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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 16

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-20



Ahaz stands in startling contrast to his father. His mother's name is not mentioned, perhaps because she was not worth mentioning. Ahaz was 20 years old when he began to reign and reigned 16 years, so that he died at the early age of 36. He seemed to revel in doing evil, not only following the ways of the kings of Israel, but adopting the wicked worship of the nations the Lord had dispossessed because of their evil, - even sacrificing his son to the flames of idolatrous worship. It is a mercy that he had another son, Hezekiah, who proved to be a godly man. Ahaz sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, the hills and under every green tree, but the house of the Lord (God's centre), and the altar of the Lord meant nothing to him.



The Lord did not leave Ahaz without warning as to his evil actions, but sent Rezin king of Syria and Pekah king of Israel against Judah, to besiege Jerusalem. Yet they could not overcome Ahaz, for the Lord also was gracious to Judah (v.5). Ahaz ought to have realised that God was slow to destroy Judah because Of his Own promise and because Jotham father of Ahaz, had been a godly ruler.

However, Rezin captured Elath, a city of Judah, and drove tile people of Judah out of the city, allowing the Edomites to take possession of it (v.6). This spurred Ahaz to appeal, not to God, but to the king of Assyria, Tiglath Pileser, telling him that he (Ahaz) was his servant and asking his help against Syria and Israel. How foolish a move was this on the part of a king of Judah! It cost him something too. He stole from the Lord the silver and gold that was in the house of the Lord as well as taking silver and gold that were in the treasuries of the king's house, to pay the king of Assyria for his protection (v.8).

Then the king of Assyria attacked Damascus, capital of Syria. defeating and killing Rezin king of Syria, taking the people into captivity. Thus Assyria was strengthening its kingdom to become a great empire.



Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath Pileser, likely to congratulate him for his victory. But while there Ahaz saw a Syrian altar that he evidently liked better than the altar of the Lord. He therefore sent the pattern of the altar to Urijah the priest at Jerusalem, instructing him to build one like it for the worship of Judah (v.10). Ahaz was therefore a religious man, but choosing wicked religion above the true worship of the Lord. Christendom has been guilty of the same evil in imitating the false worship of unbelievers. But why did Urijah not have the spiritual strength to resist this evil of the king? Instead of resisting, he fully concurred with this false worship and had built the altar by the time Ahaz returned (v.11).

Ahaz then, ignoring the altar of God, offered burnt offerings, meal offerings and drink offerings on the altar he liked, sprinkling the blood also on the altar (v.13). We are not told whether the priest was the intermediary for this or not, but Ahaz could boast of having some details correct, while being basically rebellious against God. The Lord Jesus spoke of the scribes and Pharisees teaching, "Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it" (Matthew 23:18). But the Lord called these teachers "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?" (v.19). The gift speaks of Christ's sacrifice, but the altar pictures Christ Himself the basis of the value of the sacrifice. Therefore, the altar of Ahaz signifies his introducing a false Christ. How dreadful is such an evil as this!

Not only did Ahaz introduce an idolatrous altar into the temple worship, but he displaced the copper altar that was in front of the temple and put it on the north side of his new altar (v.14). The Lord had the copper altar placed in front of the temple because it speaks of the only way of approach to God, which is Christ as the One whose sacrifice is indispensable, But how many today are like Ahaz, pushing Christ out of the way and despising the value of His perfect sacrifice.

Ahaz then gave orders to Urijah totally contrary to God's Word, and the weak priest was ready to disobey God. All of the offerings were offered on the new altar of Ahaz. Ahaz knew something of the offerings and he wanted to keep up a show of religious zeal while refusing the very basis of all true worship, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, while he put the copper altar out of the way, he told Urijah it could be used as a charm for him "to enquire by" (v.15). If there were hard problems or danger threatening, he could use the copper altar, just as men today consider Christ as One to be consulted if they are in trouble, but this only amounts to superstition with no faith whatever in Christ Himself. Thus they want Christ to be merely their servant, not their Lord.

The bold sacrilege of Ahaz was further seen in his treatment of the lavers (v.17) which were placed for the washing of the sacrifices, speaking of the perfect purity of the Lord Jesus. Ahaz removed the lavers from their bases. The basic fact of the purity of the Lord Jesus is also given up today by many who dare to dispute the sinless perfection of the Lord of glory. Some say that He had a nature that could have sinned, but that He did not give into that tendency. Such teaching is false, for the basic fact is that "in Him there is no sin" (1 John 3:5). Being totally sinless, it was therefore impossible for Him to sin.

The copper sea also, that which was for the daily purification of the priests, Ahaz removed from the oxen that supported it and set it on a pavement of stones (v.17). The oxen, (animals for sacrifice) picture the fact that our own purity as priests is primarily based on the value of the sacrifice of Christ. The water in the sea speaks of the Word of God which purifies, but since we by nature are sinners, the oxen of sacrifice are basic to our purification in practical life. But the pavement of stones pictures mankind in their so-called "good works," a useless (though proud) basis that ungodly men prefer. How sadly is this type of evil repeated in our own day! Mere natural religion always substitutes human merit for Christ!

Ahaz also removed the Sabbath pavilion which had been built in the temple, and he removed the outer entrances from the house of God ("on account of the king, of Assyria" v.18). Things God had ordained were removed so as not to offend the king of Assyria. Ahaz feared the king of Assyria, but had no fear of God before his eyes. Let us be careful not to allow the opinions of men to influence us against the clear Word of God.

More of the history of Ahaz is found in 2 Chronicles 28:1-27, and though we are told in Kings that Ahaz was buried with his fathers, yet Chronicles tells us (v.27) that he was not brought into the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah took the throne of Judah (v.20).

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Kings 16". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/2-kings-16.html. 1897-1910.
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