28 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the Lord’s sight like his ancestor David, 2 for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made cast images of the Baals. 3 He burned incense in Ben Hinnom Valley and burned his children in[a] the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. 4 He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 So the Lord his God handed Ahaz over to the king of Aram. He attacked him and took many captives to Damascus.
Ahaz was also handed over to the king of Israel, who struck him with great force: 6 Pekah son of Remaliah killed one hundred twenty thousand in Judah in one day—all brave men—because they had abandoned the Lord God of their ancestors. 7 An Ephraimite warrior named Zichri killed the king’s son Maaseiah, Azrikam governor of the palace, and Elkanah who was second to the king. 8 Then the Israelites took two hundred thousand captives from their brothers—women, sons, and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder from them and brought it to Samaria.
9 A prophet of the Lord named Oded was there. He went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Look, the Lord God of your ancestors handed them over to you because of his wrath against Judah, but you slaughtered them in a rage that has reached heaven. 10 Now you plan to reduce the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, to slavery. Are you not also guilty before the Lord your God? 11 Listen to me and return the captives you took from your brothers, for the Lord’s burning anger is on you.”
12 So some men who were leaders of the Ephraimites—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—stood in opposition to those coming from the war. 13 They said to them, “You must not bring the captives here, for you plan to bring guilt on us from the Lord to add to our sins and our guilt. For we have much guilt, and burning anger is on Israel.”
14 The army left the captives and the plunder in the presence of the officers and the congregation. 15 Then the men who were designated by name took charge of the captives and provided clothes for their naked ones from the plunder. They clothed them, gave them sandals, food and drink, dressed their wounds, and provided donkeys for all the feeble. The Israelites brought them to Jericho, the City of Palms, among their brothers. Then they returned to Samaria.
16 At that time King Ahaz asked the king of Assyria for help. 17 The Edomites came again, attacked Judah, and took captives. 18 The Philistines also raided the cities of the Judean foothills[b] and the Negev of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, and Gederoth, as well as Soco, Timnah, and Gimzo with their surrounding villages. 19 For the Lord humbled Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah,[c] who threw off restraint in Judah and was unfaithful to the Lord. 20 Then King Tiglath-pileser[d] of Assyria came against Ahaz; he oppressed him and did not give him support. 21 Although Ahaz plundered the Lord’s temple and the palace of the king and of the rulers and gave the plunder to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.
22 At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him; he said, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram are helping them, I will sacrifice to them so that they will help me.” But they were the downfall of him and of all Israel.
24 Then Ahaz gathered up the utensils of God’s temple, cut them into pieces, shut the doors of the Lord’s temple, and made himself altars on every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 He made high places in every city of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and he angered the Lord, the God of his ancestors.
26 As for the rest of his deeds and all his ways, from beginning to end, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 27 Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city, in Jerusalem, but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah became king in his place.
2 Kings 16-17
16 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God like his ancestor David 3 but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire,[a] imitating the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. 4 He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 Then Aram’s King Rezin and Israel’s King Pekah son of Remaliah came to wage war against Jerusalem. They besieged Ahaz but were not able to conquer him. 6 At that time Aram’s King Rezin recovered Elath for Aram and expelled the Judahites from Elath. Then the Arameans came to Elath, and they still live there today.
7 So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. March up and save me from the grasp of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” 8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold found in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the king’s palace and sent them to the king of Assyria as a bribe. 9 So the king of Assyria listened to him and marched up to Damascus and captured it. He deported its people to Kir but put Rezin to death.
10 King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Ahaz sent a model of the altar and complete plans for its construction to the priest Uriah. 11 Uriah built the altar according to all the instructions King Ahaz sent from Damascus. Therefore, by the time King Ahaz came back from Damascus, the priest Uriah had completed it. 12 When the king came back from Damascus, he saw the altar. Then he approached the altar and ascended it.[b] 13 He offered his burnt offering and his grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splattered the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. 14 He took the bronze altar that was before the Lord in front of the temple between his altar and the Lord’s temple, and put it on the north side of his altar.
15 Then King Ahaz commanded the priest Uriah, “Offer on the great altar the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering. Also offer the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings. Splatter on the altar all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of sacrifice. The bronze altar will be for me to seek guidance.”[c] 16 The priest Uriah did everything King Ahaz commanded.
17 Then King Ahaz cut off the frames of the water carts[d] and removed the bronze basin from each of them. He took the basin[e] from the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pavement. 18 To satisfy the king of Assyria, he removed from the Lord’s temple the Sabbath canopy they had built in the palace, and he closed the outer entrance for the king.
19 The rest of the events of Ahaz’s reign, along with his accomplishments, are written in the Historical Record of Judah’s Kings. 20 Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David, and his son Hezekiah became king in his place.
Israel’s King Hoshea
17 In the twelfth year of Judah’s King Ahaz, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him.
3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked him, and Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. 4 But the king of Assyria caught Hoshea in a conspiracy: He had sent envoys to So king of Egypt and had not paid tribute to the king of Assyria as in previous years.[f] Therefore the king of Assyria arrested him and put him in prison. 5 The king of Assyria invaded the whole land, marched up to Samaria, and besieged it for three years.
The Fall of Samaria
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, along the Habor (Gozan’s river), and in the cities of the Medes.
Why Israel Fell
7 This disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they worshiped[g] other gods. 8 They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and according to what the kings of Israel did. 9 The Israelites secretly did things[h] against the Lord their God that were not right. They built high places in all their towns from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They burned incense there on all the high places just like the nations that the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did evil things, angering the Lord. 12 They served idols, although the Lord had told them, “You must not do this.” 13 Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commands and statutes according to the whole law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through my servants the prophets.”
14 But they would not listen. Instead they became obstinate like[i] their ancestors who did not believe the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his statutes and his covenant he had made with their ancestors and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves, following the surrounding nations the Lord had commanded them not to imitate.
16 They abandoned all the commands of the Lord their God. They made cast images for themselves, two calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed in worship to all the stars in the sky and served Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire[j] and practiced divination and interpreted omens. They devoted themselves to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight and angered him.
18 Therefore, the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained. 19 Even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God but lived according to the customs Israel had practiced. 20 So the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, punished them, and handed them over to plunderers until he had banished them from his presence.
Summary of Israel’s History
21 When the Lord tore Israel from the house of David, Israel made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam led Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit grave sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins that Jeroboam committed and did not turn away from them. 23 Finally, the Lord removed Israel from his presence just as he had declared through all his servants the prophets. So Israel has been exiled to Assyria from their homeland to this very day.
Foreign Refugees in Israel
24 Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in place of the Israelites in the cities of Samaria. The settlers took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 When they first lived there, they did not fear the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 The settlers said to the king of Assyria, “The nations that you have deported and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them that are killing them because the people don’t know the requirements of the god of the land.”
27 Then the king of Assyria issued a command: “Send back one of the priests you deported. Have him go and live there so he can teach them the requirements of the god of the land.” 28 So one of the priests they had deported came and lived in Bethel, and he began to teach them how they should fear the Lord.
29 But the people of each nation were still making their own gods in the cities where they lived and putting them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had made. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They feared the Lord, but they also made from their ranks priests for the high places, who were working for them at the shrines of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord, but they also worshiped their own gods according to the practice of the nations from which they had been deported.
34 They are still observing the former practices to this day. None of them fear the Lord or observe the statutes and ordinances, the law and commandments that the Lord had commanded the descendants of Jacob, whom he had given the name Israel. 35 The Lord made a covenant with Jacob’s descendants and commanded them, “Do not fear other gods; do not bow in worship to them; do not serve them; do not sacrifice to them. 36 Instead fear the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm. You are to bow down to him, and you are to sacrifice to him. 37 You are to be careful always to observe the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandments he wrote for you; do not fear other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant that I have made with you. Do not fear other gods, 39 but fear the Lord your God, and he will rescue you from all your enemies.”
40 However, these nations would not listen but continued observing their former practices. 41 They feared the Lord but also served their idols. Still today, their children and grandchildren continue doing as their ancestors did.
In the reading today we read this paragraph: 21 When the Lord tore Israel from the house of David, Israel made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam led Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit grave sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins that Jeroboam committed and did not turn away from them. 23 Finally, the Lord removed Israel from his presence just as he had declared through all his servants the prophets. So Israel has been exiled to Assyria from their homeland to this very day.
I want that to sink in for just a moment. Israel had sinned to a point where God’s judgment was to send them into exile in Assyria. The persisted in their sin long enough that God had had enough. Where is this point? I’m unsure. One thing I am sure of though, no matter how far we stray, God is faithful to forgive us and heal us if we will repent and turn back to Him. Allow Him to show you where you are in need of repentance today and then act upon the Holy Spirit’s conviction in your life. You will not be disappointed if you do.