford to add to our sins and guilt.”
“So the warriors released the prisoners and handed over the plunder in the sight of the leaders and all the people. Then the four men just mentioned by name came forward and distributed clothes from the plunder to the prisoners who were naked. They provided clothing and sandals to wear, gave them enough food and drink, and dressed their wounds with olive oil. They put those who were weak on donkeys and took all the prisoners back to their own people in Jericho, the city of palms. Then they returned to Samaria” (II Chronicles 28:14-15).
Did losing his own son and seeing the humiliation of his nation lead Ahaz to repentance? No, it led him to seek the help of a notoriously untrustworthy pagan.
“At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help” (II Chronicles 28:16).
Ahaz wasn’t going to get what he asked for, but something else entirely. If only he had learned to “seek the counsel of the Lord” (I Kings 22:5b and II Chronicles 18:4b, NIV).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates