Today: [2 Chronicles Twenty-Nine] Hezekiah Reforms the Nation. In this chapter we meet Hezekiah who reverses the idolatries of his father Ahaz. He commands the temple to be unsealed and the filthiness and pagan images to be removed. The Levites set to the work taking 16 days to sanctify themselves and to cleanse the temple. We remember that we are the temple of God and there are times we must go into the temple of our own hearts and cleanse and purge the things that are found there. The result was the restoration of blessing and favor from God on the nation as will happen to us when we follow in Hezekiah’s example.
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[2Ch 29:1-36 KJV] 1 Hezekiah began to reign [when he was] five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name [was] Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2 And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. 3 He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. 4 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, 5 And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy [place]. 6 For our fathers have trespassed, and done [that which was] evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned [their] backs. 7 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy [place] unto the God of Israel. 8 Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 9 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives [are] in captivity for this. 10 Now [it is] in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. 11 My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense. 12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Joah: 13 And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah: 14 And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel. 15 And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. 16 And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD, to cleanse [it], and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took [it], to carry [it] out abroad into the brook Kidron
King Ahaz is dead and while he was buried in the city of David he was not buried in the sepulchers of his predecessors. Ahaz’ father Jotham was a godly king for the most part and he must have had an influence on Ahaz’ successor for Hezekiah, like Jehosaphat is a godly and a good king who institutes many reforms to correct the idolatries of his father and repeal his father’s wicked policies. Again we see mention of the name of Hezekiah’s mother – a practice that began after the terrible influence of Jezebel in the north and Athaliah in the south. Hezekiah followed in the example of David and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. Whereas Ahaz his father had plundered the temple and sealed the doors to prevent worship of Jehovah – Hezekiah repaired the doors of the temple and restored access to the Holy of Holies. In addition to this he convene a counsel of the Levites to instruct and command them to take out of the temple the filthiness and defiled images that his father Ahaz had installed there before sealing the doors.
We can see then from the words of Hezekiah just how far the decline of true worship was in Ahaz’ time. The priests for many years had not burned incense on the altar in the Holy Place neither had they atoned for the sins of the nation year by year on the day of atonement. Hezekiah corrects these errors and exhorts the Levites to reestablish the protocols of sacrifice and offering on the altar of the Lord in the hopes of reversing the curse that was upon the nation of Judah because of the idolatries of his father and the people that followed him.
When the passage speaks of the priests going into the inner court to bring out the filthiness found there we must make the comparison to the temple of our own heart. We live in a wicked world. We are assaulted daily with images and messages arising from godless imaginations of men and women who have no fear of the Lord and mock his very existence. Hezekiah told the Levites “sanctify yourselves” and then to cleanse the temple of the profanities to be found there. We may not deal with images of metal and wood but we do confront mental images of idolatry and godlessness every day in our lives. It is our responsibility to cleanse ourselves and be cleansed as Eph. 5 tells us “by the washing of the water of the word…” We are not cleansed by religious culture or by comparing ourselves to others who don’t hold our standards. Only God’s word cleanses as Jesus told Peter “now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you…” So the study of the word even as we are doing in this expositional study of the scriptures has a purgative effect to sanctify and cleanse and bring us closer to God – not so much by a crisis experience but an ongoing and unfolding process of commitment and fidelity to God and His word.
17 Now they began on the first [day] of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. 18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof. 19 Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they [are] before the altar of the LORD. 20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. 21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer [them] on the altar of the LORD. 22 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled [it] on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar. 23 And they brought forth the he goats [for] the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: 24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded [that] the burnt offering and the sin offering [should be made] for all Israel. 25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for [so was] the commandment of the LORD by his prophets. 26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
The Levites spent 8 days sanctifying themselves before they would even approach the inner court of the temple. Then on the 8th day they entered and spent another 8 days cleansing and repairing the temple from blasphemies with which Ahaz had profaned its precincts. They then reported to the king on the progress and completion of the work. The question for us is what report are we prepared to bring to the king? Are we prepared to go to king Jesus and declare “we have sanctified ourselves and we have cleansed your temple of the profanities and filthiness found there….” The Levites also reported to Hezekiah that they had taken the vessels that Ahaz had cast away and returned them to their intended use. The scriptures teach that these vessels are men. What are we doing with the vessels that have been cast away by those with the Baal mentality of leadership? There are many anointed and useful men and women of God who have been rejected by Christian culture because they are not content to sit in the temple of the idol – static in the pew not finding their usefulness. Can we say “we have cleansed and restored these vessels to their intended usefulness…?”
27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began [also] with the trumpets, and with the instruments [ordained] by David king of Israel. 28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: [and] all [this continued] until the burnt offering was finished. 29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. 30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped. 31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. 32 And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, [and] two hundred lambs: all these [were] for a burnt offering to the LORD. 33 And the consecrated things [were] six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. 34 But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the [other] priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites [were] more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests. 35 And also the burnt offerings [were] in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for [every] burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order. 36 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was [done] suddenly.
After the Levites are sanctified and the temple is cleansed Hezekiah commanded that the sin offerings be carried out. So we see that the reforms were not just asking forgiveness or putting faith in the sacrifice. There were actual reforms established and preparation made BEFORE petitioning the Lord on the brazen altar for forgiveness of the sins they had spent 16 days dealing with the aftermath of. Over and again when people repented before Jesus they came AFTER having restored and reconstituted and made right their wrongs. The whole idea of restitution of injustices and wrongs committed is foreign to the church today. We just say “come as you are and ask forgiveness and everything will be fine…” Where restitution is possible and practicable in our lives for sins against our fellow man it should be carried out in the process of looking to God for forgiveness. Otherwise repentance is not sincere being simply an avoidance of consequences not true contrition.
After the sanctifying of the Levites, the cleansing of the temple and offering the sin offering now Hezekiah reestablishes the burnt offering. Remember that the burnt offering is not a sin offering. The burnt offering doesn’t represent the sacrifice of Christ but rather the offering that Paul pointed to in Rom. 12:1-3 – offering ourselves up to God as a living sacrifice wholly and acceptable to God. Until cleansing and contrition have their full work in our lives we have nothing to offer the Lord. Yet in Christian culture we take people completely unprepared and unreformed in their lifestyle and thrust them from the sinners prayer to the forefront of Christian service without proper preparation. Jesus did not call us merely to make converts but to make disciples. In the early church it would at times take 2 – 3 years before they would even baptize new converts because they wanted a quality conversion of a man or woman truly determined to serve the Lord.
There was great rejoicing and it was said that God was in all the preparing that was done. The curse was purged and the nation and the people have a new lease on life and new expectation on the promises of God. For ourselves we can look at the travesty of the reign of Ahaz and rejoice that it didn’t take years and years before things got better – because of one man, the son of an evil king decided to set his face to seek the Lord with sincerity and purity of heart.
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