Hezekiah, The Great Reforming King (1) – Cleansing the Temple (2nd Chronicles 29)
While these studies, examining the history of the throne of David, have been mostly overviews of the various Kings, such an approach is unworthy of a character who carries the status and reputation of Hezekiah. In the centuries that had slipped past since Solomon was buried, Hezekiah was the greatest to arise from this illustrious family. Others had sat on the throne who were good men and we have contemplated their pedigree but there were none to match Hezekiah for spiritual leadership. Hezekiah was both a reformer and a revivalist. He reformed the spiritual life of the nation after the apostasy with which his people had been afflicted by his father, Ahaz. He was used by God to revive an interest in the old paths, in the divinely ordained means of worship and in so doing a deep spiritual work was accomplished in the lives of thousands.
This first section of 2nd Chronicles 29 describes the cleansing of the temple, a subject which is most relevant for New Testament Christians who yearn for revival in days of apostasy. Hezekiah, from a different place and time, teaches us how to reverse the spiritual decline which we are witnessing in our nation, a decline which he also witnessed in his generation.
1: The Picture of the Temple
The focus of Hezekiah’s reformation was the temple, which had been so neglected in the days of his father Ahaz, that the doors had been shut up.
The temple in the Old Testament speaks to us in this New Testament age of two aspects of the believers’s spiritual life; the Church and the body.
Throughout the New Testament the Church is likened to a a temple, made not with dead stone but living people, a growing and developing organism.
The temple in the New Testament is also a picture of the Christian’s body, the inner spiritual life:
God dwells among His people, which highlights the importance of the congregation, the gathering of Christ’s bride. He meets with those who worship in and truth. The building is meeting place where the church assembles for the glory of God. All of those who are Christian, however, possess the Holy Spirit within their bodies. Within the temple which is the church there are numerous mini temples, the living stones.
2: The Priority for the Temple
Solomon, as a young man, only twenty-five years of age, instantly saw that if his land was to be transformed a work had to be done within the temple.
Gathering a group of faithful Levites around him Hezekiah carefully instructed them to get to work cleansing the temple and preparing this remarkable building for God’s service once again.
Perhaps the words of Solomon were ringing in his mind as he put these men to work:
These words uttered at the dedication of the temple were played out in the physical actions of the people of God centuries later as the filthiness was carried from the temple. This was only means whereby the years of decline could be reversed.
We are living in days of spiritual decline. The church is prayerless and without vigour and power as the forces of darkness captivate the hearts of our population. Protest and agitation, while it has a place in the witness of the Church if carried out respectfully, with dignity. and with love, will not change the course of the nation. To see real change the church must change, the focus needs to be upon the temple.
Therefore we should begin by looking at the personal temple. These bodies do not belong to us, they have been purchased by the blood of Christ. Are we using our bodies and our time profitably for the Saviour? Are we doing all to then glory of God? As we criticise the drift we see we society, as we point the finger at other believers, what do we see in our own lives and in our own hearts? Unless we view the temple through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, we will not see the transformation that we long for in our nation.
We must also think about the corporate temple, the body of the Church.
Revival is a work wrought within the Church, among God’s people. Are we willing to open our hearts up to God, praying that he would move, changing us, transforming us.
3: The Penitence at the Temple
In 2nd Chronicles 7:14 Solomon called on God’s people in a day of apostasy to turn to the Lord and away from their wicked ways. This was precisely the pattern followed by Hezekiah as he led the Levites in the primary stages of his reformation
These words read like en eve of battle speech from the lips of a military commander as he inspires his soldiers onward to the fray. Hezekiah emboldened these Levites with this call to action.
But this was more than a call to action. The King took ownership of his Father’s sins. He dod not separate himself from the guilt that lay upon his people. As their sovereign he accepted the guilt of Judah and Jerusalem.
This is is what it means to turn from our wicked ways. It is to recognise that we have sinned more than we realise and that we share in the iniquity of our nation. When God stirs in revival there is no self righteousness. The sense that there is none righteousness, that we are all an unclean thing, is all pervasive. A people thirsty for revival feel their own darkness, their own shame, their own need of divine grace. May God give us such a Spirit!
Great King of nations, hear our prayer, While at thy feet we fall, And humbly, with united cry, To thee for mercy call, The guilt is ours, but grace is Thine; O turn us not away, But hear us from Thy lofty throne, And help us when we pray Our fathers’ sins were manifold And ours no less we own; Yet wondrously from age to age Thy goodness hath been shown: When dangers, like a stormy sea, Beset our country round, To Thee we looked, to Thee we cried, And help in Thee was found. With one consent we meekly bow Beneath Thy chastening hand, And, pouring forth confession meet, Mourn with our mourning land. With pitying eye behold our need, As thus we lift our prayer: Correct us with thy judgments Lord, Then let thy mercy spare. John Hampton Gurney, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, Our Own Hymn Book
King Hezekiah led Jerusalem into a new beginning. In sweeping away the rubbish of the past, in restoring the nation to the divinely ordained means of worship, a new beginning was instituted.
Is there a reader in need of a new spiritual beginning? Doors of service have been closed in your life, God is recalling you to action, to rekindle the lamps of holiness which have gone out, the temple of your heart needs to be repaired and then you will have a new song. There are too many professing Christians without a song in their souls, the world has stolen the joy of the Lord. Over and over we discover that only Jesus satisfies. Let us today bow our heads and worship!