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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/4/11- Like Everyone Else

1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, King Ahaz son of Jotham of Judah began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his ancestor David had done, 3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even made his son pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 4 He sacrificed and made offerings on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. (2 Kings 16:1-4)

 5 Because of all this, the Lord his God allowed the king of Aram to defeat Ahaz and to exile large numbers of his people to Damascus. The armies of the king of Israel also defeated Ahaz and inflicted many casualties on his army. 6 In a single day Pekah son of Remaliah, Israel’s king, killed 120,000 of Judah’s troops, all of them experienced warriors, because they had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 7 Then Zicri, a warrior from Ephraim, killed Maaseiah, the king’s son; Azrikam, the king’s palace commander; and Elkanah, the king’s second-in-command. 8 The armies of Israel captured 200,000 women and children from Judah and seized tremendous amounts of plunder, which they took back to Samaria. (2 Chronicles 28)

22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah.
24 The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors. (2 Chronicles 28)
(Ahaz strips then shuts the door of the Temple so no one can worship the Lord)

Thoughts: When you're trying to be like everyone else, you drag yourself down to the least common denominator.  Instead of lowering yourself and your moral standards to "fit in" you should seek to rise above.  If we are trying to be like all the other species- then we have lowered our morals to the level of animals (who generally do not value marriage or the future or God).  Ahaz had enough of trying to be holy, different, and distinct.  He did not value the God of Israel, the Holy One, who claimed to be "Lord alone."  It showed in his policies of trying to lead the people away from God in the name of tolerance and being like the rest of the world.  But it showed most clearly in his offering his son as a sacrifice to the heathen gods.  Tomorrow we'll see how he worshipped the god of whatever nation was powerful at the time.  Syncretism and tolerance takes away our ability to be faithful, true, and to seek to be better than our fallen nature. It gives into naturalism- whatever feels good, and is subject to the winds and waves of the latest fashion.  Tolerance (as a guiding force) has no north start to guide it- but seeks to be everywhere at once in a futile effort to please everyone.  Ahaz, no doubt, believed in a higher power, a god that deserved our worship.  But Ahaz did not know that god, and perhaps didn't think anyone could.  He put all worship on the same level- including the worship of those who sacrificed children, or even the terribly brutal and blood-thirsty Assyrians.  Though he believe in some god, Ahaz was clearly a lost man with little hope and no confidence.  In the end, Ahaz shut the door to the Lord's Temple not allowing anyone to worship the Lord of Israel.  See, when you tolerate all, you cannot tolerate the religion that says, "I am the truth and makes monotheistic claims."  Ahaz's tolerance was his downfall.  We should learn a lesson from Ahaz.  We are called to be kind and civil to everyone, but that does not mean that moral practice is unimportant or that it doesn't matter what we believe.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to be kind and patient as you are with me.  But help me also to seek to rise above my sinful, animal self and follow you with justice and holiness.

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