1. EXTREME APOSTASY
a. Explain the extent of the adverse conditions that God’s faithful few faced during the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 28:1–4. How did Micah describe the situation? Micah 7:2, 4.
“The accession of Ahaz to the throne brought Isaiah and his associates face to face with conditions more appalling than any that had hitherto existed in the realm of Judah. Many who had formerly withstood the seductive influence of idolatrous practices were now being persuaded to take part in the worship of heathen deities. Princes in Israel were proving untrue to their trust; false prophets were arising with messages to lead astray; even some of the priests were teaching for hire. Yet the leaders in apostasy still kept up the forms of divine worship and claimed to be numbered among the people of God.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 322.
“ ‘They which lead thee,’ . . . ‘cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths’ (Isaiah 3:12). During the reign of Ahaz this was literally true. . . .
“The forces for good were rapidly diminishing, the forces for evil multiplying.”—Ibid., p. 324.
2. AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE
a. What did God appeal during the crisis in Ahaz’s time? Micah 6:1–5. How did He depict the situation, and what did He do about it? Isaiah 28:5–13.
“In every age, for the sake of those who have remained true, as well as because of His infinite love for the erring, God has borne long with the rebellious, and has urged them to forsake their course of evil and return to Him. ‘Precept upon precept; line upon line, . . . here a little, and there a little,’ through men of His appointment, He has taught transgressors the way of righteousness (Isaiah 28:10).
“And thus it was during the reign of Ahaz. Invitation upon invitation was sent to erring Israel to return to their allegiance to Jehovah. Tender were the pleadings of the prophets; and as they stood before the people, earnestly exhorting to repentance and reformation, their words bore fruit to the glory of God.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 324, 325.
b. While Ahaz ignored the appeals of the prophets and continued in his idolatrous course, what finally frightened him? 2 Kings 16:5. Why did God allow this to happen? 2 Chronicles 29:6–8.
“Had Ahaz and the chief men of his realm been true servants of the Most High, they would have had no fear of so unnatural an alliance as had been formed against them. But repeated transgression had shorn them of strength. Stricken with a nameless dread of the retributive judgments of an offended God, the heart of the king ‘was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind’ (Isaiah 7:2).”—Ibid., pp. 328, 329.
c. What message was then given to Ahaz at this crucial moment? Isaiah 7:4–9. How did the king respond? 2 Kings 16:6–8.
“Well would it have been for the kingdom of Judah had Ahaz received [Isaiah’s] message as from heaven. But choosing to lean on the arm of flesh, he sought help from the heathen.”—Ibid., p. 329.
3. HOPE AT THE DARKEST HOUR
a. What warnings should we take from the bitter results of Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria? 2 Chronicles 28:14–23.
“The tribute [Ahaz] offered aroused the cupidity of Assyria, and that treacherous nation soon threatened to overflow and spoil Judah. Ahaz and his unhappy subjects were now harassed by the fear of falling completely into the hands of the cruel Assyrians.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 329.
b. What was the worst part of Ahaz’s apostasy? 2 Chronicles 28:24–27.
“As the apostate king neared the end of his reign, he caused the doors of the temple to be closed. The sacred services were interrupted. No longer were the candlesticks kept burning before the altar. No longer were offerings made for the sins of the people. No longer did sweet incense ascend on high at the time of the morning and the evening sacrifice. Deserting the courts of the house of God and locking fast its doors, the inhabitants of the godless city boldly set up altars for the worship of heathen deities on the street corners throughout Jerusalem. Heathenism had seemingly triumphed; the powers of darkness had well-nigh prevailed.”—Ibid., p. 330.
c. Why are confederacies so dangerous—and what can we learn from Isaiah’s message of hope to the remnant? Isaiah 8:9–14.
“In Judah there dwelt some who maintained their allegiance to Jehovah, steadfastly refusing to be led into idolatry. It was to these that Isaiah and Micah and their associates looked in hope as they surveyed the ruin wrought during the last years of Ahaz. Their sanctuary was closed, but the faithful ones were assured: ‘God is with us’ (Isaiah 8:10).”—Ibid.
“The question has been asked, What do you mean by a confederacy? Who have formed confederacies? You know what a confederacy is—a union of men in a work that does not bear the stamp of pure, straightforward, unswerving integrity.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1142.
4. A TIMELESS PRINCIPLE
a. What warnings, if heeded, will protect us from the mistake of forming alliances with those who do not adhere to the present truth? Isaiah 31:1–3.
“Satan is moving with his power from beneath to inspire men to form alliances and confederacies of evil against light and against the Word of God. Infidelity, papacy, and semi-papacy are coming in close and powerful companionship with professed Christianity. The low views of inspiration, the exalting of human ideas from men called wise, are placing human talent above the divine wisdom and forms, and science so-called above the power of vital godliness. These are the signs of the last days.”—That I May Know Him, p. 345.
“All need wisdom carefully to search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this earth’s history. God’s presentation of the detestable works of the inhabitants of the ruling powers of the world who bind themselves into secret societies and confederacies, not honoring the law of God, should enable the people who have the light of truth to keep clear of all these evils. More and more will all false religionists of the world manifest their evil doings; for there are but two parties, those who keep the commandments of God and those who war against God’s holy law.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 322.
b. What Bible principle warns against confederacies? 2 Corinthians 6:14–18.
“The wicked are being bound up in bundles, bound up in trusts, in unions, in confederacies. Let us have nothing to do with these organizations. God is our Ruler, our Governor, and He calls us to come out from the world and be separate. . . . If we refuse to do this, if we continue to link up with the world, and to look at every matter from a worldly standpoint, we shall become like the world. When worldly policy and worldly ideas govern our transactions, we cannot stand on the high and holy platform of eternal truth.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1142.
“The trades unions and confederacies of the world are a snare. Keep out of them, and away from them, brethren. Have nothing to do with them. Because of these unions and confederacies, it will soon be very difficult for our institutions to carry on their work in the cities.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 142.
5. A FAR-REACHING CONCEPT
a. How does Inspiration depict the bustle of city life and the alli-ances it requires—in contrast to the peaceful existence God wants for His people? Nahum 2:4; Lamentations 5:4; Isaiah 32:17–19.
“It is God’s design that our people should locate outside the cities, and from these outposts warn the cities, and raise in them memorials for God. There must be a force of influence in the cities, that the message of warning shall be heard.
“For years the warning has been given to our people, Get out of Battle Creek. But because of the many interests established there, it was convenient to remain, and men could not see why they should move. . . . Take the school out of Battle Creek if you can possibly do so. Go out into a place where there are no people who believe as we do, and there establish the school on a location with plenty of land, that the students who come may be educated in right lines. [Brn. Spalding and Magan] obeyed the instruction given. This was the first move made. It has been a success. God has been pleased with it.”— The General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903.
“In God’s plan for Israel every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of men has ever improved upon that plan.
“The earth has blessings hidden in her depths for those who have courage and will and perseverance to gather her treasures. Fathers and mothers who possess a piece of land and a comfortable home are kings and queens.
“An expensive dwelling, elaborate furnishings, display, luxury, and ease, do not furnish the conditions essential to a happy, useful life.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 260.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How far into apostasy did Ahaz lead the people of Judah?
2. In what ways did Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria show serious unbelief?
3. When the temple services ceased, how did God comfort the faithful?
4. What is the real problem with alliances?
5. Why is country living good for our faith—especially nowadays?