Influenced by Whom?
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
Ahaz inherited the throne and responsibility to lead and govern Judah at the age of 20 (see 2 Chronciles 28). His father, Jotham, had desired to follow God but had held back from truly serving and was remembered for not ever entering the Temple. His father, Uzziah, had served God passionately for many years but his downfall had been power and pride. I wonder what Ahaz had learnt or not learnt from his father and grandfather before him. Whom would he allow to influence him the most in his decision making?
Ahaz was a people pleaser and the people he wanted to please were the Assyrians. He accommodated and welcomed their practices. He welcomed their aid and ensured the idols they worshipped were promoted throughout the land. This included sacrificing children (his own included) on their alters. He defined himself as being religious and accommodating. Interestingly, Ahaz started in small steps such as only practicing his convictions for his own private worship, but when this was not challenged he expanded and then directly usurped the place of God in the land.
How would we have responded to this had we been living in this time?
Uriah the priest responded by doing as he was told by Ahaz.
The impact of all of this evil and self-centred leadership brought disaster on the people of Judah.
Hezekiah, Ahaz's son, took over and was dramatic in his response to his father's leadership. He recognised the failings and repented. (2 Chronicles 29:5-10) and refreshed the Covenant with God. In a time when speaking well of your family and ancestors was a cultural imperative, to admit that your father had sinned would have been shocking! By acknowledging the sins of the past and confronting them, and then committing a fresh to follow God, Hezekiah illustrates the vital importance of breaking the curse and impact of the sins and mistakes of the past. He further demonstrates that tradition and religious rites should not restrict people in coming to the Lord – that the most important aspect is a heart that is committed to God (2 Chronicles 30:18-19) Hezekiah intercedes on behalf of his people.
As we gather to pray together this week in the midst of so much turmoil in in good governance, leadership issues, corruption, climate changes and worldly influences that could lead us away from God, let's reflectively and prayerful consider:
What influences have my / our ancestors had on me / us and how I/we live now? Like Hezekiah we need to acknowledge the good and the bad and repent to break any hold this may have.
Who is influencing whom? Who do we accommodate and seek to please and for what reasons? Challenge oneself to commit a fresh to follow God. Ask God to open our eyes to the lies and traps that exist that would snare us and lead us to simply conform as Uriah did, without questioning or challenging.
Our desire is to see godly authentic leaders, nations who turn to God; communities that stand for peace and justice. How can we prophetically influence and speak into situations in our communities and nations to promote this?
True love does not hide its head in the sand, rather it enables us to look facts squarely in the face and act. Lord help us to love, not with sentimentality but with wisdom and authority to speak out for what is right, and walk in the light.