II Kings 15:
1 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign.
2 He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.
3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.
4 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.
5 And the LORD touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land.
6 Now the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
7 And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.
In continuation of these chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah, we now come to king of Judah Azariah the son of Amaziah, whose mother’s name was the LORD’s power of Jerusalem (Jecoliah), doing what was right in accordance with his father’s name. Yet, he became a leper thorugh his own arrogance, fully described in 2 Chronicles 26:16-20. Although defeating the Philistines by seeking the LORD (2 Chronicles 26:6-15), given much strength and wisdom, his pride preceded him and led him to inappropriately burn incense on the altar of incense – forgetting that despite his righteous acts, he – like us – are born as sinful men. Only the sons of Aaron are consecrated to do the job of burning incense; only the Messiah, the Priest-King, can do this. Thus he decided his own future as the leper king:
“16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor,
18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.”
19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense.
20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.”
Thus the king’s son Jotham, perfection of the LORD, reigned in Uzziah / Azariah’s place.
8 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months.
9 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him down at Ibleam and put him to death and reigned in his place.
11 Now the rest of the deeds of Zechariah, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
12 (This was the promise of the LORD that he gave to Jehu, “Your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” And so it came to pass.)
Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, walked in the sins of Jeroboam (in similar fashion to the kings of Israel), ending the bloodline of Jehu on the throne of Israel. This is in fulfillment of the prophecy to king Jehu, the ancestor of Zechariah (2 Kings 10:30), whose kingdom shall not reign forever due to his sins at Jezreel (Hosea 1:4), unlike the Messianic kingdom (2 Samuel 7:13). The bloody coups of these kings of Israel, the supposed priesthood to all nations, is now becoming more often – such conspiracies repeating itself time and time again (v.10; v.14). The violence also knows no bound – the conspirator against the conspirator, ripping open all the women in it who were pregnant because of Tiphsah’s refusal to open to the dictatorial king of Israel (v.16):
13 Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria.
14 Then Menahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Samaria and put him to death and reigned in his place.
15 Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, and the conspiracy that he made, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
16 At that time Menahem sacked Tiphsah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on, because they did not open it to him. Therefore he sacked it, and he ripped open all the women in it who were pregnant.
17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem the son of Gadi began to reign over Israel, and he reigned ten years in Samaria.
18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
19 Pul the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he might help him to confirm his hold on the royal power.
20 Menahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy men, fifty shekels of silver from every man, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back and did not stay there in the land.
21 Now the rest of the deeds of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
22 And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son reigned in his place.
Menahem was not a king who followed Christ; he was a king who followed his flesh, securing his royal power through ungodly alliances with the king of Assyria, exacting the money from his body, his people (v.18-20). Unsurprisingly, Pekahiah (“eyes opened by the LORD” walked in the same sins:
23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years.
24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
25 And Pekah the son of Remaliah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty men of the people of Gilead, and struck him down in Samaria, in the citadel of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; he put him to death and reigned in his place.
26 Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Irony that the son of the conspirator (Menahem) against the conspirator (Shallum) is now in turn conspired against by Pekah, the son of Remaliah – Pekahiah’s captain! Such is the failed ungodly leadership that conspiracies and falsehood reign more than the kingdom of heaven on earth. The open-eyed one, destroyed the one whose eyes were opened by the LORD – irony upon irony. Yet, the pattern of these kings is that though they walk in the sins of Jeroboam, they still seek the LORD’s blessings through their names. Yet, it is Immanuel who will bear the true Name that brings blessings upon Israel, granting peace with neighbours (Exodus 23:21). The conspiracies (fourth one this chapter) thus continue through Hoshea, son of Elah (v.30):
27 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah the son of Remaliah began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years.
28 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.
29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and he carried the people captive to Assyria.
30 Then Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah and struck him down and put him to death and reigned in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.
31 Now the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
In a fresh change of perspective, we turn back to the kings of Judah – free of conspiracies now, Jotham the son of Uzziah and Jerusha (daughter of righteousness, Zadok, the LORD’s possession) walks with Christ, his life described more fully in 2 Chronicles 27. Yet, although Jotham walked ever so briefly in the LORD’s presence, Judah is now subject to what would soon become the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity of the chosen nation – subject of much of the prophetic books in the remainder of the Old Testament:
32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, began to reign.
33 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok.
34 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done.
35 Nevertheless, the high places were not removed. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD.
36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
37 In those days the LORD began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.
38 Jotham slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Ahaz his son reigned in his place.
II Kings 16:
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 began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done,
3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.
4 And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.
Note that “walking in the way of the kings of Israel” is already a proverb in itself, the kings of Judah distinguishing themselves by doing what is right in the LORD’s eyes – walking in the way of David the type of Christ. Such is the king of Israel, the false leader who would burn his son as an offering (c.f. Leviticus 18:21; 20:2) according to the despicable practices of the Christ-less neighbours. Thus, the king of Israel and the Syrians come to possess the land of Elath from the possessor Ahaz. The work of Azariah is thus undone (2 Kings 14:22), for the LORD is not helping the kings of Judah as He did Azariah. Yet, Israel’s union with Syria against Judah too is an act of disobedience despite God using them to humble Judah (2 Chronicles 28:8-15):
“8 The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria.
9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven.
10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God?
11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.”
12 Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war
13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.”
14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly.
15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.”
5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him.
6 At that time Rezin the king of Syria recovered Elath for Syria and drove the men of Judah from Elath, and the Edomites came to Elath, where they dwell to this day.
Yet, instead of turning back to Christ, Ahaz turns to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria. What blasphemy and heresy! “I am your servant and your son” – indeed, the follower of Satan is indeed his son (John 8:44)! What is the LORD’s is now given to the king of Assyria!
7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.”
8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.
9 And the king of Assyria listened to him. The king of Assyria marched up against Damascus and took it, carrying its people captive to Kir, and he killed Rezin.
The victory is thus not the LORD’s – but the victory is that of Tiglath-pileser, overcoming the king of Syria with the sword rather than the love of the Father poured out through Christ. The treasures found in the house of the LORD (v.8) was exchanged for the model of the pagan altar, its pattern and details (v.10). Christ worship is exchanged for Satan worship:
10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details.
11 And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Uriah the priest made it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus.
12 And when the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near to the altar and went up on it
13 and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering and poured his drink offering and threw the blood of his peace offerings on the altar.
14 And the bronze altar that was before the LORD he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the LORD, and put it on the north side of his altar.
15 And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, “On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.”
16 Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded.
The offerings were thus made on the altar of Damascus, the bronze altar of the Temple of the LORD removed from the front of the house and instead was placed on the north side of this false altar (v.14), quietly ignored. It was thus removed from the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite where Jesus stood (2 Samuel 24). See the extent of his idolatry in 2 Chronicles 28:
“22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz.
23 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.
24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces 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.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.”
17 And King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands and removed the basin from them, and he took down the sea from off the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pedestal.
18 And the covered way for the Sabbath that had been built inside the house and the outer entrance for the king he caused to go around the house of the LORD, because of the king of Assyria.
19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?
20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
Because of the king of Assyria, he modified the temple structure and closed the way to the Holy Place, forcing idol worship in the heart of Jerusalem. Note Matthew Henry’s view of Ahaz’ acts of degradation:
“He removed the covert for the sabbath, erected either in honour of the sabbath or for the conveniency of the priests, when, on the sabbath, they officiated in greater numbers than on other days. Whatever it was, it should seem that in removing it he intended to put a contempt upon the sabbath, and so to open as wide an inlet as any to all manner of impiety. 3. The king’s entry, which led to the house of the Lord, for the convenience of the royal family (perhaps that ascent which Solomon had made, and which the queen of Sheba admired, 1 Kings x. 5), he turned another way, to show that he did not intend to frequent the house of the Lord any more. This he did for the king of Assyria, to oblige him, who perhaps returned his visit, and found fault with this entry, as an inconvenience and disparagement to his palace. When those that have had a ready passage to the house of the Lord, to please their neighbours, turn it another way, they are going down the hill apace towards their ruin.”
Israel is, indeed, entering its darkest time.