Wicked Ahaz inherited the wealth and power of his predecessors. But, he squandered it. By practicing open idolatry, he stirred up the jealous anger of God and thereby invited harsh judgments against his own followers. Judah began to suffer attacks and invasions from every side. The Syrians, Assyrians, Edomites, Philistines and their own Israelite brothers from the northern kingdom all took pieces of the Judean pie. It was a bad time to be alive in the Kingdom of Judah.
There is one small aspect of this sad story that stands out in my mind. Amidst the narrative of the demise of Judah, I noticed in 2nd Chronicles 28:6 that despite the gallantness of the Judean soldiers, they were doomed to defeat. Why? Because "they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers."
All of the gallantry, vigor, organization, education, character, effort, diligence, strength, energy and ability in the world can't stand the test of God's righteousness when these qualities exist apart from true faith in the one true God. When it came to the craft of making war, perhaps Ahaz's men were the best in the business. Maybe they could "kill people and break things" better than anyone around. After all, God says that they were "valiant" men. They were brave; courageous; fearless. Yet, they perished at a rate (on one particular day) of 83 a minute. Apparently their training and strategy wasn't quite sufficient in the face of God's justice, eh?
This same truth is seen in the capture and return of 200,000 Judeans by their Israelite brethren as recorded in 2nd Chronicles 28:8 - 15. The Israelites had the physical force and power to keep the loot which they had taken... along with every single POW. But, by God's grace they realized that their success had been a result of God's sovereignty, not their own. So, they wisely released their prisoners.
Samson (Judges 16:20), Israel (Deuteronomy 1:41, 42 & 43) and the 7 sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13-16) all learned the hard way that it takes more than gallant boldness to be a success in God's program. Humility, obedience, faithfulness and devotion are core ingredients in the lasting blessedness of any man.