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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/5/11 Imitating the Pagans

10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. King Ahaz sent to the priest Uriah a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. 11 The priest Uriah built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, just so did the priest Uriah build it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus. 12 When the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near to the altar, went up on it, 13 and offered his burnt offering and his grain offering, poured his drink offering, and dashed the blood of his offerings of well-being against the altar. 14 The bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15 King Ahaz commanded the priest Uriah, saying, "Upon the great altar offer the morning burnt offering, and the evening grain offering, and the king's burnt offering, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offering; then dash against it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice; but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by." 16 The priest Uriah did everything that King Ahaz commanded.

17 Then King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands, and removed the laver from them; he removed the sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pediment of stone. 18 The covered portal for use on the sabbath that had been built inside the palace, and the outer entrance for the king he removed from the house of the LORD. He did this because of the king of Assyria.

19 The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD. 20 Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23)

(Ahaz King of Judah closing the Temple)

Thoughts: Ahaz felt like the Assyrians were the most powerful kingdom in the world.  He felt that if he could bring the lucky altar in, maybe the luck would rub off on him.  He syncretized the Assyrian altar with his own worship practices (burnt and grain offerings, et al.).  Ahaz was utterly defeated by Israel, to the point that the vassal kingdom of Edom and the small group of Philistines were able to capture sections of Judah.  2 Chronicles says that Judah suffered because of Ahaz's wickedness.  Ahaz had given up on the one true help he had- the Lord.  He had given up on holiness and had instead pursued rebelliousness.  He thought he had an ally in Assyria, but they brought him only trouble, tribute, and trickery.  Ahaz misunderstood ultimate success because he was focused only on the temporary.  His success would have been with his repentance (Isa. 30:15), but he thought his success was with the evil Assyrian empire that only betrayed his trust.  So we should trust in the holy God and be wary of the worldly successful- for their success ends.

Prayer: Lord, today help me to imitate you and not those around me who would lead me away from you.  Help me to understand that my ultimate success lies with you and not simply with the temporary human powers.

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