King Ahaz was bad fruit that fell from a good tree. Both his grandfather and his father ruled in Judah according to the Law of God, but Ahaz turned from the model of David and ruled after the manner of the kings of Israel. His resume of evil has been presented in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. King Ahaz built false places of worship, employed false priests over worship, and sacrificed his own sons in horrific acts of worship. Consequently, God sovereignly sent the kings of Israel and Syria to plague Ahaz and his subjects.
It was then, during this season of violent turmoil, that Ahaz was again given an opportunity to repent and call on the Lord, but Ahaz would not do so. (Isaiah 7) Instead, Ahaz sought another savior:
Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria. (2 Kings 16:7-8)
For a while, the preference of Ahaz seemed to be wise. Tiglath-pileser saved Ahaz and did things for the wicked king that the LORD would not. The opposing kings were defeated in battle and immediate comfort was experienced by the wicked king of Judah. However, the salvation of Tiglath-pileser was short lived. Soon, after a season of delight:
Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him … he gave tribute to the king of Assyria, but it did not help him. (2 Chronicles 28:21)
Ahaz turned from the LORD and found a substitute savior, but this substitute savior was in reality a counterfeit savior, and in the end his plight became increasingly miserable and hopeless.
Friends, how has your sin, or someone else’s sin, harmed you and those underneath your realm of authority? Is your marriage miserably in trouble? Are you about ready to drown in a sea of debt? Has a spirit of hopeless depression fallen upon you? Is sexual promiscuity or marital infidelity about to do you in? Are rebellious children sending you over the edge? Got personal addictions? What plight do you find yourself in today?
There are many potential messiahs. There are many false saviors promising to rescue you from your horrific situation. Another hit from the bottle or pop of a pill might make you happy. Another shot of pornography might give you a thrill. Another lover might provide immediate satisfaction. Divorce could be the cure-all. Perhaps a shopping spree will give you a lift. And regarding those troubled children, try private school, Christian school, military school, or even reform school. And if these things don’t work, perhaps you can think more positive thoughts, subscribe to the “power of positive thinking,” and speak only good things into your life.
But friends, these potential messiahs are counterfeit saviors who will not help you in the end. And worse than that, they will leave you more despairing and hopeless than you are at the present time.
The Lord Jesus Christ is your way, truth, and life. He is your Shepherd who will lead you through the valley of the Shadow of Death. Christ is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. He goes by the titles “Gentle Healer” and “Great Physician.” He is the Most High and the teacher who reforms like none other.
So today, say farewell to all the Tiglath-pilesers in your life. Trust not in horses, chariots, riches, or the schemes of man. Fall on your knees in prayer. Submit to Jesus Christ and read his Word to see what submission requires. Run to his visible church where true ministers and friends can minister to you on his behalf. Christ will comfort you. He will grant you wisdom in making decisions. He will rescue you in his own time and manner. And when his work is complete, you will dance in joy as you pity those who still seek salvation while trusting in counterfeit saviors.