Some of these chapters may look familiar if you are familiar with my site, but we're in that portion of reading chronologically, that the kings and prophets don't cleanly connect; they overlap. So one more stop here and then deep into Isaiah.
II Chronicles 27: Jotham
He was 25 years old when he became king and reigned 16 years. I wonder if those stats include his time as co-regent with his father, Uzziah- who had to hide away because of the leprosy he earned by becoming too big for his britches and trying to enter the Temple as a king priest?
Jotham did right in the sight of the Lord; but the people still acted corruptly. Because of his good choices, he built and fought and prospered. He became mighty.
Buried in the city of David. Ahaz, his son took over.
(Shorter summary third time around.)
II Chronicles 27: Ahaz
Ahaz was 20 years old when he began his reign and he also reigned 16 years.
That's a terrible age to start being a king. If you're 8 year old, or 12, you know that you don't know anything, so you have to listen to your advisors. And if you're 30, you've had a few years to learn. But 20? 20 is old enough that you're not required to listen while also being arrogant and clueless enough to choose not listen to anyone.
Ahaz did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
- followed the ways of the kings of Israel
- made molten images to baal
- burned incense
- burned his sons with fire
- burned incense on high places
He also did not enjoy his father mighty victories.
- Verse 7 delivered him into the hand of the king of Aram (Syria), carrying off many captives to Damascus
- and delivered him into the hand of the king of Israel, Pekah,
- who inflicted heavy causalities (120,000 valiant men slew in one day)
- One mighty man from Ephraim (Israel) slew Ahaz's son and his second on command
- Verse 8: Israel carried into captivity 200,000 women, boys, and girls and took many spoils.
- This verse emphasizes that the men who lost these women and children were brethren.
- This is strictly prohibited in the Mosaic law, since these are also tribes of Judah.
- In verse 9, as they approach Samaria with their captives, they are met by a lesser-known prophet, Oded, who informed them that they won the victory because God was punishing Judah; but the rage with which they battle reached heaven
- In verse 10, Oded goes on to remind them that they have made slaves of their fellow Jews, against God's law.
- The wording in verses 9 and 10 sort of sounds like, "You won this battle because Judah has been sinning against God and now you're going to use the victory to sin against God?"
- In verse 11, Oded explicitly tells them to send the captives home, "for the burning anger of the Lord is against you."
- Apparently, the burning anger of the Lord wasn't motivation and they kept coming toward Samaria. In verses 12 and 13, some leaders meet them and tell them that they couldn't keep the captives.
- In verses 14 and 15, the warriors abandoned the captives and spoils and the leaders went about caring for them with food, water, clothing, anointing with oil, and the trip back home to Jericho, including the spoils.
Just a reminder that Syria and Israel were in a rebellion against Assyrian rule and decided that Judah was going to join them; even if it meant warring against Judah until her king was deposed and a more compliant king could be put in place.
So after all of this failure, did Ahaz repent and seek to do good as his father had? Of course not. He chose Assyria for help over the Lord. In verses 16 and 17, he sends to the kings of Assyria for help when the Edomites attack again and carry off captives.
Also, the Philistines invaded and took over several villages. (verse 18)
Verse 19 states the reason for all of this failure, the Lord was humbling Judah. Ahaz is cited as the cause of restraint in Judah in the people and Ahaz was unfaithful to the Lord (religiously at the Temple and politically for choosing Assyria over the help offered directly from the Lord.)
Verse 20 shows us what we can expect when we think we can find help from the world, the king of Assyria came against Ahaz, instead of helping.
So now Ahaz learned his lesson and turned to the Lord? Um, no. No. No. No. He did not.
In verse 21, Ahaz ransacks the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and the palaces of the princes to collect an offering to the king of Assyria.
...but it did not help him.II Chronicles 28:21c
Just a little emphasis to remind myself that not only is it a bad idea to give away God's blessings to the world; but it's still not going to get me what I want or need.
So, finally, he turned his heart to the Lord. Still No.
And even worse than that, in verse 22, in the time of his distress, he became even more unfaithful to the Lord. Of course he did. We set these habits and mindsets and it's very tough to shake free.
We always hear of people coming to the Lord on their deathbed; but I've heard that's a myth. The older you get, the more you perceive that you have invested in the choices you've made. You continually talk yourself into and out of the choices you should have been making. Ahaz was no exception.
Verse 23 gives us a perfect example of this logic.
- I took a real beating from the king of Aram.
- His gods, the gods of Damascus, helped him defeat me.
- I will sacrifice to them and they will help me.
- (But they became the downfall of him and all Israel.)
The living God of the universe offered help to Aram and he said no; but by his logic, the god of a set geographical region will help him if only he gives them a sacrifice. He keeps sacrificing to everyone but the Lord who he saw help his father and grandfather. First Assyria and now the "gods" of Damascus.
We'll do about anything but the right thing sometimes. I wonder if he sensed that God would change him and he would prefer to serve gods and overlords who could be paid for...
It get worse in verses 24-25... not only is he spreading around the dwindling wealth of Judah on false gods and cruel overlords:
- when he pilfered the utensils from the House of God, he cut them in pieces. (To me, this seems to say, these have more value as precious metal than for serving the Lord. Despite all of the personal knowledge, he acts like someone who doesn't think there is a God.)
- he closes the doors on the House of God (this cuts the people off, leaders, and cuts off God from His people. (again, evidence that Ahaz, somehow, doesn't seem to believe in the Lord.)
- made alters for himself in every corner of Jerusalem. (so it's not that he doesn't believe in the supernatural, and gods in general, he's willing to spend great expense for his own alters across the city...just not for the one living God who offered to aid him and brought victory and prosperity to his previous family leaders. This isn't an atheist. This is a delusional narcissist.)
- in every city in Judah, he burned incense in the high places. (bringing his sin across the country and causing the anger of the Lord to burn.)
Verse 26, mercifully, ends the written account of this terrible man. He as buried in Jerusalem, but not in the tomb of his fathers.
Hezekiah, his son, reigned in his place.
II Kings 16
This starts the story of Ahaz (King of Judah) over, pointing out that is coincided with the 17th year of Pekah's reign in Israel.
Many of the same facts are listed, as above.
Verse 5 emphasizes that the king of Aram and the Pekah, the king of Israel did besiege Ahaz; but did not overcome the city of Jerusalem. This is a different emphasis than II Chronicles, which focused on the many losses outside of the city of Jerusalem. Although verse 6 does point out entire regions lost from Ahaz to the king of Aram.
Verse 7 covers more details about the plea for help to the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser.
The next several verses go into detail about how the Assyrian took Damscus, so Ahaz went to Damascus and fell in love with their gods and alter- sending home specs to have it replicated there- moving it along side the Lord's alter. Just painful choices one after the other.
Then he chops up the ornate cleaning station of the priests and the covered way and outer entry for additional tributes to be paid to the Assyrian king. The priest, Urijah, obediently complied with all of it.
Submit to authority, but only to the point that the Lord remains obeyed and glorified.
Finally, Ahaz dies and Hezekiah takes his place.