If you have ever read the portions of Scripture about the kings of Israel and Judah (1 & 2 Kings), then you probably noticed that most of the kings were awful men. Every time I read through Kings, I get discouraged because of how foolish these leaders were. The phrase to characterize most of them is “[the king] did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 15:34; 16:25, 30; 2 Kings 15:18, 24, 28; 16:2).
Ahaz, King of Judah, was no exception to the pattern. Second Kings 16:2b–3a says, “And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering.” Ahaz was an evil man.
During Ahaz’s reign, the kings of Israel and Syria conspired against him to destroy his country, Judah:
“In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. When the house of David was told, ‘Syria is in league with Ephraim,’ the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1–2).
When I think about the current situation of our world, I think some good words to describe the feelings in people’s hearts are fear, anxiety, uncertainty, worry, chaos, paranoia, and so on. If you are alive on planet earth during the months of March and April 2020, you feel the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. In this moment, we have no idea what is going to happen, and that causes us to panic.
Much like Ahaz and the people of Judah, our world is crippled by fear because of a common enemy.
Listen to the words that God chooses to deliver to this evil king, Ahaz:
And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz... And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah’” (Isaiah 7:3a, 7:4).
Despite blatant disobedience and rejection of his laws, God responds with a message of comfort to King Ahaz.
Maybe today you are feeling like you’ve screwed up way too many times for God to have mercy on you. Maybe you feel like the coronavirus is all you deserve. Maybe you feel hopeless about this situation because you’ve cheated and lied your way through life. Have you ever considered that God’s mercy is big enough for you? Have you ever realized that his love is deep enough for you? Ahaz was a king who sacrificed his child on an altar, and yet, God still sent him a message of mercy.
Friend, God is not angry at you or waiting to punish you. You are not too far gone. He is waiting to pour out his mercy and grace upon you. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Apostle Paul struggles for words to describe God’s love: “[that you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18–19a).
Despite the world around us, despite our current circumstances, we can be confident that God is for us (Romans 8:31–32). He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). If we have received the free gift of the grace of God, all his promises find their “yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Today, rest in the hope that He always offers more grace (James 4:6a).