What does the Bible tell us about Ahaz?
Ahaz, the son of Jotham, was twenty years old when he became king of Judah and reigned a total of sixteen years in Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:1-2). Unlike his father, “he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God” (2 Kings 16:2). The Scripture outlines his evil deeds: “he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and even made his sons pass through the fire. . .and he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. . .” (2 Kings 16:3-4 and 2 Chronicles 28:3-4) and “made molten images for the Baals” (2 Chronicles 28:2).
What military problems did Ahaz face during his evil reign?
Ahaz faced some difficult military problems because of his sin (see 2 Chronicles 28:5 and note the word “Wherefore,” and see also 2 Chronicles 28:19). God allowed “Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel” (2 Kings 16:5 and 2 Chronicles 28:5) to invade Judah. Rezin and Pekah first began to pressure Judah during the reign of Jotham (2 Kings 15:37). Rezin was successful in recovering Elath for Aram (2 Kings 16:6). Ahaz and Judah suffered great losses. Many people were killed or taken captive, Ahaz’s son
Maaseiah was killed, and one of the top officials in Ahaz’s administration was also killed (2 Chronicles 28:6-7). All of this happened to Ahaz and Judah “because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 28:6). Pekah, the king of Israel, took 200,000 captives and a great deal of spoil with him to Samaria. Pekah intended to make slaves of his captives when he was warned by Oded, a prophet of the Lord, to release them lest he and the nation add to their guilt before the Lord and further provoke His anger. The officers of the army then fed and clothed the captives and led them to Jericho where they were released (2 Chronicles 28:8-15).
Practical Consideration: We forfeit security when we forsake the Lord.
The last six kings of the Northern Kingdom had little peace and no national security. While some of them had an occasional military victory, the nation became increasingly vulnerable to outside invasion. They were harassed by their enemies and lost multiplied millions of dollars in their efforts to appease their oppressors. There was constant turmoil in the government as the throne was violently usurped on several occasions. We too, forfeit security when we forsake the Lord.
Where did Ahaz turn for help against his adversaries?
Rather than turn to the Lord for help against his adversaries (which included the Syrians, Northern Kingdom, Edomites, Philistines – see 2 Chronicles 28:16-18), Ahaz took silver and gold from the Lord’s house and his own treasuries and used it to try to secure the help and cooperation of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-8). The king of Assyria captured Damascus and put Rezin to death (2 Kings 16:9).
According to 2 Chronicles 28:21 however, the tribute Ahaz paid to the Assyrian king “did not help him” (see 2 Chronicles 28:20-21). In desperation, Ahaz sacrificed to the gods of the Syrians reasoning that because these gods had helped them perhaps they would help him. “But they became the downfall of him and all Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:22-23).
Ahaz went a step further and “closed the doors of the house of the Lord, and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every city of Judah he made high places to bum incense to other gods, and provoked the Lord, the God of his fathers, to anger” (2 Chronicles 28:24-25 and see also 2 Kings 16:10-18). See also Isaiah 7:1-13 regarding the role Isaiah played in trying to get Ahaz to trust the Lord for help and Ahaz’s refusal to do so.
Practical Consideration: It is difficult to deal with problems without help from the Lord.
When the Assyrian King Pul invaded the land of Israel, King Menahem of Israel gave him a great deal of money to keep him from devastating Israel. When King Ahaz of Judah was having problems with his adversaries he took treasures from the house of the Lord and his own treasuries to try to secure the help and cooperation of the King of Assyria. The Bible tells us that ‘it did not help him” (2 Chronicles 28:21). The Lord invites us to turn to Him for help when we are in trouble. He invites us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (see 1 Peter 5:7). There are only two ways to deal with problems, with or without the Lord’s help.