Some Good News!
My soon to be published devotional book: STRENGTH FOR TODAY, is in its final stages of production. (Praise the Lord!) So, while we wait, here is another "preview" of one of the daily Bible studies from the book. Hopefully your heart will be blessed by these thoughts from God's Word.
“Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry out the filth (rubbish) from the holy place.” (II Chron. 29:5)
The very first thing Hezekiah did when he became king of Judah was to address the spiritual problems of his nation, beginning with a thorough cleansing of the temple. He could not tolerate the physical and spiritual "pollution" of God's house. So he decided to make it his mission to "clean house". According to our text, there were four separate steps Hezekiah took to restore temple worship in Jerusalem:
He Opened the Doors
First, he opened the doors. Evidently, the temple doors had been closed up, and were in a sad state of disrepair. (29:3) Revival begins when God’s people open the doors of their temple, their lives, to God. We must make sure we have not closed the doors of our heart to the Lord.
He Carried Out the Trash
Second, he carried out the filth out of the holy place. (29:5) As Christians, we need to clean up the filth that litters the hallways of our hearts. Confession of sin, and thorough cleansing with the “water of the Word” (Eph. 5:26) is vital to spiritual renewal. Like David, we should pray “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psa. 51:10) Hezekiah took great effort to get rid of the rubbish in the temple.
He Made a Sin Offering
Third, he restored temple worship. The king commanded that a burnt offering and sin offering be made for all Israel. (29:24) “And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord also began.” (29:27) Isn’t it interesting that the joy of the Lord came back to the congregation the moment they got their hearts right with God? Herein is evidence of true revival. The trash was taken out, and the song came in!
He Kept the Passover
Fourth, he kept the Passover. God’s people, throughout the land, had been skipping the annual trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. So Hezekiah decreed that “they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover.” (30:1) The Scripture says, “They (God’s people) had not done it for a long time.” (30:5) And when they gathered, Hezekiah prayed for them saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God.” (30:18-19)
When Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah, Hezekiah’s great faith was an inspiration to his people. “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” (32:8) When Hezekiah received a threatening letter from Sennacherib he went into the house of the Lord and “spread out” the letter before God! His was one of the great prayers of confession in the Bible. See II Kings 19:14-19. In answer to his great prayer, the prophet Isaiah reassured him that God would defeat the Assyrian army. That night, God sent an angel into the camp of the Assyrians and 185,000 of their soldiers were slain.
And finally, Hezekiah was the only person in history who was granted an extended lifespan. He was sick unto death, and asked God for healing. God heard his prayer and granted him another 15 years of life. He asked Isaiah for a sign that he would be healed, and God confirmed His promise of extended years by causing the shadow of the sundial to go backward ten degrees. (II Kings 20) For you mathematicians, 10 degrees is 1/36 of a day, or 40 minutes.
What can we learn from the life of this good, godly king of Judah? First, we need to confess sin. In the words of the songwriter, we should plead: “Search me, O God, and know my heart today; Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me; Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.” I believe the only hope for America right now is the prayers of God's people for revival.
Second, we need to understand the truth that when the junk was cleaned out of the house of God, the SONG began! What does this tell us about experiencing the joy of the Lord?
Third, we need to see that the people stopped observing Passover because it wasn’t "convenient". If we only worship God when it is convenient, have we really worshipped Him at all?
And finally, we need to learn how to really pray. The symbolism of Hezekiah “spreading out” his threatening letter before God is beautiful! In Phil. 4:6 we read: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God". Whatever threatening situation you face today needs to be spread out before God. Let Him handle it. And He will.