II Chronicles 29:1-11 1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. VS 2. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD VS. 33 In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 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. 6 Our fathers 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. 7 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. 8 Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”
I was inspired by Hezekiah’s story last Sunday night in the small group I am attending that is led by John Kincaid. This passage contains some great insight about how to get moving in your walk with the Lord and in your personal mission in His name.
In order to get moving, I see at least three things from Hezekiah’s life that he knew how to do. 1. He knew how to MOVE ON. 2. He knew how to MOVE OUT. 3. He knew how to MOVE BIG.
Move On-If anyone had an excuse to mess life up, it was Hezekiah. He was the son of a lousy man. His father, King Ahaz, had modeled everything a person shouldn’t do if they are going to get moving for God. Chapter 28 of II Chronicles beginning with verse 19 highlights his escapades:
19 The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD. 20 Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help. 21 Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him. 22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. 24 Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and took them away. He shut the doors of the LORD’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger. 26 The other events of his reign and all his ways, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27 Ahaz rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of Jerusalem, but he was not placed in the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.
If anyone had good reasons to make excuses for not doing the right thing, it was Hezekiah. His father was evil and led other people to do evil. He even sacrificed children in burnt offerings to pagan gods! Hezekiah could have said he didn’t know any better and maintained the status quo. He could have said he was just following in his father’s footsteps. He could have said he was just doing the best he could based on his upbringing.
Yet somewhere along the line, Hezekiah must have made a choice to move on from his past. Somewhere along the line he must have purposed something different in his heart concerning the way he would live. He must have sought after God and learned about the things of God. How else would he know that reform was needed? How else would he know how to go about creating reform that would please God? How do you return people to God when you yourself, haven’t lived in a culture that ever followed Him? All he had ever seen modeled was paganism and evil. And yet somehow he knew there was a better way!
What I am trying to say is that at some point, Hezekiah decided he wouldn’t make excuses for not living and leading as God desired. He decided he wouldn’t be a victim of his upbringing. He made a choice to be different than he had been taught. Somehow he got a hold of God and the Scriptures and started learning what pleased God. The text tells us he was 25 years old when he became king. He had been waiting for his opportunity to reign and make a difference and he had been preparing himself in the meantime! He didn’t start to move on from his past when he took the kingship at age 25. No! He started years before when he began searching for answers for right living from the Scriptures.
Church, hear me. We are living in a post-Christian era. Some of you under the sound of my voice weren’t raised in church. You have just come to faith in Christ in recent years. Everything you are learning is completely brand new because you had no prior knowledge about the Bible or what it means to live as a Christian. That story is becoming the more common experience of people today. Yet, there is still a reality that people wrestle with. They are drawn to believe there is something more. There is a pursuit of contentment and satisfaction, many times an invalid and destructive pursuit, but a pursuit nonetheless. Deep down, people without Christ know that the way they live isn’t the way they were meant to live.
There also appears to be an unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s life. I would say it is almost epidemic. Many have been sucked into a victim mentality. I know many of you have been wronged, hurt, oppressed, and abused. Many of you didn’t have the childhood that instilled confidence and security into you. But hear me, you can make a choice to develop into the person of strength, confidence, power, and stability that God desires for you to become. You can choose to read and meditate on the Word of God and renew your mind. You can choose to shake off the chains of your past by testifying with your mouth that God has brought you out or is bringing you out today. You can use your story, even the sad parts, to invest in other people today who need to know that God is for them and that He can create a different future for them than the past that has been created by selfish and weak-minded people. You can move beyond the pain of your past so that you can thrive in the present and have a beautiful future!
There are people in another category who aren’t really “victims” of a bad past, but they just want an easy way out, so they look for others to blame when they don’t live up to God’s standards. Their poor choices become the fault of a parent or teacher or coach or someone else that influenced them the wrong way.
Hezekiah didn’t live a mediocre life full of excuses. He didn’t live as a victim of his poor upbringing. He saw his assent to the throne as an opportunity to clean up the mess his dad had made and to lead differently. He saw the years in his home as education about what “not” to do as a leader. He didn’t lead with a victim mentality, but with a victor mentality!
As someone has said: “Be a student, not a victim. A victim says, “Why did this happen to me?” A student says, “What can I learn from this?” A victim believes his hard times have come because God is trying to punish him. A student understands that God allows hard times in order to help him grow. A victim believes God has abandoned him. A student sees God’s hand in everything, including the worst moments of life. (http://www.keepbelieving.com/blog/2009-12-4-be-a-student-not-a-victim/)
If you let the bad examples and negative influences shape who and what you will become rather than allow God to show you through those bad examples and negative influences how to live life differently, you’ll never be able to get moving for God. Hezekiah means ‘strengthened of Jehovah’. God can enable you to move on from the patterns of your past. Let Him strengthen your heart and resolve to get moving in your walk with Him today.
Hezekiah knew not only how to move on, but he knew how to MOVE OUT! Look at II Chronicles 29:3ff 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. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 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.
How long did Hezekiah wait before implementing change? He didn’t get a committee of people together to discuss the changes. He didn’t allow for transition time between his father’s reign and his reign. He didn’t wait for the people to warm up to him as king before he made sweeping reform. He took action immediately! Don’t get me wrong, it is appropriate to be prayerful and seek the counsel of others and bring people along as you are implementing change, but whose counsel was he going to seek? His people had been led astray and had been living for themselves for years now. They were immersed in evil practices.
There are times you need to deliberate and proceed with caution, but often people fail to lead or fail to impact their culture by being the witness God has called them to be simply because of procrastination. Some of us are so good at it, we even put off procrastinating!
Procrastination can be a smokescreen for laziness which the Bible denounces as sin. (I’m shocked that there weren’t any “amens” on that one!) I’m just sharing the truth this morning. You know you’re lazy if your self-winding watch stops often, if you have to save up the energy to take a nap or if you fall asleep at work and no one notices!
Seriously, in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the master gave 5 talents to one person, 2 talents to another and 1 talent to the third servant. He expected them to be productive to use what he had given to them while he went away. When he came back, he found the first servant had taken his 5 talents and earned 5 more. The master was thrilled and gave the servant a promotion. The second servant who used his 2 talents to earn 2 more also received the same treatment. The third servant, however, who buried the 1 talent he was given was harshly criticized by the master. Listen to what the master called the third servant in Matthew 25:26: “You wicked, lazy servant!”
The Christian life is a life of purpose, intention, work, devotion, and self-control. You athletes in the building know what Paul was talking about in I Cor. 9:24-27 when he talked about the Christian life being like training for a race. He said we were to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” Lazy people aren’t out training for races. Lazy people aren’t putting all their effort into crossing the finish line. Spiritually speaking, are you running laps or taking naps? Maybe several of us here today need to recommit to the task of living for Christ and leave our laziness behind.
Procrastination can also be a cover for fear. We know faith cannot be effective where fear is in control. Faith isn’t the absence of fear, but it is forward progress in the things of God in spite of our fears. Be controlled by faith and you will move beyond your fears!
In Matthew 14, the disciples were in a boat, and Jesus wasn’t in the boat with them this time. The winds were buffeting the boat. The waves were high. Knowing the disciples needed to see Him in the storm, Jesus came to them by walking on the water, and they freaked out! They were terrified. They thought he was a ghost. Jesus told them not to be afraid. How often does that really work?
Have you ever been afraid and had someone tell you not to be afraid? Did you suddenly relinquish fear, shrug your shoulders, and say, “You’re right. There is nothing to fear. I’m done being afraid now!” Doesn’t happen, right? I remember times when I saw something scamper across the floor that I hadn’t bought at the pet store, and I found myself on top of a table or couch in a hurry while repeatedly yelling, “I’m not moving until that thing is gone!” “It’s just a little mouse!” never brought me down from my hiding place!
Yes, we will deal with fear as long as we live. Peter was one of those terrified disciples, (Matt. 19:26) but he didn’t let fear stop him from expressing his faith at the same time! He said, “Lord, if it’s You walking towards this boat, tell me to come and walk on the water toward you!” Peter picked up his feet and his fear and started walking on the water! Jesus telling Peter not to be afraid DID NOT make him unafraid. He was still afraid when he took that first step! It was Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ invitation which enabled him to conquer fear and participate in a miracle. “Hearing and doing the Word of God” will break the control of fear in your life.
Many people have become experts in excuse making when it comes to procrastination. Waiting for the “right time” can have costly and sometimes deadly consequences. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use discernment. I’m not saying you should get ahead of God. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be prayerful about something. BUT you know as well as I do that “waiting for the right time” can simply be an excuse for putting something off that you are supposed to do.
A minister of the Gospel determined on one occasion to preach on the text, “Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation.” While he was in his study thinking about his text, he fell asleep and began to dream. He dreamt that he was carried into hell and into a group of demons who were consulting with Satan. They were discussing together how they could attack the souls of lost people. They were deciding which one had the best method and so which one would go first. One demon arose and said, “I will go to the earth and tell men that the Bible is all fable; that it is not the inspired Word of God.” Another said, “I will tell men that there is no God, no Savior, no heaven or hell.” At those last words a rather fiendish smile came over the faces of Satan and all the demons. Suddenly one arose, and with a wise smirk like the serpent of old, suggested, “We do not need to tell people that the Bible is untrue, that there is no heaven or hell, or that there is no God and no Savior. All we need to do is to tell them that there is no hurry. Tomorrow will do.”
Don’t wait for the “right time” to be saved. The Bible says today is the Day of Salvation! Don’t’ wait to witness to your friends and family. Like you, they don’t have the promise of tomorrow! Be sure they think about eternity’s consequences before they enter into eternity. Don’t wait to obey the Lord if He has told you that you need to give something up, change something, or add something to your life. Don’t wait until Monday. Don’t wait until the first of the month. Don’t wait until you get through your busy season. Move out, like Hezekiah!
Finally, Hezekiah knew how to MOVE BIG. He didn’t just try to improve things. He didn’t just try to tweak things to make them better. He didn’t just put a band-aid on the situation to cover up or dress up the evil atmosphere. He completely overhauled the practices of the Israelites. (Hezekiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 16:20-20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27-32:33; Isaiah 36:1-39:8. He is also mentioned in Proverbs 25:1; Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 15:4; 26:18, 19; Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1.)
The bronze serpent God told Moses to make had become an idol itself for the nation of Israel. Hezekiah destroyed it.
He tore down the pillars, altars, Ashtoreth poles and high places associated with pagan worship. These man-made shrines honored such gods as Baal, the storm god who allegedly brought rain and wealth, Ashtoreth the fertility goddess, and Molech a detestable god unto whom people sacrificed their children. These religions often provided prostitutes as a part of their depraved “worship.” Such hedonistic religion appealed to peoples’ base senses of greed and sensuality. The high places represented the height of human self-indulgence and manipulation.
Hezekiah re-opened the doors of the temple which his father had shut, and he got to work on repairing them. (vs. 3) That meant offerings could resume. That meant worship could resume.
He had a heart to hear talk with the leaders. He got the priests and Levites together for a “come to Jesus meeting.” (Vs. 4-5) He told them of their responsibility to repent and get right with God. He talked to them about cleansing the sanctuary and consecrating themselves. Verses 15-17 speak about how they cleansed the Lord’s house. The whole process took 16 days! They had more than a church work day to de-clutter. They invested much time doing the hard stuff, committing to the task until things were right and until they themselves were right!
After the 16 days, Hezekiah wasted no time. In verses 27-30 he gave orders for the sacrificial burnt offerings to commence on the altar again. Immediately, singing and instrumental praise started. Everyone bowed down in worship and stayed in that place until the burnt offerings were finished. After that, they all knelt and continued to worship.
Hezekiah called all of the tribes together for a unity service and re-instituted the Passover celebration in chapter 30 which is a depiction of Christ in our midst.
Look at the end result in II Chronicles 29:36 “Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.”
Hezekiah was a leader during a time when big things were needed. I don’t see our time as so different. At a time when church leaders across the country have chosen compromise rather than consecration, when ungodly lifestyles are being preached as acceptable, and people have embraced new age and mystic philosophies in addition to their Christian faith, when the reality of heaven and hell seem to be up for grabs and truth is relative, it is time for some Hezekiah’s to stand up and MOVE BIG in order to see sweeping reform, and guess where it begins?
It begins with the house of God! As you think about your heart and your worship practices and your devotional life and your decision making and your parenting and your relationships and your finances and your work and service to the Lord and the things you watch and listen to and the way you spend your free time, can you say that in every area of your life that God is satisfied with your devotion to Him in those areas? Are there any high places that you need to tear down? Any habits you need to give up? Any sensual pleasures that are about your quick fix, that are about you feeling good and getting what you want, that have caused you to become manipulative and self-indulgent rather than pure in heart? Are you living for the moment or the Master?
II Chronicles 29:2 tells us Hezekiah’s did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Could someone write that same sentence about your life today? Do you need to move on from your past? Do you need to quit procrastinating or quit listening to your fears and need to move out to do something that pleases God? God is urging you to live big for Him. I think sometimes we process our spiritual lives like we do schoolwork. I remember, I used to think, “What’s the least I can do and still get an A?” I think many Christians think, “What’s the least I can do and still be alright with God?” It’s not about making a little adjustment here or there. It is about going big. It is about living on purpose, out loud for God. It is about cleaning the “house,” our temples, our hearts and throwing out all of the garbage. . . ALL of it. Christians who are going to go big in getting their hearts right with God don’t say, “I’ll get rid of this if I can keep that.” If it displeases the Lord, it all has to go.
Will you join me in some self-assessment this morning? Ask the Holy Spirit what you need to do in order to “get moving!”