Ahaz, King of Judah

King Ahaz Entered into Baal Worship and Sacrificed to Other Gods

Jotham's son, Ahaz, reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. Unlike his father, he did not do what was right but imitated the ways of the kings of Israel, making images for Baal worship. He sacrificed some of his children in the fires of Molech and was involved in Baal worship and Asherah rituals, leading people into forbidden idolatry at the high places and the groves.

Rezin, the king of Syria and Pekah, the king of Israel, both came and attacked Ahaz and Jerusalem. Rezin captured the city of Elath and took many Judeans as captives to Damascus. Pekah killed 120,000 in Judah in one day, “because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers.” The army of Israel took captive from Judah 200,000 women, sons, and daughters, stole their wealth and brought it all to Samaria. The prophet, Oded, went out before the returning army and confronted them.

“Because the Lord God of your fathers was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand; but you have killed them in a rage that reaches up to heaven. And now you propose to force the children of Judah and Jerusalem to be your male and female slaves; but are you not also guilty before the Lord your God? Now hear me, therefore, and return the captives, whom you have taken captive from your brethren, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.”

Some of the leaders of Ephraim, Azariah, Berechiah, Jehizkiah and Amasa also chastised the men in Israel's army. “You shall not bring the captives here, for we already have offended the Lord. You intend to add to our sins and to our guilt; for our guilt is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” They left the captives and everything they had stolen before the leaders, who arranged to provide clothing for all of them, including sandals, food and drink, then escorted them back to people waiting for them in Jericho.

Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser, the king of Assyria, requesting his assistance in defeating the Syrians and Israelites. Ahaz took the silver and gold from the temple and the treasures of the king's house. He then sent it as a present to the Assyrian king. So the king of Assyria attacked Damascus and took captives, and killed Rezin, Syria's king.

A grateful King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser. There he saw an altar and was so impressed that he sent the design of the altar and all the details of its construction to Urijah, the priest. Obediently, Urijah built the altar before Ahaz returned from Damascus. When Ahaz returned and saw the altar, he was ecstatic, and in the following days began to make offerings on it: burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offering and peace offerings. He brought the bronze altar from the front of the temple, and put it near his new altar. Ahaz ordered Urijah to burn all offerings on the new altar, morning, and evening, and Urijah did everything Ahaz demanded. This activity brought more of God's anger upon Ahaz and Judah.

The Edomites then attacked Judah and carried away captives. The Philistines invaded the cities of the lowland and south of Judah, seized several cities and occupied them. The Lord brought Judah to its knees because of Ahaz, for he had been continually unfaithful to the Lord and promoted moral decline in Judah. Ahaz again requested for the king of Assyria to help him, but this time he would not assist him. Ahaz took more of the treasures from the temple, some of his own money and even raised money from his own leadership, and he gave it to Tiglath-Pileser, but to no avail.

Instead of seeking the Lord in this time of distress, Ahaz sinned even more. He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” Ahaz destroyed items in the temple, finally closing the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and antagonized the Lord God beyond conciliation.

When Ahaz died, he was buried in the city, but not in the tombs of the kings. He died at the age of 35, after 16 wretched years. The only good that ever came from Ahaz was his son, the next king of Judah, Hezekiah. (2 Kings 16:1-20; 2 Chronicles 28:1-27; Isaiah 7:1-25)

Written by: Pete Miller