In our previous post, we noted 3 idolatrous acts of King Ahaz (See “The One Mark of Idolatry 1“). He did 2 more things which provoked the anger of Jehovah.
4. He asks the help of another idolater, instead of Jehovah. “At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help” (v. 16, ESV). When Israel or Judah is in trouble, they would ask the help of Jehovah, their covenant God, and Jehovah would help them. Now Ahaz asks help, not from Jehovah, but another idolatrous nation—Assyria. Because of Ahaz’ idolatry with the people of Judah behind him, God punished him and Judah, by using 5 nations. (1) Syria defeated him and took many of his people captive (v. 5). (2) Israel struck him with great force, killing 120,000 men of Judah in just 1 day, and taking captive 200,000 of their relatives (vv. 6, 8). Why did Jehovah allow this to happen to them? The Bible says in v. 6, “Because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers” (ESV).
(3) The Edomites again invaded Judah and carried away captives (v. 17). (4) Now the Philistines conducted raids on the cities of the Shephelah and the Negeb of Judah. Again, we ask, why did the LORD do this to Judah? The answer is in v. 19, “For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD” (ESV). If you will look at the map of Canaan at the time, you will see that Israel was at the North of Judah. The Edomites were at the East of Judah. The Philistines were at the South and West of Judah. So Judah was surrounded by her enemies.
What did King Ahaz do? He said, “I’ll ask the help of big brother—Assyria.” Assyria, under its king, Tiglath-Pileser, was really the world power at the time. Did Tiglath-Pileser help him? “So Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him” (v. 20, ESV). “Afflicted” here is from the Heb. tsuwr, “To confine, secure; to shut in, beseige” (BDB). This means, that Tiglath-Pileser came upon Jerusalem, and surrounded it with thousands of his troops. Feeling helpless, Ahaz robs the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem with silver and gold. He also takes the silver and gold of his own family. Then he gives it all to Tiglath-Pileser, as a way to please him (v. 21).
Why is this happening to Ahaz and the people of Judah? For one reason–divine judgment. The Lord judged him and the whole nation with him for their rank idolatry. Maybe you’d say, “Well, now that Ahaz is down at the bottom, maybe he will call on the LORD and obey Him?” He certainly did not! Instead, he committed another sinful thing in the sight of the LORD.
5. He called on other gods, instead of the one true God. “For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.’ But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel” (v. 23, ESV). He sinned more and more against the LORD (vv. 24-25). Under divine discipline, he hardened himself more in idolatry. As he increased his idolatry, he increased the anger of God. I hope that if the Lord should discipline us more, we will not sin more. Instead, we will humble ourselves before God. Let us throw ourselves upon His mercy and grace in Christ!
The Bible says that Ahaz “became faithless” (v. 22, ESV). It is actually only one verb in the Hebrew, ma ‘al, “to act unfaithfully or treacherously” (BDB), as a Qal Infinitive Construct. It is often associated with the meaning, “treacherous covenant-breaker” (Warren Baker, gen. ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament, Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1994, 2333) The word, “faithless,” is used to refer to people who break a covenant by being disloyal to it, thereby, acting unfaithfully or treacherously. Why do we call husbands who commit adultery, “unfaithful”? Because on the day you get married, you declare before the minister and God, that you will take her as your lawfully wedded wife, “for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, till death do us part.” On the day you commit adultery with another woman however, you break that vow, thus becoming unfaithful. You become a covenant-breaker, treacherous–a traitor to your vow. That’s what the verb, ma ‘al, means. And that’s what the Bible calls Ahaz.
Actually in the Hebrew, it literally reads, “he caused himself to increase to act unfaithfully.” Instead of calling on Jehovah for help, he moved himself to increase his act of breaking from Jehovah, the covenant God, by serving other gods. This is the ultimate tragedy of idolatry!
Idolatry is infidelity. This is what makes idolatry very dangerous. Because while you believe in other gods, you become disloyal to the one true God! While you increasingly believe in other gods, you also increasingly become deceitful to the one true God! While you add other gods to the one true God, your trust in those other gods will increase, while your faith in the one true God will decrease. That’s why Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. Either you hate one or love the other. You cannot have both. Never mix other things with your worship of the one true God. Because if you do, you will become faithless in the one true God!
What is your religion today? I’m not asking what is your church or denomination. Jeff Miller cites a definition of religion as devotion to something “that involves you seriously and continuously,” as well as “making you sacrifice all other conflicting concerns.” What concerns you most? What involves you continuously and seriously? What consumes your passion? In other words, what is the idol of your life, which makes you sacrifice all other conflicting concerns? It could be yourself, your wallet, your bank account, your business, your children, or even your boyfriend or girlfriend! You see, the sin of Ahaz is not because he completely rejected the one true God. The sin of Ahaz is that he served another god, while he was serving the one true God.
Dr. Gadiel Isidro told us a story about a businessman whom he visited one day. In the businessman’s office, there was an idol sitting on top of a table. Dr. Isidro said, “Brother, why is that idol sitting there?” “Pastor,” the man said, “I put it there for my business partner. He gave it to me.” I heard of a rich Christian businessman who served the Lord on Sunday. But the rest of the week, he did not pay his workers the right wages. He did not pay the right taxes to the government. He cheated on his financial statements. He served God on Sunday, but served the god of money on Monday. He served the gods of money and greed in addition to God.
When we serve the Lord on Sunday, but on Monday, we serve the sinful ways of people around us, to please them, we are committing idolatry. Idolatry is serving another god beside the one true God. It is serving God, while you are serving something else.
Here is the mathematics of idolatry. It is substitution. You serve another god than the one true God. That god replaces the one true God. It is addition. You serve the one true God plus something else. It is also subtraction. The more you serve other gods, the less you serve the one true God.
Ahaz’ life teaches us that worshiping God on Sunday is not worship if we worship something else on Monday. “God does not want us to worship Him; He wants us to worship only Him. God does not want to be our Lord; He wants to be our only Lord. God does not want our devotion; He wants our complete devotion.” (Miller)
I hope and pray that you and I will not fall into a false religion of serving the one true God, while serving something else in addition to Him.
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