OceanSide church of Christ

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Did He Do Wrong?

Victor M. Eskew


          After the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, the kingdom of Israel divided into the northern and southern kingdoms.  Twenty kings reigned in Israel, the northern kingdom.  Twenty kings reigned in Judah, the southern kingdom.  All of the kings of Israel were wicked.  Over and over, it is said of them:  “They departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.”  In the southern kingdom, a few of the kings practiced righteousness.  The majority, however, did evil in the sight of the Lord.

          Ahaz was the twelfth king of Judah.  We read of his reign in II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28.  In this article, we want to look at one of the actions Ahaz took as the monarch and make application of it today.  Let’s first set the stage.  Ahaz had two enemy kings come against his nation, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel (II Kings 16:5).  In fear, Ahaz petitioned Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria for assistance.  He solicited Tiglath-pileser by taking the silver and gold from the house of the Lord and also the treasures from his own house and offering them as a gift to the Assyrian ruler.  Ahaz’s wicked plans worked.  “And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him:  for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin (II Kings 16:9).  After this defeat, Ahaz met Tiglath-pileser in the defeated city of Damascus.

          While in the wicked city of Damascus, Ahaz saw an altar that impressed him greatly.  In fact, he was so smitten with the altar that he “sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.  And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus…” (II Kings 16:10-11).

          When Ahaz came back from Damascus, “he approached to the altar and offered thereon” (II Kings 16:12).  He then “brought also the brazen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar.  And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice:  and the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by” (II Kings 16:14-15).

          The title of our article asks the question:  “Did he do wrong?”  All Ahaz did was add another altar to the service of God.  He did not do away with, or destroy, the old altar.  He merely used a more glorious altar to handle the sacrifices that were offered.  A couple of other things need to be pointed out.  First, there was no specific command that forbad Ahaz from using this new altar.  Second, a priest of God assisted him in both building the altar and sacrificing thereon.  Again, we ask:  “Did Ahaz do wrong?”

          This writer believes that most individuals would admit that Ahaz was wrong for introducing another altar into the service of God.  In this, they would be correct.  II Kings 16:2 sums up the reign of Ahaz with these words:  “…and did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father.”  God did not approve of his actions.  So the answer to our question is:  “Yes, Ahaz was wrong in his actions.”

          What is amazing, however, is that so many individuals today fail to see that much of what is done in the religious world today follows in the fo0tsteps of Ahaz.  The New Testament does not authorize instruments of music in Christian worship, but they have been brought in by most religious groups.  The Word of God does not command us to have an assembly on Saturday night, but churches assemble anyway and partake of the Lord’s Supper and give of their means.  Women in positions of leadership over men in both the worship and organizational structure of the church are not authorized.  Apparently, many have seen this practiced in Assyria, and, like Ahaz, they liked what they saw.  Therefore, many churches have women usurping the authority over the man.  Praise teams, Children’s Church, hand-clapping, raising hands in worship, dimming the lights, drawing pictures of Jesus, and a host of others things are also comparable to the altar of Ahaz.

          Ahaz would have honored God is he had just carried out what God commanded.  The same is true of man today.  Paul wrote:  “And whatsoever ye do in word of deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).  Following God’s designs carefully and specifically will never be wrong (Matt. 7:21).  Adding to His commands, however, is always wrong (Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:6: Rev. 22:18).  If you don’t believe this, just as Ahaz.