Many of the accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah are salutary tales, and the book of 2 Kings is a tragic catalogue of compromise and outright rejection of God.
Ahaz is willing to stoop to human sacrifice, (16:3) but I’m not sure that that is his most shocking sin. Ahaz is willing to embark on a radical redesign of the temple, and that is an attempt to redefine Judah’s relationship with God.
Visiting Damascus, Ahaz sees an altar there, obviously in his mind more impressive than the altar in the temple, and he orders the construction of a replica to replace the altar in the temple and he redesigns the layout of the temple moving the old altar out of the way. (vs 12-14)
The old altar intended by God as a place of atonement becomes for Ahaz merely a place for seeking guidance. (v15)
2 Kings often seems reticent in expressing God’s concern about the sin and rejection of the kings of Israel and Judah, instead it’s tone is that of a sad reporter of things that should not be.
I find this passage quite revealing and may preach on it at some point. You see Ahaz’s redesign of the temple reveals his disdain for the things of God. The Temple was not ordered by human design, but after the tabernacle which in turn was ordered after a divine plan to reveal something about the nature of atonement. To put this another way, mess with the temple and you mess with atonement.
Human beings ought not to attempt a redesign of God’s plan of redemption for any reason. We live in a day when sadly, the historic doctrines of atonement are under attack and those who call themselves evangelicals seek to redefine their meaning.
Interestingly enough part of Ahaz’s motive for his redesign seems to be the feelings of the king of Assyria v18. The tragedy is that if he had been more concerned for the glory of God than the feelings of a fellow king or the aesthetic qualities of the temple, then the verdict on his reign might have been quite different.
I guess this post is simple a way of reminding myself, and anyone who cares to read that I must relate to God in accordance with his design for relationship and not presume the right to redesign the basis of relationship in order to make it more attractive or palatable to those whom I serve.