King Ahaz’s reign over Judah was characterized by extreme idolatry. The depths to which he sank is summarized in 2 Kings 16:3 where it says that he “made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.” An abomination is something disgusting. The Hebrew word “to’ebah defines something or someone as essentially unique in the sense of being dangerous, sinister and repulsive to another individual” (8441).
An abomination is detestable to God because it is contrary to his nature (8441). King Ahaz’s behavior deserved to be punished and yet there is no record of anything happening to him as a result of his offenses against God. In fact, God sent Isaiah to deliver a message to Ahaz that indicated God wanted to help Ahaz and would deliver him from Syria and Israel if Ahaz would only believe in the LORD (Isaiah 7:9). But instead, Ahaz put his trust in Tiglath-pilneser king of Assyria.
When Rezin king of Syria recovered an important port city on the gulf of Aqabar, it says in 2 Kings 16:7 that “Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pilneser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son, come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria.” Basically, what Ahaz was saying was that Tiglath-pilneser was his god. Ahaz was going to rely on him for deliverance rather than the LORD.
King Ahaz’s devotion to Tiglath-pilneser enabled Judah to escape his vigorous campaigns, but the kings of Assyria that followed Tiglath-pilneser did not spare Judah from being attacked. Because king Ahaz refused to believe in the LORD, God used the Assyrians later on to draw his people back to him (Isaiah 7:20). Ultimately, the ravages of war caused Judah to look for their true deliverer, their Messiah (Isaiah 9:2).
Ahaz’s behavior was so outrageous that is served a dual purpose in bringing the people of Judah back to God. First, it showed the people that God really did love them because he allowed Ahaz to go his own way and did not punish him for his idolatry. Second, Ahaz’s determination to cut God out of the lives of his people was the impetus for God to go to greater lengths to prove himself faithful and to remind his children that their Messiah was coming.