Verses 2-4 – Ahaz was the first bad king of Judah in about 100 years. Ahaz was so depraved that he sacrificed his own son to the pagan gods. This was a practice of the Canaanites whom the Israelites were supposed to drive out of the land.
Verse 5 – Israel and Aram were both under Assyria’s control. They joined forces against Judah, hoping to force the southern kingdom to join their revolt against Assyria and strengthen their western alliance. However, the plan backfired when King Ahaz of Judah unexpectedly asked Assyria to come to his aid.
Verse 10 – Ahaz went to Damascus to express gratitude, but relying more on money than on God to keep the powerful king out of his land, his plan failed. Ahaz eventually regretted asking for his help.
Verses 10-16 – King Ahaz copied pagan religious customs, changed the temple services, and used the temple altar for his personal benefit. Some today do the same thing Ahaz did; they try to mold God’s message to fit their own personal preferences.
Verses 14-18 – Ahaz replaced the altar of burnt offering with a replica of the pagan altar he had seen in Damascus. This was extremely serious because God had given specific directions on how the altar should look and be used (Exodus 27:1-8). Building this new altar was like installing an idol. Sadly, Ahaz allowed the King of Assyria to replace God as Judah’s leader.
Verse 18 – Not only had Ahaz become a weak king, so had the high priest. Judah’s religious system was in shambles. If we are quick to copy others in order to please those in power, then we are placing them in a position above God. The significance of removing the Sabbath canopy and closing the special entrance for the king is not clear.