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I Did It My Way

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! Scriptures: 2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28, Isaiah 7


2 Kings 16:1 ¶ In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.  2  Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God.  3  He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in {Or even made his son pass through} the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.  4  He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.  5 ¶ Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz, but they could not overpower him.  6  At that time, Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram by driving out the men of Judah. Edomites then moved into Elath and have lived there to this day.  7  Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, "I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel who are attacking me."  8  And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria.  9  The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.  10 ¶ Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction.  11  So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned.  12  When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings {Or and went up} on it.  13  He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his fellowship offerings {Traditionally peace offerings} on the altar.  14  The bronze altar that stood before the LORD he brought from the front of the temple--from between the new altar and the temple of the LORD--and put it on the north side of the new altar.  15  King Ahaz then gave these orders to Uriah the priest: "On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king's burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Sprinkle on the altar all the blood of the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance."  16  And Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.  17 ¶ King Ahaz took away the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base.  18  He took away the Sabbath canopy {Or the dais of his throne (see Septuagint)} that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entrance outside the temple of the LORD, in deference to the king of Assyria.  19  As for the other events of the reign of Ahaz, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?  20  Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried with them in the City of David. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.


 

1.      Ahaz was a religious man.  Often people take a beating these days for calling themselves religious.  While it is true that being religious or “having a bent” towards God is not sufficient, at least he was committed to something.  I wonder how the commitment level of the average believer compares to other things in life that people are committed to?

2.      “He saw an altar” – v. 10.  Just as we are today, Ahaz seems to have been somewhat of an acquirer.  Something caught his eye – a religious symbol that he preferred over what he had. What sort of things catch your eye?

3.      He liked this altar better than the bronze altar that he had at home.  What was the bronze altar fashioned for? It was 4’ square, made of acacia wood and overlaid in bronze.  It was the O.T. symbol for the work of Christ.  It was aclarion call for repentance.  In the outer courtyard of the temple it was front and center, the first thing that you saw.  It represented our basis for approaching God.

4.      It was a substitute for the bronze altar and he decided that he would have it pushed to one side and replaced with the new one. Now Ahaz saw something that he liked better.  In other words, he symbolically was sidestepping the altar of repentance by replacing it with the altar of success and power.

Why is it so difficult for us to admit personal fault, guilt, responsibility.  We will look for most any other route other than that.  We’ll blame others for our state or condition but rarely will we look at ourselves first in any situation.  It’s always someone else’s fault.  Do we find ourselves coming to God trying to push past the repentance issue and convince him of our goodness.  Grace is found in our faith when we realize that despite what we may have done – God loves us.

5.      Ahaz was a religious sentimentalist.  He came from a family that was nominally devoted to God.  He had a traditional respect for the things of God.  Enough so that he didn’t throw away the old altar – he just shoved it aside.  This is a call to parents to do more than teach your children propriety relative to faith.  You may be able to pass on the protocol – many do.  What needs to be passed on is passion.  Your children will not be passionate about God unless you are.  They will grow up to reproduce your patterns unless acted upon by some outside source.

6.      Why did he choose the new altar?  It represented success to him.  He was there paying homage or tribute to a foreign king for his protection.  Where do you look first for protection in your life?

7.      He decided that he would redefine the old altar.  He would use it to “get” guidance.  Worship through the O.T. system of sacrifice called people to give rather than to get.  When people came to the house of God things died.  Sunday AM worship today is a far cry from that.  We come to church to get and many times leave disappointed.  It has become a spectator sport.  The worth of a service today is based on the success of the communicator behind the pulpit of the choice of songs that a minister of music makes.  If the preacher didn’t quite make it then the service was boring.  If I didn’t like all the songs then something was missing or lacking.  How can we demonstrate the giving spirit?  By being here? – NO!  There is no great particularly great act of devotion in being on the right piece of real estate on Sunday AM.  You have to become God seekers.  You have to come with empty hands and hungry hearts and a humble spirit when you look for God. (publican and the sinner) Have you stopped to consider today that God wants you today.  He wants to communicate with you.

8.   There is no record that Ahaz ever sought God’s guidance.

Isaiah 7:1 ¶ When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.  2  Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with {Or has set up camp in} Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.  3  Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, {Shear-Jashub means a remnant will return.} to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field.  4  Say to him, `Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smouldering stubs of firewood--because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.  5  Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying,  6  "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it."  7  Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "`It will not take place, it will not happen,  8  for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.  9  The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah's son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.'"  10 ¶ Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,  11  "Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."  12  But Ahaz said, "I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test."  13  Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also?

Application:

1.      Do you want God’s help in your life?  Develop a habit of going to him first.  Sometimes we need to get out on the limb for God where we and God knows that we know that He is the only answer.  A place where we trust him without recourse.

2.      Running to God in times of trouble when our back is against the wall ought not to be the pattern.  If we have not learned to worship Him and thus recognize His sovereignty and our dependency when things are good then it is almost unfair to blame Him when things go wrong or to expect Him to hear us in our desperate times.  You know the amazing thing though.  I believe that the heart of God does not withhold help when his children cry out to Him.  Sometimes the help is not the answer we are looking for though.  (broken branch)

3.      Don’t look for alternate routes to the heart of God.  We come to Him having no good thing of our own if we wish to receive.

As children bring their broken toys

With tears for us to mend,

I brought my broken dreams to God,

Because He was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him

In peace, to work alone,

I hung around and tried to help

In ways that were my own.

Finally I took them back and said,

"Dear God, why are you so slow?"

"My child," He said, "what could I do?

You never did let go."

I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number 3 of the accident reporting form, I put, "Poor Planning", as the cause of my accident.  You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient:

   I am a bricklayer by trade.  On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a ten-story building.  When I completed my work, I discovered I had about 500 pounds of bricks left over. Rather than carry them down by hand, I decided to lower them to the ground in a barrel by using a pulley which, fortunately, was attached to the side of the building at the tenth floor.

   Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the roof, loaded the 500 pounds of bricks, then went back down to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks.  (You will note in block 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 135 pounds).  Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forget to let go of the rope.  Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

   In the vicinity of the fifth floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone.

   I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.

   Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.

   At approximately this same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel.  Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 30 pounds.

   I refer you again to my weight in block number 11 of the accident reporting form.  As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

   In the vicinity of the fifth floor, I met that barrel coming up again!  This accounts for the two fractured ankles and lacerations of my legs and lower body.

   The second encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks, and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.

   I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks -- in pain and unable to stand -- watching the empty barrel ten stories above me -- I again lost my presence of mind -- I LET GO OF THE ROPE.

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