Read 2 Kings 16: 1-9
Ask about Ahaz: Who is Ahaz? Ahaz was the king of Judah and was 20 years old when he began to rule. He was the son of David. He ruled for 16 years. God was not pleased with how Ahaz was ruling Judah. Instead, ruled his kingdom honoring false gods.
Read 2 Kings 16: 10-20
Ask about Ahaz in Damascus: What does Ahaz do after seeing a pagan altar in Damascus? He replaced the altar of burnt offering to the Lord with a replica of the pagan altar he had seen in Damascus. Ahaz did this primarily to please the Assyrian king. Ahaz wanted to replace God with the Assyrian king as Judah’s rule. He had complete disregard for God’s specific directions for how that burnt alter should look. (Read Exodus 27:1-8). Verses 15 and 18 from 2 Kings chapter 16 demonstrated how corrupt the religious system was at the time. The high priest at the time complied with Ahaz’s requests, even though Ahaz’s intent for his rule was to please those in power and to worship pagan gods.
Ask about Ahaz and the gods: Why did Ahaz idolize and worship these gods? It appears that he was able abuse his power and to control the people and he pointed to the gods and the Assyrian king as a reason for his actions. It’s like when we do something wrong but blame our boss and say “They told me to do it”.
Read 2 Kings 17:1-23
Ask about God’s intervention: Why didn’t God intervene and stop the Assyrians from invading? God allowed the Assyrians to invade because the Israelites were not fully depending on God.
Ask about the Israelites and who they turned to: Instead of God, the Israelites were depending on what? As verse 7 states, they worshipped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.
Read 2 Kings 17:9…As verse 9 indicates, the Israelites tried to worship other gods and follow the practices of the nations in secret.
Ask about secrets from God: Is it possible to keep a secret from God? Read Hebrews 4:13-15 for the answer.
Ask about hiding from God: Have there been times in your life when you tried to hide something from God (e.g. an affair, pornography, lies)? If so, were you able to keep it hidden? Were you able to hide the guilt?
Ask about turning to other Gods: Why and when did people (Israelites) turn to other Gods?…When they had wants and they were impatient. Also, they were tired of waiting for God to fulfill his promises.
Ask about being impatient with God: Name a time in which you became impatient because you had been persistently striving for something and you were unable to achieve or obtain what you were hoping to get. How easy is it for us to give up on something even though it had been expected or promised to you?
Talk about gods: Some of the gods that Ahaz and the Israelites worshipped were Baal, Asherah (both mentioned in 2 Kings 21: 1-9), Adrammelech, and Anammelech. As mentioned in 2 Kings 21:6, Ahaz sacrificed his own son to some of these gods in a fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted with mediums and spiritists.
Read 2 Kings 21: 1-9
Talk about Baal: Who is Baal? Baal is a Canaanite word for “master, Lord”. Baal is the son of El, the father of the gods and the head of the Canaanite pantheon. He is designed as “the son of Dagon” (meaning “grain”), a deity associated with agriculture. We will go into more detail about the other gods previously mentioned after we read the scripture associated with them.
Read 2 Kings 17: 24-33
Ask about God’s punishment to Israelites: What did God do to punish the Israelites? According to verse 25 he sent lions to kill some of the Israelites. To me, that would be enough for me to turn back to serving the Lord rather than continuing to serve false gods. Unfortunately, that was not enough to convince them. According to verse 33, the Israelites were trying to serve both the Lord and their false gods. The Lord was not happy with this decision though.
Ask about Israelites honoring false gods: What did the Israelites do to honor their false gods and the nations they were associated with? They made their own gods. As mentioned, often gods were associated with some “thing” or want. For example, Dagon was the god associated with fertility and agriculture. When the Israelites thought to themselves, “We are running out of food. We need to worship Dagon so that he may bless us with a plentiful harvest”.
Ask about Ashima: Who is Ashima (2 Kings 17:30 & 2 Kings 21:7)? Ashima means “Lady of the Sea”. Her cult object was wood in which a pole was used with an image of her carved in it. The cult object was usually worshipped or cut down and burned. The cult object was placed besides an altar of incense and stone pillars. Ashima is frequently represented as a nude woman next to a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in another. To worship her, males prostituted themselves in her honor. She is associated with sex and war
Ask about Adrammelech: Who is Adrammelech? Adrammelech means “Adar is king”. In honor of Adrammelech, the colonists of Samaria, who had been brought up from Sepharvaim, burned their children in the fire. This god is associated with Anammelech, some identifying them as a double god. Anammelech was the Babylonian god of the sky.
Ask about the location of worship: Where did people often go to worship the false gods? What was the procedure to worshipping them? According to 2 Kings 17:29, shrines were built as locations of worship, child sacrifices were conducted, and other similar actions occurred to please these false gods and the nations that the Israelites associated with at the time.
Read 2 Kings 17:34-39
Ask about God’s commands with false gods: What does God command the Israelites, and us, to do when it comes to false gods. In verse 35, God firmly commands us to not worship, serve, bow down to, or sacrifice to other gods.
Read 2 Kings 17:40-41: Even though this scripture takes place years ago, it is still relevant. How is this relevant? There are so many ways to become morally corrupt. Satan continues to make efforts to temp all of us at any given day, trying to bring moral corruption to all. Similar to the Israelites turning to false gods for a false sense of comfort and satisfaction, we often turn to and idolize certain things in our life to help us feel better, providing a false and temporary feelings of comfort and satisfaction (e.g. premarital sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, popularity, friends, and power). Rather than giving blindly into temptation, we must use our faith in God and scripture as our shield and weapon against sin. For example, Matthew 26:41 states that our awareness and alertness can protect us from falling into temptation. First, be alert, understanding that temptation may come at any time. Next, be well prepared, understanding how to use scripture and faith to protect you from sin. Lastly, keep your fellowship close when faced with temptation, providing you with accountability and protection against sin.
Ask about current gods: Are there any gods controlling you, preventing you from giving yourself fully to god?