Repent, Restore, Rebuild, Rejoice
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne. The first order of business was to restore the temple and its worship. The priests and Levites had to be consecrated, purified, so that they could serve. All that was evil needed to be removed from the sanctuary (29:1-6) because: "Our parents 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, They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel" (29:6, 7, NIV).
The house of God and the worship of God had been neglected and abandoned.
In 2 Chronicles 30, after the priests, Levities, and temple were restored, Hezekiah called the people to come to Jerusalem. This was his message: "People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Issac and Israel, that he may return to you that are left…submit to the Lord…for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him" (30:6, 8, 9NIV). Penciled in my Bible are the words: "A good leader calls his people to repentance."
And they came with "unity of mind" (30:12). Their return to the Lord signaled a destruction of all those things associated with the false gods they had been allowing to contaminate their lives. The celebrating went on, and on, and on (30:23ff) as they worshiped the Lord.
In Chapter 31 we see that they also returned to tithing in order to provide for the ministry of the temple and its servants (31:5ff). It was written of Hezekiah that he did "…what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly" (31:20, 21, NIV). What an enviable ambition and epitaph!
When threatened by his enemies, Hezekiah turned to the Lord and encouraged his people with these wonderful words: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for these is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles" (32:7, 8, NIV).
What a wonderful example—and message—God is greater than the greatest of our enemies and fights our battles for us.
The story has it's low points. Hezekiah let pride get in his way and "did not respond to the kindness shown him" by God (32:25, NIV). But to his credit, he also repented of that pride (32:26).
As we look at this man's life, it is no great leap to see the parallels between Hezekiah's journey and our own as the church, and as followers of Jesus Christ—what has been lost, what needs to be restored, and what needs to become both attitude and action in our lives as individuals and as a body is wonderfully illustrated. And as in the days of Hezekiah, the Lord is "gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from [us] if [we] return to him" (30:9, NIV).