In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah.
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn't behave in the eyes of his God; he wasn't at all like his ancestor David.
Instead he followed in the track of the kings of Israel. He even indulged in the outrageous practice of "passing his son through the fire" - a truly abominable act he picked up from the pagans God had earlier thrown out of the country.
He also participated in the activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that flourished all over the place.
Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel ganged up against Jerusalem, throwing a siege around the city, but they couldn't make further headway against Ahaz.
At about this same time and on another front, the king of Edom recovered the port of Elath and expelled the men of Judah. The Edomites occupied Elath and have been there ever since.
Ahaz sent envoys to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria with this message: "I'm your servant and your son. Come and save me from the heavy-handed invasion of the king of Aram and the king of Israel. They're attacking me right now."
Then Ahaz robbed the treasuries of the palace and The Temple of God of their gold and silver and sent them to the king of Assyria as a bribe.
The king of Assyria responded to him. He attacked and captured Damascus. He deported the people to Nineveh as exiles. Rezin he killed.
King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar.
Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar.
The minute the king saw the altar he approached it with reverence and arranged a service of worship with a full course of offerings:
Whole-Burnt-Offerings with billows of smoke, Grain-Offerings, libations of Drink-Offerings, the sprinkling of blood from the Peace-Offerings - the works.
But the old bronze Altar that signaled the presence of God he displaced from its central place and pushed it off to the side of his new altar.
Then King Ahaz ordered Uriah the priest: "From now on offer all the sacrifices on the new altar, the great altar: morning Whole-Burnt-Offerings, evening Grain-Offerings, the king's Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, the people's Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, and also their Drink-Offerings. Splash all the blood from the burnt offerings and sacrifices against this altar. The old bronze Altar will be for my personal use.
The priest Uriah followed King Ahaz's orders to the letter.
Then King Ahaz proceeded to plunder The Temple furniture of all its bronze. He stripped the bronze from The Temple furnishings, even salvaged the four bronze oxen that supported the huge basin, The Sea, and set The Sea unceremoniously on the stone pavement.
Finally, he removed any distinctive features from within The Temple that were offensive to the king of Assyria.
The rest of the life and times of Ahaz is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.
Ahaz died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Hezekiah became the next king.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)