[The following article is an edited transcription of our audio teaching, Hezekiah—A Man of Action by John W. Schoenheit.]
God bless you!
This month we are going to be studying the life of one of the great men of the Bible. That man is Hezekiah.
Have you ever thought about how we learn from God’s Word? We can learn several ways from God’s Word. One way is that God makes statements and commands us; for example, He says, “Do not steal” or “Pray without ceasing.” We have simple commands we can follow. Another way we learn from God’s Word is where He educates us by giving us an example. If you are like me, you have had men and women who are role models in your life. God has done that for us in Scripture. He has set men and women in Scripture who can be role models for us.
One of those role models is Hezekiah. You can tell that Hezekiah was important to God simply by understanding how much was written about him in Scripture. An example of this is that while many kings of Israel and Judah may have gotten a half a chapter, Hezekiah gets three entire chapters in the book of Kings and four chapters in the book of Chronicles, plus he is written about in some of the Prophetic Books. Hezekiah gets a lot of print from God. That means that he is one of the men from whom we can learn in our life, and we are going to learn a lot from Hezekiah; in fact, I really see Hezekiah as a man of action. We are going to learn first of all that Hezekiah had a basis of thankfulness in his life, and how important thankfulness is. Second, we are going to see the need to do right quickly. Many times we want to do right, but we end up putting it off, “We will do it, but we will do it next week.” That was not how Hezekiah did it. He was a man that when something came up to do, he got started, and he did it. Third, we are going to see in Hezekiah the example of him making personal decisions. He did not wait for a crowd; he made personal decisions. Fourth, we will see his love for other people, and his desire for outreach. He was bold in his outreach. Fifth, we will see a great key about when to extend grace to those who need it. Last, we will see the effect of true repentance and worship.
These are just some of the things that we will see by studying Hezekiah. I will unashamedly take time in some of these verses to explode them so as to mine their depths and make sure we all understand what the Word of God is saying, because you want the Bible to speak to you. When I sit down in my chair with my Bible, I am not just marking time, and you are not either. We want God to be able to speak to us through the pages of Scripture. A lot of how God speaks to us is by our understanding the historical and the cultural context of the situation. That is certainly true in Hezekiah’s time too.
2 Chronicles 29:1
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years.
The fact that he reigned in Jerusalem tells us that he was a king of Judah. What does that mean to us? If you remember David, after the death of Saul and after the Philistines had made great inroads into Israel, he came along and united the 12 tribes of Israel. He united them and built them into a kingdom. David passed that kingdom to his son, Solomon. Solomon was a good king for the first part of his reign, but toward the end of his reign, Solomon became very evil. He turned his heart away from God. You can read about this in 1 Kings 11. The effect of that was that in the year that Solomon died, the kingdom that had been given to him from David fell apart. Solomon’s son Rehoboam reigned over only two of the tribes, Judah and Benjamin; meanwhile, a man named Jeroboam became king over the ten northern tribes.
If you are familiar with the map of Israel, that is good. If you are not, it might not be a bad idea to actually stop reading this and get a map of Israel and find out where the little kingdom of Judah is located, and then above it, the enemy country of Israel which was made up of the ten northern tribes. Above the ten northern tribes is the bigger enemy, the country of Syria. All of those countries will come into play in this teaching.
2 Chronicles 29:1 and 2
(1) Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.
(2) He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.
In your Bible, when LORD is in all capitals, it means the Hebrew word is Yahweh. Yahweh is the personal name of God. Yahweh is the only name of God that is not a title. Elohim, El, Eloah, Adonai, these are all titles, and they mean Lord. They are used of God, but they are also used of others. Sometimes these have even been used of human rulers. God uses His personal name Yahweh more than 6,000 times. The nice thing that our modern Bibles have done for us is that even though they have translated Yahweh as LORD, which I personally do not think that they should have done, at least they made that word distinctive, so that when you and I see it, we know that Yahweh is the word that is behind the word LORD in our English. What I am going to do in this teaching is that I am going to use God’s personal name, Yahweh, when He does. If God can put it in the Hebrew, then we can recognize it.
We learn right away that Hezekiah did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD just as David had done. Why is that astounding, and what can we learn from that? One of the things that we can learn from this is that Hezekiah was very thankful for life. Hezekiah had a thankfulness for life that some of us do not have. Hezekiah would have that thankfulness because of the situation that he had with his father. I should start out by saying Hezekiah’s great-grandfather was Uzziah. For most of Uzziah’s reign, he was a great man. Hezekiah’s grandfather was Jotham, and he was a great man. So we have Hezekiah who did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh, but we have Hezekiah’s dad, Ahaz, who did not.
2 Chronicles 28:1 and 2
(1) Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD.
(2) He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals.
Hezekiah’s father was an idolater, worse than that, as we will see.
2 Chronicles 28:3
He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
I have a hard time even getting my mind around this. This is a man who is burning his children to an idol god in the valley of Ben Hinnom. The word valley in Hebrew is gai. Eventually the word Ben, which means the “son of,” fell out and this became the Gai Hinnom. The Gai Hinnom became unclean with all the children that were killed there. It then became the city garbage dump for Jerusalem and also figuratively the place where the garbage or the unrighteous were burned.
Ahaz is burning his sons in the fire to idol gods in the Gai Hinnom. First of all, you would want to ask, “How did Hezekiah manage to survive if Ahaz is burning his sons to idol gods in the valley of Hinnom?” The answer is that Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king. Hezekiah was born before Ahaz became king. Ahaz started having sexual intercourse very early in life, and Hezekiah was born before Ahaz was 20 years old and became king. You can bet that Jotham, Hezekiah’s grandfather, was not about to let his grandson be burned in the fire. Hezekiah then was able to live, but it would not be lost on him that he was alive only by virtue of the fact that he happened to be born a couple of years earlier than his brothers and half-brothers who ended up being killed in the fire. I believe that is part of the reason why Hezekiah would be so thankful and so zealous for God.
I want to talk about thanksgiving a second. The New Testament commands you and I to be thankful. This is not an option here. It is not like God says, “By the way, if everything is going right, be thankful?” No, we need to face the fact that God commands us to be thankful. It’s in the New Testament. Why is that? First of all, from God’s perspective, the trials of this life are very short. If you have everlasting life through Christ after 10 billion years, the troubles that you are going through now will not seem so significant. God has that eternal perspective and He wants us to get a piece of it.
Okay, maybe we cannot wrap our minds around the fact that we are going to live forever. Give yourself a giant number like quadrillion. Ask how you are going to feel about your life after 40 quadrillion years in paradise? Do you think that you can be thankful for salvation? Do you think that you can be thankful for the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Do you think that you can be thankful that God sent His Son that whosoever believeth in him should be saved?
I have been thankful in my life at times, and I have been unthankful in my life plenty of times. Let me tell you, being thankful is more fun. Sure it is. Something happens in your soul when you are thankful for life. Hezekiah was that. We are commanded to be that. I am going to give you a word of exhortation here. If you are a person that is having trouble with thanksgiving in your life, take some time by yourself, take an evening off, take tomorrow off from work, take this Saturday off, or whatever and sit down and get with the Father and with our Lord Jesus Christ and focus upon what you have to be thankful for. Believe me, if you are a Christian, things are there for you to be thankful for. I am not saying that being thankful makes the problems of the world go away. It does not. I am saying that it sure makes life easier to handle. If you are having trouble with thanksgiving, take some time and focus upon what there is for you to be thankful for. I assure you that you will have a much more enjoyable life if you focus upon that which you are thankful for than if you focus upon that which you are unthankful for.
I think that Hezekiah had to have been thankful for so many things in his life, starting with the fact that he was not burned to death like his half-brothers. Hezekiah had another thing going for him.
2 Chronicles 29:1
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.
We do not know anything about Abijah. I cannot prove to you that Abijah was a godly woman, but this is what I can prove. I can prove that Hezekiah was raised by one of the most ungodly men in history, and Hezekiah had a fire in his heart for God. From where did that come? Generally speaking, if you find somebody with a fire in their heart for God, they have had some good teaching. Many times that means that you have got a great mom in the picture. I believe this was the situation with Hezekiah. I know that in English that we call her Abijah, but in Hebrew, her name was Abiah. Let us explore this a little bit. You are familiar with the word “Ab.” You know that it means father. You are familiar with it in the more imperative sense in the New Testament, Aba meaning father. Well, “Ab” is the word for father. “Abi” is my father, the “i” ending which is pronounced like an “e” is possessive. For example, we know that the Hebrew word “El” is God. When Christ was on the cross, he said, “Eli, Eli.” This was “my God, my God.” This is a woman who was going to raise Hezekiah, and her name was Abijah, meaning “my father is Yahweh.” I bet you that she believed that, and I bet you that she lived that way. This is what I know. Hezekiah was raised by one of the most wicked men in the Old Testament that actually burned his children to death, yet Hezekiah was thankful for life, and he was committed to Yahweh. I think it had something to do with his mother. The Adversary has an incredible program going on to separate mothers from their children. Mothers have to go to work after their children are only six weeks old, and then they are not getting to spend a lot of time with their children. As Christian men and women, who learn from Scripture, we have to be aware that the Bible teaches us that mothers have a profound effect on the way children grow. If the mother is there and present and excited in the life of a child, that child has a much better chance of doing well.
Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Hezekiah has some things going for him. He is very thankful and he has a really godly mother.
2 Chronicles 29:2 and 3
(2) He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.
(3) In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them.
What do you mean that he opened the doors of the Temple of Yahweh? What is going on here?
2 Chronicles 28:24 and 25
(24) Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and took them away. He shut the doors of the LORD’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem.
(25) In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger.
Ahaz was so wicked that as he neared the zenith (peak) of his power, toward the end of his reign, he said, “You know what, this worship of Yahweh stuff. This is a bunch of junk. I am not going to let my people participate in this.” He just shut the doors of the Temple. He called in the priests and said, “I am shutting you down.”
I am teaching this so that we can learn from Hezekiah, but we can also learn from Ahaz. It is amazing how ungodly, how wicked, how cold-hearted government can become. This is why it is so important for you and I to pray for our government. The book of Timothy exhorts us to pray for kings and all those that are in authority.
1 Timothy 2:1 and 2a
(1) I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—
(2a) for kings and all those in authority,
We do not have kings today, but we do have elected and appointed officials. We need to pray diligently for those officials. Let me tell you, if the Adversary really gets a hold of somebody’s head, it is amazing how anti-God they can become. This is a king who shut the doors of the Temple.
2 Chronicles 29:3
In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them.
This is why I love Hezekiah. What a man of action! He knows what he needs to do, and he is going to do it. A lot of other things were probably there for him to take care of when he first became king, after all, this was the first month of his reign. Can you think about all of the things that he would have had to do? He would have had to meet foreign ambassadors. He would have had to make plans for who is in what position throughout his kingdom. He probably had to go visit various sites. He needed to entertain various ambassadors. He needed to shake hands with various powerful families in Israel. Hezekiah had a lot to do. He was busy. You and I are busy too. You know what? Hezekiah had decided that the priority of his life was going to be God and getting the Temple open. What a phenomenal example to you and me! So many people, including myself, wrestle with what is the priority? “Am I going to make the time today to read the Scriptures?” “Am I going to find the time to pray?” “Am I going to do the things that God is asking me to do?”
I love Hezekiah. What a man of action! Of all the stuff that I am sure that he was being called to do when taking over the kingship in the first month of his reign, he decided to open the doors of the Temple of Yahweh, and repair them.
2 Chronicles 29:4 and 5a
(4) He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side
(5a) and said: “Listen to me, Levites!
I love that. He brings them together, and he begins to talk to them honestly.
2 Chronicles 29:5b and 6
(5b) Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary.
(6) Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him.
Before we finish his speech, I want to share something else. I hope that you are seeing from the example of Hezekiah that he was a truly godly man? This is a genuinely thankful, God loving man. If you are going to be God loving and say that you honor and love God, then you are going to want to keep the commandments. One of those commandments is “honor your father and mother.” A lot of us have had fathers or mothers that did not treat us correctly. Hezekiah has a chance to say a lot. He has the priests and the Levites gathered together. They took the brunt of a lot of Ahaz’s evil reforms. They were the ones that had to close the Temple of Yahweh. They were the ones that were basically put out of business. Hezekiah knew that he had their ear. He could of stood up and railed about his dad all day. He could have told them how lousy his father was, how much he hated his father’s guts, how his father hated Yahweh, and how his father had closed the doors of the Temple. He could have railed on his dad hour after hour. You know what? He would have been right and wrong at the same time. His father did do all of those things, but what is the loving thing to do? What is the obedient thing to do? The Bible says, “Honor your father and your mother.” The Bible also talks about speech, “That our speech is to be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that we are to speak things that benefit one another” (Col. 4:6).
You and I live in a culture that is very undisciplined regarding speech. If you turn on the television or radio, it is amazing to me what people say and how undisciplined they are in their speech. Somehow or another in our culture, we feel that if we “feel” it then we are entitled to say it. We then can say some nasty thing about somebody, and when we are challenged, we then say, “Well, that is the way that I feel.” We say that as if that makes it the correct thing to say or do. If you call yourself a Christian, remember that we are called to a higher standard. No verse is in the Bible that talks about venting our feelings. As Christians, it is very important for us that if we are going to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” we then have got to set a higher standard for ourselves. We have got to start obeying Scripture, and obeying Scripture with our mouth is a great place to start.
Hezekiah could have railed on his dad, and his dad would have deserved it dead or not, but what is the profit and what is the point? God says, “Honor your father and mother.”
Hezekiah simply says:
2 Chronicles 29:6
Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him.
I want to un-pack this verse a little bit because it really has some great truth in it. When Hezekiah says, “They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him.” It was metaphorical language, yes, but more important than that, it was literal language. I want you to get a picture of the Temple of Yahweh and its courtyard.
If you have never seen one, then get a Bible dictionary or a study Bible and look it up. These are things that you should know to truly understand Scripture. There are so many references to the Temple in the Bible that you have to be able to picture it if you are going to understand when people talk about it.
If you stood at the entrance or the gate to enter into the Temple and you were involved in the worship of the sun and the stars, like Ahaz was—we know that from the book of Kings and Chronicles and the Prophetic Books, you worship them by turning east. When you do that, the Temple of Yahweh and the Holy Place of Yahweh are behind you. Literally, Ahaz and the men that were with him who worshiped the sun did exactly what Hezekiah said. They turned their faces away from Yahweh, and they turned their backs on Him. In 2 Chronicles 29:7, Hezekiah points out the obvious to these priests.
2 Chronicles 29:7 and 8
(7) They also shut the doors of the portico [the Holy Place in the Temple] and put out the lamps [the Menorah, the oil lamps that are supposed to burn according to the Law of Moses]. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel.
(8) Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes.
That was true 700 years before Christ, and 2700 years later, it is still true. If our nation will stay faithful to God, God will bless our nation. If our nation turns away from God, then God will not be able to bless and protect our nation, and we will become an object of horror and dread and scorn. I do not know about you, but I do not want that to happen. I am back to the fact that we need to do what we can to keep this a Christian nation, a godly nation, and elect officials and have judges appointed who are godly men and women.
2 Chronicles 29:9 and 10
(9) This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity.
(10) Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us.
I love verse 10; so much is in that verse. He says, “I intend to make a covenant….” I cannot tell you how many times people do not do what they know to do because they cannot get others to go along with them. How many times do you talk to people who say, “I need to loose weight, but I want to get my family involved”? Or those who say, “I need to get up and pray, but I just cannot do it unless I have others.” It is amazing how many times people wait for some kind of collective before they get something done. I will bet you that you know what you need to do in your life to move closer to God. If you are going to be like Hezekiah, you are going to do it. Look what he says here, “I intend to make a covenant with Yahweh.” He is standing there looking at all the priests and Levites. He cannot guarantee what they are going to do. They may just turn around and walk off and say, “Well, have a nice time. We are not interested.” He was going to do what he needed to do. If we are going to accomplish great things in life, this is the position in which we have to operate. We cannot control other people, but we can certainly control our own actions. Hezekiah said that he intended to make a covenant with Yahweh, and he did.
2 Chronicles 29:11
My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”
That is exactly right. Yahweh had chosen the priests and the Levites. They were chosen by birth. In today’s administration, in the Age of Grace, anybody who wants to be saved can be saved. Anybody who wants to serve God can serve God. In the Old Testament, according to the Law, if you are going to go in the Holy Place, you had to be a priest. If you were not born a priest, then you were not a priest. If you were not born a Levite, then you were not a Levite, and you could not serve in the Temple. When Hezekiah says to these priests and Levites, “Yahweh has chosen you.” He was not kidding. Yahweh had chosen them; they were chosen by birth. They had the privilege of doing the work of Yahweh. The question is, “Would they do it?” Hezekiah was challenging them.
Today, we have the privilege of doing the work of Yahweh, and we need to be about doing it.
2 Chronicles 29:15 and 16
(15) When they had assembled their brothers and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the LORD, as the king had ordered, following the word of the LORD.
(16) The priests went into the sanctuary of the LORD to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the LORD’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the LORD. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley.
You have to understand where the Kidron Valley is located. The Hinnom Valley is immediately south of Jerusalem. The Kidron is immediately east of Jerusalem. In the time of David, the Tyropoeon Valley was immediately west of Jerusalem. There are valleys surrounding all of Jerusalem. It is one of the reasons that militarily it was such a strong hold and such a great place to have as a capital. You have the Temple of Yahweh, and it is sitting on top of Mt. Mariah, and the valley immediately to the east is the Kidron Valley. Now, how much effort does it take to take some brass idol or something and throw it in the Kidron Valley? Oops, over the wall it goes, clunkity-clunk down to the bottom of the valley. That is basically what they did. They took all the idols and junk that had been dedicated to the pagan gods and threw them over the wall and into the valley. They just bounced to the bottom of the valley, which I love because there is no care or concern for these things. These were idols of pagan gods. These were demon magnets. This was disobedience to Yahweh. These are things that got between them and Yahweh or between you and Yahweh. They do not deserve any kind of care. They were designed from evil and ungodly hearts. They needed to be thrown into the valley and ignored. I love that. “The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley.” No fan fair was shown. They just got rid of the stuff.
By the way, I need to say that about our lives also. If you have stuff like this in your life, get rid of it. No fan fair, just get rid of it. I do not want things in my life that separate me from God. I hope that you do not want things in your life that separate you from God. Get rid of them. It is an easy decision and an easy action. God wants us to come to Him with a pure heart. Let’s do that.
2 Chronicles 29:17
They began the consecration [the clean up if you will] on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD.
I love this. If you get what is going on here, Ahaz the king, before he closed the Temple of Yahweh, filled it up with pagan alters and idols. There was so much pagan junk in the courtyard of Yahweh that it took this whole group of priests and Levites eight days just to get the junk out of the courtyard. That was a lot of ungodly junk!
2 Chronicles 29:17-19
(17) For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.
(18) Then they went in to King Hezekiah and reported: “We have purified the entire temple of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table for setting out the consecrated bread, with all its articles.
(19) We have prepared and consecrated all the articles that King Ahaz removed in his unfaithfulness while he was king. They are now in front of the LORD’s altar.”
The priests and the Levites come to the king and say, “Okay, everything is back in order. We are ready to go. We are ready to begin the worship of Yahweh the way it is supposed to be.” Remember, a morning sacrifice is to be done, an evening sacrifice, and special sacrifices also. I love verse 20.
2 Chronicles 29:20
Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the LORD.
Hezekiah did not say, “Great, that means that we can start with the sacrifices tomorrow. I will get up in the morning and have a leisurely breakfast like I normally do. I will have a nice long bath and talk to a few of my friends. Around late morning or so, I will get down to the Temple of Yahweh.” Not Hezekiah, the Temple is ready to go for the morning sacrifice, and early the next morning he is there. Let me tell you, sunlight comes early in Israel.
2 Chronicles 29:20 and 21
(20) Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the LORD.
(21) They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer these on the altar of the LORD.
In other words, Hezekiah is moving through and he says, “We have sinned. We need sin offerings. We want things to get moving, and they are going to get moving right now.” That is why I think about Hezekiah as a man of action.
2 Chronicles 29:25
He stationed the Levites in the temple of the LORD with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the LORD through his prophets.
Remember that David had gotten the plans of the Temple of Yahweh by revelation, and Solomon had built the Temple. The Temple was somewhat different than the tabernacle. Some different worship was involved with it. The worship practices were modified from strictly what was said in Exodus or Deuteronomy. Yahweh was giving revelation about how the singers sing and the Lyres play.
2 Chronicles 29:26–30
(26) So the Levites stood ready with David’s instruments, and the priests with their trumpets.
(27) Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel.
(28) The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.
(29) When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped.
(30) King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer.
Now that is interesting, they were to praise Yahweh with the words of David and Asaph. What were those words? They are the Psalms. Remember reading the Psalms and it says, “Psalm of David” or “Psalm of Asaph.” These are the Psalms inspired by God and written by men of God. Hezekiah said, “We are going to praise God by reading these Psalms.” Reading the Word of God out loud and praising God via the Word of God can be a very powerful thing. Hezekiah took advantage of that here. Remember that there were people in the Temple participating in the worship of God, so in the worship of God they read the Psalms and the people would hear those Psalms and get blessed by God.
2 Chronicles 29:31
Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings.
Hezekiah was king. In the same way that Ahaz said, “I am shutting the doors of the Temple and no one can worship.” Hezekiah could have said, “I am opening the doors of the Temple and everybody better worship or it is going to mean your head.” That is never the way that God works, is it? God is always gracious. God is always beneficent. He is always loving and always kind. He works with us to where we are blessed, and from that blessing, we bring offerings. That is the way that we are going to get people to come to our churches and to our fellowships. We have got to be like God for people. We have got to love people, bless people, and help people. And then, out of that blessing, people will willingly come. Hezekiah just opened the doors of the Temple. He got the Temple consecrated before Yahweh. He offered a sin offering for the nation, and then he started a praise service and a worship service that would bless people if they came. Later on, we will see these numbers increase. I love the fact that Hezekiah has such an understanding of the heart of God. Hezekiah was not forcing anybody to come to fellowship. Forcing people into religion is a bad idea. It is not from God. Hezekiah was allowing the people to come when they had been blessed in their hearts.
2 Chronicles 29:32-34
(32) The number of burnt offerings the assembly brought was seventy bulls, a hundred rams and two hundred male lambs– all of them for burnt offerings to the LORD.
(33) The animals consecrated as sacrifices amounted to six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep and goats.
(34) The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their kinsmen the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been.
This is a very important thing to understand. Again, to understand it, we need to go back into the reign of Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz. How long has Hezekiah been king at this point? This is early in the opening of his reign as king. In 2 Kings 16:10, we will read about Ahaz in the same way that Hezekiah is written about in Kings and in Chronicles, Ahaz, is written about in Kings and in Chronicles. Ahaz had met with the king of Assyria when Ahaz went to Damascus.
2 Kings 16:10 and 11
(10) Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction.
(11) So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned.
Now wait a minute. What alter was there in front of the Temple? The Temple had an alter that Solomon had made according to the revelation that David had received from God. Ahaz was such an ungodly king that he saw this pagan alter in Damascus, and he sends a sketch of it back and directed for it to be built and the alter from Solomon removed. The astounding thing is that Uriah the priest complied with this. The whole priestly core went along with this. They compromised their faith in a huge way. They could have stood and said, “No, we are not doing this. We are quitting and doing something else.”
Sin compromises people. The priests during the time of Ahaz, who then became the priests during the time of Hezekiah, were compromised by their own sin. That is what sin does. Does it not? It compromises us. Pornography, drugs, getting drunk, and the sinful activities of life compromise us. They compromise our faith. They cause us to be less for God than we should be. The Bible says that we are to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We here at Spirit & Truth Fellowship have a booklet about righteousness. Righteousness has two definitions. One definition is that the righteousness that we have is “from God and we did nothing to earn it. It is simply due to the work of Christ.” We see that kind of righteousness appear in Romans. The other usage of the word righteousness is “right living in the eyes of God.” For example, when 2 Timothy 3:16 talks about the Word of God is given for instruction and righteousness—that is instruction and in right living.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Ephesians 6 mentions a piece of armor called the breastplate of righteousness.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
If we live rightly before God, our heart is protected from some of the shame, guilt, and compromise that we go through, if we have sinned in the eyes of God. Uriah was compromised, and so was the priest core. That showed up in the reign of Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 29:34 shows that the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been.
2 Chronicles 29:34
The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their kinsmen the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been.
Why had the Levites been conscientious in the things of God? Why are not all people conscientious in the things of God? Ladies and gentlemen, we need to do what it takes to walk in great faith in our lives with great power for God. You and I have been given such power as the children of God. It says in 2 Corinthians 5 that we are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. We are on a mission for the Lord Jesus Christ. We stand in his place here on earth. It is like Peter who looked at that dead body and said, “Tabitha, get up” (Acts 9:40). We Christians have great authority in Christ. Let’s not allow ourselves to be compromised by sin because sin will compromise us just like it did to these priests.
The priests had a hard time getting back on the ball, but the Levites got committed quickly.
2 Chronicles 29:35
There were burnt offerings in abundance, together with the fat of the fellowship offerings and the drink offerings that accompanied the burnt offerings. So the service of the temple of the LORD was reestablished.
Praise God, it took Hezekiah less than a month.
2 Chronicles 29:36
Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.
Amen! Hezekiah was a man of action!
2 Chronicles 30:1
Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel.
What an incredible verse this is. Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh. Let’s get our history straight here. This is little Hezekiah down in Judah. Judah was comprised of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. To Hezekiah’s north is the country of Israel, which was comprised of the 10 tribes of Israel that broke away with the rebellion of Jeroboam. It has been more than 200 years since Jeroboam set up a golden calf in Dan and Bethel. It has been more than 200 years since Jeroboam threw out the Levites. It has been more than 200 years since Jeroboam rotated the calendar by six months. Israel has not worshiped Yahweh for more than 200 years, and Hezekiah says, “You know what? My heart goes out to those people. They are God’s people. They are part of the 12 tribes of Israel. They have been led astray. They have been led into idolatry. They have been led away from the true worship of God, and I want to invite them to my Passover. I want them here at the Temple of Yahweh. I want them worshiping God the way that they should worship. Never mind that they live in an enemy country whose king is Hoshea, and it will be dangerous for anybody who goes into an enemy country and says, ‘We want you to abandon the national worship of your pagan god and come down and worship the true God in Jerusalem.’”
For 200 years, Israel had a national worship, and it was the golden calves. Hezekiah needs messengers to go at the risk of their lives into an enemy country and say, “Israel, return to Yahweh your God. Return to the ways of Yahweh.” You can just see Hezekiah gathering the people of Jerusalem together, the people of Judah together, and kind of spelling out this plan that he wanted to invite the people of Israel, the northern 10 tribes to his Passover. Somebody in the back of the room would raise his hand and say, “I got a heart for those people; I want to go.” Somebody else says, “You know, I am sad that those people have been idolaters for so long, I want to go.” Somebody else says, “I want those people to return to Jehovah; I want to go.” Hand after hand starts to be raised in that congregation as people volunteer for a very dangerous duty to take a message through all of Israel. A message that they can come back, that they are invited into Judah for the worship of Jehovah! God must have stood up in heaven, and His heart must have been pounding as people on earth had a heart to tell other people about the worship of Jehovah and risk their lives to see that they got an invitation.
It is not dangerous for most of us to tell our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and people that we meet around town about Jesus Christ. It is not dangerous at all to have a bumper sticker on your car, wear a t-shirt that lets people know where your faith is, have a coffee cup that says, “I love God” or in some way promulgate the Christian faith. It is not usually too dangerous to do that. What American Christian’s really need is love. What American Christian’s really need is an understanding that if you are not saved, you are going to be thrown into the flames of gehenna and burned up, and the everlasting life that was yours for the taking would be missed because nobody actually sat you down and shared with you the plan of salvation.
We should have a heart of love for people. Let’s be willing to extend ourselves to see if we could invite them to take a look at the Lord Jesus Christ to see if maybe he would make sense for their lives.
Hezekiah had a heart of outreach!
2 Chronicles 30:2-10
(2) The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month.
(3) They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem.
(4) The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly.
(5) They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.
(6) At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel [you 10 northern tribes], return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel [In other words, return from the worship of your golden calves. This letter is so honest and yet so loving and so full of truth.], that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
(7) Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their fathers, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see.
(8) Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the LORD. Come to the sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
(9) If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
(10) The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them.
Well, that is what happens to missionaries. You know, missionary life is not necessarily glorious. When you tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ, you can expect that some people will mistreat you. That does come with the territory, but it does not mean that we should not do it. We should be telling others about the Lord Jesus.
2 Chronicles 30:11-15
(11) Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
(12) Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD [This is just great. If we will be bold, somebody will be found who will believe.].
(13) A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.
(14) They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
(15) They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the LORD.
Yes they were ashamed, but they broke through it; they moved through it. These priests had sinned. They had allowed Ahaz to close the Temple. They had brought pagan idols into the Temple of Yahweh. They had failed to light the lamps and burn the incense. They had failed to offer the sacrifices and they had taken away Solomon’s alter. They did have a lot in which to be ashamed, but the good news for these priests was that they moved through it. Not one of us can say that they have not sinned. Not one of us can say that they have not made serious mistakes in life. You and I can sit around dwelling on all the bad things that we have done and never get anything done for the Lord Jesus Christ but that is not the heart of our Father God. Does God want us to recognize where we have been wrong? Sure He does. Do you know what He wants us to do? He wants us to ask for forgiveness and move forward. Look, if something is there that you have done in your past that is bugging you and causing you shame, confess the sin to God or to another person if you need to, and then get a fire in your heart for what you can do. It says in Ephesians 2:10 that we were created to good works. God has a purpose for your life. Do not waste your life by sitting around and worrying about the things in which you are ashamed of. Just break through that shame and get about doing the things of God like these priests did.
2 Chronicles 30:15-20
(15) They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the LORD.
(16) Then they took up their regular positions as prescribed in the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood handed to them by the Levites.
(17) Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the LORD.
(18) Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone
(19) who sets his heart on seeking God– the LORD, the God of his fathers– even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.”
(20) And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
I cannot tell you how powerful these verses are to any of us who are in a leadership position, or a parent, about when to extend grace. Look, these people had been idolaters for 200 years; they came to Jerusalem. No they were not clean, and no they were not prepared. All that they were prepared to do was say, “We want to worship God now.” They were not clean and ready, and Hezekiah could have said, “It says back in Exodus that you have to be clean. I know that you have gone to such trouble to come here, but it is very important that we keep the Law. You will have to watch from the sidelines.” Something was in Hezekiah’s heart that said, “That cannot be the heart of a loving God, these people have been led into idolatry for over 200 years and risked so much to come here and worship, it has to be the heart of God that they are allowed to worship.” I love what he says because this is a great key in extending grace to people.
2 Chronicles 30:18b and 19
(18b) But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone
(19) who sets his heart on seeking God–
That is a great key in extending grace. Are the people seeking God? Sometimes when you are running an event or you are leadership or you are a parent, and people come and say, “Please, please; I want, I want; Why can’t I, Why can’t I.” They bug you so much that finally you give in and say, “Okay, okay, you can do it.” That is getting somebody off your back. It is not extending somebody grace. True grace is when we recognize that somebody is trying to get close to God, that something that we are going to do for somebody is going to bring him or her close to God. Leaders, especially, have to be very sensitive to the fact that we can allow rules to actually keep people from God. This happens in the religious world.
1 Timothy 3:2 and 3
(2) Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
(3) not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle,
This word “gentle” is a poor translation. The Greek word is epieikes [ep-ee-i-kace’]. Epieikes refers to when you are reasonable, when you realize that a legal right can become a moral wrong. I am going to read to you from Richard Trench’s Synonyms in the New Testament.
“Epieikes refers to the sort of moderation that recognizes that it is impossible for formal laws to anticipate and provide for all possible cases, and that asserting legal rights can be dangerous since these rights can be pushed into moral wrongs, so that the highest right (summum jus) can in practice prove to be the greatest injustice (summa iniuria). I have seen that happen so many times where we push a law because this is what the law says, this is what the rules say. It actually ends up hurting somebody.”
Hezekiah really had a feel for that.
2 Chronicles 30:18b and 19
(18b) But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone
(19) who sets his heart on seeking God–
That is how we give grace.
2 Chronicles 30:20-22
(20) And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
(21) The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing [Seven days is the time prescribed by the Law of Moses for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.], while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD’s instruments of praise.
(22) Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the LORD. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the LORD, the God of their fathers.
The seven days came to an end and the feast is over. People have to go home. Do you know what the people do? They stand around looking at each other with their hands in their pockets. Somebody says, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go home.” Somebody else says, “I don’t want to go home either.” Pretty soon, a murmur is in the crowd, “We don’t want to leave. This has been great.” That is what is supposed to happen when we fellowship. When your worship with God is hot, when your love for your brothers is hot, you get together for fellowship where the Word of God is taught, and the people just do not want to leave. That is what happened here.
2 Chronicles 30:23
The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully.
I love that. They were so excited about the worship of God that they did not want to go home. They wanted to stay and continue to praise and worship. That happens in a lot of the churches and fellowship halls across the nation. How did they afford to do it another seven days?
2 Chronicles 30:24
Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats.
So the people who had money in Judah gave and helped this fellowship continue to go.
2 Chronicles 30:24b-26
(24b) A great number of priests consecrated themselves.
(25) The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the aliens who had come from Israel and those who lived in Judah.
(26) There was great joy in Jerusalem,
When people do the things of God the way that they should, great joy is there among the people.
2 Chronicles 30:27
The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.
When we are righteous before God, in putting God first, our prayers reach heaven.
2 Chronicles 31:1
When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.
Do you know what I call that? I call that revival. When people go to the worship of God, and they sing praises to God, and they are in fellowship with each other so that they get fired up that God is first in their heart, nobody has to give them a command to go clean up their life. Nobody has to give them a command to throw out their pornography. Nobody has to give them a command to get rid of their lucky rabbit’s foot or their lucky whatever. Nobody has to give them a command to get rid of their ungodly idols because God is first in their life. It just comes up for them that they do not want anything to stand between them and God. That is what we need to do in our fellowships. Our teachings in our fellowships need to be so exciting, so hot, that people get fired up for God and truly get a vision for their life, and get a vision for who they are in Christ, and get a vision for what they can do for the Lord Jesus Christ. If people have that kind of vision, then you do not need to tell them to put God first because God is already first. They will clean out their lives on their own. That is what happened after this Passover of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah was a man of action. We see that thankfulness ran through his entire life. He was thankful to be alive. He was thankful that he had not been burned to death like some of his half-brothers. I will tell you that when he knew to do something, he went about doing it right away. He made personal decisions. “This is what I have decided to do.” He did not wait for everybody to get on the bandwagon. He did what he needed to do first, and he was bold in his outreach for others. He had a real heart for people and he knew when to extend grace.
We can learn a lot from Hezekiah!
May God bless us as we walk with Him.