Wednesday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Kings 16:1-20 (NKJV)
1 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day.
7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me.” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. 9 So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.
10 Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the design of the altar and its pattern, according to all its workmanship. 11 Then Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. So Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz came back from Damascus. 12 And when the king came back from Damascus, the king saw the altar; and the king approached the altar and made offerings on it. 13 So he burned his burnt offering and his grain offering; and he poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14 He also brought the bronze altar which was before the LORD, from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the house of the LORD—and put it on the north side of the new altar. 15 Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, “On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” 16 Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that King Ahaz commanded.
17 And King Ahaz cut off the panels of the carts, and removed the lavers from them; and he took down the Sea from the bronze oxen that were under it, and put it on a pavement of stones. 18 Also he removed the Sabbath pavilion which they had built in the temple, and he removed the king’s outer entrance from the house of the LORD, on account of the king of Assyria.
19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20 So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
In the Books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy the Lord, through Moses, clearly laid out how the children of God were to worship Him, and how He would bless them. It is also clear from the other books of the Old Testament that God’s people seldom worshiped Him as commanded. King Ahaz, in our text, was not concerned about God’s will. Instead, he sacrificed his sons to the false gods. He commanded Urijah, the priest, to set up an altar to the false gods in the temple of the Lord. Ahaz and Urijah both thought they could worship God anyway they wanted.
Today this phenomenon is still going on in churches that are supposedly Christian. We hear it said: “There is only one god—we can worship in any way we choose…or we can call that god by any name we choose…or we can use whatever holy book we choose…or the Bible is the book we choose, but it says whatever we want it to say.” It is very popular today to preach to the “felt needs” of the people. But that has always been true.
“Felt needs” are not necessarily our real needs. “Felt needs” often come from our sinful hearts. But Christ knows our real needs. He sends His pastors to the Church to preach His words of Law and Gospel and to administer His Sacraments. In Baptism our old man is drowned and the new man comes forth. He is then fed and sustained in this new life by God’s Holy Word and the Body and Blood of Christ.
We pray: Lord, give our pastors strength to preach and teach Your Holy Word in its truth and purity, and give us ears to hear You. Amen.