Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign.
(J. Parker, D.D.)
I. IT IS A SORROWFUL FACT THAT GOOD MEN ARE SOMETIMES THE FATHERS OF BAD SONS. "Like father, like son," we have often heard men say. But this is not always so. Alas! we know but too well that piety, virtue, goodness do not always run in the blood. You may pass on the crown, the throne, the kingdom, but the high moral and religious qualities which make a man a king among men do not always go with the crown and sceptre.
II. THE BAD SONS OF GOOD FATHERS ARE OFTEN RUINED BY THE SINS THEY ALLOW TO DECEIVE THEM. Read the twenty-third verse of this chapter. It is very instructive. Ahaz, weakened by his questionable ways, and not supported by the power of the God whose worship he had forsaken, fell into the hands of the foreigner. Conquered by the superior forces and better trained men of Damascus, he fondly imagined that they won because their gods, their idols, helped them in battle. Deceived, deluded, blinded by all this, he determined to follow their bad example. Others are involved in his fall. "They were the ruin of him and of all Israel." It would be sad enough if he were the only one blinded and deluded by sin. But unfortunately its victims are all about us.
III. This chapter teaches THAT GOD OFTEN CHASTENS THE SONS OF GODLY PARENTS WHO FALL INTO SIN, AND SEEKS TO WIN THEM BACK TO HIMSELF. God did not leave Ahaz without warning, reproof, and trouble. Through his long night of sin God often spake to him. God made this man understand that the way of the transgressor is hard. It is a mercy that God does not allow the sinner to go to hell without warning.
(C. Leach, D.D.)
(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)
(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)
(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)
For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel.
(W. H. Bennett, M.A)
Molten images for Baalim
(W. H. Bennett, M.A.)
But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?
4. Individuals. I shall —
I. PUT A HOME QUESTION to —
1. The moralist.
2. The accuser of the brethren.
3. The outwardly religious.
4. Those who make no profession of religion.
5. Other classes I may have omitted. "Are there not with you, sins against the Lord your God?"
II. PUT A COMMON-SENSE QUESTION: "Who are you that you think to escape the punishment of sin?"
III. GIVE A LITTLE ADVICE.
1. Leave other people alone with regard to finding fault.
2. Treat yourselves as you have been accustomed to treat others.
3. Look to the eternal interests of your own souls.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. SOME OF OUR DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGES AND ADVANTAGES.
II. THE SOLEMN AND AWFUL QUESTION, AS IT RELATES —
1. To public, national, legalised transgressions.
(1) (2) 2. To social and individual sins. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (J. Davies, D. D.)
(2) 2. To social and individual sins. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (J. Davies, D. D.)
2. To social and individual sins.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (J. Davies, D. D.)
(5) (J. Davies, D. D.)
(5) (J. Davies, D. D.)
(J. Davies, D. D.)
For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel.I. I would draw attention to SOME SPECIAL POINTS IN THE HISTORY OF AHAZ.
1. The king himself was peculiarly the transgressor.
2. The people also were transgressors.
3. Mark the special sins enumerated in the history.
(1) (2) (3) (4) 4. Mark the consequences of all this: national desolation and ruin. II. Let us see HOW FAR OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AS A NATION ARE PARALLEL TO THOSE HERE PRESENTED. III. TWO PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. 1. What can be done with our rulers? 2. What can be done with our people? (J. C. Goodhart, M.A.)
(2) (3) (4) 4. Mark the consequences of all this: national desolation and ruin. II. Let us see HOW FAR OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AS A NATION ARE PARALLEL TO THOSE HERE PRESENTED. III. TWO PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. 1. What can be done with our rulers? 2. What can be done with our people? (J. C. Goodhart, M.A.)
(3) (4) 4. Mark the consequences of all this: national desolation and ruin. II. Let us see HOW FAR OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AS A NATION ARE PARALLEL TO THOSE HERE PRESENTED. III. TWO PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. 1. What can be done with our rulers? 2. What can be done with our people? (J. C. Goodhart, M.A.)
4. Mark the consequences of all this: national desolation and ruin. II. Let us see HOW FAR OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AS A NATION ARE PARALLEL TO THOSE HERE PRESENTED. III. TWO PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. 1. What can be done with our rulers? 2. What can be done with our people? (J. C. Goodhart, M.A.)
4. Mark the consequences of all this: national desolation and ruin.
II. Let us see HOW FAR OUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AS A NATION ARE PARALLEL TO THOSE HERE PRESENTED.
III. TWO PRACTICAL QUESTIONS.
1. What can be done with our rulers?
2. What can be done with our people?
(J. C. Goodhart, M.A.)
And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord.I. I suppose that you have set your heart upon some CHERISHED DESIGN — that you have dwelt upon it to such a degree as to neglect for it many social duties and all your thoughts of God. You have missed attaining it, and are deeply disappointed. If you have not learned thenceforward to strive more soberly, to plant and sow, and build and labour, and not look for success without uttering, "Father, if it seem good to Thee, nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt"; if you are still engaged in the same projects with the same temper, or one even more infatuated — then distress has been sent to you in vain: you are sacrificing to the gods that smote you; trespassing yet more against the Lord.
II. Suppose that you have been SMITTEN WITH SOME DISEASE, mental or bodily — the not unnatural, consequence of dissipation or thoughtlessness, or perverseness, or the like. If you have not learned from God's displeasure; if you have not resolved that with renewed health you would walk in newness of life; if you have returned to your old sins with new zest from being for a time debarred from them — then the distress which God sent you has hardened and not softened you. You are worshipping the idols of your own hearts with a devotion which it will be more difficult than ever to displace.
III. Or, in conclusion, suppose that you HAVE GIVEN WAY TO ILL-TEMPER, and that God has punished you by alienation of friends, by retaliation on the part of ill-wishers, by distrust on the part of all. Has this set you upon governing the impetuousness of passion, or checking the reproachful word? Or have you merely turned your spirit into some more unkindly channel — moroseness, peevishness, misanthropy? If so, distress and chastisement have not done their proper work upon you. Like Ahaz you are going on to trespass yet more against the Lord.
Monday Club Sermons.I. A CONSPICUOUS EXAMPLE OF PERSISTENT WICKEDNESS. He pushed on in face of many and powerful barriers placed in his way.
1. He had a godly ancestry. "Oh, sir," said an aged sinner who came to his minister in great distress, "to think of my father's and mother's prayers, and then of the vile wretch that I have been!"
2. It would seem that other like influences continued to surround Ahaz in his own palace. The mother of his son Hezekiah was the daughter of the wise and good Zechariah.
3. God often makes use of goodness to bring men to repentance. He tried this upon Ahaz. In a time of peril and alarm Isaiah was commissioned to "say unto him, Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted."
4. When goodness fails, it is God's way to try severity.
II. WHAT CAME OF ALL THIS?
1. The king's life was one of ill, not of good.
2. Ahaz brought ill upon others: "He made Judah naked." "If," says Dr. South, "a man could be wicked and a villain to himself alone, the mischief would be so much the more tolerable. But the case is much otherwise. The guilt of the crime lights upon one, but the example of it sways a multitude. Especially is this true if the criminal be one of note or eminence. For the fall of such an one by any temptation is like that of a principal stone or stately pillar tumbling from a lofty eminence into the deep mire of the street. It does not only plunge and sink into the black dirt itself: it also dashes or bespatters all that are about it, or near it, when it falls."
3. In character and influence Ahaz went from bad to worse.
4. He went to an unhonoured and hopeless grave.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
I. AHAZ WAS THE SON OF A PIOUS KING OF JUDAH.
II. FOR HIS WICKEDNESS GOD VISITED HIM WITH A SERIES OF SAD CALAMITIES.
III. We see here THE GUILT AND DANGER OF HARDENING OURSELVES UNDER GOD'S AFFLICTING HAND.
IV. THOSE WHO RECEIVE AFFLICTIONS MAY GROW MORE REBELLIOUS UNDER THEM.
V. THE GUILT OF ANY APPROACH TO SUCH A CONDITION MAY BE EASILY SEEN.
VI. IT BECOMES US TO INQUIRE, WHAT HAVE BEEN THE EFFECTS OF GOD'S CHASTENINGS UPON OURSELVES?
(W. H. Lewis, D.D.)
I. THE USE OF AFFLICTIONS. The end of all the Divine dispensations towards mankind is their eternal salvation, in subserviency to the honour of His great name. This end can only be accomplished in the way of repentance, faith, and holiness. The aim, therefore, of all ordinances, providential dispensations, and means of grace, is to beget or strengthen in us these three branches of Christianity. Among the various means which the Lord makes use of for this end, affliction is one of the chief. The right use of afflictions will lead us —
1. To humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand.
2. To ascribe righteousness to Him by confessing our sins and acknowledging the justice of His dealings with us.
3. To return to Him by Jesus Christ.
4. To cleave to Him with full purpose of heart.
5. To submit to His will.
6. To depend upon His grace and power.
7. To walk in His ways.
I. THAT A COURSE OR SIN IS CONTINUALLY DOWNWARD. Sin propagates itself, but is not reformatory.
II. THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL IN CHECKING MEN IN THIS DOWNWARD COURSE. God ever seeks by His providence and Spirit to turn men from an evil course which will end in ruin.
III. THAT IF MEN WILL NOT BE CHECKED IN AN EVIL COURSE, THEY MAY BECOME NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF PUNISHMENT.
Biblical Museum.1. Evil habits strengthen by indulgence.
2. The world increases its power over its votaries as they advance in life.
3. Sinners in mature years lose the perception of religious truth.
4. There is a limit to Divine endurance.
Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
But they were the ruin of him
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. First then, let me ask you to notice how this narrative illustrates for us THE CROWD OF VAIN HELPERS WHICH A MAN HAS TO TAKE TO WHEN HE TURNS HIS BACK UPON GOD. If we compare the narrative in our chapter with the parallel in the Second Book of Kings, we get a very vivid picture of the strange medley of idolatries which they introduced. This story illustrates for us what, alas! is only too true, both on the broad scale, as to the generation in which we live, and on the narrower field of our own individual lives. Look at the so-called cultured classes of Europe to-day; turning away, as so many of them are, from the Lord God of their fathers; what sort of things are they worshipping instead? Scraps from Buddhism, the Vedas, any sacred books but the Bible; quackeries, and Charlatanism, and dreams, and fragmentary philosophies all pieced together to try and make up a whole, instead of the old-fashioned whole that they have left behind them. But look, further, how the same thing is true as to the individual lives of godless men. Many of us are trying to make up for not having the One by seeking to stay our hearts on the many. But no accumulation of insufficiencies will ever make a sufficiency. You cannot make up for God by any extended series of creatures, any more than a row of figures that stretched from here to Sirius and back again would approximate to infinitude. The very fact of the multitude of helpers is a sign that none of them are sufficient. There are no end of "cures" for toothache, that is to say, there is none. Consult your own experience. What is the meaning of the unrest and distraction that marks the lives of most of the men in this generation? Why is it that you hurry from business to pleasure, from pleasure to business, until it is scarcely possible to get a quiet breathing time for thought at all? Why is it but because one after another of your gods have proved insufficient, and so fresh altars must be built for fresh idolatries, and new experiments made, of which we can safely prophesy the result will be the old one. You are seeking what you will never find. The many pearls that you seek will never be enough for you. The true wealth is One, One pearl of great price.
II. So, notice again, how this story teaches THE HEAVY COST OF THESE HELPERS' HELP. Ahaz had, as he thought, two strings to his bow. He had the gods of Damascus, and of other lands up there, he had the King of Assyria down here. They both of them exacted onerous terms before they would stir a foot to his aid. As for the northern conqueror, all the wealth of the king and of the princes and of the temple was sent to Assyria as the price of his hurtful help. Do you buy this world's help any cheaper, my brother? You get nothing for nothing in that market. It is a big price that you have to pay before these mercenaries will come to fight on your side. Here is a man that "succeeds in life," as we call it. What does it cost him? Well! It has cost him the suppression, the atrophy by disuse of many capacities in his soul which were far higher and nobler than those that have been exercised in his success. It has cost him all his days; it has possibly cost him the dying out of generous sympathies and the stimulating of unwholesome selfishness. All! he has bought his prosperity very dear. There are some o! you who know how much what you call enjoyment has cost you. Some of us have bought pleasure at the price of innocence, of moral dignity, of stained memories, of polluted imaginations. The world has a way of getting more out of you than it gives to you. At the best, if you are not Christian men and women, whether you are men of business, votaries of pleasure, seekers after culture and refinement or anything else, you have given heaven to get earth. Is that a good bargain? Is it much wiser than that of a horde of naked savages that sell a great tract of fair country, with gold-bearing reefs in it, for a bottle of rum and a yard or two of calico?
III. Lastly, we may gather from this story an illustration of THE FATAL FALSEHOOD OF THE WORLD'S HELP. Ahaz pauperised himself to buy the hireling swords of Assyria, and he got them; but, as it says in the narrative, "The king came unto him and distressed him, but strengthened him not." He helped Ahaz at first. He scattered the armies that the King of Judah was afraid of like chaff, with his fierce and disciplined onset. And then, having driven them off the bleeding prey, he put his own paw upon it, and growled "Mine!" And where he struck his claws there was little more hope of life for the prostrate creature below him. Ah! and that is what this world always does. A godless life has at the best only partial satisfaction, and that partial satisfaction soon diminishes. The awful power of habit, if there were no other reason, takes the edge off all gratification except in so far as God is in it. Nothing fully retains its power to satisfy. Nothing has that power absolutely, at any moment: but even what measure of it any of our possessions or pursuits may have for a time, soon, or at all events by degrees, passes away. And do not forget that, partial and transient as these satisfactions are, they derive what power of helping and satisfying is in them only from the silence of our consciences, and our success in being able to shut out realities. One word from conscience, one touch of an awakened reflectiveness, one glance at the end — the coffin and the shroud and what comes after these, slay your worldly satisfactions as surely as that falling snow would crush some light-winged gauzy butterfly that had been dancing at the cliff's foot. Your jewellery is all imitation. These fatal helpers come as friends and allies, and they stop as masters. Ahaz and a hundred other weak princes have tried the policy of sending for a strong foreign power to scatter their enemies, and it has always turned out one way. The foreigner has come and he has stopped. The auxiliary has become the lord, and he that called him to his aid becomes his tributary. Ah! and so it is with all the things of this world. Here is some pleasant indulgence that I call to my help lightly and thoughtlessly. It is very agreeable and does what I wanted, and I try it again. Still it answers to my call. And then after a while I say, "I am going to give that up," and I cannot. I have brought in a master when I thought I was only bringing in an ally that I could dismiss when I liked.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.).