Reading: 2 Kings 15-16; 2 Chronicles 26:3-23; 28:8-15
Summary: Azariah becomes king of Judah following his father’s death. He is also called by the name Uzziah. His is quite a lengthy reign (52 years) and though he begins very well and God blesses him and the nation greatly, he also follows the pattern of both his father and grandfather, falling away from God. The Chronicles record provides the details of his sinful pride and consequent leprosy. So even prior to his death, his son, Jotham, began to reign alongside his father (called a co-regency). Jotham proved faithful, but his son Ahaz did not and turned from God, even modeling the altar of the gods of the Assyrians and having it constructed and replaced with it the altar in the temple of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, in Israel, the dynasty of Jehu comes to an end with the assassination of Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II. What follows is a series of coups in which one challenger to the throne after another seized power through assassination. It begins with Shallum and is followed by Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah. The end for Israel is drawing very near.
The Bible is So Backwards
Of all the wicked kings, both in Israel and Judah, nothing like this is said about any other. Concerning Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father) we read that “he brought about a lack of restraint in Judah” (2 Chronicles 28:19; NASB).
It is interesting to see the various ways different translations handle this statement. It ranges from “he had made Judah act sinfully” (ESV, with a footnote of “wildly”), to “unleashed an epidemic of depravity” (The Message, technically a paraphrase, not a translation), to “he made Judah naked” (KJV), to “he had given up all self-control in Judah” (BBE).
There is a direct correlation between sin and self-restraint (rather the lack of it). But self-restraint isn’t high on many people’s priority list. Self-indulgence, though, is a different story. A popular philosophy of life (the most popular?) is that happiness, joy, and contentment are found in the pursuit of personal pleasure and desire. If I want it, there’s only one sensible response; right?
Not surprisingly, God and the Bible say something different. It’s not self-indulgence, it’s self-control; it isn’t self-serving, it’s self-denial (Gal. 5:23; Luke 9:23). As counterintuitive as that may sound, just think of Jesus. His entire existence was not about pursuing His own will, but God’s; it was not to be served but to serve (Matthew 26:39; Mark 10:45)
The Bible just always seems to have things backward; the way to exaltation is humility (Jas. 4:10), the way to get is to give (Luke 6:38), and the way to gain is to lose (Matt. 16:25).
As Ahaz proved, throwing off all restraints may seem like the path to pleasure and enjoyment, it really only leads to enslavement and misery.