Heavenly Father, give us contentment with and respect for Your worship. May we honor You in building according to Your pattern. Amen.
JESUS, THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
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Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.
Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.
Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.
When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.
This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.
Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me-
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.
O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.
What would you do if a guest came into your house, and started moving the furniture around? What if he began to announce plans to change the color of the walls or the kind of carpet on the floor? In our study today, we see a wicked king intruding on God’s property, and making modifications he has no right to perform.
The life of Ahaz reveals to us three evils of those who have no love for God in their hearts. First, there is the evil of participation in false worship. We see that Ahaz was involved in the idol worship of the wicked kings who had gone before him, and as had happened so many times before in the legacy of these men, he had carried his abominations to new heights. The reference to the fact that he made his sons pass through the fire may well mean that he sacrificed his sons to the false gods of these other lands. Notice the irony of his transgression. It is said that he participated in the very things that had brought destruction on the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel (v.3). Think of the implications to this. As he stands on soil that his forefathers had been given to God, he does the very things that aroused God’s anger, and caused Him to drive out those whom he now imitates in unrighteousness. How blinding sin is! It removes from us the ability to discern, and we see the cords of destruction around our wrists and our neck as adorning bracelets and necklaces! In the unbeliever, the terrors of sin are seen as trinkets.
The next evil revealed in Ahaz’s life is the evil of trusting in the “arm of flesh.” As the pressure of the Syrian army comes against him, instead of repenting and returning to Jehovah, he looks for help from Assyria. He finds consolation for his trouble in one of the nations that was the cause of his trouble. This is again the way of all unbelievers. When the consequences of attachment to and love for the world begin to be felt, the natural reaction of the heart of stone is to turn toward something in the world to find the solution to the pain. Some try to drown difficulty in a gluttonous eating binge, others with drunkenness, others with drugs or “sexual fulfillment” that is illicit and unfulfilling. The world will never cure what the world causes, and this is evident by the fact that Assyria was not only temporary as a helper, but would one day be the enemy of Israel, and the rod of judgment in God’s hand against his rebellious people.
The third evil revealed in Ahaz’s life is the perversion of true worship. Unbelievers with some form of religious heritage or environment are never content to reject the worship of the Lord. They tend not to forsake it, but to modify it for their own desires and needs. We see this in the way in which Ahaz has an altar built according to his specifications. Rejecting the format and structure of worship which God has laid out, Ahaz proposes his own plan, and then it seems desires God’s blessing on it all by having the offerings made on his altar, and inquiring by the original altar (v.15). The first two signs of an evil heart were truly terrible, but it could be argued that nothing compares to this sin-the sin of corrupting the holy and sacred temple and worship of God. It is one thing to flee from His presence in shame, but it is another to stand brazenly before His face, and ask for a blessing on the lame offerings of your own creation. This is the depth of the pride of Ahaz-he was willing to attempt to rival God and modify what He had consecrated for the glory of His name.
Click here for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
Truth in Practice
Let us consider one fundamental and very practical lesson from this story of Ahaz’s life. The life of Ahaz is a warning to us never to modify or change or desire to “improve” what God has established. In the church, we are stewards of God’s house, and so God’s rules for how the church ought to be built are what we must follow. In the worship of the church, all that we do ought to be according to the pattern in God’s Book. It is easy to be persuaded by the world to modify our practices. There will always be pressure from those like the king of Assyria. But we must remember that our Lord in His wisdom has given us clear guidelines that need no improvement, and accept no proposals for modification. God the Lord is worthy of a church built according to His word, and worship offered in the way that He requires!
Q. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?
A. The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Luke 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the great day (Ps. 49:14).