August 22, 2023
“Then King Ahaz cut off the frames of the water carts and removed the bronze basin from each of them. He took the reservoir from the bronze oxen that were under it...”
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“Then King Ahaz cut off the frames of the water carts and removed the bronze basin from each of them. He took the reservoir from the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pavement. To satisfy the king of Assyria, he removed from the Lord’s temple the Sabbath canopy they had built in the palace, and he closed the outer entrance for the king.” 2 Kings 16:17-18 (HCSB)
What lessons should we learn from this account of Ahaz’s new measures? First, the king’s innovations imply that he felt there was a deficiency in orthodox worship. Ahaz apparently thought temple worship could be improved and that an upgrade was in order. Ahaz wanted to be more than a king. He wanted to be a priest as well. Perhaps, he felt some worldly artistic influence should kick off his priestly inauguration.
But whenever we supplement or “enrich” worship, we imply that worship, as God directs, is somehow deficient. One wonders if our post-modern church culture now runs the same danger. In principle, our worship is the same as Biblical Judah’s: Prayer and Praise based on Atonement (Jesus’ sacrifice). That doesn’t mean our worship can’t have a creative variety or that it must be necessarily tedious. But why do we keep toying with worship, thinking that we have to soup it up with a boundless pursuit of production? It is evident that many leaders within the Church hold to the idea that Jesus and the Bible are simply no longer enough to captivate people’s attention.
Evil is helped by weakness as much as by wickedness. Whatever Ahaz commands, Uriah does. Obviously, Uriah had much to lose should he refuse to go along with Ahaz’s liturgical renovations. Some of us know what that is like. Some know what it is to leave a congregation because they could not continue with a pastor (or a denomination) who refuses to be grounded in the foundation of Scripture.
It can feel like your security has been kicked in the solar plexus (for you professional wrestling fans), but the way of peace, “Uriah-style,” never leads to righteousness. It merely cooperates with wickedness. Often, God calls leaders to conflict rather than cooperation. OFTEN TIMES. Beware of the congregation that advertises “unconditional acceptance” over adherence to God’s Word. Beware of those who pride themselves in making the congregation a comfortable place at the risk of diluting the confrontational nature of Gospel truth.
Resist the urge to pray for compromised peace when God calls for an uncompromising spiritual battle! There is no victory without one side completely surrendering to the other. And we serve the King of Kings, Lord of Lords! Compromise does not bring peace, only a temporary ceasefire. In the Middle East, “peace” means “reload.” We are called to live victoriously. (1 John 5:4-5) That should be our attitude – not because we crave conflict, but because we fear spinelessness that concedes to other men’s faithlessness and sin.