Let’s turn to II Kings, chapter sixteen.
And in the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham the king of Judah began to reign (16:1).
Jotham had reigned over Israel, or over Judah rather, the southern kingdom, for sixteen years. He was, had a short lived reign. But it was at the beginning of Jotham’s reign, that Isaiah the prophet began his ministry as a prophet to Judah. So during the reign of Ahaz, Isaiah was active as a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. Isaiah declares, “In the year the king Uzziah died”, which is the Azariah of our text, “I saw the Lord high and lifted up, and his train did fill the temple”. There, beholding the Lord, he realized his own sinfulness. Seeing God, he saw himself, which is always the case. A person who has a true concept, or true grasp, or vision of God, when you really seek God, then you really see yourself, and the effect of that is the tremendous feeling of sin, and guilt. “Then said I, Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
Now, during the reign of Ahaz, there are a couple of chapters, chapters six and seven, of Isaiah, are prophesies that he made during the reign of the king of Ahaz. Ahaz was a wicked king. Up to this point in the history of Judah, he is the most wicked king that they had. He will be exceeded soon in his wickedness, by Manassah. But up to this point, there’s been none worse than Ahaz.
He begins really, the introduction of Baal worship in Judah, and uh, the worship of Molech, the downward trend. Hezekiah, evened it off, and undid some of the evils of his father, however, after the death of Hezekiah, his son Manassah, began the real plunge to the bottom, for the southern tribe of Judah. So Ahaz a very wicked king. We have more about him in II Chronicles. But, he began his reign when Pekah was the king over the northern kingdom of Israel.
He was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for sixteen years in Jerusalem, but he did not that which was right in the sight of Jehovah his god, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, [Which was about the worst thing you could say about a man, because the kings of Israel were exceedingly sinful, wicked kings.] yes, he made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel (16:2-3).
Now we made mention this morning of this pagan practice, in the ancient world, of the sacrifice of your children unto your gods. Both in the worship of Baal, and in the worship of Molech, they both involved the sacrifice of children. Unwanted children. Some say, children that a person really wanted to make a great offering and sacrifice to his god, he would sacrifice his child. But, uh, they, they would make these images of Molech, or Baal, and both, as I said, religions involve child sacrifice.
They have found one image of Molech. A great iron image that was hollow inside. The evidence is that they built the fire inside of the image, so that it would become glowing hot, red hot, with the fire that was inside. It had very large arms extended, and they would place the little babies in the arms of the image, and burned them to death, as they sacrificed unto their god. Horrible pagan practices. But, this is exactly what this king began to do, in the worship of Molech, there in the valley of Hinnom, he burnt his children, or he cremated his children in offering unto the god Molech. Ahaz, a very wicked king.
He sacrificed and burnt incense in high places, [Now the other kings had allowed these high places. God had said that he should be, the sacrifices should be made in the place that He had appointed, which was at the temple in Jerusalem. But for convenience sake, they had built these high places. Altars in the high tops of the mountains, where they offered sacrifice, and burnt incense. They supposedly were offering sacrifices to Jehovah, and burning incense to Him, but it was not according to the commandment of the Lord, in fact, it was opposed to the commandment of the Lord, and the Lord always looked upon it as a rebellion. But, it’s a religion of convenience. “Don’t bother going all the way to Jerusalem”, you know, “In our neighborhood here, we’ve established a place of worship of Jehovah, and burn your sacrifices here, and your incense here”.
It seems like man is always trying to accommodate man, as far as his religion is concerned, and make your service to God a convenient thing. If it’s convenient, you know serve the Lord. Let your service to God be as pleasurable and convenient as possible. The church is endeavoring to accommodate people. They have made the worship almost entertainment. In some places, it is quite entertaining. Thus it’s, it’s a convenient religion. Don’t inconvenience yourself, don’t really put yourself out to worship the Lord, or to serve the Lord. You seek to accommodate the people, I’ve even read of them giving green stamps, you know the people that come to church, and all. It’s the idea of accommodation, and to lure people to worship God.
Well, I wonder what God thinks about that kind of stuff. David said, “I will not offer anything to God that costs me nothing”. A gift is always measured by the sacrifice that it took to give it. When Jesus watched them casting their money into the treasury, the wealthy people coming by, and putting in their large gifts, sounding trumpets, and calling all kinds of attention, and with great ostentation, dropping their gifts into the treasury, as everybody went, “Ooh”, and “Aah”. Jesus and His disciples watched as little lady came up, a little widow woman, and dropped two mites into the box there, and hurried off. Two mites, about a quarter of a cent. Jesus turned to His disciples, and He said, “Did you see that little woman? She gave more than all of the rest of them”. Because all of the rest of them were giving out of their abundance. Or the Greek word would better be translated, superfluity. Didn’t cost them anything. But she, gave out of her substance, because that’s all she has.
So God measures the gift in a different standard than man. We look at the amount, God looks at the cost, the sacrifice that was involved. A cheap religion, a convenient religion, an accommodating religion, is not what Christianity is. You say, “But I thought the gospel was free!”, yes it is in one sense. It’s free to you, but it cost a lot. It cost God His only begotten Son. But once you commit your life, it costs you your life. It is a commitment of yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It isn’t just the mouthing of the words. It isn’t just the repeating of the apostles creed. It isn’t just a something that we pay verbal homage to, but it means the commitment of myself, my life, to the Lord. “Lord, I’m yours. I belong to you.” The sacrifice, and the giving of myself.
So the children of Israel. This fellow went along, he sacrificed, and burned his incense in these high places, which you remember, all the other kings, though they reformed, it says, “But they did not remove the high places”. It seemed like they just sort of, well, they knew they were there, but they didn’t bother to get rid of them.
This king actually participated in sacrificing and burning incense, in these high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. Then Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah that is the king of [Judah, or,] Israel [the northern kingdom] they came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but they could not overcome him. [However, we do read in Chronicles, that they actually killed 100,000 of his troops, and they took some 240,000 captives. Though they could not take the city itself, they, they did destroy very effectively, the armies of Pekah.]
And at that time Rezin the king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, [Now, the previous king had taken Elath back, which is down in the area of Edom, and the Syrians attacked down in that southern part, whereas Pekah was attacking Judah itself.] and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there until this day. So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser the king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and the gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and he sent it for as a present to the king of [Syria] Assyria (16:4-8).
So he made himself a vassal to the king of Assyria. He’s calling upon him for help, to deliver him from this confederacy of the Syrians and the Israelites, the northern kingdom.
Now, Isaiah gave to Ahaz the word of the Lord, telling him to trust in the Lord, and the Lord would deliver him. At this point, Isaiah was saying, “If you’ll just turn your life over to God, turn this issue over to God, God will deliver you out of it. God will save you”. Ahaz did not listen, but instead turned to the arm of flesh, asking for the king of Assyria to attack Damascus, and attack Samaria, so that these kings would have to withdraw from their attack against him. In doing that, he subjected himself unto the king of Assyria. “I am your son and your servant.” The word servant there, is slave.
Now isn’t it interesting that he is willing to submit himself totally to this pagan king, and yet not willing to submit himself unto God? Isaiah’s saying, “Submit yourself unto the Lord, and the Lord will help you, and the Lord will deliver you”. That is when Isaiah said, “Ask of the Lord, and He will give you a sign. God’s gonna deliver you, if you’ll just turn yourself over to Him. Ask the Lord, He’ll even give you a sign!”, and he said, “I’m not gonna ask for any sign!”.
So, Isaiah said, “Alright, the Lord will give you a sign”. And, there is the beautiful prophecy concerning, “A virgin, shall bring forth a son, and shall call his name Emanuel”. Which interpreted is, God with us. That beautiful prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ. But the king, refusing to submit himself to the authority of God, submits himself to the king of Assyria. Becomes a vassal of the king of Assyria.
And so the king of Assyria hearkened to him: and he sent his troops against Damascus, and he took it, and he carried the people of it captive to Kir, and he slew Rezin the king (16:9).
Now it is interesting that all of this particular history is all recorded in the Assyrian history, which we have discovered many of the Assyrian records, and the inscriptions of the kings at this time, coincide completely with this biblical account. How that Shalmaneser came against Damascus, however at the time that he was attacking Damascus, he was overthrown by Shallum, and so the whole thing though, is tied together from a historic standpoint with secular history, the Assyrian history. It doesn’t prove the bible, the bible proves that the history accounts of Assyria, are correct.
I hate for people to say, “Well this proves the Bible”. No. The Bible proves the other things, they don’t prove the Bible. The Bible doesn’t need any proof. It’s God’s word. You don’t have to prove God’s word. But you find out that other parts of historic accounts are correct, because they coincide with what the Bible says.
And king Ahaz then went up to Damascus to meet [The king of Assyria, to meet,] Tiglathpileser the king of Assyria, and he saw the altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah who was the high priest a drawing of this altar (16:10),
He went up, and he saw the altar of the Assyrians, the Assyrian king. This was a customary thing, when the kings would go to war, they’d take their altars with them, because they were relying upon their gods to deliver them, and to give them victory. This was something that, really it even goes to the modern day. When our men go to war, we pray to God, that God will give us victory over the enemies. We trust in God to help us in the battles, and all. This was common in those days, they would trust in their gods.
The Romans, god of war was Janice, and whenever the Roman troops were out in combat, the gates of the temple of Janice were opened, and the people would go in and pray to Janice, the god of war, that he would give success to the Roman legions, as they were battling against the enemies. So the kings would carry their altars with them, into the areas of battle.
Here, Tiglathpileser had brought his altar, and when Ahaz saw this altar, it fascinated him. So, and perhaps thinking, “Well he must have a powerful god, because his god delivered Syria into his hands, so he must be serving a pretty powerful God”. Thus, he ordered Urijah the priest to make an altar that was similar to it. He drew it out, he drew out the designs and all, and he sent it down to Urijah. He says, “I want you to make me an altar like this.
And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so that Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz who came from Damascus. And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and he approached the altar, and he offered a sacrifice upon it. And he burn his burnt offering, and his meal offering, and poured out his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings upon the altar (16:11-13).
We’ve covered, as we were going through Leviticus, these various types of offerings, the burnt offering was that of consecration. The meal offering was that of um, fellowship. The drink offering, and the peace offering again were communion and fellowship type of offerings, where you eat with God, and drink with God, and sort of a peace thing with God.
And he brought also [The brass altar] the brazen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and he put it on the north side of the altar (16:14).
When he set the altar there, when Urijah set the altar in the courtyard, he left the brazen altar that had been made by Solomon, where the offerings were usually offered. But, the altar that he had made, that was copied after the Assyrian altar, the brass altar was between it, and the temple. So he ordered that they move this brazen altar, over to the north side, so there would be nothing between this new altar that he had made, and the entrance into the temple.
And king Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meal offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meal offerings, with the burnt offering of the people of the land, [And so they, they just started really the brazen altar that had been used previously. Now he orders that they use this new altar, fashioned after the Assyrian, in their uh, offering of their sacrifices. He said, “I’ll use the brazen altar, I’ll figure out what we’re gonna do with it later, to inquire by”. Literally in the Hebrew means, “I really don’t know what I’m gonna do with it yet, but you know, I’ll figure out something for it. But we’ll replace it with this new altar”.] And thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that Ahaz the king commanded him (16:15-16).
Rather than standing up, as did Azariah, or I mean, as did the priest in the days of Azariah, who went into the temple to offer a sacrifice, and the priest came in and said, “Get out of here! You have no business being here”, and Uziah was smitten with leprosy. Here Urijah just goes along with anything the king wants.
So king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the lavers from off of them; [So he took these bases with the lavers, there were several of them leading up to the porch, and he took them, and used them for ornamentation elsewhere, probably in other temples, or other areas of pagan temples that he had built around there. This large brass bath that was built by Solomon, that they put on the twelve oxen, that he also removed.] So the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria. [So he remodeled the thing, in order that they might accommodate the king of Assyria.] Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, [And there are more, and they are worse.] and they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. [So we’ll come to Ahaz again, as we get into II Chronicles.] Ahaz slept with his fathers, he was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead (16:17-20).
Now, Hezekiah is sort of a rose between two thorns. Ahaz, his father, was an extremely wicked king. A bad king, and yet perhaps Hezekiah, in seeing the wickedness of his father, determined, “Hey, I’m not gonna follow his path!” But the tragedy is, though Hezekiah was a good king, and initiated many reforms, in fact, he went so far as to remove the high places, which the other kings had not done. But is probably seeing the evil of his father now, that he did that.
Of course Hezekiah was one of the sons that survived. Ahaz burnt several of his children in the fires unto the gods of the pagans, there in the valley of Hinnom, we’ll see in II Chronicles. Hezekiah, his son, removed the high places, was a good king, was heavily influenced by Isaiah the prophet, and God blessed and prospered Hezekiah’s reign. But his son Manassah, even exceeded his grandfather Ahaz in wickedness, which we’ll get to as we move along.
Now in the twelfth year of Ahaz [You remember he reigned for sixteen years. So in the twelfth year,] the king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel for nine years (17:1).
Hoshea was the last king of Israel. It was during his reign that Shalmaneser came, and attacked Samaria. Tiglathpileser took Damascus, but now Shalmaneser became the king of Assyria, and he attacked Samaria during the time of the reign of Hoshea, the last king. He reigned for nine years.
He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. [In other words, he wasn’t as bad as some of his predecessors.] But against him came Shalmaneser the king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found a conspiracy by Hoshea: [In other words, Shalmaneser came, and he bought him off the first time. Gave him presents and all. So Shalmaneser did not attack Samaria at that time. However, he learned that Hoshea had sent down to the king of Egypt, to send the troops from Egypt, to fortify and to strengthen him against another attack from Shalmaneser. So when Shalmaneser found out that,] he had sent these messengers to So the king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, [He did not pay the tribute that he was supposed to pay.] as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. And the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, [Now notice it didn’t say that Shalmaneser took it. But the king of Assyria. Actually what happened is that Shallum rebelled, and we get this from the Assyrian history, Shallum declared himself king in Assyria, and so he overthrew Shalmaneser and he was the one who actually took Samaria, though the siege began under Shalmaneser, a three year siege. It was finally taken by Shallum.] and he carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the city of the Medes (17:2-6).
So you get the end of the northern kingdom. A kingdom that began during the reign of Rehoboam, the grandson of David. It lasted for about two hundred and fifty years. The first king was Jeroboam, he immediately apostatized. Upon establishing the kingdom, he built the altars with the golden calves, in Dan, and in Bethel, and he commanded the people to worship there at those altars. The golden calves, he said, were the gods that brought them out of Egypt.
Each of the succeeding kings of the northern kingdom, and there wasn’t a long dynasty, the longest was that of Jehu, four generations. Unlike the southern kingdom, where God had promised David that there would be one of his descendants sitting upon the throne.
The southern kingdom was always ruled by a descendant of David, with the exception of that short period with Athaliah, who was a daughter-in-law to one of the descendants, or who was a wife of one of the descendants. So that the northern kingdom is now gone. So the chronicler here, establishes the reasons by, for which God allowed this northern kingdom to be destroyed.
For so it was [verse seven] that the children of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God (17:7),
The word sinned means, missed the mark. They had turned aside, and you know, there is indication that when he made the golden calves, and the altars in Dan, and in Bethel, that he meant for them to represent Jehovah. “These are representations of the gods that brought you out of Egypt.” The God they knew that brought them out of Egypt, was Jehovah. So these were representations of God. However, that in itself was forbidden in the law. “You’re not to make any graven image, or any idol of any thing, any likeness of any thing that is heaven.” Which these golden calves were supposed to be a likeness of Jehovah. It was really borrowed from the Egyptians, who worshiped the cow, calf. Remember when Aaron brought the children of Israel in the wilderness, Moses was up on the mountain getting the law, and he came down, and Aaron had made this golden calf. The people were dancing nude around the thing.
You say, “Well, it still represented Jehovah, it’s just a slight departure, just you know, yeah, it’s not quite right. But, you know, it’s close”. One degree variance, if you continue to follow it, you can miss your mark by a long way. If you took off sailing for Hawaii, and your compass was one degree off, that’s not much, just a slight diversion. You’d never hit Hawaii. You’d end up somewhere out in the Pacific.
One degree off, the further you follow that one degree off direction, the further you get from the mark. The longer you go the one degree off, it leads you further, and further away. So, there’s a lot of doctrines, there are a lot of practices of the church, that, oh they’re close to true, they’re just a slight aberration here, just a little bit off. “You know surely we can tolerate a little diversion here. Make allowance for a little error.” No, you can’t. You want to be right on the mark. If, if you know, if you’re gonna continue to survive as a species upon the planet, and when you drop below the zero population growth level, then, then you’re on the way out!
By practices man can bring himself, by the practice of abortion, and homosexuality, and lesbianism, goes with those things, and the practice of abortion, you can bring yourself to below the zero population growth, and thus you’re on the way of extinction. So you’re ultimately, by these horrible practices, going to destroy yourself. Satan’s whole ploy is the destruction of man. The enemy is come to rob, to kill, to destroy. Thus there are always in the Satanic kind of worship, or the Satanic kind of following, the things that will bring you to destruction. Bring mankind to destruction.
So God seeks to eliminate from your life, those things that are destructive. Those things that will destroy. God seeks to protect. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have life, and that more abundantly”. That’s God’s purpose for you, whereas in contrast, the enemy has come to rob, to kill, and to destroy. So as Satan is seeking to destroy man, he gets them into those practices that will bring destruction. It is much like a mad dog, who is doomed to die, because it has rabies. You don’t just allow that little dog to run around the school grounds, biting all the little children! Saying, “Oh I can’t stand to put to death a little puppy like that. It’s a cute little dog”. But its got rabies! It’s foaming at the mouth, and it’s going around biting all those little children. Those children bitten by the mad dog, unless they get the Pasteur treatments, they’re gonna die! “Oh but I just can’t stand the thought. It’s so cruel to put a little dog like that to death!”. Well you take it home.
No, you see, these people were infected by a deadly practice, and yet, as deadly as it was, because of its sensuous nature, it had, a, a, a strange attraction to that evil side of man. Curious, looking and delving into the evil aspects. Shocked, horrified, and yet strangely drawn. Isn’t that interesting about us? Things that shock us, are somehow fascinating or interesting. There are some people that recognize the psychology, and the human make up.
Like this guy who smokes the cigar on TV, and claims to be a minister. He gets the biggest, fattest, ugliest cigars he can find, because he knows it’s a shocking thing. And, you sit there and you watch him in disbelief! “I can’t believe this weirdo!” The only reason why you watch him, is because it shocks you so much! “I can’t believe I’m seeing what I’m seeing! This has got to be unreal!” You know, and the whole idea of the guy is just to, just to shock the pins right out from under you. That’s the attraction of him. There is that strange fascination with things that are so totally evil.
Many people find that fascination with evil satisfied in going to the x-rated movies. That’s the fascination there. “It’s horrible! I would never think of doing that!” But, you can watch with a strange fascination, all kinds of atrocities, horrible things. People’s brains exploding, or splattered, and all. You know, you’re shocked, but you know, you’re glued. You’re drawn.
God, seeking to protect His innocent children, from that practice which would destroy them, ordered them as His instrument of judgement, to totally wipe them out. You see, if you don’t destroy that bacteria in the human body, in the body politic, that bacteria will infect the whole body, and the whole body will ultimately be destroyed.
That is what happened. Not obeying God in bringing total judgement against the land, and the people in the land, they began to follow the pagan practices. They began to do those very things, those ugly, horrible things that were done by the inhabitants of the land of Canaan before them. The very things that perpetrated the judgement of God against them! The very things that caused God to destroy them, and to wipe them out, were now being done by His own children, who have been affected, and infected by this same evil. Thus again, the disobedience to God, in the little thing, brings on the greater problem, and ultimately brought the destruction of Israel. It’s now wiped out! This is the reason.
They walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel. And the children of Israel did secretly those things which were not right against Jehovah their God, [Began these secret practices.] and they built them high places in all of their cities, and even the little places where they would meet in the towers, out in the fields, where the watchmen would watch the fields, to the fenced cities. [Or the walled cities. In all of these places, they had these places of worship for the pagan practices.] And they set up images [And this Ashorem, and as we said before, this Ashorem was the goddess of sex. It was the Ashtoreth of the Babylonians, and the Aphrodite of the Greeks, and the Venus of the Romans. The goddess of sex, the goddess of love, and sexual pleasures. The Ashorem, the goddess of sex was worshiped with all types of horrible, lewd, lascivious, sexual rites, which could not even be mentioned in mixed company. But you read some of the rites, the sexual rites accompany the worship of Ashorem, and you realize how horribly deplorable, how unspeakably evil the inventive mind of man can be, when it’s turned in the wrong direction. ] and on every high hill, and under every green tree (17:8-10):
This kind of sexual immorality, this kind of sexual looseness, this kind of perverted sex will always bring on all kinds of venereal diseases. It’s just a part of the whole human make up, and there’s the transmitting of these deadly diseases, which God sought to protect. But, it’s interesting to me that the scientists today, much to their chagrin, are saying, “The only real safe sex now, is between married couples, who are devoted completely to each other”. As though it’s a shame! Some kind of a tragedy has befallen us, you know. I say, “Yea God! Go for it!”, you know. “Teach em’ a lesson.” That’s what God said. That’s what God has declared! That’s where God said, “You should enjoy that relationship within the confines of commitment, in love to each other for life”.
Thus the byproducts of that love, the children that are born, are desired, are the greatest thing that God can give. They are wanted. But where you have sex without commitment, sex without love, sex for sex sake, where the woman is nothing but a sex symbol. Something by which you can gratify your lust. Then sex becomes empty and meaningless, and the children that might be born are a tragic mistake, and they’re an inconvenience, and you want to get rid of them. So the worship of Ashorem was followed by the worship of Molech, and Baal, where they offered the children as human sacrifices. It was a way of getting rid of the unwanted babies. By offering them as a sacrifice to your god.
The Supreme Court, first of all, opened the doors to pornography, the worship of Ashorem. In opening the doors to the pornography, where women were reduced again, to a sex object, and the woman’s body was exposed in order that men’s passions might be inflamed. There’s some kind of lust that becomes satisfied, as you see uh, women without character, and without minds, exposing their bodies in provocative ways, for the bucks that they get. The Court’s opening the door, in saying, “It’s perfectly permissible. It’s another form of art”. Removing the laws that had been there for our protection. Having inflamed the passions, and then having declared the freedom of sexual activity. That as long as you’re a consenting adult, anything goes, do what you want. Removing the restrictions of sexual activity, that had once been laws.
It results in a lot of unwanted pregnancies. So when you’ve got an unwanted pregnancy, you’ve got a child that’s not wanted. What do you do? Well you’ve got to now take down more barriers, let’s worship Molech. Let’s sacrifice the children. So the Supreme Court opened up the doors to abortion. It would be a little abhorrent for us to take a live baby and place it on a glowing hot arms of a little idol. So we take the live baby, while it is still within the womb, and we inject the saline solution, which burns it there in the womb, and causes the abortion. One million, five hundred thousand babies, every year are offered as sacrifices unto Molech, the god of pleasure, by the people here, in the United States.
Now for this cause, God destroyed Israel. Do you think that God can look upon us, and the things that we are now allowing, and doing, in this nation, and just allow us to get by with it? I think not. I believe that our nation is ripening for the judgement of God. The very practices by which these other nations were gradually destroying themselves, the things that God tried to keep His people from being infected with, they were infected. They began to do them, and thus God used Assyria as His instrument of judgement, to destroy Israel.
I would not be a bit surprised if God did not use Russia as His instrument, to judge the United States. You say, “Oh but they’re worse than we are. They don’t even believe in God”. That’s what Habakkuk said, when God said He was going to use the Babylonians to destroy Israel, or to destroy Judah, the southern kingdom. Habakkuk said, “That’s not fair! They’re worse than we are!”, God says, “Yeah, but they’re not my people. They’ll be my instruments of judgement”. You can’t just mock God, the laws of God. You can’t scoff at God. If you want to turn your back, and turn away from God, you’re gonna have to pay the price, you can’t escape it. It’s serious business.
So they burnt incense in all of these high places, [verse eleven] they did as the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and they wrought the wicked things to provoke Jehovah to anger: And they served idols, whereof Jehovah had said to them, You shall not do this thing. [God had made a covenant, they broke the covenant. God said, “You shall have no other gods before me. You’re not to make any idols, images, graven images, any likenesses of things in heaven, or on the earth, to bow down to them, and to worship them.] And yet Jehovah testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all of the prophets, [It wasn’t that God just says, “Okay, that’s it! Cut em’ off”. For two hundred and forty years, God dealt with them. For two hundred and forty years, God stretched out His arms. For two hundred and forty years, God said, “Don’t do that, you’re gonna destroy yourself”.] but they turned their backs upon God, and upon his prophets, and upon the seers, who said to them, Turn from your evil ways, keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, according to your law which I commanded your fathers, when I sent to you by my servants the prophets (17:11-13).
God sent the prophets, with His warning, with His word, to return to God, to turn away from their evil ways. To keep the commandments of God.
And notwithstanding they would not hear, but they hardened their necks, like the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in Jehovah their God (17:14).
They just hardened themselves to God, to the word of God, to the prophets of God. In proverbs we read, in the twenty ninth chapter, “He that hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy”. Harden your heart to God, harden your neck to God, become stiff, and rigid in your attitude towards God, “I’m gonna do what I want to do”, and stiffen your neck, God will move with severity and with finality.
And they rejected his statutes, the covenant that he had made with them and his testimonies, [He had warned them about these things. Go back and read again, Deuteronomy, thirty two. “His testimonies,”] which he testified against them; [He warned them of these very things!] and they followed after the [emptiness, or the] vanity, and they became vain, [Which is always the result of following vanity. Following emptiness, you’re just gonna become empty. Oh the empty life in this world apart from Jesus Christ! The emptiness of the sex experience outside of marriage. The emptiness of success, the emptiness of the world. Following after emptiness, they became empty.] and they went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and they made the molten images, even two calves, and they made the Ashorem [These goddesses, these images, these nude images of the female body.] and they worshiped all the hosts of heaven, [They began to follow after astrology, the casting of the horoscopes, and the following after. Seeking guidance and all, from the influence of the stars, and all upon their lives. They worshiped the hosts of heaven.] and they served Baal. [The god of the intellect.] And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, [That is they burnt them, in their pagan rituals to Molech.] and they used divination and enchantments, [They got into spiritism, they got into Satanic worship. They got into the occult, they got into witchcraft. Seeking to use these supernatural powers of evil against others. The divinations and enchantments.] and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. Therefore [And therefore, is always that concluding. You know, “Because of this..” “Therefore”,] Jehovah was very angry with Israel, and he removed them out of his sight: and there was none left but the southern tribe of Judah only (17:15-17).
The nation of Israel was removed, carried away as captives, to Assyria. Gone. So it’ll be easier for us, because we don’t have to follow Israel any more through the text, and keep the kings straight. But it’s tragic history, for a nation that had so much potential and possibility, to end up destroyed.
Also Judah kept not the commandments of Jehovah their God, but they walked in the statutes of Israel. [And unfortunately the same thing that brought the destruction on Israel, now was infecting Judah. Ahaz the king is doing evil in the sight of the Lord, leading Judah in the same path.] And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, he afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of the spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he tore Israel from the house of David and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat their king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; and they departed not from them; Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all of his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. [Gone! Out!] Now the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthath, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and he placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria and dwelt in the cities thereof (17:19-24).
In the Assyrian records again, of Shallum during his reign, said they brought 22,242 out of Samaria, and placed them in this particular city of Assyria. But they repopulated the area with people from other territories. That was the practice of the Assyrians. In order to demoralize people completely to rebelling, they would move whole segments of the population, to other areas. Then they would bring people from other areas, and plant them here. So you’re in a strange place.
It would be like, if Russia say, conquered the western part of the world, and wanted to keep us from rebelling, taken and uh, plant several hundred of you over in Jakarta, and some of you in Peking. And, I mean you’re too small to do anything, you’re outnumbered, you’re in a different culture, and you’re so culturally confused, that there is no thought of rebelling.
Thus was the practice of Assyria, to totally subjugate the people, moving the population so that you’re in an unfamiliar area, and, and you have to learn how to make a living here. You have to learn the practices to just survive here. You’re so busy, just surviving, you don’t have it in your mind to, “Let’s get together, and let’s rebel!”. It’s just a matter now of survival.
But at the beginning of these other nations dwelling here. These people that came to dwell in Samaria, that were brought by the Assyrians, they didn’t reverence Jehovah. They didn’t worship Jehovah.
They feared not Jehovah: therefore Jehovah sent lions among them, which slew some of them. [They weren’t familiar with the area, and they weren’t used to lions, and the lions began to attack them, and began to kill them.] Therefore they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which you have removed, and place in the cities of Samaria don’t know the manner of the God of the land: therefore he has sent lions among them, and, behold, they are killing them, because they don’t know the manner of the God of the land (17:25-26).
In other words, “Man, we don’t know how to survive here. We don’t know what the God is like and He’s sent these lions”.
And so the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let them teach the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and he taught them how that they should also worship the Lord. [Or Jehovah. How they should fear, or reverence Jehovah.] Howbeit every nation made the gods of their own, and they put them in their houses, and on the high places which the Samaritans had made, and every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima. And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adramelech and Anamelech, the gods of the Sepharvaim. So they [And here’s an interesting paradox. “So they”,] feared Jehovah, but they made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared Jehovah, and served their own gods, [Isn’t that an interesting paradox? So, “We learn about Jehovah, that He’s there, we reverence Him, we give Him His place, but we really serve our other gods”. I wonder how many people are like that today. They reverence Jesus. You know they celebrate in Thanksgiving. I watched a, a sort of a news program the other night, and this reporter was saying, “What part do you think God has in Thanksgiving?” “Oh He has a part, yeah He’s there somewhere, you know”. Feared Jehovah, but they served their own gods. The real god was pleasure, or possessions. They served these things, though they acknowledged, reverenced Jehovah, reverenced Jesus, acknowledged Jesus, He’ll have a place in Christmas. Small as it may be, second to Santa Claus of course. They worshiped their own gods, but they feared Jehovah. Strange paradox, but it is a one of the things of human nature. All too common. People who have a place for Jesus, but not first place. People who believe in Jesus, but He isn’t the Lord of their lives. People who desire salvation, they desire Jesus, as Savior, but they don’t want Him as Lord. Fear of Jehovah, fear Jesus, reverence Jesus, but you serve your own gods. There’s something else at the center of your own heart. There’s another master passion that governs your life, though you believe in Jesus, and reverence Him. A paradox. “They served their own gods”,] after the manner of the nations whom they had carried away from there. And unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not Jehovah, neither do they after their statutes, or their ordinances, or after their law and commandment which Jehovah commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not reverence the other gods, nor bow yourselves to the, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them (17:27-35):
“You’re not to do that. That’s the covenant. I must be your God, exclusively, solely, you cannot have these other gods.”
But Jehovah, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall you [worship, or] fear, and him shall your worship, and to him shall ye do your sacrifices. And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not reverence these other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall you reverence the other gods. [Over and over, these were the commandments. But, these were the very things that people broke.] But Jehovah your God you shall reverence; he will deliver you out of the hand of your enemies. Howbeit they did not hearken, they did after their former manner. And so these nations feared Jehovah, and served their graven images, both their children, their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day (17:36-41).
And, unfortunately we can say, and so many do, even unto this day. Reverence the Lord, but follow other gods, serve other gods.
The Lord bless you, fill you with His love, guide you with His Spirit, keep you in the power of His Spirit. That you might be a light shining in a dark world. That you might stand forth as a servant of Jehovah. Not just the reverence or the acknowledging, but the serving of the Lord our God. May He be with you and bless you, and keep you in all ways. In Jesus’ name.