The Reformed Witness
March/April 2001
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Knowledge: But fools despise Wisdom and Instruction"
Proverbs 1:7


APOSTASY    Ahaziah : Israel’s Unjust King Part A


Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.   And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin:  For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done.

(1 Kings 22:51-53 AV)




The Old Testament case studies are for our specific learning. They are given as illustrations, in an historical context, so we may properly assess situations and consequently remedy them according to the Word of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the Apostle Paul is careful to remind us that all the Scriptures are for our learning and correction. As a result of the careful learning and application of ALL the Scriptures, we are equipped to function in the real world of this life, serving Christ.

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 AV)


Unfortunately, the modern church has not valued the details and specifications of Old Testament examples as they ought. Instead of carefully examining every jot and title of Old Testament examples so as to be more accurate in Biblical obedience, the modern theologians dilute Old Testament doctrine in a misguided attempt to exalt grace. Strange as it may seem, this common teaching pits Old Testament Law against New Testament Grace, as if they are adversaries. Nothing could be further from the truth.


All Christians, especially, are called to apply the Law of God to every area of life for their benefit and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. When this fundamental commandment is denied we bring destruction upon ourselves, the kingdom’s work and the society at large. Such was the error of king Ahaziah.




Ahaziah was not a pagan king. He was an Israelite.

This initial observation brings us to the hard, cold fact that he was raised in a Hebrew household and schooled in the teachings of Scripture. Although the son of wicked Ahab and Jezebel, he no less was a Hebrew.




There are three spheres of Covenantal responsibility. The first is a general, or universal, covenant in which all souls are part of. The second is the Ecclesiastic covenant, in which the visible church is in special covenant relationship with God. The third is the redemptive covenant. This is the everlasting covenant of the eternal church, the elect Israel of God. Only those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ are members of this covenant. While the spheres differ in scope, they share one very important reality – responsible accountability.

In one way or another, all mankind is included in God’s Covenant. Of course, this is not to say that all men are God’s elect, or that they have a special redemptive or blessed relationship with God. It is simply a statement of fact.

In Romans 1:31, the Apostle Paul calls sinful, rebellious mankind, covenant breakers, indicating that even the wicked are in a “covenant relationship” with God. This “universal relationship” is of a covenantal nature. This simply means that these souls are held accountable and responsible to God and His Absolute Law. It is this relationship that gives God the legitimate authority to send those who break His Law to hell. Since all flesh is created in God’s image, they are brought under this “general” or “universal” covenant relationship with the


The second sphere of the covenant is the Ecclesiastic. The visible, external church enjoys a very special relationship with God. The visible church, which is made up of both saved and lost souls ( to phrase it more accurately, “believers” and “make-believers“) is God’s visible representation on earth. Paul speaks of this very special relationship in Romans 9:1-5 concerning ancient Israel and their blessings as part of the Ecclesiastic covenant:

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises; Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 

(Romans 9:1-5 AV)

Since this sphere of the covenant is directly related to God in a very intimate fashion, the church holds a higher level or responsibility to do what is good and right. They that know the master’s will, yet refuse to do the master’s will, are threatened with a more severe beating. Cf Luke 12:47 Ahaziah was also in this special Ecclesiastic covenant relationship.

The final sphere is the eternal covenant. This is commonly called the “covenant of grace” .This is the only covenant which is redemptive. In this sphere there are only corrective chastisements, rather than punitive judgments. While true believers are members of all three covenant spheres, those who are church goers, void of redemption, belong only to the visible church covenant and the universal covenant. They cannot belong to the eternal covenant of grace unless they become regenerate by the Sovereign intervention of God, in Christ. The following illustration shows these spheres more discretely.




During the two year reign of Ahaziah, the Scriptures tell us that he did evil in the sight of the LORD by following the wickedness of his mother and his father. Instead of establishing righteousness in the land, he caused sin and hardship.

Ahaziah had a myriad of responsibility realms to be concerned with. As a member of God’s creation, he was responsible to obey the precepts of God’s Law. While it is true that unbelievers have the works of the Law written upon their hearts and not the Law itself, they are nevertheless responsible to the universal Law of God.


For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:  Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

(Romans 2:12-16 AV)

As a member of the church of God, he had an ecclesiastic responsibility as well. Likewise, as a husband and a father, he was especially yoked in the covenant to be a responsible hearer of the Word and a doer of the Word in regard to his family. These responsibilities were all augmented by his civil office as king over Israel.

As king, it was his covenantal duty to do well and seek the face of God. All legislation was to be in accord with the Law of the Divine LORD, and for the benefit of the people of God. The duty of the king was never to enact laws that would oppose or circumvent the perfect Law of the Almighty. This was especially important since the civil magistrate and the church were to work closely together.

One important observation which must be made concerning Ahaziah, as well as all other rebellious kings, is that his actions directly effected the generations that were to follow. Instead of bringing about continuity of future generation unto obedience he fostered discontinuity unto disobedience.

The consequences of the sins of the fathers would span many generations.




In Deuteronomy 17 God specifically instructs all kings to write out their own copy of His Law in order that it may be embraced and implemented during their reign. Whether Ahaziah did this or not we do not know. It is, however, painfully obvious that he hadn’t the knowledge of righteousness because he followed his wicked father Ahab and his terribly wicked mother Jezebel.

Since God structures His Covenant into five distinct, yet harmonious components, we should examine them to better understand the error of Ahaziah.

(For a complete explanation of this structure, see Dr. Ray R. Sutton’s work “That You May Prosper” , from ICE Publications, Tyler Texas.)




The first segment of the covenant is Transience/immanent. God transcends all things. He is transcendental in His person and His decrees. Since His character is perfect and divine, His Law is perfect and divine. His ways are not like man’s ways. He “transcends” because He is above.

Yet, God is not out of touch. He is very personal. He is involved in the affairs of men. He is Immanent. He rules among men and sets providence to bring His desired plan to fruition. He does not make Himself scarce as the Deists believe, but rather functions in time and in history. Although He exists both outside of time and inside of time, He orders all things on earth as they are decreed in heaven. This personal involvement is wonderfully illustrated by the incarnation of Christ and the subsequent sending of His Spirit after His ascension.

Ahaziah failed to recognize both of these principles. He failed to understand that God is THE GOD! He is the Almighty. Ahaziah also failed to recognize the relationship between God and man. Since Ahaziah did not fear the LORD, nor love Him, he transgressed by worshipping and serving Baal.




Once the proper view of God’s transience is diminished, man goes astray. Since man is fundamentally prone to self-worship, he creates idols which he can control. Mankind places God on his own level. He ignores the necessary distinction between Creator and creature.

These [things] hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether [such an one] as thyself: [but] I will reprove thee, and set [them] in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear [you] in pieces, and [there be] none to deliver.

(Psalms 50:21-22 AV)

The word Baal means lord. Ahaziah constructed a lord, who was not sovereign and who did not dictate law contrary to his fleshly lusts. Baal was convenient. He was not transient. He was non invasive. He tolerated evil and justified the wickedness of Ahaziah’s heart. He was also a god who was very forgiving. Baal was a man-made tool to ease the conscience of the wicked, by offering salvation and liberty outside of the Divine Covenant.

Mankind today loves this type of god. The church has erected this form of worship, time and time again. Natural man, often cloaked in Christian garments of religion, wants nothing to do with a righteous God who demands holiness and obedience. Natural, sinful man demands a god who is after their own likeness and image and who tolerates sin by looking the other way when evil is present. With this manner of worship and this form of god, everyone is assured redemption as they continue doing what is right in their own eyes. But they are sadly mistaken.

Yet, Ahaziah was king. He was not simply a common citizen. He was a covenant Jew. He was a member of the church and of the royal family. He should have had a sensitivity to the transcendental nature of God, as well as God’s personal involvement in the affairs of men, especially in His visible Israel nation. Thus, his responsibility level was high. His actions would set the stage for all Israel.




Furthermore, Ahaziah failed to see the structure of hierarchy in the covenant. From his actions, he lived as if he were king of kings rather than king of The King. Ahaziah was under the authority of One greater than himself, yet as executive magistrate he disregarded the representational structure of his commission. Once he did this, he became a law unto his own self. He functioned autonomously. The result was anarchy. Autocratic behavior breeds personal, familial, ecclesiastic, and civil destruction through anarchy. Man’s government, apart from God’s Law, brings lawlessness. Once Ahaziah rebelled against the Legitimate Authority, he was destined for destruction.


Modern churchgoers also fail to recognize legitimate authority. While it is true that the saints should never submit to wicked rulers and illegitimate laws, they must remain in submission to those who are rightfully in authority over them and who rule in the fear of God. This principle of Covenantal hierarchy is to be honored in all areas of life. Like the church, so too is government ordained and instituted by God. Rebellion against legitimate hierarchy is always outside the will of God.


All life is ethical. All decisions are ethical. Ethics are not relative. They are absolute and are defined by the Scriptures. Ethics are the third component of God’s Covenant structure and are to be applied by every person and institution. God’s Law is the model of righteous ethics. The Law of God is a light and a lamp on either side of redemption. While it is true that the Law condemns the unregenerate, it nevertheless is still holy, just and good. Its rule is the Covenant commandment of all mankind.

Ahaziah hadn’t a clue as to right and wrong. He put evil for good and good for evil. Whatever he knew concerning right and wrong, he suppressed. Ahaziah had his own agenda. He was a self pleasing opportunist. Even in the face of God’s mercies, Ahaziah failed to see the error of his ways.




Much like the Christians of today, Ahaziah refused to consult the holy Scriptures. Perhaps they were unimportant or did not hold a reliable place in his understanding of personal, economical, familial or social events. While Christians should be able to address every issue of life from a Biblical standpoint, they continuously regress by resorting to and consulting worldly wisdom. If the question is not directly related to theology, today’s Christian stumbles by not being able to apply Scripture to everything. The teachings of modern neo–Christianity has created a fearful, inept group of people.

Through Scriptural mis-education a great level of ignorance has prevailed. Isolationism and self-centered-ness is commonplace. The result has been dreadful. No longer is the church the conqueror it was commissioned to be. It no longer speaks with Divine Wisdom. It has become a mere scribe, rather than a prophet mighty in word and deed. Like Ahaziah, most of today’s church consult the wisdom of Ahab and Jezebel. Their rule book is the rulebook of Jeroboam and not the Rule of Law.




The fourth component of the Covenantal structure is sanctions. These sanctions are the direct consequences of either obedience or disobedience. We call them negative sanctions and positive sanctions, depending on the situation. Negative sanctions are always brought about by rebellion. These are also called curses. Positive sanctions are a result of obedience. These are often called blessings.


After the defeat of Ai, Joshua assembled all Israel to hear the Law of God read. God records this in Joshua 8. We must carefully observe the sequence of Joshua’s actions after the victory. In verse 30 Joshua builds an alter to the LORD.

Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, 

(Joshua 8:30 AV)

This was a symbolic act pertaining to the covenant. God had covenanted with Israel to be their Deliverer and had fulfilled His promise. Israel was in Covenant with God. The language of Joshua 8 is reminiscent of the covenant language of Deuteronomy, especially chapter 28. He then immediately legitimizes his actions by citing the Law of Moses.

As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up [any] iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

(Joshua 8:31 AV)

After that, without hesitation, Joshua writes out the Law of Moses upon the alter stones in the presence of all Israel. This act was a re-establishment of the covenantal relationship between God and His people.

And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.

(Joshua 8:32 AV)

In verse 33 God assures us that all Israel was present - every one - down to the children and the servants.

And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

(Joshua 8:33 AV)


Once the covenant is made clear, Joshua reads all the Law, with a particular emphasis upon both the blessings and the cursings. It is obvious that God is focusing upon consequences for both obedience and disobedience.

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.

There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

(Joshua 8:34,35 AV)



Ahaziah functioned in much the same way as modern man. He continued with little consideration as to the consequences of his action. He was void of Lawful understanding and became a law unto himself. The Christian saint must follow the example of Joshua. By recounting the ethical directives of God’s Law, the saint is encouraged and strengthened in all righteousness. He is then able to answer questions which the common man cannot begin to address. It is also the duty of every Christian to declare God’s Will by introducing it into every area of life. The saint must never be afraid to embrace and declare both the blessings and the cursings. This is the Covenant Mandate.



The structure of the Covenant is very important as to our understanding of our duty.






1. Transience /Immanent Sovereignty
2. Hierarchy  Representational
3. Ethics  God’s LAW
4. Sanctions  Jurisdiction
5. Continuity  Generational


Forgetfulness of these components usually causes a severe breach in both our thinking and our application. Remember, wrong thinking produces wrong behavior. If the church of Jesus Christ is to be strengthened, the mandates of the Law and the Gospel must be applied without fear and without fragmentation.





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