Kings and Prophets

King Hezekiah – True Revival

 

By I Gordon

 

Introduction

 

In the last study on King Ahaz, we saw the depths of Ahaz’ wickedness as his worldliness and unfaithfulness to the Lord lead the nation of Israel into one of their darkest periods ever. It was however, as I’m sure you remember, what we called the ‘darkness before the dawn.’ For the reign of Hezekiah his son, stands in direct contrast to that of his father Ahaz. Hezekiah’s reign was the light of revival and it certainly shone brightly set against the backdrop of Ahaz’ wickedness. This brief study then will examine Hezekiah’s actions in bringing about revival and faithfulness to Israel once again. This study will be taken from 2 Kings chapter 18 and 2 Chronicles 29-30.   

 

What do you worship instead of God?

 

2 King 18:1-4 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.  He 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. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

 

Following on from his father Ahaz, Hezekiah became King at the ripe old age of 25 years old… Now that’s a lot of responsibility on a young mans shoulders but thankfully he had a lot of wisdom packed into those 25 years. How is that possible you ask? Well, the answer comes in verse 5 and 6 for we read –

 

Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.  He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

 

The NASB says that ‘he clung to the Lord’. I like that! Hezekiah’s wisdom and ability to lead Judah came directly from the Lord. Unlike his father, He followed the Lord with all his heart and the Lord directed his steps into the ways of righteousness. That of course is also the meaning of his name for Hezekiah means ‘strengthened of Jehovah’. But getting back to those first few verses, what is it that Hezekiah did as soon as he became King? We read that he began his reign by breaking down the false gods and false forms of worship that had arisen within Israel. In particular, we read that the Israelites had begun to worship the bronze snake that God had used as a means of healing in the days of Moses.[1] They even gave it a great name – ‘Nehushtan’ – which means ‘the bronze thing’! Always remember that that which God blesses and uses while our eyes are on Him, He will also curse when it replaces Him. So is there any ‘bronze thing’ in your life that you look to instead of the Lord?[2]

 

The Steps to Revival

 

Now, after destroying ‘the bronze thing’, we read of several steps that Hezekiah put in place which lead to the revival in Judah. These are listed in 2 Chronicles chapter 29 and 30. They are as follows –

 

  • Opened the doors of the house of the Lord
    vs 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.
    As we noted in the last study, Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father had shut the doors of the temple so that worship, offerings and instruction from the Lord would be stopped. Plain wicked. We read that ‘in the first month of the first year’ of Hezekiah’s reign he opened them again. No mucking around with this guy! He was here to please His God, not man. Now, the doors of the church may be open physically, but if the true gospel is not being preached then they are still closed spiritually. Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple so that worship of the right God, in the right way, could proceed. A good place to start.

  • Repentance and consecration amongst the leaders
    vs 4-5 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side  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…’
    We see next that Hezekiah made sure that things were right at the top! The leadership of Israel needed to repent[3] and be consecrated. They had allowed practices which were contrary to the word of the Lord to take place. So cleansing had to start with them. It was D.L Moody that said ‘The best way to revive a church is to build a fire in the pulpit!’

  • The house of the Lord cleansed
    vs 15-17 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. 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. They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.
    The next part was cleansing the house of the Lord. In all this took 16 days to do! I can only imagine the state of idolatry that they had allowed. Obviously today there is no one ‘house of the Lord’ except believers themselves. We need to remember that our bodies are the temple for the Holy Spirit. That alone can be quite convicting. Is your ‘house’ clean for the Lord? Paul wrote: ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.’ (1 Cor 6:19-20)  See also 2 Tim 2:20-21 concerning cleansing and it’s relationship to ‘being useful to the master’.  
  • Offerings and worship restored
    27-30 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. 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. When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped. 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.
    Next it was important that the sacrifices, offerings, and worship be restored. What Israel had had, was a religion devoid of any true offering to the Lord. We see also in the next chapter that the Passover was celebrated once again. Talk about leaving out the most important element! It is a picture of Christianity without Christ. It is, unfortunately, a picture of many churches throughout the world that simply become some kind of social club, totally leaving out the essential elements upon which communion with God is achieved. Hezekiah was wise enough to make sure that all was established as it should according to the word of God, so that true worship could once again be given to the one who deserves it all. May we see this as well!

The results of consecration

 

2 Chron 30:6-12 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, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 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. 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. 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.” 

The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 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.

 

So the couriers were sent out proclaiming ‘return to the Lord! – Do not be stiff-necked.’ Because of the state of the peoples hearts we read that many ‘scorned and ridiculed them’ but ‘some men’ repented, humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. We live in difficult times and the church in the west is in a mess. It is hard enough being a Christian at the best of times without having such conflicting messages presented by different churches and leaders[4] as we have today. But nether the less, God will always have His ‘some people’. He will always have His ‘some’ that are willing to consecrate themselves and follow His ways. May you be one of the ‘some’. May you also be able to be used by the Lord – to be willing to go out to encourage the people back to the Lord. The only thing that stopped repentance and revival coming initially to Nineveh in the days of Jonah was Jonah’s reluctance to go to them. We all need to remember that.

 

Conclusion

 

Vs 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.  

 

I’ll just end with this encouraging verse. What was the end of Hezekiah’s actions? Well, it was great joy, great unity, and great revival amongst those of Israel who were willing to consecrate themselves. In fact, the word of God says that ‘since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem’. It was true revival for the people (without any animal imitations![5]). Hezekiah was an awesome man of God that brought about tremendous change within the nation of Israel. Places, people and circumstances may change, but the principles of renewal outlined in the word of God do not. May we learn from them for our own lives.

 

 

Sow for yourselves righteousness,

reap the fruit of unfailing love,

and break up your unplowed ground;

for it is time to seek the LORD,

until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

 

(Hosea 10:12)

 

 



[1] The incident is recorded in Num 21:8-9 and it is a wonderful picture of the healing that comes from looking in faith to what Jesus did on the cross. See John 3:14-15. It was however, never meant to be worshipped in and of itself! The human heart is strange like that. It always likes something it can ‘see’. Nearly all forms of false religion have its idols and false worship of images. The Roman Catholic Church must have its pictures of baby Jesus, its statues of Mary and its crucifixes with Jesus still on the cross. Nothing has changed even though the second commandment of the big ten should prevent such things (Ex 20:4). This is no different from apostate Israel in the times of Hezekiah. 

 

[2] It is essential to always keep your eyes on the giver of any gift, and not the gift itself. God warned the Israelites in Deut 8:7-18 that he would give them wealth and prosperity but they had to be very careful that they didn’t then look to that wealth and forget the Lord. The Lord may give you a great pastor of your church. If so, thank Him for that. But don’t worship your pastor! Sometimes the Lord uses an author or teacher to help us. That’s fine but don’t let that person take the place of the Lord! It can even be your own spiritual gift. The Lord may enable you to teach or preach or something else. Great… Good for you! But always remember that it is the Lord’s gifting and enabling, not yours.

 

[3] I’ve just recently been reading ‘My Calvary Road’ by Roy Hession. In it he gives his testimony concerning his life and journey with the Lord. At one point he writes ‘I discovered that revival doesn’t come by doing some big thing, but rather by being cleansed of little things, That is, in effect, what Naaman had to see; “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, wash and be clean?” ‘ (2 Kings 5)

Fellowship with God and with one another is based on ‘walking in the light’. (1 John 1.5-10) That is, not hiding things from the Lord (because He sees all anyway!) but by being transparent and open about our ways – willing to repent where and when it is necessary.

 

[4] One of the local pastors where I live recently wrote an article for the newspaper for all to read. It was entitled – ‘You need more money.’ In it he took a passage from the book of Ecclesiastes out of context and wrote that ‘money is the answer for everything.’ Now, even a brief reading of Ecclesiastes would show the casual reader that Solomon wrote against this kind of thinking – but here it is, published in the local newspaper for all to see by a well known pastor. I wonder what those in the world think when they see us craving that which they desire. It’s just plain wrong! It’s Laodicea all over again. All I can say is make sure your heart is right with the Lord and that you are following His truth, not mans.

 

[5] Sorry, couldn’t resist a little, not so subtle dig at what people used to try to passed off as revival a few years ago – that is the so called ‘Toronto Blessing’. When true revival occurs, as we see from the time of Hezekiah, then there is repentance and consecration, not chicken noises!