The Praises of God: We Shall Praise God Forevermore

In response to this wonderful promise of God, the worshipers declare that they shall praise God forevermore.

17 The dead do not praise the Lord,nor do any who go down into silence.

18 But we will bless the Lordfrom this time forth and forevermore.

Praise the Lord!

From this time forth and forevermore, the people of Israel shall praise the LORD.

When you die, you stop praising God. But while you live, you should praise God for His promises to you. If you are in Christ, you live forever. Therefore, you should praise God from this time forth and forevermore.

Do you hear people ask in times of trouble, “Where is your God?” Like the psalm, ask God to glorify Himself by His steadfast love in Christ. Declare that God does what He pleases. Assert that all other gods are powerless before a powerful, sovereign God. Stop trusting in idols or false forms of God. Live by the promises of God in His Word. The power is in the promise. The key to a victorious life is living by the promises of God’s Word. Then praise the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

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The Power of the Promise of God in Salvation History: Trust in the LORD

Psalm 115:9-11 reads,

9 O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

 The psalm calls on the worshipers to trust in Yahweh. The verb, “trust,” from batah, is an interesting word. It means, “to feel secure,” “be unconcerned.” (TWOT) That is how you should trust the LORD. Feel secure in the LORD. In the LORD, be unconcerned with other things.

The leader says, “O Israel, trust in the LORD!” Then, the choir responds, “Yahweh is their help and shield.” The help and shield of Yahweh speaks of divine protection. Yahweh shall protect them against the threat of the nations. The history of Israel is a history of salvation. God has shown His acts of salvation in their long history. As God has saved them in the past, God shall save them now.

Then in v. 12, the psalm says that Yahweh has remembered them. “The LORD has remembered us” (Ps. 115:12).

   He was an old widower and she an old widow, had known each other for a number of years.

    One evening there was a community supper in the big activity center. The two were at the same table . . . he took a few admiring glances at her and finally gathered the courage to ask her, “Will you marry me?”

    After about six seconds of ‘careful consideration,’ she answered “Yes, I will.”

    Next morning, he was troubled. “Did she say ‘yes’ or did she say ‘no’?” He couldn’t remember. Try as he might, he just could not recall. Not even a faint memory. With trepidation, he went to the telephone and called her.

    First, he explained that he didn’t remember as well as he used to. “When I asked if you would marry me, did you say ‘Yes’ or did you say ‘No’?”

    He was delighted to hear her say, “Why, I said, ‘Yes, yes I will’ and I Meant it with all my heart.” Then she continued, “I am so glad that you called, because I couldn’t remember who had asked me.” (sermoncentral.com)

The verb, “remember” is from zakar, “think (about), meditate (upon), pay attention (to); remember.” (TWOT) I like the NKJV, “The LORD has been mindful of us.” The LORD has thought about us. He has paid attention to us. He has remembered us, the psalm says. The covenant God of Israel has remembered His people. This is a word of confidence in the faithfulness of God.

Since God is mindful of them, He will fulfill His promise to them. That promise is the promise of blessing. Thus, the psalm says that God shall bless them.

12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel;he will bless the house of Aaron;

13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,both the small and the great.

God’s promise is to bless His covenant people for their renewed faith and obedience of God.

What kind of blessing are they expecting from God? It is the blessing of increase.

14 May the Lord give you increase, you and your children!

15 May you be blessed by the Lord,who made heaven and earth!

The word, “increase,”yasaph, means, “add.” It is Hiphil stem, indicating causative action. The LORD shall cause an increase in Israel. It is Hiphil Imperfect. The LORD shall cause a continuing increase in Israel.

Remember Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham. God told Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). The increase of God here is the blessing of Abraham. This means that God’s promise to Abraham continues! This is how they must overcome discouragement from the nations. They must live by the promises of God!

Brothers and sisters, are you discouraged today? There is power to overcome discouragement. The power is the promise. There is power in the promises of God! The power to live above discouragement is the power of the promises of God.

How Can the Thing Made Represent the Maker?

Now, we ask the important question.How can the physical thing you make, an idol, even represent a spiritual God, “the Maker of heaven and earth?”[1] Many people say, “But the child idol is the image of the child Jesus.” But how can the thing made, represent the Maker? The answer is of course, No, it cannot. If you make it with your hands, then it is not God. For God is spirit. No physical thing ever represent a spirit Being. God is the Maker, not the thing that is made. If you make a thing a representation of God, then you make God a thing; but God cannot be made into a thing, nor be represented by it.

The image they have made today, being carried on the streets of Cebu, does not represent the Maker of heaven and earth. The child idol is not the Man Jesus seated in heaven today. The child idol cannot feel your pain, but Jesus does. The child idol cannot answer your prayers, but Jesus does.The child idol cannot speak, but Jesus does. The child idol cannot save you from your sin, but Jesus does. The child idol cannot give you eternal life, but Jesus does.

I’d like to warn all of us believers in the living Christ. We all can be tempted to fashion a form of God. We can be tempted to make a false representation of God. Some have created a prosperity Jesus. They worship a God who is obliged to make them rich. Some have formed a materialistic Jesus. They worship a God who gives them the material things they want. Some have formed a Jesus of love, but not a Jesus of judgment. They worship a God who loves, but does not condemn their sin.

We should be careful not to fashion a false form of God. Do not trust in any image of God that is not the God of the Bible.


[1] James Luther Mays, Psalms (Int.; ed. James Luther Mays; Louisville: John Knox, 1994), 366.

The Powerlessness of False Gods: Do Not Trust in Them

08_nazareneIn v. 3, the worshipers declared the power of God. Then in vv. 4-7, they declared the powerlessness of false gods.

    4 Their idols are silver and gold,

       the work of human hands.

    5 They have mouths, but do not speak;

       eyes, but do not see.

    6 They have ears, but do not hear;

      noses, but do not smell.

    7 They have hands, but do not feel;

      feet, but do not walk;

      and they do not make a sound in their throat.

In reply to the mocking of unbelievers around them, they answer, “Our God is powerful, but your idols are powerless.”

It’s amazing how people worship an idol made by human hands. On the radio, a woman reported how they danced in the Basilica de Sto. Nino. They felt so good that they cried. Another woman tells of how her business improved after she prayed to Sto. Nino. Yesterday, a man over the radio said that it’s a miracle that there was no strong rain because of the Sinulog.

People would throw handkerchiefs to a man standing beside the Black Nazarene. The man would wipe the hanky and then throw it back to the owner. Only in the Philippines! But here in Cebu, they don’t throw hankies. They have their own little Sto. Ninos at home. So why throw a hankie to another Sto. Nino, when you have one at home?

The psalm says, God made the heavens and the earth. But human hands made your idols. God speaks, but your idols do not speak. What good is a dumb god?

God sees, but your idols do not see. What good is a blind god?[1]

God hears, but your idols do not hear. What good is a deaf god?

God smells, but your idols do not smell. God feels, but your idols do not feel. What good is an unfeeling god?

God walks, but your idols do not walk. What good is a non-moving god? Your idols cannot do anything; they are impotent. What good then is an impotent god?

Look at the effects of idolatry to those who trust in idols. “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (Ps. 115:8). I looked it up in the Hebrew. Literally, “Like them will become those making them; all trusting in them.” The verb, “become,” from the Hebrew, hayah, is Qal Imperfect. The Qal Imperfect speaks of repeated and conditional action. Thus, those who trust idols will continue to become like these idols. The Qal Imperfect also speaks of capability. It is often translated in the future tense.[2] Thus, the NASB: “Those who make them will become like them.”

Listen! You will become the very thing that you worship.You become the very thing you bow down to. You become the very thing you trust most.You become the very thing you love most. Worship a blind god, and you become spiritually blind. Worship a deaf god, and you become spiritually deaf. Worship a dumb god, and you become spiritually dumb.

Let me ask you, “Are you trusting in an idol, like millions are doing today in Cebu?” Then God’s Word says, “You will become like the thing you trust.” Worship that idol and become like that idol—“bulag, pipi, at bingi.” Worship money and you become greedy. Worship pride, and you become proud.

Do you want to become like that?Do you want to live like that?


[1] Steven J. Cole, “Not to Us, But to Your Name Give Glory.” Cited January 19, 2014. Online: http://www.fcfonline.org/content/1/sermons/091309M.pdf.

[2] Warren Baker, gen. ed., The Complete Word Study Study Bible: King James Version (Chatanooga: AMG Publishers, 1994).

The Power of God’s Sovereignty: the LORD Does What He Pleases

The worshipers ask God to glorify Himself for His own sake. In v. 3, they then declare that God is sovereign. God does what He desires to do.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3). In the Hebrew, it literally reads, “But our God in the heavens; all that he has pleased, he has done.” The Hebrew is Qal Perfect, indicating perfective action in the past. (The context in v. 16 shows a Qal perfect past action.) Hence, “all that he has pleased he has done.”

    A man was looking for work without any luck for many weeks. . . While he was at the zoo, he asked the zookeeper if they had any openings.

    The zookeeper motioned the man over to a tree and whispered, “Our gorilla just died last night, and we’re expecting a group of children to come this afternoon. They will be very disappointed if they don’t get to see a gorilla. If you’re willing to get into a gorilla outfit and just swing around in the cage, I’ll pay you $10 an hour.”

    The man thought about the children, and he thought about the money, and then he said, “yes.” So he got into the gorilla suit and entered the gorilla cage. Just then, the children began to file by. The man decided he was going to give the children a show by swinging on a tire. He swung so high, that he landed into the next cage, the lion’s cage.

    Immediately the man in the gorilla suit began to scream and rattle the cage. The children also began to scream as the lion slowly approached the gorilla.     When the man in the gorilla suit thought all was hopeless, the lion said, “Mister, you better shut up before we both lose our jobs.”

Sometimes, we do things that we do not want to do. But God does all that God wants to do. God is sovereign.

Our God is in the heavens. But the statement, “Our God is in the heavens,” does not mean that God is up there, while your god is down here. The first line, “Our God is in the heavens,” is parallel in meaning to the next line in v. 3—“he does all that he pleases.” It means that God is sovereign. Our God is in the heavens—He is sovereign. He does what He pleases.

The place equals the power. The heavens signify power. Thus, our God is in the heavens. Our God is powerful; our God is sovereign.

This God in the heavens is the same God who made the heavens (v. 15). “Heaven and earth” signifies all existence. God made all that exists. Nothing exists outside of what God made. God made it all.

      Gen. 14:22, “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.’’” The LORD, Yahweh, is possessor of heaven and earth. The psalmist continues this thought in v. 16. “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man” (Ps. 115:16) In the Hebrew, it reads literally, “the heavens, the heavens belonging to Yahweh.” The heavens belong to the LORD because He made them. Then v. 16 goes on to say, “but the earth he has given to the children of man.” The very act of giving the earth to people is an act of sovereignty. But the children of man do not own the earth. They merely live and act under the overall authority of the LORD.

The Petition of Faith: Glorify Yourself, By Your Covenant Love

The setting of this psalm is one of national discouragement. Yahweh’s people come home feeling defeated and discouraged. The nations around them mock them saying, “Where is your God?” These nations are peoples who reject Yahweh (Ps. 2, 9-10). They do not trust Yahweh. Rather, they trust in the gods they have made.

Yahweh’s people now come to the temple to express their lament. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” (Ps. 115:2) The nations ask, “Where is their God?” They are saying, “Their God is not there to help them.” On the surface, it looks like it. Israel was defeated by the Babylonians. They were exiled to a far away land. They just returned after years of captivity. Where indeed is their God?

This question makes them feel that their God is powerless. Since their God is powerless, they are also powerless. They are tempted, therefore, to measure their God according to their own power and success and happiness as the people of God.

But to measure God by their success, is to make their own god. To make their own god is make an idol of their own making.Yet they know that the God of Israel is not a god that they can measure by their own power, success, and happiness.

That is why they now ask God to act for the sake of God.“Not for our own sake, LORD, not for our own sake, but for your sake—please glorify Your Name. According to your steadfast love and faithfulness to us, glorify Yourself” (Ps. 115:1). The words, “steadfast love,” is from the Hebrew, hesed, which means, “loving kindness” (NASB) or “unfailing love” (NIV).” Since the context is the “house of Israel” and the “house of Aaron,” this steadfast love must be covenant love (v. 12). Covenant love is the love that God has bound Himself to His covenant people, Israel. They ask God to glorify Himself by acting according to His covenant with His people. They want to glorify God, not for their sake, but for the sake of the name of Yahweh.

Have you heard this question, “Where is God in all this?” Millions in Cebu celebrate a famous idol, the Sto. Nino, while born-again Christians are seemingly silent. Our god can be held by our hands. We can dress and undress our god. He answers our prayers. But where is your God? A beloved relative has cancer. Where is your God? Until today, you are still looking for a job. Where is your God?

When you wonder where is your God, ask God, “Not to us, not to us, but to Your Name, O Lord, give glory.” Ask him to do what He has promised to do, according to His covenant love and faithfulness in Christ. The glory of God is manifested by His covenant love for His people.

Where is Your God?: Glorifying God In the Midst of Idolatry

SantoNino02-25_jpgHave you asked the question, “Where is God when 7,000 people died in Yolanda?” What do you say when God does not act according to your expectations? What do we say to unbelievers who do not see God acting in your life? That is what we have here in Psalm 115.

This Psalm is a beautiful psalm of lament, assurance, and praise. It is a psalm of lament. It grieves over the scoffing of other people when they ask, “Where is their God?” It is a psalm of assurance. It declares with confidence that God will honor His covenant with His people, Israel, by blessing those who fear Him. It ends with an declaration of praise.

It is a liturgical psalm, a worship psalm. There are different parts spoken by the worship leader and choir. Based on v. 14 (the small population of the people), the date of the psalm is probably post-exilic Judah—after the return of the exiles to Judah.[1]

Today, let us adopt this Psalm to answer the question, Where is your God? The psalm begins with a prayer asking God to glorify Himself. It declares the power of God and the powerlessness of false gods. It then calls on the people to trust God. It confesses confidence that God will still bless His covenant people. It closes with the worshipers’ response of praise to God. That is the thought flow of Psalm 115.


[1] Leslie C. Allen, Psalm 101-50 (WBC 21; ed. John D. W. Watts; Dallas: Word, 2002), 146.

The One Mark of Idolatry 2 (2 Chronicles 28:1-27)

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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The One Mark of Idolatry–1 (2 Chronicles 28:1-27)

180px-santoninodecebu1I communicated this sermon to the brethren at GGCF-East Capitol on Jan. 18, 2009, the day of the Sinulog in Cebu City, Philippines—an annual socio-political, commercial, and religious celebration of the child-image called Sto. Nino.

Ahaz was the son of Jotham, King of Judah. (Israel was divided into two kingdoms—the northern kingdom called Israel and the southern kingdom called Judah. Judah is composed of two tribes—the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with Jerusalem as its capital.) Ahaz was only 20 years old when he became King of Judah. But he was one of the most idolatrous kings of Judah and Israel. “Many kings owned idols but Ahaz’ idols owned him.” (Jeff Miller, “Ahaz: King of Idolatry” in http://www.bible.org; Accessed Jan. 17, 2009) Nothing good is written about him. He has the distinction of provoking the wrath of God against him (2 Chronicles 28:25). He served not one god, but many gods, combining gods that will benefit him.

The main theme for us today is this: Worshiping God on Sunday is not worship if we worship something else on Monday. Idolatry is not merely venerating other gods instead of the one true God, but elevating those gods besides God.

Verse 1 is the main verse of chapter 28.And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done” (2 Chronicles 28:1, ESV). It sets the stage for all the wrong things Ahaz had done in the eyes of Jehovah. The verb form for “do” here speaks of completed action from the standpoint of the present. Thus, the sacred writer here is saying that Ahaz has not done what was right in the eyes of the Lord.What has Ahaz done wrong in the sight of the Lord? We note five idolatrous acts of Ahaz.

1. “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” (v. 2, ESV). “Walked” (Heb. yalak) here is figurative speech for the “manner of life.” His behavior followed the behavior of the kings of Israel. The kings of Israel introduced the worship of Baal. So did Ahaz. He combined the idolatrous worship of Baal with the worship of Jehovah in Jerusalem. “Walked” in the Hebrew indicates progressive, continuing action of walking.  Thus, Ahaz did not just do it once, but several times, over a long period of time.

What are the idolatrous ways of your friends, family, and co-workers that offend God? Don’t walk in their sinful ways. Peter wrote, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3, NKJV). The apostle said that we used to live like unbelievers doing all these idolatrous lifestyles, but now no more.

2. He “made metal images of the Baals” (v. 3, ESV). “Metal images” here is from maccekah, “a pouring over, i.e., “molten metal, cast image” (BDB). One day, Ahaz traveled to Damascus in Syria to meet King Tiglath-Pileser III. He saw a large altar which he really liked. Ahaz sent a sketch of this altar to Uriah the High Priest in Jerusalem. He ordered him to build an altar just like it and put it in the Temple (2 Kings 16:10-12). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997, 542)

There’s just one very big problem with this project. It was an Assyrian altar dedicated to Baal. Now this is a big sin against the Lord. The Lord designed the Temple Himself. Nobody should add or take away any furnishing in the Temple of the Lord, or even renovate it. But Ahaz built an idol inside the Temple, just to please the pagan Assyrian king.

This gives us a lesson on compromise. We should not compromise the worship of God with our personal tastes or a desire to please people. Just because you like a certain worship style does not mean that God is pleased with it. True biblical worship of the one true God must conform to biblical principles and practices.

Uriah, the High Priest at the time, also served Ahaz, not God. Their collaboration is a good example of a sinful prostitution of political power with religious power. Here we see a political servant of other gods working with a religious servant. That’s exactly what’s happening today, when city hall cooperates with a dominant church to promote an idol. We need leaders who serve God and God alone, and not the powerful people in church. We need leaders who can say no to sin, no to the world, and no to the Devil. We need God-pleasing leaders, not men-pleasing compromisers.

3. He made offerings and sacrifices to other gods.“And he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (v. 3, ESV). The phrase, “made offerings” (ESV) is better translated, “burned incense” (NKJV), from the Hebrew, qatar, “To cause incense to smoke” (BDB); “to smoke, i.e. turn into fragrance by fire” (Strong) in the hiphil stem.Ahaz did not just worship Baal. He also worshipped Molech, the god of the Moabites and Ammonites. As part of the ritual worship of Molech, people would offer their children by fire (2 Kings 3:27). They would burn their children as an offering to Molech and Chemosh (MacArthur, 520). What a horrible thing to do! But people will do many unthinkable things in the name of a false god or a false religion.

Jehovah prohibited and condemned these practices in Israel.“And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:21, NKJV; cf. Deuteronomy 18:9-12). Yet Ahaz “burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (v. 3, ESV). Note that he burned incense persistently, according to the hiphil perfect form of the verb, “made” in v. 3. He also burned his sons over a period of time, as seen in the hiphil imperfect form of the verb, “burned” in v. 3. Can you imagine offering your sons several times to a false god?Ahaz’ cruelty is incomparable among the kings of Israel and Judah.

Ahaz also “sacrificed and made offerings on the high places” (v. 4, ESV). The “high places” were “hilltops under large trees (cf. Hos. 4:13).” (MacArthur, 543) The other Israelite kings just tolerated it. Yet this king actively participated in the sacrifices. And he did it passionately, intensely, and willingly (as seen in the piel imperfect form of the verb, zabach). This was the practice of the idolatrous Canaanites, which Ahaz has incorporated in his mind and heart. Ahaz’ religion was a syncretist religion, combining elements of the worship of Jehovah, with that of Molech and Chemosh. 

It is similar to “Christianity” in the Philippines. The only “Christian” nation in Asia actually incorporates certain aspects of Christianity as well as elements of idolatry and animism, instead of the pure form of New Testament Christianity. Thus, you have the Sto. Nino, who is believed to be the child, Jesus. Never mind that Jesus never left any image of a child to take his place while he is in heaven. Never mind that Jesus is against idolatry. Never mind that nobody ever knew how Jesus looked like. Never mind that God hates any image of God that is made of human hands. The child image of Sto. Nino made of wood is Jesus. Jesus is the Sto. Nino. That’s a good example of idolatrous, syncretist “Christianity” in one of the oldest Catholic cities in the Philippines.

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