HOUSE OF THE LORD THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
LATER HISTORY OF ISRAEL LESSON 22
The Good Reign of King Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 29:1–32:23
Overview of the Book of Isaiah
Hezekiah, Thirteenth King of Judah (2 Chronicles 29:1–31:21)
A. Record of His Reign (2 Chronicles 29:1-2)
Hezekiah succeeded his father Ahaz to the throne of Judah at age twenty-five and reigned for twenty-
nine years at Jerusalem. He was one of Judah’s finest kings. His character is marked by the commendation that, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” While Jotham was a good king because “he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 27:6). David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah are the only four kings to have instituted massive religious reforms to bring the people back to true worship of God, coupled with the fact that they did not forsake the law of the Most High God. (We will study about Josiah in Lesson 23.) Second Kings 18:5 says of King Hezekiah, “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.”
B. Repairing the Temple (2 Chronicles 29:3-19)
Ahaz, the wicked father of Hezekiah, had closed the doors of the temple. Shortly after Hezekiah began to reign, he repaired and reopened the doors of the temple and cleansed the place of worship. This was the right place to begin reform and revival. Should the place of worship be forsaken, Hezekiah knew perspective would be distorted. With the combination of a godly mother and the preaching and prophesying of Isaiah, Hezekiah no doubt had strong influences in his life toward the things of God. The temple being closed was an indication of the spiritual and moral conditions existing in Judah. Isaiah prophesied during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. As you read and study the first chapters in the book of Isaiah, you will learn more about the moral, political and religious conditions of Judah.
Today, as in the days of Hezekiah, there is need for a revival of true worship, respect for the house of God and a profound reverence for the Bible. The professing church today is experiencing decline and apostasy. God spare us from being brainwashed into accepting the philosophy that we can do just as well without the church in our communities and nation. The professing church needs reviving and by the same process through which Hezekiah reestablished worship: returning to the law of God with a forceful, “Thus says the Lord” rather than the weak position of man’s, “I think it should be thus and thus.” We can know because with God there are absolutes (James 1:5). May God help us return to a serious study of the Bible that we may know what God expects of us. After opening the doors of the temple, Hezekiah began to clean out the filth on the inside. He gathered together the religious leaders, the priests and Levites, and in an address to them, acknowledged the sins of the nation and made confession before the Lord. “For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the Lord our God; they have forsaken Him, have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the Lord, and turned their backs on Him.” For this reason God’s wrath was upon them. He called upon the religious leaders to sanctify themselves. All true work for God begins this way. Too many would rather just do a whitewash job. It’s quick and almost pain free; it costs so little and is easy. Such a brand of Christianity lasts in commitment just about as long as a calcimine whitewash.
C. Worship Established (2 Chronicles 29:20-36)
King Hezekiah and the rulers set the example in leading the people in worship by going early to the temple and offering a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and for Judah. True worship was established, and the people brought great offerings and sang praises with psalms of David and Asaph the singer. The number of offerings brought by the people was so large that the priests had to have the assistance of the Levites to handle it. What a day that must have been in Jerusalem! “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.”
D. The Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21)
1. Preparation for the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1-14)
This is the first Passover feast recorded since the time of Solomon. King Hezekiah sent invitations to celebrate the Passover feast, not only throughout Judah, but throughout all Israel as well. He invited the people of the ten tribes of Israel to return to God that He might return to the remnant who had escaped from the king of Assyria and be merciful to those from Israel who had already gone into captivity. A considerable part of the ten tribes had already been carried into captivity to Assyria. Although this invitation was treated with contempt by the majority of the remnant of Israel, many came, not only from Ephraim and Manasseh but also from the distant tribes of Issachar, Zebulun and Asher to join with their brethren in Judah. The fact that there were mockers of the invitation didn’t stop those whose hearts were prepared to seek the Lord. A desire to obey God results in unity.
2. Celebration of the Passover (2 Chronicles 30:15-22)
The Passover typified God’s redemption of His people from the land of Egypt. It was the birthday of the nation. God delivered the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh in Egypt, and commanded them to keep the feast of the Passover in remembrance of this time. Through sin and disobedience the leaders and people alike had lost all incentive for true worship. Now Israel and Judah together were humbling themselves at Jerusalem to once again celebrate this feast.
3. Results of the Revival (2 Chronicles 30:23-31:21)
By the spontaneous impulse of the worshipers, the feast was extended to fourteen days. Jerusalem had not seen such joy since the days of Solomon, and God heard their prayers. As the people returned to their homes, they broke their idols to pieces, cut down the groves and threw down the high places and altars throughout Ephraim and Manasseh, as well as throughout all Judah and Benjamin. 2 Kings 18:4 relates Hezekiah’s breaking to pieces the brazen serpent lifted up by Moses in the wilderness. Even though this was a relic of the Israelites’ early history, it had become an idol to the people. Through apostasy, the brazen serpent had become an object to be worshiped instead of a symbol of God’s power and grace. It was used in connection with serpent worship prevalent in the East. For this reason, Hezekiah called it “Nehushtan” (simply, a piece of brass) and broke it to pieces.
Hezekiah also revitalized the organization of priests and Levites and their support by the tithes of the people. Never before had Judah experienced such a reformation. The people brought offerings and tithes in such quantity that there was a large surplus, even after all the needs of the priests and king were met. The high priest, Azariah, told the king that the abundance was due to God’s special blessing on a willing and obedient people. To store the abundant provisions, Hezekiah ordered that chambers be prepared in the temple and appointed officials for their supervision and administration. What a happy problem that would be for the churches today!
So we have the results of the revival given by the Spirit of God to His people: a united people, the destruction of all false worship, the restoration of true worship, great willingness in giving, much sacrifice and obedience to the Lord and to His Word. These are the results of every true revival among God’s people. It is said of King Hezekiah: “And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.”
Part II to come ...