Ahaz is the 12th monarch of Judah since the division of the empire. The first king, Rhoboam, did evil. Likewise, his son, Abijah, had a heart “not fully devoted to the Lord.” That changes with the third king, Asa, who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord..” Asa’s grandson and great-grandson will not be devoted to the Lord, but after them, the next four kings are noted for their faithfulness.
In fact, of the twelve monarchs (that includes one queen, Athaliah), half of them are said to be faithful to the Lord. Of wicked ones though, Ahaz will be the worst. He seemed to do everything in his power to offend the Lord and curry the favor of the pagan nations around him. Most galling had to be the replacement of the Lord’s altar in the temple with a copy of one found in a pagan temple in Damascus. Ahaz appropriated the Lord’s altar for himself to be used as a personal tool of divination to seek the Lord’s counsel.
You have to wonder why he bothered.
You also have to wonder why he was so blind. The text says that he was following “the ways of the kings of Israel.” And where had such behavior gotten them? Many of them had been carried off into captivity. Before his reign was out, the rest of them would be deported. Israel was gasping for breath yet Ahaz was determined to follow in their footsteps.
The world in which we live offers a mirage of success. It is successful in luring us away because our vision is focused on the here and now, and we are not looking at the consequences of the world’s leading and our trance-like following. Perhaps that’s why there is so much in the New Testament about “waking up,” not acting like “drunks,” and being sober-minded.