2 Kings 16 / 2 Chronicles 28. Ahaz of Judah (735-715 B.C.)
When Ahaz becomes sole ruler on the death of his godly father, he turns his back on the Lord. He follows the most detestable of the pagan religious practices. God acts in quick judgment. Judah is defeated on every side, and many of her people are taken captive. Ahaz is desperate and appeals to Assyria, thus surrendering any claim to independence, and Judah becomes a vassal state.
He walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree…. Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king’s outer entrance from the house of the Lord, on account of the king of Assyria. 2 Kings 16:3-4, 18
1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David had done. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
… 5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day.
7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me.” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. 9 So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.
… 10 Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship. …
12 And when the king came back from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it. 13 So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14 He also brought the bronze altar which was before the Lord, from the front of the temple–from between the new altar and the house of the Lord–and put it on the north side of the new altar. 15 Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, “On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” 16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded.
17 And King Ahaz cut off the panels of the carts, and removed the lavers from them; and he took down the Sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stones. 18 Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king’s outer entrance from the house of the Lord, on account of the king of Assyria.
16:10-15 Having been summoned to Damascus by Tiglath-pileser III, Ahaz saw a pagan altar that suited his tastes. His use of the altar to make sacrifices to God underscored Ahaz’s essential paganism. His paganism was also evident in his many other religious innovations (vv. 14-18: 2 Chr 28:2-4, 22-25). Ahaz went so far in his apostasy as to shut the doors of the temple (2 Chr. 28:24)