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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter corresponds with 2 Kings 16:0, and gives chief events in same order. Narrative fuller in military affairs, yet an omission of two or three facts. Idolatry of A. and its consequences (2 Chronicles 28:1-8); release of captives (2 Chronicles 28:9-15); Assyrian help sought (2 Chronicles 28:16-21); continued trespass and distress (2 Chronicles 28:22-25); end of A. (2 Chronicles 28:26-27).
2 Chronicles 28:1-8.—Idolatry of A. and its consequences. 2 Chronicles 28:2. Molten, i.e., representatives of different forms or characters of the chief Phœnician deity. Return to superstition of Northern kingdom, from which Judah had been clear since days of Joash. 2 Chronicles 28:3. Burnt, restored worship of Moloch, savage god of Ammon. Heathen, Canaanites. 2 Chronicles 28:4. Tree, great extremes (cf. 2 Kings 16:4). 2 Chronicles 28:5. Two battles with Rezin and Pekah not in Kings. 2 Chronicles 28:7. Azrik., governor, chief officer of royal palace (cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 18:18).
2 Chronicles 28:9-15.—Release of captives. Oded, possibly same as Iddo. Samaria, where Elijah, Elisha, and other prophets exercised their vocation. Rage, great, violent, and displeasing to God; reacheth, where God hears. 2 Chronicles 28:10. Purpose, in heart. Sins, with you greater than in Judah, therefore oppress not erring brothers. 2 Chronicles 28:11. Deliver, send back. Fierce, law forbade Israel to make bondmen (Leviticus 25:39-46). 2 Chronicles 28:12. Heads, patriarchal chiefs who formed king’s counsel. 2 Chronicles 28:13. Forbade captives to be brought into Samaria. Offended, remembered, confessed their own sins, and felt ashamed. 2 Chronicles 28:14. Remonstrance successful. 2 Chronicles 28:15. Name, the four in 2 Chronicles 28:12, acting with general consent of whole body of princes and people. 2 Chronicles 28:15. Prisoners released, fed with spoil, and conveyed to Jericho on their way home. Palm (Deuteronomy 34:3).
2 Chronicles 28:16-21.—Assyrian help sought. Time, after disastrous war with Ephraim and Aram. Kings, more than one in succession or in conjunction; other versions give singular instead of plural. 2 Chronicles 28:17-18. Assign reason for seeking help. Invasion (2 Chronicles 28:18) and refractoriness of Judah (2 Chronicles 28:19). Naked, lit., “had caused licentiousness in Judah”. Had allowed Judah to break loose from religious restraint. 2 Chronicles 28:20. Distressed by heavy tribute, and no help rendered.
2 Chronicles 28:22-25.—Continued trespass and affliction. Yet more, “trespassed still more”. Spoliation (2 Chronicles 28:21) of no avail. 2 Chronicles 28:23. Sacrificed, superstition led him to believe that he might receive aid from the gods of D., Hadad, Rimmon, &c. (2 Kings 16:10-16). 2 Chronicles 28:24. Cut, demolished; shut up, suspended worship, and made altars after models at Damascus. Several, separate.
2 Chronicles 28:26-27.—End and burial of A. Written, &c. (2 Kings 16:0). 2 Chronicles 28:27. Brought not, buried with his fathers (2 Kings 16:20), but not in sepulchres of the kings. Not an honourable burial.
THE EVIL REIGN OF AHAZ.—2 Chronicles 28:1-7
A. forgot principles and example of his father. Soon apparent by what unhappy influences he was surrounded, and to what degeneracy the people had fallen. Increase of worldly wealth and luxury in reigns of Azariah and Jotham introduced corruptions which, by the example of Ahaz, prevailed in idolatrous practices of every kind (2 Chronicles 28:24).
I. The unmitigated wickedness of Ahaz. A. one of the stupendous examples of Israel, one of the few men in history of whom not one good thing is recorded. His wickedness uniform, unmitigated and extraordinary development.
1. He patronised symbolic worship of Israel. “Walked in the ways of Israel” (2 Kings 16:3) at beginning of reign. All forms and practices of heathenism among Israelites he adopted.
2. He practised gross idolatry of Canaan. Not content with paganism, he imported fresh modes of worship. He restored idolatry of Moloch, and fixed it under the very walls of the city, “the valley of Hinnom.” He gave personal sanction to cruel rites, by causing his sons to pass through fire, to burn them to death, or purify them and dedicate them to heathen gods. A custom in Persia for the king to send his son, seated on a black horse, to ride through the flames, to prove sacredness of character and to show the people fire will not hurt. This practice forbidden by law (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 18:10).
II. The fearful consequences of this wickedness. Having left God, God forsook him, and a series of calamities happen.
1. Deliverance unto the Syrians. This the issue of a confederate invasion. False dependence, heathen gods could not protect.
2. Fearful slaughter. Smitten by kings of Assyria and of Israel “with a great slaughter,” a complete panic and rout result. Defeat bereft them of defence, and they allowed themselves to be slaughtered like sheep.
3. Disgraceful captivity. “A great multitude of them captives” (2 Chronicles 28:5). Made prisoners, they were divided between allies, sent off under military escort to capitals of Syria and Israel.
4. National calamity. Persons of distinction among captured or slain (2 Chronicles 28:7). The king’s (probably Jotham’s) son, governor of Royal Palace and Prime Minister. Loss of these chief officers a national calamity. “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle?” Thus blood shed, country wasted, and families ruined through sin. A good king may shelter a corrupt people; a bad king may bring judgments like a flood. The happiness of one reign may be valued by miseries of another.
THE RELEASE OF CAPTIVES.—2 Chronicles 28:8-15
Report of “brethren” led captive excited indignation in better disposed. Oded, a prophet, went out, accompanied with princes, to meet the escort and to prevent disgrace of introducing such prisoners into the city.
I. Released through stern rebuke of the prophet. O. did not applaud their valour and congratulate them on their victory—in God’s name declared their faults and warned them of judgment.
1. Rebuked pride of victory. Not by superiority in numbers, arms, and valour had they overcome; but in consequence of Divine judgments against Israel. Not for the righteousness of victors (Deuteronomy 9:5), but for the wickedness of the vanquished; therefore boast not, “be not high-minded, but fear” (Romans 11:20-21).
2. Rebuked abuse of power. Victory gave no authority for cruelty. Offensive to keep “brethren” as slaves in war. Might not always right. They had “slain them in a rage,” and they further “purposed to keep them under” and sell them as “bondmen and bondwomen.” “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
3. Rebuked forgetfulness of personal guilt. “Are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?” (2 Chronicles 28:10). Ten tribes not innocent, fallen away more completely, more hopelessly, than the two. Severity would add to their guilt and aggravate their punishment. “Thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”
II. Released through the humanity of the people. Spirited remonstrance not in vain—chiefs, soldiers, and people touched.
1. Displayed in the opposition of chiefs (2 Chronicles 28:12). Conscience-stricken when reminded of their own sins. Men of character and high position, remarkable for benevolent feeling, forbade entrance of captives into Samaria—took lead in difficult task of restoring them, and gained themselves a name.
2. Displayed in compliance of soldiers. Soldiers only obeying orders, might have defended what they gained by sword; but yielded, left captives and spoil at disposal of “the princes” (2 Chronicles 28:14). Right to give up what is wrong to retain—more generous to yield to reason and religion than to stick at self-interest.
3. Displayed in the kindness of the people. Under benevolent superintendence the captives clothed and fed from the spoils; assisted in their weakness and conveyed on their way home (2 Chronicles 28:15). A beautiful incident, and full of interest. A proof of loyalty to law amid national decline, of generosity in scenes of cruelty, and a type of a greater deliverance in the Gospel.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 28:1-5. Like son, like father. In A. we have—I. A son who rebelled against the maxims of his father. Instead of carrying on improvements inaugurated by his father, we find that he initiated altogether a new state of things. II. A father who was devoid of natural affection towards his children. “He burnt his children in the fire.” III. The wicked sons of good fathers may sometimes be fathers themselves, and the evil they have done will be repaid to them again [Bib. Mus.].
2 Chronicles 28:9-11. Oded went out—
1. In courageous spirit. Defying risk to meet face to face.
2. In faithfulness to God, for whom he acted, and from whom received help.
3. In benevolent design. Hear me. Here we have the picture of a good preacher. Oded teacheth, reproveth, exhorteth, turneth himself into all shapes, of spirit and of speech, that he may work upon his hearers; and he had his desire. See Timothy’s task (2 Timothy 4:2-3) [Trapp]. Reacheth up to heaven. Sins of violence—
1. Seen by God;
2. Provoke God;
3. Will be punished by God. “Our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass (guiltiness) is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezekiel 9:6).
2 Chronicles 28:10. Personal guilt, a sense of our own sins should check—
1. In the pride of triumph.
2. In the control of passion.
3. In the neglect of charity. Know self, moderate resentment, and imitate God’s compassion. Or learn—
1. Man’s readiness to judge others.
2. By judging, treating others harshly, we condemn ourselves. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
“We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy” [Shakes.].
2 Chronicles 28:15. Primitive charity. Clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, helping the weak, &c. “We can scarcely find a parallel to this in the universal history of the wars which savage man has carried on against his fellows from the foundation of the world” [A. Clarke]. That which happened in the time of Ahaz, was to occur again, as Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 60:3, and other similar passages show on a much larger, more glorious scale at the time of the great redemption. We see at once from the words themselves with what pleasure the historian dwells upon this event [Keil].
APPEAL FOR ASSYRIAN HELP.—2 Chronicles 28:16-21
Invasion of Judah by Rezin and Pekah not mere predatory expedition, but designed to reduce the country, upset the royal family, and establish another tributary prince. Extirpation of dynasties common in East. The older and more venerated the dynasty, the more needful to destroy it. The unconditional promise to David prevented change, and occasioned defeat of allies.
I. Appeal in imminent danger. Kingdom reduced to great distress—
1. By Invasions of the enemy. After succession of defeats, retreated within walls of Jerusalem, and besieged. Country infested north and south, and cities captured.
2. By Providential disaster. “For the Lord brought Judah low.” Bereft of wealth and power, humbled and helpless for defence. As despicable as they had been formidable.
3. By Internal disorder. “For he made Judah naked,” caused licentiousness in Judah. Bonds of government loosened, restraints of religion thrown off, and idolatry of every degree practised.
II. Appeal which cost immense sacrifice. “A. took away a portion of the house of the Lord, &c.” (2 Chronicles 28:21).
1. Self independence. “I am thy servant and thy son” (2 Kings 16:7). A plain acknowledgment of his dependent position, and the submission of a vassal.
2. Enormous treasure. To procure adequate sum for protection the palace and the temple ransacked. Costly is the price of sin and departure from God.
III. Appeal which ended in disappointment. Relief only temporary. Assyria prepared for the advantage. The end worse than the beginning. “The King of Assyria came unto him and distressed him, but strengthened him not.” Distressed—
1. By occupying the land. Hostile inroads of the enemy devasted the kingdom. Invaders, like Saxons invited by Britons against Picts and Scots, remained masters of the land.
2. By exacting heavy tribute. Payments exhausting, impoverished and weakened. The submission of Judah, proffered by Ahaz, pleasing and of utmost importance to projects of conquest. Money demanded in return for help.
3. By withholding help desired. Nothing but disappointment at last: “But he helped him not” (2 Chronicles 28:21). Ahaz not placed in a safe and independent position; an actual for a threatened subjection resulted. It led to further idolatry and risk, which provoked God’s anger and tended to ruin the nation. Sin no “help” nor “strength,” but a cause of “distress.” Confidence in men, the world, and false ways, create disappointment and pierce the hand like a broken reed. “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” Be firm in faith, or ye will not be made firm in fact [Speak. Com., Isaiah 7:9].
AHAZ’S DEEPER SINS AND MISERIES.—2 Chronicles 28:22-25
The infatuated king unchastened by distress, surrendered himself to slavish fear and pursued his course “yet more against the Lord.” Notice—
I. The wilful obstinacy displayed in his evil course. He exerted royal authority to extend idolatry; suspended the worship of Jehovah in the temple; committed gross sacrilege, and superseded the altar of God by one from Damascus. He discarded the doctrine of one true God and affected polytheism. His religion was a kind of diplomacy. The Temple, the residence of Jehovah, by the help of the priesthood, was turned into a shelter for idols, and in the streets of Jerusalem were erected altars to foreign gods.
II. The fearful consequences of this obstinacy. “He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus which smote him.”
1. God provoked to anger (2 Chronicles 28:25). “The wrath of a king is as messengers of death; but a wise man will pacify it,” by proofs of penitence and amendment of life.
2. Ruin brought upon himself and kingdom. “They were the ruin of him and of all Israel.” The gods of Syria befriended him no more than the kings of Assyria. He was cut off in the midst of his days. Pernicious influence of idolatry lasted through the reforms of next reign, and only destroyed after Babylonian captivity.
III. The awful Stigma which rested upon him through this obstinate course. “This is that king Ahaz.” Like “Jeroboam who made Israel to sin,” and Judas who betrayed the Saviour, he is branded by the spirit of God. If ever a man is to be held up as a warning, this is the man. Mark him, shun his ways. Not one good thing in his life and no hope in his death!
ABUSE OF JUDGMENT.—2 Chronicles 28:22
“Trespassed more and more” in utterly forsaking God and selling himself to sin.
I. Judgment abused by mistaking it. He thought because Syrian gods helped them, they would be of service to him. Jehovah had smitten him and helped his enemies, but he could or would not see it. He therefore sacrificed to idols. This a vulgar conception of God, and leads to abuse of devotion and into greater risk.
II. Judgment abused by defying it. There is still a lofty imperial spirit in Ahaz. Neither judgment nor mercy opens his eyes. When overthrown he must still fight against God, be master of his own condition and destiny. He abused the house of God, the altar of God, and the judgments of God. His heart was more fully set to do evil, and he “provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.”
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF KING AHAZ
I. That a course of sin is continually downward. This is a fundamental law of character, the natural working of sin. It propagates itself, but is not self-reformatory. One kind of sin produces another kind, and the law of habit applies to physical, mental, and moral actions. Character becomes fixed. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin.”
II. That God is faithful in checking men in this downward course. “The Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz, King of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:19). Disappointed in alliances, overcome in war, captives taken by thousands, and nothing going well. God contended with him, but was despised by him; persevered in efforts to check him, but was defied and resisted. God ever seeks by his providence and spirit to turn men from an evil course which will end in ruin. “That he may withdraw man from his purpose (marg., work) and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit and his life from perishing by the sword.”
III. That if men will not be checked in a downward course they may become notable examples of punishment. “This is that king Ahaz” (2 Chronicles 28:22). The end is come, but not the end of life. Chastised, but not corrected, given to idols and let alone, “he did trespass yet more.” What possibilities of human guilt! What distinctions in human shame! “Is not destruction to the wicked and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 28:16. Send in spite of promise given by Isaiah (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 8:4), the one immediate and the other remote, that confederate kings should not prevail over him. This—
1. A forgetfulness, wilful rejection of divine assurance. Ahaz by his unbelief had not only disestablished himself (2 Chronicles 28:9), he mortgaged the hope of Israel. He had a policy of his own, and was determined to pursue it. He betrayed the Messiah and deliverer of his people. The assurance of this betrayal is the sign of his obduracy, a signal and terrible proof of his irretrievable sin in calling upon the Assyrians. The king has been found wanting” (cf. Smith’s Bk. of Isa., p. 118).
2. An unworthy acknowledgment of human dependence. God would have been his help, but he foolishly turned to those who ruined him. This proved by Scripture and by Assyrian monuments, which record payment of tribute by tribes of Israel. “His heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind,” in craven fear (Isaiah 7:2).
2 Chronicles 28:19. Israel low. The influence of the ruler upon the nation’s welfare and condition. Nakedness or abundance, internal anarchy or prevalent order. The higher the rank the more aggravated the sin. A corrupt king a corrupt court (like that of Charles II.). “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child.”
2 Chronicles 28:21 (cf. 2 Kings 16:8). Sacrilege upon the House of God.
1. The king’s self-willed assault on established institutions. II. The high priest’s concessions. See in this a clear picture of the lack of Christian spirit in the two highest ranks. The State desires to see everything arranged according to its whims: the Church yields for the sake of temporal advantage [Bib. Mus.].
2 Chronicles 28:22. This king Ahaz. The stigma fixed.
1. An expression of the writer’s feelings.
2. An example of the force of sin.
3. A providential warning to all. “Learn wisdom by the folly of others.”
2 Chronicles 28:23. I. The true God forsaken.
1. From wrong views of his character.
2. From false confidence in his rivals. II. The certain ruin which results from this course. “The ruin of him.” Ruin personal and national, physical and moral, present and future. Gods of heathen, gods of sectarianism, gods of gold, or gods of learning will bring ruin. Mistake to seek inspiration, to covet relief, and implore deliverance from wrong sources. “Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.”
2 Chronicles 28:26-27. Acts of Ahaz, which may be thus summed up:
1. His proud and faithless refusal of a sign by the mouth of Isaiah (2 Chronicles 7:10-13);
2. His discontinuance of temple worship by closing the temple itself;
3. His desecration of the sacred vessels;
4. His erection of altars to the false gods in every corner of Jerusalem, and in every several city of Judah;
5. His sacrificing to the gods of Damascus that they might help him. The first and last of these offences belonged to the early part of his reign, the others were among the latest practices, and to be reversed by his successor in the kingdom (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 29:3; 2 Chronicles 29:19) [Speak. Com.].
I. The Character of Ahaz.
1. He was one of those whose iniquity is enhanced by the contempt of spiritual privileges;
2. His downward career was rapidly progressive;
3. He reached the lowest point of human obduracy. II. The illustration he affords of the appalling power of sin.
1. Evil habits strengthen by indulgence;
2. The world increases its power over its votaries as they advance in life;
3. Sinners in mature years lose the perception of religious truth;
4. There is a limit to divine endurance, and hardened transgressors are often left to perish in their sin [Bib. Mus.].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 28
2 Chronicles 28:1-5 Did not right. How many a son of godly parents is destroyed by evil communications. Companions first known at school, by near residence, or picked up casually at a friend’s house, often blight the most promising young life. It would be mere affectation to suppose that the history of Ahaz is unconnected with the prevalent corruption in Judah during his father’s reign. Pharaoh himself was not a more signal instance of forbearance of judgment than he. He had a godly example and godly counsel in his father. But other mercies were given to him, and though some were severe chastisements, yet were they mercies nevertheless, and should have been for his good [Ed. Walker, Ser. O. T. Subjects].
2 Chronicles 28:3-5. Children in fire. The king seems to have had a mania for foreign religions. The worship of Moloch was now established in the valley of Hinnom, in a spot known by the name of Tophet, close under the walls of Jerusalem. There the brazen statue of the god was erected, with the furnace within, or at its feet, into which the children were thrown. To this dreadful form of human sacrifice Ahaz gave the highest sanction by the devotion of one or more of his sons [Stanley].
2 Chronicles 28:9-15. Clemency. The record of this act of compassion of these Israelites towards the captives of Judah is to be noted as affording a refutation of the allegation of some modern critics that the writer of Chronicles was swayed by partiality for Judah and by prejudice against Israel [Wordsworth].
2 Chronicles 28:22-25. Continued sin. The way of sin is down hill, a man cannot stop where he would, and he that will be tampering with dangerous occasions in confidence of his resolution, shall often find himself carried beyond his purpose [Abp. Leighton].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 28". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30