By ignoring the Lord’s commands, Ahaz brought all sorts of troubles on the land of Judah. They were raided by Edom, the Philistines, and even Israel. Why did all this happen? “The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord” (II Chronicles 28:19, NLT).
So what did Ahaz do – call on the Lord? Nope. He asked Assyria to come to their aid. However, “when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him” (II Chronicles 28:20). Ahaz’s response? He started offering sacrifices to Assyria’s gods. He closed “the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah” (II Chronicles 28:24b-25a).
When he died, “his son Hezekiah became the next king” (II Chronicles 28:27b) of a totally pagan nation. Would he continue his father’s practices?
“Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it.
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did” (II Kings 18:1-2a, 3-4a, 5-7a).
Wow! What a breath of fresh air Hezekiah was! While Hoshea’s rebellion against God was insuring the downfall of Israel, Hezekiah was bringing God’s favor back to Judah. Thoroughly disgusted with the ways of his father, Hezekiah wasted no time cleaning up the kingdom.
“In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. He said to them, ‘Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God.
That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to minister to Him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to Him” (II Chronicles 29:3-6a, 8-11).
Hezekiah wanted to honor the Lord. He made repairing, reopening, and cleansing the Temple top priority; then he called on the Temple leaders to purify themselves and get back to what God had called them to do: “lead the people in worship and present offerings to Him.”
Has Jesus Christ become a secondary interest in your life? If so, He’s been dethroned. “Do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence.”
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates