Human Sacrifice: The Apostasy of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16

Our Scripture reading in the books of 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings are parallel records of the same period in Israel and Judah’s history. While the names of the kings and their successors might be difficult, don’t overlook the testimony of God’s sovereignty over the kings and their kingdoms.

The northern ten tribes, known as Israel, whose capital was Samaria, had continued their rebellion and rejection of God’s Covenant, Laws, and Commandments. Judah, the kingdom in the south whose capital was Jerusalem, though blessed with a succession of kings who feared the LORD, was following in the idolatrous steps of her brethren to the north.

2 Chronicles 28 introduces us to a young king named Ahaz, whose reign marked a dramatic spiritual decline. He turned from the LORD (28:1), “and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God” (2 Kings 16:2). Ahaz “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim” (28:2).

Making no pretense of fearing the LORD, The king “walked in the way of the kings of Israel.” Not only did he burn incense to idols, he committed a great wickedness, for he sacrificed “his children in the fire” (28:3b) “according to the abominations of the heathen” (2 Kings 16:3).

King Ahaz’s wickedness accelerated Judah’s spiritual decline and eventual destruction. The LORD removed His blessing, and the kings of Syria and Israel “came up to Jerusalem to war” (2 Kings 16:5). Syria’s king carried away “a great multitude” of Judah (28:5a), and the LORD delivered that nation “into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote [Judah] with a great slaughter” (28:5b).

The depth of wickedness to which Israel had descended is displayed as we read how 120,000 “valiant men” of Judah were slain in a day, and “the children of Israel carried away 200,000, women, sons, and daughters” of their Judean brethren (28:8). Only the intervention and condemnation of a prophet, identified as Oded, deterred Israel from enslaving their own brethren (28:9-15).

When the Edomites invaded Judah, and the Philistines rose up against the king, rather than turn to the LORD, King Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria, and paid him tribute by stripping the Temple and his palace treasuries of gold and silver (28:16-21; 2 Kings 16:7-8).

Judah’s descent into idolatry then rivaled that of Israel, as Ahaz erected altars to the gods of its heathen neighbors (28:22-25; 2 Kings 16:10-16).

Closing thoughts – While the fall of Israel should have served as a warning to Judah, it did not. Judah’s leaders not only turned from the LORD to idols, but the king evidenced his contempt for God by defacing the objects for worshipping Him in the Temple courtyard (2 Kings 16:17-18; 28:22-23).

Tragically, king Ahaz “shut up the doors of the house [Temple] of the LORD, and made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem” (28:24-25). Making a pretense of religion, the king worshiped other gods in every city of Judah, “and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers” (28:25).

Ahaz died, and though he was not buried in the sepulchers of the kings (28:26-27), His reign had led Judah to the brink of God’s judgment and its annihilation as a sovereign nation.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith