II CHRONICLES 28:22-25: “Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD. This is that King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25 And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.”
OBSERVATION: Do difficult times always lead people to repentance, or do they simply reveal the true nature of one’s heart? Have you ever talked to someone who said that they were enjoying their life now, but when things get tough or near the end then they will get serious with The Lord? Ahaz, King of Judah, is a perfect example of the fallacy of this idea. Tough times don’t necessarily bring someone to repentance. Rather, tough times really reveal the true nature of someone’s heart and life.
The Lord had allowed Judah to encounter opposition from Syria, Israel, the Edomites, and the Philistines. They had appealed to Assyria to help them, but Assyria refused. Faced with escalating conflict, and without allies, what does Ahaz do? He doubles down on his sin. The text says – “He became increasingly unfaithful to The Lord.” Instead of turning to The Lord in repentance, he turned to the gods of Damascus. Not only did he double down on his idolatry, he also desecrated the Temple and shut its doors. His sin was not only directed toward pursuing what he desired, it was also directed at blocking others from the truth.
Today we live in a culture that is espousing “tolerance”. It is not really tolerance in the true sense of the word. It is tolerance for sin and opposition to the truth of God’s Word. The conventional wisdom of our day is to approve everything that is sinful, and to close down everything that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul writes about in the book of Romans:
“Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32 NKJV)
This is what Ahaz was doing in Judah. This is what the enemy is trying to do in our present day culture. We have a critical choice before us. Do we sit back silently while the world around us cuts in pieces the articles of the house of The Lord and tries to shut up the doors so that no one can come in – or do we allow our lights to shine even more brightly in an ever darkening world? Jesus said a lamp is not made to be put under a bushel. He is calling all of us who profess the name of Jesus as Lord to rise up, in the fullness of His love, in the boldness of the Spirit, and stand against the growing tide of sin and unbelief in our culture. Jesus spoke to the faithful and persecuted church of Smyrna in Revelation 2 and said – “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life?”
Am I willing to stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ – even to the point of death? Will I be like the church of Smyrna or will I be like the nation of Judah as they watched Ahaz close the doors of the Temple? Lord, give me the boldness to stand up for that which is just, to extend Your love and mercy to all, even those who are enemies of the faith, and to walk humbly before You. Let me be willing to count the cost of standing for the truth – even to the point of death. In Jesus Name!