2 Kings 16:3 (NIV) 3 He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
On verses 1-4: Ahaz replaces his father Jotham as king of Judah. Unlike his father, Ahaz is a staunch idol worshipper. As part of worshiping an idol, Ahaz sacrifices his child in the fire (v3), hoping it will bring him prosperity. As horrific as such an act is and sounds, it is also a warning for parents today. Sometimes parents can be tempted to sacrifice their children for the sake of their careers or their financial gain. So we neglect our children and deprive them of our presence all in the name of “making money for the family”. While working and being providers for the family is important, let’s remember that in all our working and striving that our real treasure is our children and that what they need even more than money or material things is us, our time and our presence.
2 Kings 16:8 (NIV) 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria.
On verses 5-9: To help him in his ongoing battles against Rezin King of Aram and Pekah King of Israel, Ahaz looks to Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria for help. In verse 8, Ahaz takes gold and silver from the temple of the Lord (as well as from the royal treasuries) and pays them to Tiglath-Pileser in exchange for his help and protection. As Pastor Jon Courson puts it, Ahaz “robs the house of God to pay for the help of man”. We must be careful not to do the same. When you’re under financial pressure, you may be tempted to think, “Let’s not tithe to the church. Let’s take what we would otherwise pay to God and pay it to the bank instead.” If you live that way, don’t be surprised if even then you still don’t have enough. For God’s promise is: seek His kingdom first and take good care of God’s house, and He will give you everything you need and more (Matthew 6:33; Malachi 3:16)
2 Kings 16:17-18 (NIV) 17 King Ahaz took away the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. 18 He took away the Sabbath canopy that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria.
On verses 10-20: To thank Tiglath-Pileser for his help, Ahaz goes to Assyria to meet him. While there, Ahaz is so impressed and influenced by what he sees at Tiglath-Pileser’s idol worshiping sites that he tells his priest Uriah back home to make him an altar that looks just like Tiglath-Pileser’s and to place it in the temple of the Lord. Ahaz gets all the people to make their offerings on this large new altar and takes the old altar for himself to use for his own divination activities (v15-16). He also starts to undo many of the furnishings and equipment that the Lord had instituted for the temple (v17-18).
Why did Ahaz make these changes? It wasn’t because he loved the Lord or wanted to bring more people to worship Him. Rather, Ahaz instituted these changes because he wanted to please the king of the Assyrians (“in deference to the king of Assyria” (v18) and to look more like them. In so doing, he took the people of Judah further and further away from the Lord.
What can we learn from this? When you want to make a major change to your body (which the Bible calls the temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 6:19), your church (which is Christ’s temple and also Christ’s body – 1 Corinthians 12:10) or to some other important part of your life, ask yourself: why do you want to make those changes? What is your motive? Who are you trying to impress? Is it for your own vanity, or is it for God’s glory and to serve His purposes? Is it just so that you can be like the world around you, or so that you can a better blessing to the world around you? Is it a change God would be pleased with? Your motive behind a change is important when determining whether or not you should make that change.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would not sacrifice my children for the sake of my career, or sacrifice my church for the sake of getting the world’s help or approval. Before I make a major change, may I also be careful to check my motives. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!