The force of Romans 4: 1– 8 is hard to overstate. Those who trust their very selves to divine mercy are the ones “to whom God counts righteousness” (v. 6). Those who trust God’s provision of sacrifice are “those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (v. 7), for “the Lord will not count [their] sin” (v. 8). It is the wholehearted entrusting of oneself to God that will result in pardon on the day of judgment.
This kind of faith is quite confrontational, because it requires a heart response. Comparing faith in Christ’s sacrifice to those living under the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, it took faith to actually believe that God accounted one’s sin to the animal. Imagine standing over a young bull with a repentant heart concerning sins common to humankind. After laying your hands upon the animal and killing it, what has changed? The memory of the sin still remains. The effect upon family and friends still remains. Faith was demanded of the worshiper to trust and believe that God truly accounted the sin forgiven. – John P. Harrigan, The Gospel of Christ Crucified: A Theology of Suffering before Glory
One more bad King of Judah, then tomorrow we get to King Hezekiah…
Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done, but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made metal images for the Baals, and he made offerings in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom and burned his sons as an offering, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree (II Chronicles 28:1-4 ESV).
Ahaz was one of the most ungodly kings who ever ruled over Judah. Making images for the Baals was a characteristic iniquity of Israel, but Judah had not previously been guilty of such during the recent past.
Therefore the LORD his God gave him into the hand of the king of Syria, who defeated him and took captive a great number of his people and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who struck him with great force. For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed 120,00 from Judah on one day, all of them men of valor, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers (II Chronicles 28:5-6 ESV).
Judah was cast out exactly as the pagans of old, just as they had been warned.
At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. For the Edomites had again invaded and defeated Judah and carried away captives. And the Philistines had made raids on the cities on the Shephelah and the Negeb of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages. And they settled there. For the LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD (II Chronicles 28:16-19 ESV).
After all the problems of being defeated by both Syria and Israel, still, Ahaz would not seek the LORD, but, instead, he would lean on the arm of a pagan man.
So Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. For Ahaz took a portion from the house of the LORD and the house of the king of the princes, and gave tribute to the king of Assyria, but it did not help him (II Chronicles 28:20-21 ESV).
Ahaz’s efforts to get the king of Assyria to help him only resulted in them walking on him, so to speak. They took advantage of him, knowing that he could not do anything about it.
In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel (II Chronicles 28:22-23 ESV).
The troubles of Ahaz did not bring him closer to God but further away. He honored the gods of his oppressors, seeking their help in his time of need.
And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers. Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem, for they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son reigned in his place (II Chronicles 28:24-27 ESV).
Ahaz led the people into the worship of false gods. He made it a national phenomenon and practice. When he died, he was not given the honor of burial with the other kings. Fortunately, his son would be a righteous king. We will start with the revival of worship of Jehovah God under King Hezekiah tomorrow…
In Judah is God known: His Name is great in Israel. In Salem also is His Tabernacle, and His Dwelling Place in Zion. There broke He the arrows of the bows, the shield and sword, and the battle. You are more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep; and none of the men of might have fought their hands. At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. You, even You, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your sight when once you are angry? (Psalm 76:1-7 KJV).