What does it say?
King Ahaz is one of the evil kings of Judah (2 Chr 28) and brings the nation of Judah to the very edge of destruction. God even uses the northern kingdom to chasten Judah. Twice in this chapter the author refers to Judah as Israel (28:19,23) in the sense of meaning the “true” Israel. 2Kings 16 also describes the reign of Ahaz.
2Kings 17 records the end of the northern kingdom of Israel and Hoshea the last king. Egypt refuses Hoshea’s pleas for help, and after a three-year siege Samaria falls to the Assyrians. For 209 years the northern kingdom has suffered the rule of 20 kings from 9 different families.
In 2Kings 17:7-23 the author lists the sins that led to this sad end. Following the deportation of most of the Israelites, Assyrian populates the land with captives from their other conquests. Since the Assyrians and the other peoples are polytheists, they add Jehovah to their pantheon of gods upon arrival in the land, and the result is a syncretic mix of religions. These forced immigrants also intermarry with the Israelites remaining in the land. The people from this intermarriage become known as the Samaritans we see in Jesus’ time.
What does it mean?
The more Ahaz suffers the consequences of his sin, the more he hardens his heart (2Chr 28:22-23). Reminding us twice (28:19, 23) that Judah is the real Israel, God demonstrates that he has not forgotten his mission or his promises. Even the most evil of people and empires will not stop God’s mission.
In the case of the northern kingdom of Israel, we have observed several times that God has offered them mercy even though they have been in rebellion from the beginning of the kingdom following the division in the days following Solomon. After repeated warnings, God’s patience runs out and the northern kingdom is no more. Putting together these two threads we have a compelling picture of God that will not allow evil to stop his mission, nor does he refuse to hold out mercy to the most evil and will warn them repeatedly before pulling the trigger on judgment.
How will I respond?
Where do I fit in this picture? Has my heart become so hard that even in desperate times I refuse to turn to God? Is there an area of my life that needs to be surrendered to him today? Is there someone close to me that is running from God that I can pray for today?