Ahaz, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 28, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

King Ahaz became king of Judah after his father King Jotham, but he was definitely not like his father. Jotham was a king who obeyed God and was generally considered to be good, and King Ahaz was the complete opposite of that. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 16.

If the evil ways of Kind Ahaz sound like a king of Israel rather than a king of Judah, Scripture agrees with that; “Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel” (verses 2b-3a). What led King Ahaz to depart from the ways of his father? The reigns of King Uzziah and King Jotham had brought much prosperity to the nation, which made the people become lazy and complacent in their spirituality.

So, how evil was King Ahaz? He imitated the pagan idol worship of Israel, even including sacrificing his own son to idols (verse 3)! Scholars dispute whether that idol was Molech or Baal depending on which ancient artifacts you look at, but regardless, this act was evil to its core, completely going against the ways of God. As verse 4 tells us, King Ahaz “offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” These were all places of idol worship, not places where a person went to worship the one true God.

One of the main events of King Ahaz’s 16-year reign was the war between Judah, Israel, and Aram (later known as Syria). Scholars believe there were 4 causes of this war. First, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel would have wanted Judah’s support to go against the nation of Assyria. If Aram and Israel conquered Judah, then they’d have Judah’s forces combined with their own. Second, some historians believe the other two kings simply disliked King Ahaz.

Third, from a spiritual perspective, this looks to be the enemy’s attempt to take the line of David off the throne in Judah. But according to Isaiah 7:5-7, God made sure that would not happen: “Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, ‘Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.’ Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘It will not take place, it will not happen.’”

Finally, we know that God is sovereign over everything, so God was orchestrating this war to punish those who needed to be punished. God would use this to bring defeat to the Arameans and the Israelites, and he would deal with King Ahaz and Judah as well in His own way.

All the details of this war can be found both in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. During it, the prophet Isaiah came to King Ahaz and spoke the words of God to him. Isaiah told King Ahaz that Judah would not be defeated in this war, and that King Ahaz should ask for a sign to confirm this. King Ahaz refused to ask for a sign and preferred instead to rely on his own skills rather than depending on God (Isaiah 7:10-12).

King Ahaz contacted the king of Assyria and asked for their help in defeating Aram and Israel. Once Assyria was paid off with the gold and silver from Judah’s temple treasury, they happily obliged and killed the king of Aram and captured Damascus, which was in Israel’s territory. When King Ahaz went to Damascus, he saw an altar that he liked, so he arranged for that same style of an altar to be built back in Jerusalem.

When King Ahaz returned, he presented offerings on it – a burnt offering, a grain offering, a drink offering, and a fellowship offering. These offerings symbolize dedication, peace, joy, and fellowship with God, none of which King Ahaz had ever embodied! His attempt at piety toward God on an altar other than the one God desired in the temple were like a smack in the face to God. Not only that but he moved the bronze altar away from its position in the front of the temple, and the new altar was used for future offerings and sacrifices.

King Ahaz further desecrated the temple of the Lord by dismantling the stands holding the altar and various other parts of the temple, so he could honor the king of Assyria rather than God (2 Kings 16:13-18). According to 2 Chronicles 28:24-25, he even cut up the furniture of the temple, closed up the temple, and set up altars on every corner in Jerusalem instead. He also made sure that every town in Judah had high places to sacrifice to idols rather than to worship the one true God.

As you can see, King Ahaz’s reign was one of complete and utter evil. Some of the kings were more passively disobedient to God, simply letting idolatry happen. King Ahaz, however, actively pursued all forms of idol worship and actively discouraged the worship of God. King Ahaz took Judah into a very evil time period.

What can we learn from King Ahaz? During his reign, we don’t see any direct punishment for King Ahaz’s evil acts. But all this was more fuel for the fire of God’s wrath that would eventually lead the nation into exile. Not everyone who does great evil is punished in this life, but we can be certain that King Ahaz did receive his punishment from God for all eternity because of his complete disobedience to God. We may or may not receive negative consequences in this lifetime for going against God, but we can be certain that they will come.

Our motivation for honoring God with our lives should not simply be an avoidance of negative consequences, but we should strive to be the opposite of King Ahaz – love and honor God because of who He is, rather than doing everything we can to go against God.

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