2 Chronicles 29:1-5, 10-11, 16, 20, 23-24, 27-30, 36 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. 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. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 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. 11My 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.” 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. 20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the LORD. 23 The goats for the sin offering were brought before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them. 24 The priests then slaughtered the goats and presented their blood on the altar for a sin offering to atone for all Israel, because the king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel. 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. 28The 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. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed their heads and worshiped. 36 Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly. Read all of 2 Chronicles 29.
Background Notes: Hezekiah is possibly the best-remembered king of Judah, after David and Solomon. In fact, some folks even think (incorrectly!) that he wrote one of the books of the Bible! King Hezekiah, who reigned from 715-686BC, was one of the eight good kings of the kingdom of Judah. Eleven chapters of the Bible are devoted to his reign. There are seven chapters in the historical books: three in 2 Kings, which emphasize Hezekiah’s political and military accomplishments, and four in 2 Chronicles, which emphasize Hezekiah’s spiritual and religious accomplishments. Four more chapters about Hezekiah are found in the book of the prophet Isaiah, who ministered in Jerusalem during his reign. In 2 Chronicles 28 we read of the great evil and spiritual damage done during the reign of wicked King Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father. During his 16 year reign, King Ahaz made cast idols for worshiping the Baals and offered sacrifices in the high places and hilltops. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Hinnom, and even went so far as to sacrifice his sons in the flames of a pagan altar! To turn King Ahaz from his wicked ways, the Lord brought military defeat to the nation and captivity to many of its people, but Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. He removed the furnishings from the Temple of the Lord and closed the Temple doors, so formal worship of the Lord ceased. He then set up pagan altars on every street corner in Jerusalem. After reading the account of the reign of King Ahaz, the life of Hezekiah comes as a breath of fresh air! Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). As soon as he became king he gathered the priests and Levites together and asked them to purify the Temple and re-institute proper worship of the Lord. And revival followed! In 701BC, during the reign of Hezekiah, the Assyrian king Sennacherib brought his army against Judah. He conquered all the outlying cities and besieged Jerusalem, the capital city. Prior to the siege, in order to deprive the Assyrians of a water supply and to ensure water for the people of Jerusalem, Hezekiah had his engineers fortify the Gihon Spring which was outside the city. Then he had them tunnel though the bedrock under the city to channel the spring’s water to the Pool of Siloam inside the city walls. Tourists to the Holy Land today can still walk though Hezekiah’s Tunnel, where the water still flows from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam! The tunnel was completed just before Sennacherib besieged the city, and it was an important element in the defense of Jerusalem. However, it was not the key to Hezekiah’s deliverance from the Assyrians. The key to victory was Hezekiah’s dependence on the Lord, and he led the people of Jerusalem to trust in the Lord. Isaiah was the major prophet who ministered in Jerusalem during the days of King Hezekiah. Through Isaiah’s motivation King Hezekiah was encouraged and enabled to withstand the threats of the Assyrians under the siege of Sennacherib. What an encouragement for the prophet Isaiah to see the response of the king, the leaders, and the people of Jerusalem! They trusted in the Lord to defend them, and did not merely rely on military defenses and water tunnels for deliverance! In answer to Hezekiah’s prayer (2 Chronicles 32), and in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 37), the Lord sent an angel who destroyed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night! Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord were spared. In 2 Chronicles 29 we see the important groundwork being laid for God’s answer to Hezekiah’s prayer at the time of the invasion. When Hezekiah became king, he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” As a result of his godly activities, one of the major revivals of the Old Testament took place during his reign. In chapter 29 we clearly see the “requisites for revival” of the Lord’s people — in fact, in this chapter we can see the requirements for all spiritual revivals of God’s people, both then and now. Doctrinal / Teaching Points: 1. Revival is preceded by a Determination to Change. “Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that His fierce anger will turn away from us” (v10). Now there’s determination to change! Hezekiah was not content to live in the midst of spiritual and moral chaos and decay. He was determined to change the downward course of the nation and lead the people back to the Lord, and he made a solemn pledge to the Lord to accomplish the work of revival! Remember that wicked King Ahaz had closed the Temple of the Lord and removed the utensils and furnishings? In the first month of his reign, Hezekiah opened up the doors of the Temple and gathered the priests and Levites to purify the Temple. They cleansed and purified the Temple. They consecrated the altar of burnt offering and returned all the furnishings and utensils for worship which King Ahaz had removed. When everything was ready, the Temple services were re-instituted with sacrifices and music, in the way that had been prescribed by the Lord. A significant motivating factor for Hezekiah’s determination to change was his realization that the nation was under the discipline of God because of its sin. “Our fathers became 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.... Therefore the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem.... This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity” (v6-9). Hezekiah recognized that all this desperate situation had been caused by Judah’s sins, and he was determined to get the nation back on course before the Lord. Listen to the resolve in his words to the priests and Levites as he commissioned them to re-open the Temple: “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 burn incense&rdq uo; (v11). If we want revival and spiritual growth in our personal lives and in our churches, we too must make a firm decision to change. No one “drifts into godliness” — godliness requires determined action on our part! The New Testament uses many phrases which illustrate the determined action we must take, such as “throwing off everything that hinders,” and “running the race,” and “putting on the full armor of God,” and “fighting the good fight,” and “pressing on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Decisive action is required! Revival does not come without recognition of the problems areas in our lives, and a determination to make serious changes. Do we recognize when and why God is disciplining us? Are we aware of the areas of our lives that are preventing revival and spiritual growth? Will we determine to make significant changes so that our lives will be pleasing to the Lord? 2. Revival is preceded by a Dedication to Holiness. In verses 12-22, we see that after Hezekiah’s challenging call to the priests and Levites to purify and re-open the Temple of the Lord, the names of the leading Levites who dedicated themselves to the work are listed. The Lord takes note of individuals who stepped forward to take the lead and their determination to serve Him. This fact should be a great encouragement to us to step out and begin the work of revival! The priests and the Levites first consecrated themselves — and then they cleansed the Temple. The priests and Levites went through a ceremonial washing and a separation from anything that would defile them. This is the first step in revival in our fellowships today — individual recognition of personal failure and sin, and the need for repentance and cleansing. A person-by-person reconsecration to the Lord and His work is required. The work of cleaning out our lives will sometimes be painful, but without this step there can be no spiritual gain or growth. In the cleansing of the Temple, all the unclean pagan idols and altars that had been brought into the Temple precincts during the reign of King Ahaz were carried out and burned in the Kidron Valley (v16). This was hard work. Cleaning out the disorder and decay that can so easily creep into fellowships of the Lord’s people is a very difficult job. All kinds of problems will have to be sorted though and corrected in a biblical manner. (See Galatians 6:1, for example.) The bottom line in the consecration of the priests and Levites and the cleansing of the Temple was holiness. There can be no revival without a dedication to holiness. Remember, our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). 3. Revival is preceded by a Desire to Worship. In verses 23-35 we read about a great desire to worship the Lord. Before the worship began, however, the proper sin offerings were made. Notice from verse 23 that king and the assembly laid their hands on the sin offering, thus personally confessing their sin and identifying themselves with the sacrifice. Do you see the spiritual picture? We cannot truly worship God unless we have personally identified with the Sin Offering, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was sacrificed for our sins. When we come to an understanding of how sinful we really are, and what it cost the Lord to bring salvation to us, a grateful desire to thank and worship Him will surely follow! Notice also the song and the sacrifice in verses 27-30. When Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offerings on the altar, the whole assembly worshiped the Lord, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed. Then the king and everyone present with him knelt down and continued to worship. They sang praises with gladness and bowed in worship. Singing praises to the Lord is certainly part of joyful worship! When the people brought their personal sacrifices and their thank offerings to the Lord, it was from willing hearts: “So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings” (v31). No wonder there was revival! Revival is preceded by a desire to worship. Practical Application: Rapid Revival Can Happen. The revival of God’s people in Hezekiah’s day happened almost overnight! Why? Rapid revival occurred because God had prepared the people’s hearts and minds, and the prerequisites for revival were there: determination to change, dedication to holiness and a desire to worship. Rapid revival can happen today! We tend to think that great revivals are a work of God in the past and we doubt that they can happen in this day and age. We read books on revival, and go to seminars about renewal, and we form committees in our churches to think of methods for generating fresh growth and spiritual renewal for the fellowship — but nothing happens. Why not? Perhaps it’s because we’re not really ready for revival? First there must be recognition of sin. Are the “doors of our temples” closed because of sin and garbage in our lives? Are we content to live our lives in a state of spiritual apathy? Do we tolerate the chaos in our lives (or our churches), because we’re unwilling to admit our failures and short-comings? Rem ember — no one “drifts into godliness”! Moving towards godliness requires recognition of the problems and taking dedicated action. Now what about those prerequisites? Are we truly willing and determined to re-consecrate ourselves to the Lord? Removing the pagan altars and all the other trash from the Temple precincts was no easy task in Hezekiah’s day. Are we willing to do the hard and sometimes painful work of getting rid of our “idols” and the junk that needs to be purged from our personal lives? What about the unbiblical things that are going on in our churches and fellowships? It takes hard work — sanctification for worship and consecration for service is not easy, but it can be done! Once our hearts are willing and ready for revival, it’s amazing what God can do in a short period of time! Rapid revival can happen. Are we ready? Are we willing?