Despicable Practices

from Lynda Lindsey

And he (King Ahaz of Judah) did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, 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. II Kings 16:2(b)-3

Ahaz’s message to the king of Assyria: 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. II Kings 16:7

When Ahaz went to meet Assyria’s king: He (Ahaz) 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. And Uriah the priest built the altar…  II Kings 16:10-11(a)

Generally speaking, kings of the northern kingdom of Israel were more wicked than were the kings in southern Judah, but Judah’s King Ahaz was an exception. Ahaz did not do what was right in the Lord’s eyes as David had done; moreover, Ahaz behaved more odiously than the rulers of the northern kingdom. Ahaz defiled the temple, polluted worship, spurned God’s help, and burned his son as an offering, a despicable “worship” practice adopted from the surrounding pagan nations. The king’s despicable compromises encouraged the belief that the unacceptable was acceptable. 

Participation in a despicable practice is to be actively involved and complicit in something heinous and vile, something detestable and wicked. For governmental and spiritual leaders to embrace the unacceptable as acceptable, to call wrongdoing right, confuses and misleads those under their care. How could a nation who considered the fruit of the womb as God’s reward, a nation who considered children a gift from the Lord’s hands, be so deceived, so depraved, as to willingly place their babies into red-hot fires? 

An unwillingness to be different from those around them and leaders who countenanced evil brought sin and compromise. Ahaz, needing rescue, spurned God’s help and allied himself with pagans. Ahaz called himself a servant, a son, of a pagan king and led people deeper into apostasy. Uriah, unlike the priests in King Uzziah’s day, willingly went along with the travesty. Has the unacceptable become our acceptable? Are we aligned with God or the world? Is our worship pure or despicable? When the Lord returns, will He find us faithful, holy, a people for His own possession?