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By Chuck Smith
Shall we turn now to II Chronicles, chapter 28.
We are now moving into the final stages of the deterioration of this nation prior to its destruction. Ahaz is now the king.
He is twenty years old when he began to reign ( 2 Chronicles 28:1 ),
And he is an extremely wicked person. And it is really during his reign that the kingdom sinks to a lower level spiritually than it ever has. And this begins the final downward trend. There are few respites. Hezekiah, his son, was a very good king. Manasseh, Hezekiah's son, was a wicked king. And then the son of Manasseh, Josiah, was again a very good king. But each time you get to the wicked kings it seems like their wickedness is just a little deeper or greater than the previous ones.
Now among the things that Ahaz did was to
walk in the ways of the kings of Israel [in the north] ( 2 Chronicles 28:2 ),
Establishing the worship of Baal, and in establishing the worship of Baal, caused his children to pass through the fire.
Now some people wonder why God ordered the extermination of the Canaanites when the children of Israel came into the land. And it seems a very cruel thing for God to order them to wipe out all of the inhabitants of that land as they moved in. And it has created great problems for some people. How could a God of love order the extermination of a whole race of people? But if you will get into the practices of their worship and you begin to study their whole cultural system, you will see why God ordered their extermination. Because they had come to a place of such depravity, even in their concepts and worship of God, that they would in time destroy themselves.
One of the practices in the worship of Baal was to cause your children to pass through the fire. They would heat the little iron or stone images of Baal until they were glowing hot, and then the little images of Baal have always arms that are straight out from the body with the fingers turned up, and that was so that they could hold the infants. And these little images when they would turn molten red, they would place then their little babies in the molten red arms of the image of Baal and sacrifice their babies unto Baal. And so this king Ahaz was actually guilty of causing his own children to pass through the fire. And he got into all of the pagan practices in their religious system, forsaking the worship of the true and the living God and following after the worship that was common in the nations that God ordered exterminated. God ordered to get rid of them completely because of their disobedience to God and their failure to utterly exterminate these nations. Gradually the practice of these nations became sort of inculcated into the life of the people of God and they polluted the people of God, and ultimately caused the fall of God's people.
So God was only seeking to protect them from this poison, this venom, in order that they might continue in the land and continue to serve the Lord. And it was their failure of obeying God that led to their ultimate downfall as they began to pick up the practices of the people round about.
Now as we are in this particular period in history, as we are dealing now with Ahaz and then subsequently Hezekiah, this is about the time, Hezekiah's reign, Ahaz only reigned for sixteen years. Hezekiah was the time when Isaiah was the prophet of God. And you can go into the book of Isaiah and you can read how he speaks against those who had followed after the astrology and the stargazers and the monthly prognosticators and so forth, and he speaks of the things that they became involved with in false worship. As we move on after Hezekiah in the period of Manasseh, it was Manasseh, actually, who ordered Isaiah the prophet sawed in two. He didn't want to hear any more of God's word.
But God raised up another prophet during the time of Josiah, the prophet Jeremiah. And Jeremiah is the prophet who, talking to the people at this period of history, he said, "Has there ever been such a thing before that a people will turn from their God which are no gods?" In other words, those people that worshipped false gods won't turn away from their god. They'll continue to worship false gods generation after generation after generation. Of course, the reason is is that in the worship of false gods there is an appeal to the flesh. Thus, there is no spiritual struggle.
To worship the true and the living God does create a conflict within. The moment I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, begin to serve the Lord, there is a conflict, an internal conflict that is set up within me, the flesh warring against the Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh. These two are contrary. The battle begins. But in worshipping the false gods, they are extremely appealing to the flesh, and thus, there is no conflict set up. And thus, people who worship false gods will continue in the worship of false gods from generation to generation. And so Jeremiah points it out. He said, "Have you ever seen such a thing? People will turn from their God, which really aren't gods. They're not even true gods but people won't turn. They're very loyal to them." And yet, God said, "You have turned away from Me. You have left Me, the fountain of living waters."
Living waters is a running stream. "You have left Me, the fountain of living waters, and you have hewn out for yourself, carved out for yourselves cisterns," which are great caves that they carve out in the limestone over there in Israel in order that they might be water reservoirs. But they collect the water in the winter rains and then hold them through the summer season. But you know what water does that's collected in a cistern like that. It soon begins to get stagnant. The little wiggle tails and all in it. So cisterns can only really hold stagnant water at the best. "But here you've forsaken Me," God said, "the fountain of living water and you've cut out for yourselves cisterns. You've followed now religious systems that really... " But He said, concerning their cisterns, "They can't hold water."
Every once in a while they carve out a cistern and there would be a fracture in the rocks. So you set the whole thing up and you pray for the rain and you got the thing all designed, you got all your little dikes built, and you direct all of the rain to the hole that you put in the top of the cistern. And you watch the water running in down your dikes and in, and you hear it splashing. You say, "All right, now this is great." And so you go out the next morning to draw a bucket of water out and there's no water in it. Suddenly you discovered after three years of picking away at this rock in carving out your cistern, there's a fracture in it somewhere and it won't hold water. And so you use it for a tomb.
Interestingly enough, there is a tomb on the Mount of Olives just below the Intercontinental Hotel that was originally a cistern, cut out for a cistern. Didn't hold water so they used it for a tomb. So God's complaint against the people. "You've turned from Me." Ahaz turned from God. Followed the practices.
Now you see, in following these practices and getting into these horrible, abominable practices, it was for these things that God brought His judgment upon these nations. And now His own people are following these same things. The reason why God ordered them exterminated is so that they would not infect His people with these practices. But their disobedience led to their infection, which led ultimately to their destruction. And so Ahaz, an extremely wicked king, and because of his wickedness there was a rapid deterioration of the strength of the kingdom.
Verse 2 Chronicles 28:5 :
So the LORD delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and he was brought with them to Damascus. And he was delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter ( 2 Chronicles 28:5 ).
That is the northern kingdom. And 120,000 of his men were killed in one day of battle.
they were all very valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. And then the children of Israel carried away two hundred thousand of their brothers, and their children, and women, as captives ( 2 Chronicles 28:6 , 2 Chronicles 28:8 ).
But when they brought these captives unto Israel, some of the old men of Israel said, "Hey, that you can't do. They are actually our brothers still and you can't bring those of Judah as slaves." They were going to make slaves out of them and some of the older men in the northern kingdom of Israel spoke out against this. And so they brought the people back again from that particular captivity.
Now in verse 2 Chronicles 28:16 :
The king sent to the... [Ahaz took money and sent to the] king of Assyria to come and help him ( 2 Chronicles 28:16 ).
Because the Philistines have moved against him and took several of the cities. The Edomites moved against him and took several of the cities of the southern portion. The Philistines were taking the cities of the western portion. The Israelites were taking the cities from the northern portion. He was getting wiped out on every side. And so he sent for the king of Assyria to come and help him. And rather than helping him, he also just took his money and did nothing to help him in his distress.
Verse 2 Chronicles 28:19 :
For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz the king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD. And Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, and would not help him. And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore I'll sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and all Israel ( 2 Chronicles 28:19-20 , 2 Chronicles 28:22-23 ).
And so the reason for, of course, his problems--his forsaking of God clearly declared, and in his distress, rather than turning to God he just went deeper into the abomination. Beginning to worship the gods of the Syrians saying, "Well, because the Syrians wiped us out, their gods must be stronger than our God." And began to worship them and he and his practices became the ruin of the people. The worship of these false gods.
Now Ahaz died and his son Hezekiah began to reign in his stead ( 2 Chronicles 28:27 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 28". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany