By Alex Florez
Ahaz, king of Judah, demonstrates with stunning clarity how people tend to make bad decisions in times of trouble. In fact, the worse things got, the more alienated from God he became.
He adopted several of the local religious practices, perhaps in an effort to win the people’s affection. But, this assimilation program did him no good; it only compounded his problems. “At the time of his distress, King Ahaz himself became more unfaithful to the LORD” (2Chronicles 28:22). Because of the choices he made, Ahaz is the latest ruler to be cast among the list of wicked kings featured in the Bible.
As a direct result of flouting God’s commandments about worshiping other gods, Ahaz suffered at the hands of the kings of Aram, Israel, and Assyria. They eviscerated his army, raided his villages, and plundered the temple. Even the Philistines got in on the action and wreaked havoc on Judah. Doubling down on his faithlessness, he tried to strike a deal with the king of Assyria in an effort to get himself out of trouble. In his desperation, Ahaz was a man who preferred to rely on his floundering strength and misguided strategies rather than to appeal to the Lord.
I know all too well that once you make one bad decision, it gets easier and easier to exercise poor judgment. When I look at my life, there’s a lot of messy mistakes, and I need help getting them cleaned up. And many of the messes I’ve created result from bad decisions made in times of distress.
So, I’m not here to wag my finger at Ahaz and the other “wicked” kings because, if I’m honest, I don’t know that I would have been a much better monarch. Something tells me that if I had absolute power and unlimited financial resources, I would have become the DaVinci of bad decision-making.
But for those of us who have encountered the Lord Jesus and experienced firsthand the transforming power of God’s mercy, we can have hope. If we can’t outrun our distress, we serve a King who wants us to surrender it into His mighty hands. He doesn’t want us to figure things out for ourselves before allowing us into His presence; He wants to relieve us of our burdens so that we can immediately enjoy the sunshine of His love. He doesn’t want us to bury our distress in a graveyard of worthless substitutes; He wants us to taste and see that His goodness is deeper and sweeter than any of the loathsome devices we have employed to console our broken heart.
Rather than spiraling deeper into unfaithfulness, God calls each of us, in our distress, to run into the arms of Jesus.