1-4 The Private History
This is where the true wickedness of this king is seen. There are dark foundations of Ahaz’s character. I’m going to suggest that before he was even king, Ahaz was involved in real evil. We’re told there are two despicable activities this man invested heavily in. What I’m going to do is mention the two activities real fast and then make a conclusion. The first activity is….
1. Human Sacrifice
I want to start by reading a portion of this first section from the Message Bible. This paraphrase does something interesting to the passage makes a reasonable person want to ask why.
2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t behave in the eyes of his God; he wasn’t at all like his ancestor David. 3 Instead he followed in the track of the kings of Israel, He even indulged in the outrageous practice of “passing his son through the fire” — a truly abominable act he picked up from the pagans God had earlier thrown out of the country.
What does “passing through the fire,” mean? It’s not about taking a child and passing them above an open flame! This was referring to human sacrifices. There was an idol, generally in a human form with the head of a bull, named Moloch. An infant would be placed into the arms of the idol and burned alive by fire. It was really that horrific an event! Generally, it was not for older children but infants.
2. Shrine Sacrifice
Second, Ahaz was involved in Shrine Sacrifices. Let me read the verse from the NIV and come back to the explanation about it.
4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.
What were these sacrifices all about? They were to the fertility gods of the pagan Canaanites. Again, let me read the same verse from the Message Bible, it gives a little more perspective.
4 He also participated in the activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that flourished all over the place.
The Message Bible, when paraphrasing, takes into account the culture of the pagan religions. It identifies the sacrifices as activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines. They were practicing free and open sex in the name of religion. How many cults do you read about that share in this activity?
Now, I’m going to make a suggestion that I think answers a couple of hard questions in the Bible. First mentioned in the passage is Ahaz began his rule at age 20. Next we read of his evil deeds. Because they are so close we get the impression his evil began when his reign did at the age of 20. Not so! This evil life of Ahaz began much earlier.
One of the things people struggle over is the math of the years between Ahaz and His son Hezekiah. Ahaz was 20 when he became king, he rules 16 years making him 36 when he dies. The Bible tells us Hezekiah was 25 when he comes to the throne after the death of his father. That means Ahaz was the unbelievable age of 11 when he had Hezekiah as a son. We hear this and we say, “That’s ridiculous, I mean, is that even physically possible?” Do you realize that the government of Sweden gives out special sized condoms to 12 years! Someone in Sweden is worried about 12 year olds fathering a child.
Similarly, free sex was very active in this pagan hedonistic culture of Palestine, except they were without contraceptives. So a girl gets pregnant and then what? The quickest way of getting rid of an unwanted, unplanned child was to offer the infant up as a sacrifice to Moloch! It’s my suggestion that human sacrifices became vogue, easy and convenient as a way to control unwanted infants.
Suddenly it becomes very simple to see how this wicked king’s private history could form him. He learned to care nothing about the value of a human life. One way or another this evil monarch had become jaded without a conscience. And while Hezekiah was spared being the first born, we know for sure Ahaz had another son that was not. And this is what we know from the scriptures. Eternity will only tell if there were other children he offered up! The “Private History” of Ahaz affects his “Public History.” We see more in Part 3.
J. Robert Hanson