Not liking King Ahaz so much. It seems Judah has enjoyed decades under kings who have done what is pleasing to the Lord, and here comes Ahaz spoiling it all. He’s bad, too. The opening of the chapter reveals that he sacrificed his own son. “He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree (v. 4). He surrenders to the Assyrian king and pays him off with the gold from the Temple, thus beginning the eventual dismantling of God’s home. First, he decides he’ll take God’s sacred bronze altar for himself and replace it with a handcrafted one modeled after the Assyrian king’s. Who knows what kind of altar it was. I read back over that paragraph to see if it gave us any hints as to what material was used to build it. I guess it doesn’t matter. Whether he chose wood or gold or plutonium, King Ahaz had no business messing with God’s altar. I found it curious that he made an offering on it straight away and then moved the bronze altar to a different location and declared that he would use it for his personal use. A thousand thoughts. “What nerve!” is my first. So, if taking God’s altar as his own wasn’t enough, King Ahaz then began to dismantle the Temple piece by piece: he took the water carts apart; he placed the Sea on the ground; he removed the canopy used on the Sabbath; and he took out the king’s outer entrance to the Temple.
Now the first few evil things the king did are pretty straight forward and easy to see why they were so insulting to God and destructive to the whole of Israel, but those last two, man! Look at verse 18. King Ahaz didn’t just remove the canopy used on the Sabbath. He removed it “in deference to the king of Assyria.” I looked that up to make sure I had the correct understanding of it, and sure enough my hunch was right: King Ahaz removed the canopy at the request of and out of respect for and in submission to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. Lastly, King Ahaz removes the king’s, i.e. his own, outer entrance to the Temple. I’m guessing here, but I’m assuming the king has a special entrance, and never would he ever enter the Temple through the same door as the “common” priests and such who can enter the Temple, so by blocking his own entrance, he’s basically saying, I’m done going here. But there is still the matter of the old altar being his new personal altar, so maybe he will enter with the common folk, and let people come and go as they please, or maybe he’ll just abandon the whole place altogether. Either way, the Israelites endured King Ahaz’s leadership and oppression for 16 years. We will have to wait and see if his son Hezekiah will turn things around for Israel.
Writing prompt: nasty
King Ahaz was a nasty ol’ king. He did nasty stuff. Compare King Ahaz with a modern-day leader (or at least one from the last century or two) and consider the outcome of both periods of leadership in the days to come.