- Back to Basics
- The Levites
- References and Footnotes
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Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, takes the throne at the age of 25 and reigns for 29 years. He was one of the best, possibly the best, kings of Judah. It is during Hezekiah's reign that the Israelites experience a major revival in their relationship with God.
Back to Basics
Within the first month of his rule, Hezekiah started making repairs to the Temple; this was a sign that he was dedicated to serving God. Hezekiah tells the people that they have trespassed against God and must now sanctify the Temple and themselves (specifically the Levites). Like with most things, the first step is always admitting that there is a problem. Before we can fix our relationship with God, we have to admit its broken, and that it's our fault there's a problem. Once we realize that, we can start repairing the relationship.
It took the people 8 days to sanctify themselves and another 8 days to sanctify the Temple. Once everything was sanctified, Hezekiah brought leaders from each city with him before the Lord and they sacrificed bullocks, rams, goats, and lambs (7 each) for a sin offering. All of Judah came to rejoice and praise before God. Hezekiah even reinstated musicians to play the trumpet and sing, just as David had ordained.
The sanctification process began on the first day of the first month. Since it took a total of 16 days to complete, the Temple was not clean in time for the Passover. As such, Hezekiah followed the law from Numbers 9:9-11, which stated an unclean man was to postpone the Passover celebration until the 2nd month. This Passover was not just celebrated by the kingdom of Judah, but for the northern kingdom as well.
The Passover had not been kept in a long while (2 Chronicles 30:5). This could be in reference simply to Ahaz's reign as king, but it could also include a longer period of time. Nonetheless, the conclusion is that God's people had not been obeying His law. This is another example of how merciful He is; when we stop upholding His law and drift away from following Him, He will wait for us to return.
Some of the northern tribes mocked Hezekiah's invitation, just as people will mock us when we are trying to do right by God. However, a few people from the northern tribe joined him for worship, just as a few will join us in our walk toward God.
Because it had been so long since the Israelites had followed God's law, things were a bit out of sorts. There were apparently still Levites who had not sanctified themselves but were shamed into doing so after witnessing the Passover sacrifice. Those who were sanctified were in charge of the sacrifice, however many of the northern tribes were unaware that they could not participate in the feast if they were unclean. Anxious to reunite with God, these people partook of the feast despite their unclean state. Hezekiah prays that God will be merciful and forgive them, particularly because they were unaware of their sin. As you can expect, God understood and was well aware of what was in His people's hearts. Instead of punishing them, He heals their uncleanness and accepts their worship.
After the Passover, the people celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The celebration was so great, it was extended another 7 days! It makes sense that people enjoy feasts, however, the Feast of Unleavened Bread requires that only unleavened bread be eaten. This reminds us that praising God can be joyous even when restrictions are placed on our normal lives. Also, since leaven symbolizes sin in the Bible, this reminds us that life with out sin is a joyous experience we want to prolong.
During Hezekiah's reign, the Levites get more organized. Previously, duties had been assigned based on family so it was important for the Levites to iron out their genealogy so that they could return to their duties. Once they resumed worship per God's law, abundance swept over the nation. Revivals like this are powerful and occur even today. I believe such a revival will also come about just before the end.
Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, begins attacking Judah city by city during Hezekiah's reign. Knowing that Assyria will eventually come for Jerusalem, Hezekiah beefs up security in the city. He cuts off the water supply, such that only his own people can access the water and reinforces the wall around the city. As the city braces for a battle, Hezekiah tells the people to have faith because he knows that God will take care of them.
Sennacherib, however, stirs up trouble by questioning the faith of the people. Like many who do not truly understand Christianity today, Sennacherib tries to poke holes in the Israelites' faith with that he does know. This is why God wants us to study His word, so that we do not fall into such traps. Sennacherib questions Hezekiah's faithfulness because he has torn down the high places. From Sennacherib's point of view, Hezekiah had desecrated the cities and rendered the god of the city useless.
However, the truth was that God required His sacrifices in a central location (the Temple) and can be in all places. Sennacherib believed that every nation's god or gods were real, but that some were stronger than others. Thus, he reminds the Israelites that no other nation has prevailed against Assyria's gods, who have defeated all of the other gods. The people hear truth in Sennacherib's words and fear because they lacked faith, not only in the strength of God but in the fact that He is the only God. Sennacherib's army defeated the other gods because they didn't exist. We must remember this when we are faced with such an enemy.
When Hezekiah learns of the people's despair, he turns to Isaiah the prophet and the two men pray to God. Hezekiah and Isaiah realized that as men, they could not give the people faith. Instead, they hand the problem over to God, who hears this prayer and protects the kingdom of Judah. An angel sent from God turns the Assyrian army away such that Hezekiah and his men don't have to fight. Seeing this, the people of Jerusalem bring gifts to God at the Temple. This likely helped to restore faith in God and probably helped fan the flames of the revival.
Hezekiah was deathly ill during this time, but he prayed to God to heal him. Remember, not long a ago King Asa had come down with an illness and sought out help from doctors to heal him; he died. Hezekiah, on the other hand, went straight to God and was spared. God grants Hezekiah 15 more years of life (2 Kings 20)! During this time, God blesses Hezekiah with many riches. From monetary riches to spices and livestock, Hezekiah was blessed with abundance. When he dies, he is buried in the chief sepulcher of the kings, which means he was given a great honor.
References and Footnotes
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 778-779. 2014
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