Have you ever needed someone’s help so bad that you were willing to do anything to get it? Political alliances are fleeting, and friendships based on following the crowd are superficial. King Ahaz shows us today how this sad track plays out…
1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.
5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him.
7 Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9 The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.
10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 11 So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. 12 When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings on it. 13 He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. 14 As for the bronze altar that stood before the Lord, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the Lord—and put it on the north side of the new altar.
15 King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: “On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.” 16 And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.
2Kings 16:1-5, 7-16
How far off course does a person have to be to sacrifice his own son in fire? King Ahaz of Judah was that guy. The idol Molech was the Canaanite idol to whom people would offer human sacrifice. I can’t imagine how this played out in families and communities. Ahaz was so far astray from following the Lord that he participated in this detestable practice.
When he came under attack from Aram and Israel to the north, Ahaz begged for help from the king of Assyria. Have you ever needed someone’s help so bad that you were willing to do anything to get it? Perhaps this is the same character and mentality of a person who is willing to sacrifice his son to an idol. Perhaps this is the character of desperation and of complete lack of trust in God.
Once the king of Assyria was paid off and on-board, they overthrew Aram and king Ahaz went to the captured city of Damascus. Ahaz continued down his twisted path when he saw an altar there and wanted a replica built in Jerusalem. Ahaz had the temple priest in Jerusalem construct the altar and then changed the structure and process of worship in Jerusalem to incorporate the false altar.
Part of his motivation in all of this was to appease the king of Assyria. That’s peer pressure on speed.
When other people pull you off the path of God and toward false worship and idols, your response impacts your fellowship and relationship with God. Political alliances are fleeting and can change with a change in power. Friendships based on following the crowd are superficial and will take you further away from yourself and godly character.
Ahaz did not recover. He lived out his days in disobedience and was never counted as a king who followed the Lord. What a terrible legacy…