In the time of his distress, King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD.
I. INFATUATION. He robbed the palace and even plundered the temple in order to bribe the King of Assyria to help him, instead of going to the house of the Lord as a servant and suppliant of Jehovah, to seek and find his help. That is to say, he committed robbery and sacrilege in order to secure the succour of a man who afterwards deceived and defrauded him (ver. 21), when, by simple piety and integrity, he might have secured the aid of Omnipotence, the help of One that never fails his people. His course was one of utter infatuation. He neglected the one way that was quite open to him, and that would certainly have succeeded; he adopted a measure that was full of iniquity, and that was likely to end, as it did, in failure. He put the finishing stroke to his fatuity when he worshipped "the gods which smote him" (ver. 23). Sin does lead down to infatuation, it leads men to seek their joy and their heritage in the poorest and most unsatisfying springs, to pursue wisdom and wealth in directions where emptiness and poverty are alone to be obtained; it leads men to neglect the Fountain of living waters, the Source of all truth and wisdom, of all excellency and joy. It strews the path of the guilty with melancholy failures.
II. DEFIANCE. Ahaz could hardly go further in defying the Lord God of his fathers, the Divine One whom he was taught and trained to worship, than he did by his conduct as here described (vers. 24, 25). It was an act of unholy hardihood, of almost desperate defiance, that could only be the outcome of a guilty obduracy of spirit. He must have resented the action of Jehovah and determined to go all possible lengths in defying his authority. Well might the spirit of Isaiah be aroused as he witnessed this profanation, this open and daring rebellion against the living God. When men have long given way to their folly and to their sinful inclinations they do sometimes go to this awful length. They defy the God that made them, in whose power they stand. They may deny his existence; they may mock at his judgments, and at his final condemnation of their course; they may speak arrogantly and impiously of his power and of his rule: "How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?" (Psalm 73:11).
III. DEATH. Ahaz went down to an early and a dishonoured death (ver. 27). We do not wonder that he died before he reached the age of forty. The disasters he brought upon his country, and the mental strain which he must have undergone to proceed to such lengths of impiety, are enough to account for a premature decline and death. And all the better instincts of that instructed people led them to refuse the funereal honour they usually paid to their kings. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The issue of all sin is death - physical, spiritual, eternal. This is its wages. Let those who are moving down its sad decline take note of the end to which they move. But let us realize that to all who will turn from its enticements and break from its evil power, to all who will accept the supreme gift of God in Jesus Christ, "eternal life" is open (Romans 6:23). - C.
I. AHAZ WAS THE SON OF A PIOUS KING OF JUDAH.
And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord.I. I suppose that you have set your heart upon some CHERISHED DESIGN — that you have dwelt upon it to such a degree as to neglect for it many social duties and all your thoughts of God. You have missed attaining it, and are deeply disappointed. If you have not learned thenceforward to strive more soberly, to plant and sow, and build and labour, and not look for success without uttering, "Father, if it seem good to Thee, nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt"; if you are still engaged in the same projects with the same temper, or one even more infatuated — then distress has been sent to you in vain: you are sacrificing to the gods that smote you; trespassing yet more against the Lord.
II. Suppose that you have been SMITTEN WITH SOME DISEASE, mental or bodily — the not unnatural, consequence of dissipation or thoughtlessness, or perverseness, or the like. If you have not learned from God's displeasure; if you have not resolved that with renewed health you would walk in newness of life; if you have returned to your old sins with new zest from being for a time debarred from them — then the distress which God sent you has hardened and not softened you. You are worshipping the idols of your own hearts with a devotion which it will be more difficult than ever to displace.
III. Or, in conclusion, suppose that you HAVE GIVEN WAY TO ILL-TEMPER, and that God has punished you by alienation of friends, by retaliation on the part of ill-wishers, by distrust on the part of all. Has this set you upon governing the impetuousness of passion, or checking the reproachful word? Or have you merely turned your spirit into some more unkindly channel — moroseness, peevishness, misanthropy? If so, distress and chastisement have not done their proper work upon you. Like Ahaz you are going on to trespass yet more against the Lord.
Monday Club Sermons.I. A CONSPICUOUS EXAMPLE OF PERSISTENT WICKEDNESS. He pushed on in face of many and powerful barriers placed in his way.
1. He had a godly ancestry. "Oh, sir," said an aged sinner who came to his minister in great distress, "to think of my father's and mother's prayers, and then of the vile wretch that I have been!"
2. It would seem that other like influences continued to surround Ahaz in his own palace. The mother of his son Hezekiah was the daughter of the wise and good Zechariah.
3. God often makes use of goodness to bring men to repentance. He tried this upon Ahaz. In a time of peril and alarm Isaiah was commissioned to "say unto him, Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted."
4. When goodness fails, it is God's way to try severity.
II. WHAT CAME OF ALL THIS?
1. The king's life was one of ill, not of good.
2. Ahaz brought ill upon others: "He made Judah naked." "If," says Dr. South, "a man could be wicked and a villain to himself alone, the mischief would be so much the more tolerable. But the case is much otherwise. The guilt of the crime lights upon one, but the example of it sways a multitude. Especially is this true if the criminal be one of note or eminence. For the fall of such an one by any temptation is like that of a principal stone or stately pillar tumbling from a lofty eminence into the deep mire of the street. It does not only plunge and sink into the black dirt itself: it also dashes or bespatters all that are about it, or near it, when it falls."
3. In character and influence Ahaz went from bad to worse.
4. He went to an unhonoured and hopeless grave.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
II. FOR HIS WICKEDNESS GOD VISITED HIM WITH A SERIES OF SAD CALAMITIES.
III. We see here THE GUILT AND DANGER OF HARDENING OURSELVES UNDER GOD'S AFFLICTING HAND.
IV. THOSE WHO RECEIVE AFFLICTIONS MAY GROW MORE REBELLIOUS UNDER THEM.
V. THE GUILT OF ANY APPROACH TO SUCH A CONDITION MAY BE EASILY SEEN.
VI. IT BECOMES US TO INQUIRE, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE EFFECTS OF GOD'S CHASTENINGS UPON OURSELVES?
(W. H. Lewis, D.D.)
1. To humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand.
2. To ascribe righteousness to Him by confessing our sins and acknowledging the justice of His dealings with us.
3. To return to Him by Jesus Christ.
4. To cleave to Him with full purpose of heart.
5. To submit to His will.
6. To depend upon His grace and power.
7. To walk in His ways.
(W. Richardson.)I. THAT A COURSE OR SIN IS CONTINUALLY DOWNWARD. Sin propagates itself, but is not reformatory.
II. THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL IN CHECKING MEN IN THIS DOWNWARD COURSE. God ever seeks by His providence and Spirit to turn men from an evil course which will end in ruin.
III. THAT IF MEN WILL NOT BE CHECKED IN AN EVIL COURSE, THEY MAY BECOME NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF PUNISHMENT.
Biblical Museum.1. Evil habits strengthen by indulgence.
2. The world increases its power over its votaries as they advance in life.
3. Sinners in mature years lose the perception of religious truth.
4. There is a limit to Divine endurance.
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