Like his father Jotham and his son Hezekiah, Ahaz was a young man when he was coronated as King in Jerusalem; he was just a little younger at twenty years of age. The course he took was drastically different, however, as he led his nation into a deep and dark period of apostasy.
The term apostasy means to fall away from the truth. It is descriptive of a person, a church or a nation which possesses the truth yet chooses deliberately and defiantly to depart from that same truth.
Throughout every age apostasy has existed, as long as there is sin this characteristic of rebelliousness will manifest itself. The spirit of Cain, of Nimrod, of Korah and of Judas rises naturally from the heart of man.
Ahaz was one such man who led his nation on a path of wickedness as King of Judah. His name literally means “he grasped”. He was a man who was grasping, attempting to be great and successful, trying to make Judah great again but he was looking in the wrong places.
Like any other king, Ahaz wanted to strengthen his kingdom and defend his borders, but he was a man who grasped at straws to achieve his goals. He was willing to sacrifice any principle, make any compromise, enter into any alliance, serve any god, if only he could strengthen his hand. The only thing that Ahaz was not willing to do was serve Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel2nd Chronicles, A House of Prayer, Andrew Stewart
The Methodology during Days of Apostasy
Ahaz took Judah in a new and dramatically different direction. He forsook the old paths, which had been trode by even the weakest of his ancestors, and he ploughed a different kind of furrow. Taking as his inspiration the apostate northern kingdom he inaugurated the worship of Baal. This was a religion that was universally appealing to the popular cultures of the age chiefly because there were no laws, and no rules. Baal could be practically what you wanted him to be. He instituted the worship of Molech, the fire god of the Ammonites, sacrificing children to the flames in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. He is the first King recorded in Judah who personally offered sacrifices to false gods.
These opening verses, tell a sad tale of perverse innovation. We should always be careful of innovations where worship and faith are concerned. While society, changes through modernisation, and necessarily so, truth remains fixed and unaltered. Those who have tampered with the faith of the church are called modernists because they think they can transform truth into something new. This is at the heart of apostasy, the proud heart attempting to change the truth of God. Let us hold fast onto the truth, unchanged and unchanging.
The Mourning during Days of Apostasy
Refusing to turn a blind eye to the sins of Ahaz, God delivered Judah into hands of both Syria and her northern sister state, Israel. For generations Israel and Syria had been at war but now they formed an alliance in light of the rising threat posed by Assyria, the new world super-power. This new alliance turned their attention to Judah. Isaiah 7, informs us that Isaiah gave Ahaz remarkable promises for this time, but they meant nothing to this ungodly wretch. Instead of receiving God’s promises he inherited judgement. Thousands of his people either lost their lives or their liberty.
Apostasy always leads to judgement. For this reason we should be deeply alarmed for our nation, because God will not permit rebellion against Him to continued unhindered.
With so many many losing life and freedom Judah was plummeted into grief. The path of turning away from God is hard. It may please the popular tastes for a little time but it ends in chaos and sadness. One day society will waken up the results of pandering to the depravity of the LGBT lobby, to the elevation of a lifestyle which cannot procreate and develop society. One day society will reflect upon this period of history when babies were sacrificed to please the whims of mothers who prefer termination. If we are horrified at the abuse and cruelty which took place in religious institutions in Ireland in the Twentieth Century how much more more will a future generation not be horrified at what is happening today in the name of progress. A future generation will curse this moment in history when people cared more about the environment or the welfare of animals than humanity itself. But what will it take to awaken society out of this drunken stupor of death, lust, pride and sheer selfishness? On this account we tremble.
The Mercy during Days of Apostasy-
We have already noted that Isaiah ministered during this time. In Isaiah 7:14 this wicked King heard one of the great promises of the Messiah:
Even the famous words of Isaiah 9, which prophesy of light shining in the darkness, of one whose name is Wonderful dates from period.
Another prophet who served during this dark period was Micah. He rightly detected the sin of pride, which lay at the heart of Ahaz’s sin as he called the nation to the path of humble submission to the God of Israel:
2nd Chronicles 27 tells us also of one who served God in the northern kingdom of Israel called Obed who commanded Israel to show mercy to the slaves from Judah. His voice was heeded and thousands were released. At such a dark time many had a respect for the prophets of God and His truth. These servants were called to serve in times of darkness and through their ministry the light was keep burning.
God has called us to serve Him in this decadent Twenty-First century. The fact that we are here, serving Him is a mercy. Let us ensure that the light continues to shine!
The Momentum during Days of Apostasy
The persistence of man in continuing his rebellion, even when it is evident that sin is destructive is immense. Ahaz despite losing almost everything did not hold back in his wayward path. His sins culminated in the closure of the temple. This opens up another sad chapter in the history of this sacred building, a son of David shuts the doors, prohibits the worship of Jehovah and then proceeds to erect altars to Baal in Jerusalem.
The aim of apostasy is to prevent the preaching of the Gospel and to marginalise those who are faithful to truth. Ungodly and unrepentant man will stop at nothing until he gets his way in this matter. There is a momentum today, we are blind if we don’t recognise it, as evangelical Christians are increasingly displaced to the margins, eventually the teachings of the Bible will be will be deemed dangerous and unacceptable within a progressive society. Ahaz is the classic example of the folly of being progressive!
The Meditation during Days of Apostasy
The death of a leader is an occasion, for meditating, for reflecting upon the life that has touched many others for good or for ill. Ahaz’s reign was deemed a failure, like others before him who did not serve well he wasn’t buried among the kings. The progressive left no lasting legacy. He is one of the few Kings of whom nothing good is noted whatsoever.
The moral fashions of this age will come and go. Only the Gospel of Christ can leave a truly transforming legacy.
The closing words of the chapter introducing Hezekiah are significant. Out of the House of Ahaz a young man would arise who would be one of the greatest of all the reforming Kings. In wrath God does remember mercy.