Introduction: Would you like to feel the excitement and energy of a
spiritual revival? Would you like to rejoice and celebrate what God
has done for you? Are family influences, or fellow church members,
holding you back? This week our study is of a father and son. The
son is a king who led his people into reform, revival and the
celebration of the worship of God in Judah even though his father was
the worst influence possible. Let’s dive into our study!

  1. Ahaz

    1. Read 2 Kings 16:1-4. The Bible gives us an illustration of
      the extent of the evil done by King Ahaz. What do you
      think was the most evil thing that he did? (He sacrificed
      his sons in the fire. See also 2 Chronicles 28:3.)

      1. What do you think King Ahaz hoped to gain by this
        sacrifice of his sons? (A better life.)

      2. Remember that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac
        (Genesis 22)? What is different about what Ahaz did?

      3. Do you find any irony in Ahaz’s action in sacrificing
        his sons? (Yes! God gave up His Son to die for our
        sins. As a result, we do not have to sacrifice our
        children. God was simply illustrating to Abraham what
        He intended to do for us. God does not allow the
        sacrifice of children. He calls this a sin and a
        “detestable thing” ( Jeremiah 32:35). When Ahaz
        sacrificed his sons instead of relying on the true
        God, he killed his sons for no reason. Ahaz could
        have had both God’s blessings and his sons at the
        same time.)

      4. Do you know people, like Ahaz, who needlessly
        sacrifice their children? (That is abortion. Instead
        of trusting in God for the future, we kill our
        children in the belief that this will somehow make
        our lives better. This constitutes both the ultimate
        act of selfishness and a lack of faith in God.)

        1. Are there less extreme examples of child
          sacrifice that you can think of? What about
          mothers with small children who work outside the
          home to make new car payments? What about
          fathers who never see their children because
          they are pushing for promotions? (In fifteen
          years a new car will be junk and the child will
          be grown. What a trade! I remember being annoyed
          when my children would try to talk to me when I
          was reading the newspaper. Then sense would hit
          me and I would think, “What is the matter with
          you? The news is nothing. Talking with your
          children is a most important and fleeting
          opportunity!” Sometimes we just don’t think
          clearly about these things.)

    2. Read 2 Kings 16:5-6. What trouble does Ahaz face? (Both
      the Kings of Israel and Aram have joined forces to attack
      Ahaz. They have some success because Aram is able to
      claim Elath.)

      1. How do you think Ahaz felt about this attack since we
        read that Israel and Aram could not overcome him?
        (Read Isaiah 7:2. Although Ahaz was able to hold them
        off, he and his people were terrified by this

    3. Read Isaiah 7:3-7. Did Ahaz and Judah have to worry?
      Should they have been terrified? (God told Ahaz not to be
      afraid. Israel and Aram would not tear his country apart.)

    4. Read 2 Kings 16:7-9. What is Ahaz offering Assyria in
      exchange for its help against Israel and Aram? (He is
      offering to be the servant of Assyria!)

      1. It worked. The King of Assyria killed the King of
        Aram ( 2 Kings 16:9) and ultimately destroyed Israel
        and deported its people ( 2 Kings 17:3-6). What do
        you think about this deal between Ahaz and the King
        of Assyria?

        1. How does this plan of Ahaz compare with his
          decision to sacrifice his sons? (It is exactly
          the same stupid concept. Instead of trusting God
          for help, Ahaz gives away his kingdom to
          Assyria. If Ahaz had just turned to God and
          trusted in Him in time of trouble he could have
          had both his sons and his kingdom.)

    5. Read 2 Kings 16:17-18 and 2 Chronicles 28:24. What else
      did Ahaz change because of his decision to become the
      servant of Assyria in exchange for its help? (He modified
      the temple and his worship “in deference to the King of
      Assyria” to the point that he finally “shut the doors to
      the temple.”)

      1. Have you ever modified your worship of God for the
        sake of your employer? The sake of new friends?
        (Ahaz is such a sad picture of reliance on the wrong
        things in life. He gave up his sons, his kingdom and
        his worship for no reason. If he had just trusted in
        God he could have had them all!)

  2. Hezekiah

    1. Read 2 Chronicles 29:1-2. Hezekiah is one son of Ahaz who
      managed to avoid the fire. He becomes King of Judah. What
      kind of kingdom do you think Hezekiah inherited? (It was a
      shambles. Pagan gods were set up on every corner of
      Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 28:24). The country was under the
      thumb of the Assyrians.)

      1. When evil seems to have control of everything around
        you, what do you do? Do you just “go along?” “Go with
        the flow?”

    2. Let’s read what Hezekiah did. Read 2 Chronicles 29:3-11.
      How long did Hezekiah wait to start changing the evil
      status quo? (He started the change immediately!)

      1. Why was he so motivated to change what was all around
        him? (The reason why the place was in a shambles,
        evil abounded, and the neighbors alternated between
        feeling sorry for them and laughing at them, was
        that they had turned away from God.)

    3. Let’s skip down to 2 Chronicles 30:1-4. How fast was
      Hezekiah moving in his reforms? (He was moving so quickly
      he was ahead of the people and the priests.)

      1. Is that the way reform should be in our churches?
        Should leaders wait for the people to catch up to
        them? Or, should they run ahead of the people?

      2. Notice that the Passover is being celebrated. Why do
        you think Hezekiah chose to celebrate Passover as his
        next reform after putting the temple back in
        operation? (You remember that King Jeroboam decided
        to set up “golden calf worship” by announcing “Here
        are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of
        Egypt.” ( 1 Kings 12:28). Being saved from slavery in
        Egypt was the most important historical event for the
        average Jew. The Deuteronomy version of the Ten
        Commandments ( Deuteronomy 5:12-15) explicitly ties
        the weekly worship of God to the exodus from Egypt.
        Since Passover was the celebration of God’s work in
        saving His people from slavery, Hezekiah was a man of
        “first principles.” He moved quickly to reinstate the
        fundamental principles of worship – giving credit to
        the true God of Heaven for this important event.)

      3. What do you see in the reformers of today? Are they
        focused on “first principles?” Or, are they obsessed
        with obscure and debatable theological points?

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 30:18-20. We learned in the first few
      verses of this chapter that Hezekiah could not celebrate
      Passover on the correct date for practical reasons. We
      learn here that a bunch of “unclean” people improperly ate
      the Passover for other practical reasons. What theological
      lesson do you draw from this? (The key to a proper view of
      all this malfeasance is found in v. 19: “set[ting the]
      heart on seeking God.” Friend, we should not ignore God’s
      rules, as did Hezekiah’s predecessors. But, the teaching
      of this text is that our primary concern is with the
      attitude of our minds. The attitude is far more important
      than any details.)

      1. Our lesson (Friday) refers to this situation as an
        “emergency” (“emergencies must be met”). Do you
        agree? (The only emergency was that the people had
        been ignoring God’s word for a very long time. If
        this is an emergency, then every sinner constitutes
        an emergency. The theological principle presented
        here should not be undercut by labeling this an

    5. Read 2 Chronicles 30:21&26-27. Let’s get this straight.
      This unclean group of people, meeting at the wrong time,
      failed to be sighing and crying about their sins and
      short-comings (which were obvious). Instead, they spent
      seven days celebrating and rejoicing with songs and
      “instruments of praise.” (The KJV says “loud
      instruments.”) Judging by some of the things I read
      today, God surely must have been offended! Is that what
      the Bible says? (As opposed to what some so-called
      reformers say today, the Bible tells us that God heard
      their prayers and their blessings in His home in heaven!)

    6. Read 2 Chronicles 30:23. The people could not get enough
      of celebrating and praising their God. They decided to do
      it for another seven days. How about your church service?
      Are people refusing to leave at the end of the worship?
      Are they rushing right back for more? Does your assembly
      agree to spend another hour in worship because they had
      such a great time praising and worshiping God with their
      instruments of praise?

      1. Is it possible you need a Hezekiah in your church?

      2. Is it possible that, as a practical matter, the doors
        of your church are “closed” because the service is so
        dead and boring?

    7. Let’s turn a corner and find out if all this worship of
      God was the genuine article or just fluff. Read 2
      Chronicles 32:1, 9-13. What is the answer to these
      questions – on what was Hezekiah trusting? (The great God
      of Heaven.)

      1. What about the question in v. 13 – had any other god
        ever stopped the Assyrians?

      2. Had the God of Heaven stopped the Assyrians before?
        (He had not stopped them from mowing through Israel
        before, or putting King Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father)
        under the authority of the Assyrians.)

        1. Why should the people think things would be
          different now? That was the question King
          Sennacherib of Assyria wanted to know. What is
          your answer? (The hearts of the people had
          turned to God. They rejoiced in celebrating
          their new relationship.)

    8. Read 2 Chronicles 32:20-21. Was the religious experience
      of the people real or was it fluff? When a crisis over
      the very existence of the nation was at stake, what did
      God do in response to their prayers?

    9. Friend, God calls on you today to consider the “first
      principles” of religion. Instead of being absorbed in
      details, consider the state of your heart. Have you
      experienced that heart conversion that causes you to
      rejoice and celebrate what God has done and continues to
      do for you? How about your fellow church members? Do they
      come to church to rejoice and praise? If not, is it time
      for you, like Hezekiah, to “open” the doors of your church
      to the true worship of God?

  3. Next Week: “Meanwhile … Back in the North.”