Ahaz follows Jotham, but as with his fellow Israelites in the northern kingdom, he is lured into the ways of wicked and evil people:
…and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree. 2 Kings 16:3-4
This is so sad. It’s bad enough that Jeroboam led the northern kingdom into such idolatry, now the southern kingdom joins the party. These are God’s chosen people living in The Promised Land! Hard to tell from their actions.
When the Arameans attacked Jerusalem, Ahaz used the silver and gold from the temple of the Lord to hire the Assyrians. No respect for the Lord, no hint of seeking a word from Isaiah, Ahaz makes a deal with the Assyrians…then it gets worse. King Ahaz:
saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 2 Kings 16:10
Ahaz formally worshiped the gods of Assyria alongside of the Lord, as if that were even possible. He took it upon himself to rearrange the items in the temple of the Lord to please himself. For 16 years Ahaz led the people of Judah astray. King Hezekiah is next (for tomorrow’s discussion).
Hoshea, the Last King of Israel
Years of idol worship and bowing to the gods of neighboring kingdoms have led the northern kingdom, the people of God, to this closing chapter. Hoshea becomes king and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him” (2 Kings 17:2). Hoshea reneged on the previous deals made with the Assyrians, so Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, attacked Hoshea, put him in prison, then deported the people of Israel to Assyria. God’s people were forcibly exiled, no longer to be called Israelites.
All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. 2 Kings 17:7-8
The rest of chapter 17 provides details into the things the Israelites did to arouse God’s anger. Like their ancestors before them, they were stiff-necked people who simply would not listen.
So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. 2 Kings 17:18-19
Samaria, where the kings of Israel used to rule, is populated with people from Babylon, etc., to replace the Israelites. They are given priests to worship gods of their creation along with the Lord. Basically, they accepted everyone’s religion. It’s no wonder Samaria is referred to in the New Testament with disdain. This also explains the background for “the woman at the well” in John 4 and her knowledge of God and the coming Messiah (along with other gods, etc.).
Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did. 2 Kings 17:41
To this day…I wonder. What idols do we serve alongside of the Lord? What have we become so accustomed to, so comfortable with, that we simply put them on an equal footing with the God of the universe? If we read the narrative of the people of Israel in the Old Testament and say to ourselves, “those stupid people,” we are perhaps missing the point.
Lord help us to follow your ways and your ways only. Reveal to us those idols in our lives that we have placed before you. Remove these Lord, help us to serve you alone!