Substitute Savior (2 Kings 17:1-23)

If all of theology could be described in one sentence it would be, “There is no god but the LORD.”

This theme begins with the Bible’s opening declaration that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

This truth is reemphasized in the Ten commandments in Exodus 20:3-5 and again in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

In Judges, idolatry is blamed for Israel’s periodic descents into defeat and oppression (Judges 2:10-23).

Virtually all the prophets condemn idol worship, with some ridiculing the practice (Isaiah 46:6-23, for example).

The book of Kings drives home this theme of “There is no god but the LORD” emphatically.

  • Idolatry is blamed for the nation’s division after Solomon’s death (1 Kings 11:9-13).
  • Without exception the kings of Israel and Judah are judged not by whether they have a large army or treasury but by whether they promoted, curtailed, or eradicated idolatry in the land, especially the “high places.”
  • Jeroboam starts a new religion, one that serves his own interests rather than those of God. Instead of rejecting idols, he has two golden calves made, then teaches the nation that these gods delivered Israel from Egypt (1 Kings 12:28-30). Additionally, knowing it is not politically expedient to allow his people to travel to Jerusalem to worship, he builds two local shrines where the new bovine gods can be honored (1 Kings. 12:29-31).
  • Ahab and Jezebel promoted and supported Baalism in Israel.
    • Ahab built Baal a temple (1 Kings 16:32-33)
    • Jezebel employed 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:22) and threatened the lives of God’s prophets (1 Kings 18:1-6; 19:1-2).
  • Idolatry is blamed for Israel’s exile. 2 Kings 17:7 reads, “And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods.”
    • No sociological or political reasons for their demise…simply theological…Yahweh alone is God, deal with it…or else!

Faithfulness to God is always the crucial, and in some sense, the sole demand for Israel.

Unfortunately, faithfulness to God is a rare commodity in Israel and unfaithfulness is as common as dust.

Anything but rely and trust on God.

Israel is always looking for substitutes.

Interestingly enough, “Hoshea” means “Savior” and is related to the names of Joshua and Jesus.

But Hoshea is no Joshua or Jesus!

Though 2 Kings 17:2 hints at something of a “reform”, he is a poor substitute for a savior.

His reign begins with conspiracy and ends in exile(see 2 Kings 15:30 and 2 Kings 17:1-6).

Hoshea, Israel’s substitute savior, despite his best efforts, could not redeem them from Assyria.

He was powerless to save and so were all the other “substitute saviors’’ listed in 2 Kings 17:1-23.

May this passage be a strong reminder to us that there is only one God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and that far from trying to substitute him, we  need to treasure his substitution in our place for our sinfulness on the cross!

1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”

1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit”

Just as God delivered Israel out of bondage to slavery in Egypt with a mighty arm, so Jesus has delivered all who believe in him from bondage to sin.

Do you believe, or are you still looking for other saviors?

There is no god but the LORD and there is no other way to him but through Jesus Christ!

Stop looking for other saviors and bow down to THE Savior Jesus Christ of whom we read that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I Can’t Believe How Wicked Ahaz Is…(2 Kings 16:1-4)

Ahaz is a wicked king.

He begins his reign at an early age, being only 20 years old (v. 2).

He reigns for 16 years.

16 years of sheer wickedness.

Listen to how he is described:

  • “And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done” (v. 2)
  • “He walked in the way of the kings of Israel” (v. 3)
  • “He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel” (v. 3)
    • This is disturbing. If Ahaz shares in those abominations, will he not share in their judgment?
  • “He sacrificed and made offering on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree” (v. 4)
    • Notice the third person singular pronoun “He.”

This leads to what is perhaps most alarming about Ahaz – there is no mention of the Davidic covenant. In fact, it has been quite some time since we have read of the Davidic promise in regards to Judah.

Recall Abijah in 1 Kings 15 with me.

Here is another wicked king but there we are told, “Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong” (v. 4).

Recall Jehoram in 2 kings 8.

He was wicked but we read “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendents forever” (v. 19).

For Ahaz, instead of being reminded of the Lord’s promise to David we are reminded of the Lord’s driving out of the nations before the Israelites.

Things do not bode well for Judah.

There is a great gathering of darkness in Judah.

At this point we are tempted to wag our heads and put on our “angry, scornful, self-righteous” eyes and glare at Ahaz in disbelief.

But beware!

Thomas Watson, a Puritan minister of many years ago had this to say:

Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the word thunders against sin, think thus: ‘God means my sins;’ when it presseth any duty, ‘God intends me in this.’ Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.

When you read of Ahaz and his sinfulness remember the sovereign God’s description of you:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” Ephesians 2:1-3

The same evil heart that is in Ahaz is in you.

Given the right circumstances, you are just as capable of doing what Ahaz did.

If you fail to realize that then great is your pride.

When you read of how sinful Ahaz was, remember the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

There is a great darkness gathering in Judah. There is a great darkness gathering in your heart “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Did you hear how wicked Ahaz is?

Did you hear how wicked Andrew Manwarren is?

Did you hear how wicked you are?

BUT GOD!

“We are more wicked than we ever feared yet more loved than we ever hoped.”