2 Kings 16: The Life and Times of Ahaz the King – Part 1

The Life and Times of Ahaz the King

NIV 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God.

1-4 The Private History
5-18 The Public History
19-20 The Postlude History

Introduction

Once again we have another dark king and his wicked existence. This time we’re looking at the life and times of Ahaz a king of Judah. Without controversy, this man did unthinkable activities of darkness. When you read of the evil actions of this vile person you wonder if things in Judah could get any worse—they do! In the not so distant future we’re going to read of a king I personally believe to be the debased of any in Judah or Samaria; Manasseh. He was the only king that was so wicked God sent him to go into a pre-exile Babylonian captivity. This is the grandson of Ahaz. In my estimate, Manasseh gets number one, and Ahaz gets number two.

What I’m going to do is look at the Life and Times of Ahaz. Hopefully we can find a little promise of hope in the middle of all this darkness. First, let’s see if we can get a sense of the era and culture Ahaz lived in. The history surrounding Israel at this period is not a good one. The power in Palestine at this time is this Syrian king, Rezin. However, though he was dominating the area, he was forced to pay tribute to a greater more ultimate strength in the larger region, Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian king. Rezin was compelled, not by choice, to be one of his key vassals.

What we are looking at in chapter 16 is an expansion of things mentioned very cursory in the last chapter. Pekah, king of the Northern kingdom of Israel, had made and alliance with Rezin. Together these two dominating kings intimidated the area of Palestine. Pekah was especially ruthless to Judah. 2 Chronicles tell us he killed over 120,000 men of Judah and took captive over 200,000 women and children deporting them to Samaria.

He acted in real cruelty and oppression. This was the era king Ahaz governed. It was an unstable volatile environment. In fact, Ahaz was a major contributor to the instability of the region. This is the culture forming the attitudes and actions of this wicked man. He was just as cruel as his adversaries.

Now, chapter 16 is going to give us the worldview and the decision making process of this wicked king. I think verse 2 best summarizes what his reign was all about.

NIV 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God.

He was “Unlike David his father.” However, it was fact that he was a descendant of David. That connection is the only little ray of hope for the kings of Judah. And though these kings were unlike David, they were kept alive by covenant promise because they were related to him. Remember what God said earlier in 2 Kings 8:19? (NIV) “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.”

Ahaz through David’s dynasty remained because of God’s commitment to David. But, sadly, that does not make difference to this wicked king Ahaz. Legacy is nothing to him. So, were going to look a little closer at the history of Ahaz and see why. We start with the “Private History” of Ahaz the king in Part 2.

J. Robert Hanson

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