Imitating the World
Day: 40 | Plan: 1-2 Kings
Today's Reading: 2 Kings 16
2 Kings 16:3-4 (NIV) "He (Ahaz) followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree."
Perhaps you've heard it said that imitation is a sincere form of flattery. In today's reading, we find the first instance where the kingdom of Judah, under the direction of King Ahaz, imitates Israel's apostasy — and it's not a very flattering chapter. King Ahaz chose to imitate the wrong models in three key areas of his life — personally, politically and in his worship practices.
The first thing we notice is Ahaz followed the wicked example of his peers — the kings of Israel. He watched their lifestyle. He was aware of their sensual practices. Then one day, he began to imitate their evil and implement it in his own personal life. We don't know if Ahaz jumped straight into the deep end of sin or if it was a slow fade for him. But we gasp when we read he sacrificed his own child in the fires of idolatry. (2 Kings 16:2-3)
Intentionally or unintentionally, our gaze will guide us, and we'll become what we behold. Historically, Ahaz had plenty of godly examples, but ultimately the ungodly examples around him enticed him. And Ahaz followed the wrong crowd. (2 Chronicles 28:1-3) One tactic the enemy taunts us with is envy. We look at our peers and others around us, and we want what they have. At that moment — when we begin to covet and compare ourselves to others around us — we lose who God created us to be.
Next, Ahaz mimicked the political ways of the world to ensure the national security of Judah. To protect himself he called for help from the King of Assyria. Ahaz even stooped so low as to steal the silver and gold from the temple to secure his own protection. (v. 8) In making this unholy alliance with Assyria, he sacrificed the nation's relationship with God for the sake of his own safety. (Exodus 34:12; Isaiah 30:1)
Why is it that we tend to be so quick to run to others for help when we find ourselves in trouble? Ahaz had access to the almighty King of Kings, but he chose to put his trust in an earthly king. He was likely scared, so he sought help. But he sought it in the wrong place and submitted to the wrong king. (2 Kings 16:7-8) We can be prone to place our trust in people rather than turning to God, just like Ahaz. We ask others for advice, but don't seek God's counsel. We enlist people to pray, but we never take the time to pray ourselves.
Our behavior echoes Ahaz's any time we turn to others for strength or wisdom or security rather than trusting God's help. Instead, let's choose to follow the ways of King David in our distress and cry out to God first and foremost. (Psalm 18:6; Psalm 3:3-4)
Finally, Ahaz seemed determined to emulate the wicked ways of the world especially in the area of worship. He tragically traded God's prescribed pattern of worship at the altar for the pagan design he saw at Damascus. (2 Kings 16:10-15; 2 Chronicles 28:24)
True worship is all about the object of our worship: God. It's about coming into His holy presence to glorify and honor Him with our whole heart, not pursuing what's comfortable or culturally relevant. True worship is the proper response to God, His person, His worth, His character and His truth. (Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1-2)
Spiritual decline is a slippery slope. It all starts when we stop looking and listening to God and start watching and imitating the world. Ahaz was a man who worked to do evil with both hands. (Micah 7:3) Instead of walking in the way of the Lord and trusting God's Word, Ahaz chose to mimic the wrong models in every area of his life.
I cannot help but imagine what amazing blessings might have been Ahaz's (and ours) if he had submitted, sacrificed and surrendered to God with the same energy and heart he submitted to the King of Assyria and the pagan practices of his day.
Prayer: Lord God, You alone are worthy of our love and loyalty. Have mercy on us for the ways we have allowed the lure of the world to captivate our affections. Reveal to us the specific areas where we are prone to follow the wrong example and point us in the direction of repentance and truth. Raise up godly examples in our lives. Renew our minds and revive our hearts according to Your Word. By Your Spirit graciously fill us with a pure and holy devotion for You. In Jesus' name, amen.
There is so much more to the story of Ahaz than just what we read in today's chapter. In Isaiah... Read More
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