Today, we find ourselves in the 27th and 28th chapters of Chronicles, where we find out about King Ahaz. Hopefully, we’ll dig up a few nuggets, though, if you’ll join me!
In Case You Missed It…
My last post covering 2 Chronicles 19 & 20 is located HERE.
Angela added to her Blogging Through The Bible page at No Longer Lukewarm HERE for chapters 21 &22.
On Grandma Mary Martha, Tammy picked up with chapters 23 & 24 HERE.
You can check out Tatiana’s post covering chapters 25 & 26 HERE on her website, the musings of mum.
Chapter 2: A Godly Reign by Jotham
When we see a 25-year-old today, we don’t necessarily think of leadership. In fact, you have to be older than that to serve in many branches of Government in the United States. However, that’s how old Jotham was when he became King, and he continued his reign for sixteen years. The Bible says that he did what was right in God’s sight.
Jotham’s father, Uzziah, had obviously set a good example for his son. Jotham did “according to all that his father Uzziah had done”. It isn’t ALWAYS the case, as we’ve seen through some of our past studies. But it is a precedent that at least shows that there is that staunch possibility.
One of the most important lessons we see right away in verse two of this chapter is the fact that Jotham did not enter into the temple of the Lord. Uzziah was the one that attempted to steady the ark of the covenant as he and the rest of David’s party accompanied it home. The Lord struck him dead for touching that thing that only the Levites had the right to touch.
The Beacon of Another’s Sins
Jotham allowed that frozen moment in time to shine as a beacon to him and he took up the warning against breaking any of God’s commandments or laws. God is a righteous God, and a just God, and even He cannot and will not go against His Own Word. The Bible tells us that He changes not and does not lie, so we can only expect the same today.
It can actually be a merciful thing when we see the effects of sin in the lives of those close to us, by allowing it to show us what NOT to do, and what to stay away from. If we’ve seen how it destroys, why in the world should we let it fascinate us? WE SHOULDN’T!!
That one little word, “still”, should be another beacon in this particular text. It’s important because it tells us, if we are paying enough attention, that the sins of the people didn’t start under Jotham’s rule, but rather was a continuation of Uzziah’s day.
While it’s true Uzziah’s end was less than perfect, he was generally known as a godly person. At least more godly than the common person. Even the godliest leaders cannot turn the hearts of those who truly wish to be ungodly, though.
The first thing he did was to build up the Upper gate around the House of God. For Judah, it was always a good sign when there was a primary concern for God’s house. It almost always pointed towards some extent of spiritual revival.
More specifically Jotham seemed to want a connection that not many other kings wanted: a link between palace and temple. While Jotham understood very well that he was no priest, he still wanted a viable link from his royal living space to the temple of God.
Jotham’s concern went on to include fortresses and towers in the forests surrounding Judah, which gave them strength and the power to subdue the likes of the Ammonites. This fortification was so substantial, in fact, over three tons of silver were necessary for this construction, along with ten thousand loads of barley, via donkey.
So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God.2 Chronicles 27:6
The communion that Jotham held by the connections he made to the temple was truly the place where he found his power and wealth. His strength rested in the fact that he walked right in God’s sight. There may have been no substantial reform on a national level under his reign, but everyone knew why he was as mighty as he was.
This also leads to the idea that he must have had on-going communion with God through prayer. He surely took his worries, concerns, and even his daily troubles to the mercy seat of God, allowing God to promptly order his steps towards greatness.
Chapter 28: An Evil Reign by Ahaz
Ahaz might possibly hold the title of the worst king Judah had ever seen. Many kings that came before him had definitely fallen short in a lot of ways, but this chapter opens up by saying that he did NOT do what was right in the sight of the LORD.
He had some of the best examples, especially in his father, Jotham, and certainly in his ancestor, David. Ahaz paid no attention whatsoever and at the age of 20, he assumed control over Judah, reigning a total of sixteen years.
We also learn that while Judah had had a mix of kings. Some of them were godly, and some who were not. Israel, on the other hand, had ONLY had ungodly kings, and Ahaz fashioned his entire rule based on their models and not that of his own land and heritage.
The Abominations of Ahaz Abound
Apparently, Ahaz participated willingly in worshiping the pagan demon god known as Molech. Molech’s followers would heat a metal statue that represented him until it was literally red hot and then they would place a living baby on the statue’s outstretched hands. They then beat drums loudly to drown out the screams of the infant until it had died.
God had already issued a death sentence against anyone who worshipped this demon:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whoseoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among the people.Leviticus 20:1-5
This demon had been a problem for generations. Solomon built a temple for worshiping it (1 Kings 11:7), it caused the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:17), King Manasseh sacrificed his son to it (2 Kings 21:6), and King Josiah was still dealing with it when he destroyed one of Molech’s idols (2 Kings 23:10).
Judah’s Captivity, Thanks to Ahaz
Ahaz, because of his evil ways, was then forsaken into the hand of the King of Syria. It was a dark time for Judah, as 120,000 soldiers were captured along with 200,000 hostages. It looked like David’s heritage would be lost the way that so many in the Northern kingdom of Israel had been.
Among the 200,000 captives was a prophet of the LORD named Oded. He issued a prophetic word against Israel’s leaders, speaking of their own sins and crimes against their brethren. In a remarkable turn of events, these leaders actually recognized their sin and guilt came on them. They were careful with their captives, giving them what they needed, and sent them back to where they’d come from.
Ahaz Continued to Decline
Instead of putting his faith in the LORD, a move that could have forever changed history, Ahaz turned instead to the kings of Assyria. Isaiah even offered him an assurance from God, in Isaiah 7:1-12, which was more than fair for the sinner that Ahaz was.
Ahaz had declined the offer, citing his desire to not test God. In reality, he was only wanting to put his trust in Assyria’s king, to move on a military level and possibly gain great ground for himself. Still, for David’s sake, Judah was not completely destroyed in this attack.
Judah bent low, but not entirely forsake. The discipline came because of Ahaz’s own ungodliness and the awful example he was to his people. The moral decline seen in Ahaz himself also reflected in the people of Judah also. Instead of submitting to and seeking help from God, as Isaiah had suggested, Ahaz turned instead to an enemy in hopes of defeating a different enemy:
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the kind of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.2 Kings 16:7
Ahaz, Increasingly Unfaithful
Sometimes, when people go through a tough time, they turn towards God, as David was. Ahaz, much to the contrary, turned away from God. He went so far as to decide to serve the same gods the Syrians had served because he thought this would gain their help as it had for Syria.
He created his own place for worship and took on the role of a priest, but without any type of regard for God’s commandments. God had specifically stated that no king could ever also serve as priest:
Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.Numbers 18:7
As Ahaz removed those things that stood in the temple, an act of discouraging worship of the One True God, he was replacing the good with the bad, as the both of them could not stand together. This avenue for faithful worship remained shut until Hezekiah began to reign.
Ahaz removed the panels and pieces from the sacred furniture in the temple, as it seems, as a means to tear down any importance placed on them for the purpose of worship. He may have planned to reuse them in some way, but he died before that could happen. Babylon later carried those pieces away by Babylon (Jeremiah 27, 52).
A Thought To Leave With
All these things spoken of actually happened in the temple that Solomon had built and dedicated to the LORD. Apparently, it isn’t so much the place in which one worships. Idols can, as we see here, receive worship in a place that was once dedicated to the only true God.
My mind was utterly filled with questions as I read through these two chapters, but only one rings out from start to finish. “How in the world can you have such a clear record of both past failures and past wins, spiritually speaking, and still turn so boldly away from God?”
Lord Jesus, help me to always remember my OWN past failures, and help me to always move CLOSER to You, and NEVER father away!