2 Kings 16:1-4 NLTse Ahaz son of Jotham began to rule over Judah in the seventeenth year of King Pekah’s reign in Israel. (2) Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD his God, as his ancestor David had done. (3) Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. (4) He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
As you can see, I skipped over a number of chapters to get to the next one mentioning anything about the temple. I’m sure we will have opportunities to go back and review some of the highlights in those chapters. This book is not a Bible commentary. It is supposed to focus in the Tabernacle, temple, and Sanctuary.
I wonder what happened to the Tabernacle. Remember that tent filled with items God designed. Each of those items was filled with a story. I love listening to good stories. Don’t you? That really makes me wonder what happened to the Tabernacle and everything in it. What really makes me wonder is, why did Israel discard the Tabernacle before learning about those symbols?
That about explains the Bible and how it is treated in this world today. If the Bible was a woman, or I should say a spouse, how many Christians would be in jail for abuse? That is the way some people handle God’s Word. They use it for little more than to prove their own concepts. On the level of a marriage, they use the Bible to satisfy their own needs. On a minor level, people open the Bible to comfort themselves. On the radical level, people only open the Bible to prove a point they are stuck on. They use the Bible to prove a point, to show off to other people what they know. On the relationship level, the Bible is a neglected trophy wife. Someone dressed up and taken out to exemplify power and success. Is that what God wrote the Bible for? Let’s get serious. God had to send His own Son here to die so the last chapters of the Bible could get recorded. Authors suffered and lost their lives to write portions of the Bible. And what do people do with it? They find a way to use it as a tool to increase fame, fortune, or use it to comfort themselves when they need it. All other times, their Bibles sit neglected.
Look at the intimate part of a marriage. I mean the really intimate part. Men especially have an objective. Not all men, but enough to make a point. Some women are in this category also. Intimacy becomes an objective of self gratification. People are intimate only to reach that objective. People with that mentality have little or no thought of exploring all the other parts of the body God formed with His own hands. No desire to find other parts of the body that feel sensations. Parts sensitive to touch. A touch that says, I care. Touches that comfort and sooth.
Depending on the mood, stress, work of that day, temperature, and a host of other factors, different parts of the human body react differently to touch. What may have been a passing touch one day, suddenly becomes an unexpected sensation a week or month later. People intimate with the Bible know how that works with God’s Word. Stories that had little bearing on life one day, come alive when situations change. And like all of us, we often forget those moments. But they can be rediscovered. The Bible is like that, so are we. God formed Adam by hand. Then He took out a rib, the missing bone, and formed Eve by hand. Both were formed in God’s image. The Bible is one of the greatest views and links we have to learning who God really is. We can look at God creating the Bible with His Word, or we can see how God put in time to form each word in scripture with His hands.
When given the chance, the Bible is a collection of intimate stories about people’s lives, spanning generations of time. Prayer is the only way to see those personal stories. When scripture is studied with prayer, bringing the presence of God’s Spirit into the written word, stories come alive with the people and lives recorded in the Bible. God was present for each and every event. Stories have to be read together, and compared. Back ground is recorded in one story, while another story recorded events. Some stories describe landscape, others jobs people had, some describe structural features, and still others the political and religious make up of the culture. That is why the type of study we see today, often referred to as proof text does not work. Proof text can be compared to the intimacy of a half minute quicky, where your in and out in record time with no emotions involved.
I’ve often asked why Judah had that tendency to jump from one religion to another in record time. One king loved God, and tried to serve Him to the best of his ability. The next king, which most often was one of his sons, turned the country over to a host of pagan worshipers. Why were there so many sudden changes?
There were of course a lot of reasons for those sudden changes. In most cases, it is nearly impossible to change people’s religions. They want to stick to what they’ve been taught and more often than not, fiercely defend what they know. But Judah didn’t fit that mold. They must have had reasons, or motives to switch religions at the drop of a hat.
It isn’t a secret, many people in Judah and Jerusalem owned slaves. Some of those slaves were women. When people think of Jerusalem and Judah, the tend to rely on descriptions of little more than a nation of shepherds. In fact, Jerusalem was at the center of some of the most important trade routes in the Middle East. People build warehouses and store fronts to take advantage of trading goods. Many men were business men buying and selling products. It would be nice to think people in Jerusalem always offered fair prices on both the buying and selling side, and were happy with a fair profit. But some of those merchants were human. They never had enough. They always wanted more, at any cost.
Shepherds depended on their wives to cook, clean, raise children, and help with tending the flock, watering sheep and cattle, and for the most part, work like a man. Women were involved in the structure of the community, as well as the business end. In the city, things were different. Businessmen for the most part wanted wives to cook, clean, raise children, and the most successful businessmen wanted the perfect trophy wife. A wife to be seen and not heard. Businessmen often did behind closed door deals they didn’t want anyone to find out about. For the most part, not even their wives. The last thing those men needed was a wife playing the part of a conscience. Slaves were part of that image of success businessmen wanted to exhibit.
It wasn’t uncommon for businessmen to share a little wine. Then after a few flasks of wine, return home. Slaves were no more than property. When the urge came up, men wanted a sense of relief, and wanted it quick. Sexual relationships without commitment. A live in slave often satisfied that desire. But God had something to say about that.
“If a man who has married a slave wife takes another wife for himself, he must not neglect the rights of the first wife to food, clothing, and sexual intimacy. If he fails in any of these three obligations, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:10-11 NLTse).
“If a man has sex with a slave girl whose freedom has never been purchased but who is committed to become another man’s wife, he must pay full compensation to her master. But since she is not a free woman, neither the man nor the woman will be put to death. The man, however, must bring a ram as a guilt offering and present it to the LORD at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will then purify him before the LORD with the ram of the guilt offering, and the man’s sin will be forgiven. (Leviticus 19:20-22 NLTse).
Men wanted sex for free with no strings attached. But God had a set of rules and regulation, and a price to be paid. Strange as it may seem, we have to consider what the previous law had to do with this law.
“You must obey all my decrees. “Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread. (Leviticus 19:19 NLTse).
If nothing else, slaves were viewed as a different class of people compared to the successful class of businessmen. God arranged His laws in a specific order to make a point, and to get the conscience in high gear. To get people to think beyond what was recorded. The last thing successful businessmen wanted was a conscience, or a God who knew how to work on that conscience. They preferred those gods of wood, stone, and better yet, the gods of bronze, silver, and gold. Those gods not only left the conscience alone, kept their mouths shut, but opened another outlet to show off success. False gods became the perfect trophy wife.
Since the subject of marriage was brought up and compared to scripture, let’s look at how scripture described marriage. Nothing is recorded about specific details for a wedding ceremony. Those details are more or less man made traditions. Scripture says little about marriage.
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. (Genesis 4:1 KJV)
And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:17 KJV)
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. (Genesis 4:25 KJV)
And they rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. (1 Samuel 1:19 KJV)
Although this subject is only mentioned in a few locations in scripture, we should be able to figure out what it means. Most people think the term knew, only relates to sexual relationships. That is sort of a test from God to see if we are paying attention.
People may not think the part about Adam knowing Eve has anything to do with marriage. People cling onto the concepts they’ve been taught about a marriage in Heaven, and Adam didn’t know Eve in an intimate way until after they were ejected from Eden. People read all kinds of things into that without thinking about what it is to know a person, or in this case a spouse. When we look at this story and what happened before this story, what do we get out of it? Adam accepted Eve with all her faults. Adam saw the sinful side of Eve, and accepted her the way she was. As a matter of fact, Adam for some reason joined her. That is another subject all together.
Of course the term knew refers to a sexual relationship. But knowing a person goes much deeper than the physical attraction and attachment. What does it mean to know a person? There are three major levels, emotional, spiritual, and of course, the physical. Is one more important than the other? Is knowing someone on the physical level going to lead to the other levels? Interesting enough, scripture contains a few stories explaining how the physical level led to some sever negative results.
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Genesis 16:4 KJV)
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. (Genesis 19:34 KJV)
I shouldn’t have to explain how those physical relationships led to problems this world is still dealing with. When we examine the way the author phrased those encounters, we see a major difference. Abraham only went in on Hagar. Abraham didn’t know that slave in his household. The same is true with Lot and his daughters. Those are some deep spiritual lessons you can examine on your own. We are hitting subjects books could be based on. The fact of the matter is, each of us will get a different, personal answer from God based on where we are on our spiritual walk.
God used the symbol of a marriage to describe His relationship with His people. Now let’s put that word KNEW in place of the world marriage. Of course God knows us. We shouldn’t question that fact. But how many people really know God? What should come first in any relationship, the emotional, spiritual, or physical? Let’s take a look at what we know about Adam and Eve.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25 KJV)
God created them naked. But Adam was given information he had to share with Eve. The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden– except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:15-18 NLTse). God gave information to Adam he had to share with Eve.
God also showed Adam every animal, bird, and insect in the world, and let Adam name all of them. God gave Adam a lot to share with Eve. God also took something out of Adam to make Eve. That gave Eve something on a deep spiritual level to share with Adam. Man could not be complete until he found that missing rib. God set up Adam and Eve with reasons to know each other. But it took a while before thy were ready for the physical level.
The same is true with God. Everyone has questions about God. Or they should. Those animals, birds, fish, and insects – who better to explain every question about them then the original Creator? We don’t have Adam to talk to. Where else are we going to go for that part of the knowing process?
Those of us who have met God can tell you, you have to know God on the spiritual and emotional levels before you can hope to see God on any type of physical level. Some people search for God on the spiritual level, but without knowing the emotional level of God, they run the risk of using the spiritual level much like a physical encounter for self gratification. There is a certain mixture of the spiritual and emotional levels that is personal and very intimate before it transforms to a physical touch. That combination is different for everyone, as personal and intimate as the physical touch, exploration of a spouse. Needs for that touch in one spot or another change from day to day. Each have to share times to touch and be touched. God is the same when it comes to communicating through His Word. Believe it or not, there are times God needs to be touched by us. We usually refer to that as a break through moment when we share with God what His written word means to us. That is like verbal communication telling your spouse when they hit the right and wrong spots. There are times we have to tell God, we don’t understand. That is a break through moment when we admit, we don’t have the answers, and are relying on God to be patient with us. That is one of the ways the relationship grows and transforms. If verbal communication is important in a worldly marriage, then why wouldn’t it be important with God? And we should know, at times the deepest communication comes without words at certain times. And we have to remember, Adam accepted Eve after he saw how she sinned, and knew her. That is part of the theme in the New Testament.
So why did Jerusalem flip flop religions so quickly? They didn’t have to face their conscience with those made up god’s. They didn’t have to work on a relationship with idols. They could pull them out when they needed them, and put them away when they had no use for them. Unfortunately, that is the image of a perfect marriage for some people, especially successful men.
The introduction of 2 Kings chapter 16 shows us, Ahaz had no love in his heart. He may have had a dozen forms of worldly love in his heart, but sacrificing his children to idols who freed him from his conscience, responsibilities, and need to communicate on emotional and spiritual levels showed what direction Ahaz wanted to take in life. The fact Judah accepted the things Ahaz did showed how worldly success and self gratification ruled their lives. The nation became slaves to idols with no emotions or conscience.