2 Kings 16



Ahaz King of Judah (16:1-20)

(2 Chronicles 28:1-27)

1-4 Jotham’s son Ahaz was one of Judah’smostevil kings.Notonlydidhewalk in the ways of Israel’s kings, but he even sacrificed his son-more than one son, according to 2 Chronicles 28:3—in the fire (verse 3), an action utterly detestable to God (Leviticus 18:21; 20:1-5). He offered sacrifices to pagan gods not only on the high places but also on hilltops and under every spreading tree (verse 4); the law of Moses required that these pagan sites be destroyed, not used for worship! (Deuteronomy 12:2).

5-6 In Ahaz’s time, Rezin was the king of Aram; he joined with Pekah king of Israel in attacking Judah (2 Kings 15:37). Although they could not overpower Ahaz, Rezin did seize the Edomite city of Elath, which for some time had been under Judah’s control (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 28:17). While Judah was busy defending itself against Rezin and Pekah, the Philistines attacked Judah and seized a number of towns (2 Chronicles 28:18). It was because of the wickedness of Ahaz and his people that the Lord allowed Judah to be attacked in this way (2 Chronicles 28:5). But even though it was being invaded from all sides, the Lord preserved Judah because of the covenant promise He had given David (2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Kings 11:36).

According to 2 Chronicles 28:5-15, the Israelites under Pekah inflicted heavy casualties on Judah and took captive two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. But a prophet of the Lord, Oded, rebuked the Israelites for killing so many of their brothers in Judah and taking their families captive to be turned into slaves; although God had appointed the Israelites to be instruments of His judgment against Judah, they had gone too far! They were already guilty of their own sins before the Lord; now they were adding to them by mistreating fellow HEBREWS. Fearing the Lord’s wrath, the Israelites heeded Oded’s words and allowed the captives to return to Judah; they even assisted those who were hungry, naked and weak.

7-9 In these verses the writer describes the second major phase of Ahaz’s reign: the first was his apostasy and the resulting invasions by his neighbors; the second was his appeal to Assyria for help and his subsequent subservience to Assyria’s king, Tiglath-Pileser (verse 7). Ahaz’s turning to the king of Assyria for help instead of to the Lord was just one more sign of his ungodliness. Indeed, the prophet Isaiah counseled Ahaz to stand firm in his faith and not be afraid (Isaiah 7:1-9).

According to 2 Chronicles 28:20-21, the alliance Ahaz sought with TiglathPileser turned out to give him trouble instead of help.58 But initially, Ahaz received help in return for all the silver and gold he gave the Assyrian king: TiglathPileser captured Damascus (the capital of Aram) and put itsking,Rezin,todeath(verses8-9).Inaddition, he seized the northern part of Israel and deported its people (2 Kings 15:29). Thus TiglathPileser helped save Judah from its two main attackers, but in exchange he made Judah subject to Assyria.

10-16 After meeting TiglathPileser in Damascus, Ahaz saw an altar in that city, a copy of which he wanted to install in Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. With the help of Uriah the priest, this pagan altar was constructed and then put in the place of the bronze altar of the Lord (2 Chronicles 4:1); when Ahaz returned to Jerusalem he presented offerings on this new altar (verses 12-13)—pagan versions of the same offerings Solomon hadoffered on the Lord’s bronze altar at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:64). Ahaz ordered Uriah to henceforth use this new altar for all offerings and sacrifices; Ahaz would use the bronze altar only for seeking guidance59 (verse 15).

17-20 Ahaz not only set up a pagan altar but he also defaced and defiled other pieces of the temple furnishings, including the basins, the moveable stands, and the Sea (1 Kings 7:23,27,30). He removed the royal entryway outside the temple, in deference to the king of Assyria (verse 18). But even worse than all this, Ahaz shut the doors of the LORD’S temple and set up pagan places of worship in every town in Judah (2 Chronicles 28:24-25). Ahaz intended to replace the worship of God with the worship of idols. So evil was this king that when he died he was not placed in the royal sepulcher (2 Chronicles 24:25; 28:27). It is all the more amazing that Ahaz’s son Hezekiah, having had such an ungodly father, turned out to be such a godly king (2 Kings Chapters 18-20). God’s grace was still falling on the house of David.