Ahaz was an evil king of Judah who became king at the age of 20 and reigned for 4 years with his father, Jotham, from 735 to 731 BC, and 16 years on his own, from 731 to 715 BC. Second Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28 record King Ahaz’s destructive practices, such as idol worship and sacrilege against the temple of the Lord. The actions of Ahaz contributed to the downfall of the kingdom of Judah, which the Lord brought about in 586 BC. Isaiah 7–10 speaks of the results and consequences of King Ahaz’s wicked ways.
Ahaz’s father, King Jotham, was one of the good kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 27:2), so it is unclear why King Ahaz departed so completely from the teachings of the Lord. His repugnant deeds included sacrificing his own children, which was a great evil the kingdom of Israel had already been practicing (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chronicles 28:3). King Ahaz also desecrated the temple as a result of his alliance with the king of Assyria, which came about in response to punishment God sent on Ahaz in the form of attacks on Ahaz’s land.
King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel had besieged King Ahaz’s lands, and, although they were not strong enough to defeat Ahaz, they did “inflict heavy casualties on him” (2 Chronicles 28:5). Not only were Ahaz’s son Maaseiah and his second-in-command, Elkanah, killed, but over 100,000 soldiers were killed, and Judah’s cities were plundered. Many Israelites who were living in Judah were taken captive (verses 6–8). Because of all this, Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser, for help in defeating Aram and Israel. Tiglath-Pileser complied and attacked Damascus, capturing the city and killing King Rezin.
When King Ahaz met the victorious king of Assyria in Damascus, he saw a pagan altar there he wanted to copy for his own use in Jerusalem. So he sent plans to his priest Uriah, who finished the altar before Ahaz came back from Damascus (2 Kings 16:11). Upon his return, King Ahaz made sacrifices on the altar to the gods of Damascus. He moved the altar of the Lord, and, although he still planned to use it for “guidance” (verse 15), Ahaz offered all the sacrifices on the new altar.
Ahaz’s sacrilege did not end there. To impress the king of Assyria, he removed the royal entryway of the temple as well as the Sabbath canopy, and cut the temple furnishings into pieces (2 Kings 16:17–18; 2 Chronicles 28:24). After shutting the doors to the temple, he placed altars at all the street corners in Jerusalem and high places for worshiping false gods in every city in Judah (2 Chronicles 28:24–25).
The Bible is not clear on how Ahaz died, but it does say that, although he was buried with his ancestors in Jerusalem, he did not earn a place in the tombs of the kings of Israel (2 Kings 16:20; 2 Chronicles 28:27). His son Hezekiah reigned after him, and, fortunately, King Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 29:2). He reversed what his father had done to the temple, purifying it and again consecrating it for worship of the Lord (verses 3–36).