2 Kings 15:32-16:20; Acts 19:23-41; Psalms 148:1-4; Proverbs 30:32
OT: “King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Ahaz sent a model of the altar and complete plans for its construction to the priest Uriah. Uriah built the altar according to all the instructions King Ahaz sent from Damascus. Therefore, by the time King Ahaz came back from Damascus, the priest Uriah had completed it. When the king came back from Damascus, he saw the altar. Then he approached the altar and ascended it. He offered his burnt offering and his grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splattered the blood of his fellowship offerings on the altar. He took the bronze altar that was before the Lord in front of the temple between his altar and the Lord’s temple, and put it on the north side of his altar. Then King Ahaz commanded the priest Uriah, “Offer on the great altar the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering. Also offer the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings. Splatter on the altar all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of sacrifice. The bronze altar will be for me to seek guidance.” The priest Uriah did everything King Ahaz commanded.” (2 Kings 16:10-16 CSB)
When Israel and Syria joined forces to attack Judah, instead of crying out to God for help, the godless King Ahaz turned to Assyria. He pledged his allegiance to Assyria and King Tiglath-pileser in exchange for their assistance and protection. When King Ahaz traveled to Damascus to meet his new master, he was impressed by the new and fashionable pagan altar that was set up in Damascus. The altar in Jerusalem was so outdated… so plain and unimpressive – so he sent a model and plans for the Assyrian altar back to Jerusalem with orders to build one just like it. When Ahaz returned to Jerusalem, he gave orders to offer all sacrifices on the new and trendy altar – but he would keep the old and out-of-date alter in case he truly needed to seek God for guidance. Ahaz had no heart for God, so he really didn’t care that much about honoring God in worship. Instead of bowing before God, he bowed before Assyria and the surrounding pagan culture. His worship was not offered to honor God. His worship was stylized to appease and conform to the trends of the dominant influences of the day. But just in case he needed it… he kept a connection to God in his “back pocket.” Has the church of our day fallen into the same sin as Ahaz of old? I am not an expert of worship forms around the world, but I am familiar with the trends and forms of worship in the United States. I am very supportive of our worship expression remaining current and relatable to the times – but when our worship becomes more about style than substance…when we begin looking more like the world and less like the sanctified people of God, we risk losing the actual worship of God by prioritizing the appeasement of our senses and submission to the culture. Is our worship substantive? Is honoring and obeying God’s word, will, and ways our first priority, or do we sprinkle in just enough God and Jesus in our worship to keep it “Christian?” It is fine and good to modernize our sound as long as trend, style, and relevance do not become the gods we worship.