Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. And unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD.
I. AN EVENT WHICH FREQUENTLY OCCURS.
1. Sometimes to the nation. We have a notable instance of this in the reaction from the Puritan strictness of the Commonwealth to the unbounded licence of the Restoration.
2. Sometimes to the Church. A sudden passing from the ardour of some fervent enthusiasm to the rigour of utter indifference and inactivity.
3. Sometimes to the family. When a godly, devoted, and useful parent is succeeded by a dissolute and mischief-working son (as in the text).
4. Sometimes in the individual. A man is led to the appearance (if not the reality) of piety and zeal; he worships regularly in the house of the Lord, and takes a prominent part in the activities of the Church; then with more or less of suddenness he declines; he abandons his religious convictions and his moral principles, and stands before society as a spiritual renegade, living to injure and destroy all he had appeared to love and had busied himself to promote.
II. ITS EXPLANATION.
1. Not in any law of human change. It may be contended that there is in the mind and in the history of man a constant ebb and flow as in the tides of the sea; that when a mental or moral movement has proceeded long and far in one direction, the time has come for a counter-movement in the opposite direction. But there is no reason, in the nature of things, why we should not move steadily on in the direction of wisdom and virtue. Such a tendency as this is not properly a law; it is only a generalization from a comparatively small number of particulars. Hence we also say:
2. Not in any inherent human fickleness. Man is more or less fickle; i.e. many men are very fickle, and some men are seriously so, and others slightly so. But other men are constant, faithful, loyal to the last. Man, as man, is under no necessity to change his course, to reverse his direction, to pursue what he has shunned, to pull down what he has built up. We find the explanation we seek:
3. Partly in the unwisdom of the good. Possibly Jotham may have been an unwise father in some material respects; he may have so acted, so ruled his royal household, as to present to his son an unattractive aspect of godliness; he may have failed to distinguish between the requirements of manhood and of youth. Certainly, if he did not, very many parents do, and this their folly is the account of the departure and defection of their sons. It is clear that the unwise austerity of the Puritans had much to do with the excesses of the following generation. Very often, indeed, the intemperate heats of some body of Christian or philanthropic men account, in a large degree, for the repugnance and retrogression of the community. Unwisdom in the good may be as mischievous in its results as the very transgressions of the wicked.
4. Partly in the shallowness of the piety or morality in question. When this is nothing more than mere habit, especially when that habit is of the body rather than of the mind, is fleshly rather than spiritual, it is not to be expected that loyalty will last; it is to be expected that the first strong wind of inclination, or of worldly interest, or of social pressure, will carry such a one away and bear him whithersoever it wills. The great lesson for parents, teachers, pastors, reformers, patriots, is this - dig deep if you would have your house stand. If you would not see your sons and daughters, your fellow-members or fellow-citizens swept round with the current, facing the wrong goal, exerting their influence for evil instead of for good, then do not be content with scattering seed anyhow and anywhere. Dig the deep furrow, sow the seed well; plant living convictions in the judgment and in the conscience of men. Get the whole nature on the side of truth and righteousness. If the man himself, and not only his external habits, not only his feelings and inclinations ? "if he himself, through his whole spiritual nature, gives himself to the service of Christ and of man, you need not fear the coming of an adverse tide; you need not fret about the fickleness of our kind; you will witness no painful and pitiable reaction; the path of those you serve will be one of continuous ascent; it will be "the path of the just, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day." - C.
So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.
Homilist.I. EVERY MAN IS UNDER GOD'S INSPECTION. How truly did the ancients realise this (Psalm 139.; Jeremiah 23:23, 24; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Job 34:22). We little consider this in the present day.
II. EVERY MAN SHOULD LIVE AS UNDER GOD'S INSPECTION. A man's conduct will be very different if he realises that God's eye is on him. He will avoid sin. He will bear in mind the love of his Father who is in heaven. He will try to please Him in thought as well as in deed.
III. THE RECOGNITION OF GOD'S PRESENCE IS THE FOUNDATION-STONE OF ALL PROSPERITY. It renders a man great, for —
1. It makes him careful not to do that which will disgrace him.
2. It entitles him to Divine protection and help.
3. It fills him with a consciousness of rectitude, which in itself is a panoply of defence.
I. HE WENT RIGHT WHERE HIS FATHER WENT WRONG (ver. 2). Even on the pinnacle of success and popularity, his head was cool, and his heart was clear, and his nerves were steady, for he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.
II. HE COVERED THE COUNTRY WITH FORTIFICATIONS (vers. 3, 4). The man who is spiritual to the core will not be a weakling in the city, and he will not be easily turned aside. This disposes of the idea that to be a praying man and to be a business man do not go together.
III. HE PREVAILED AGAINST HIS ENEMIES (ver. 5). Because, before he fought he prayed.
IV. HIS WEALTH INCREASED (ver. 5). Prayer to God brought him his fortune.
V. HIS HUMILITY EXALTED HIM (ver. 6). Conclusion: What was Jotham after all but a dim, distant, foreshadowing of Jesus Christ? If ever the text was true of any one, it was true of Him.
I. GODWARDNESS: THE TRUE MIGHT AND MAJESTY OF KINGS. Godwardness is the continuous shaping of our thoughts and deeds as under the immediate inspection of God. Let God be first in every consideration, consulted in every transaction, recognised and deferred to on all occasions and under all circumstances.
II. GODWARDNESS: THE TRUE STRENGTH OF EMPIRES. An empire's strength does not depend upon —
1. Riches. Ancient Tyre was rich.
2. Political ability and astute statesmanship. Sparta.
3. Learning. Greece.
4. Legions. Rome. Napoleon Bonaparte. The strength of an empire is in God. Also, the true strength of the soul's empire — the Empire of Self — is Godwardness.
III. GODWARDNESS: THE SECRET OF SUCCESS. The true cause of failure and weakness is often moral delinquency. "Jotham became mighty because he prepared his ways before the Lord."
(T. G. Selby.).
PeopleAhaz, Amasa, Aram, Azariah, Azrikam, Ben, Berechiah, David, Edomites, Elkanah, Hadlai, Hezekiah, Israelites, Jehizkiah, Jehohanan, Johanan, Maaseiah, Meshillemoth, Oded, Pekah, Remaliah, Shallum, Tilgathpilneser, Timnah, Zichri
PlacesAijalon, Assyria, Beth-shemesh, Damascus, Gederoth, Gimzo, Jericho, Jerusalem, Negeb, Samaria, Shephelah, Soco, Syria, Timnah, Valley of Hinnom
TopicsAhaz, David, Didn't, Jerusalem, Reign, Reigned, Reigning, Ruling, Sight, Sixteen, Twenty, Unlike
Outline1. Ahaz, reigning wickedly, is greatly afflicted by the Syrians.
6. Judah, being captivated by the Israelites, is sent home by the counsel of Oded.
16. Ahaz sending for aid to Assyria, is not helped thereby,
22. In his distress he grows more idolatrous
26. He dying, Hezekiah succeeds him
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Chronicles 28:1-2
7241 Jerusalem, significance
LibraryCostly and Fatal Help
'He sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.'--2 CHRON. xxviii. 23. Ahaz came to the throne when a youth of twenty. From the beginning he reversed the policy of his father, and threw himself into the arms of the heathen party. In a comparatively short reign of sixteen years he stamped out the worship of God, and …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
That the Employing Of, and Associating with the Malignant Party, According as is Contained in the Public Resolutions, is Sinful and Unlawful.
The Prophet Micah.
Degrees of Sin
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