And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. — 2 Kings 16:10
Holding the plastic landing gear for a remote-control helicopter in the palm of his hand, our son, who is a designer for a precision mold company, said, “Hmm, some mold this part took!” If he had tried the part on his helicopter and it did not fit, he would have been suspicious that the mold used to make it had been faulty.
Most of us do not give thought to the molds that were utilized to form the plastic items we use so often — pens, plastic furniture, iPod cases, hair dryers, automobile interiors, cell phones, toys, medical parts, hand tools . . . an endless list. Because of our son’s profession, he knows the importance of meticulous accuracy down to a fraction of a millimeter. A plastic part for a blood-checking device must not vary more than .005 millimeters or the part won’t seal correctly and will not be usable. Since plastic parts are made by injecting melted plastic into a mold where the material hardens, it is vital that the mold be exact. If it is incorrect, every piece that comes out of it will be incorrect. Because the mold is the template, there is no hope of getting a satisfactory product from a faulty mold.
The same is true in a spiritual sense. Using the correct template is vital to success. In today’s text, Ahaz had an altar constructed in the Temple at Jerusalem. He patterned it after a pagan altar that he had seen in Damascus. The sacrifices offered on this new altar were not acceptable to God because Ahaz had ignored God’s instructions and used the wrong “template.”
In our time, the pattern of the world about us — its ideology, values, and way of life — will not result in a holy lifestyle. If we use those viewpoints as our template or mold, our lives will not be acceptable to God, and we will not have spiritual success. However, God’s Word contains clear instructions for us. If we follow Him in the way He prescribes, He will change our hearts, cause our lives to glorify Him, and give us eternal life.
This chapter is a summary of the reign of King Ahaz of Judah. Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign. A phrase in verse 2 describes this man who was perhaps the worst king of Judah: he “did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD.” Ahaz had good examples in his lineage, both in his father Jotham and in his ancestor David, yet he not only rejected these godly examples, but he embraced the ungodly ways of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This is the first recorded instance where Judah imitated Israel’s apostasy. Ahaz’s evil ways extended even to terrible forms of child sacrifice; he personally participated in the worship of Molech.
Verse 5 indicates that Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, came to Jerusalem to make war. Syria and Israel, as well as Judah, were under the control of the Assyrian Empire, but were not yet fully occupied. It is thought by historians that Rezin and Pekah attacked Judah to try and force Ahaz into an alliance with them, thinking that the three nations together could more effectively resist the resurgent power of the Assyrian Empire. However, the attempt by these two kings failed; they were not strong enough to defeat Jerusalem and overthrow the government of Ahaz.
God sent the Prophet Isaiah to offer Ahaz a reassurance of God’s help in the struggle against Israel and Syria (see Isaiah 7:1-12), but Ahaz refused, using the excuse that he did not want to test God. In reality, he really wanted to trust in the king of Assyria. He called upon the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser (or Pul), for help against these other two kings, and offered an incentive by sending him most of the treasure found in his house and the Temple. Essentially, this made Judah a subject kingdom to Assyria.
The king of Assyria responded by attacking Damascus and killing King Rezin. This chapter does not say what happened to King Pekah and Israel, but it would appear that they were no longer a major threat to Judah.
King Ahaz then went to Damascus to see King Tiglath-pileser in person. It was unusual for the kings of Judah to make official visits to other kingdoms, so this was likely an official act of submission from Ahaz to Tiglath-pileser. While he was there, he saw a pagan altar (historians indicate that the Assyrians set up altars to their gods in the territories they conquered). He had the dimensions and pertinent information sent home to Jerusalem and instructed the high priest, Urijah, to build a copy of it. When Ahaz returned to Jerusalem, he dedicated the altar by offering sacrifices on it.
It was a serious affront to God to replace the brazen altar, which had been built to God’s specific design, with one built after the fashion of a pagan altar. King Ahaz’s reasoning behind his action is explained in 2 Chronicles 28:23; Ahaz was attracted to the worship he saw in Damascus because he felt those gods had been instrumental in his defeat, and thus must have been stronger than the God of Israel. However, the verse in Chronicles indicates that “they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.”
Verses 16-18 describe further changes Ahaz ordered; he directed the renovation of the Temple court, giving preference to the new altar. The priest Urijah went along with King Ahaz’s evil plans, not only allowing Ahaz to proceed, but participating in his idolatrous ways.
The chapter ends with the death of Ahaz, and the information that his son, Hezekiah, assumed the leadership of Judah.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
S. Ahaz of Judah (16:1-20)
1. The character of Ahaz’s reign (16:1-4)
2. The troubles with Syria (16:5-18)
a. The invasions of Rezin (16:5-6)
b. The appeal to Assyria (16:7-9)
(1) The presents for Pul (16:7-8)
(2) The aid of Pul (16:9)
c. The tribute to Pul (16:10-18)
3. The death of Ahaz (16:19-20)
It is unprofitable to divert from God’s instructions.