We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at how idolatry and sin bring harmful consequences into our lives. If you’re like me, you may have found the journey a little painful. Well take a deep breath, my friend. Today we’re shifting gears. Let’s take a look a guy who actually got it right.
In a line of many unfaithful kings, Hezekiah received this acclaim in Scripture:
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 2 Chronicles 29:2
Refreshing, isn’t it? It gives us hope that it can be done. Let’s see how Hezekiah began his triumphant reign as Judah’s king.
In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. (verses 3-5)
What was Hezekiah’s first order of business? He got rid of anything corrupting or contaminating God’s dwelling place.
That’s exactly what God has been calling each one of us to do, dear one. Clean house.
Of course, God no longer dwells in a man-made temple. He dwells within the hearts of His people. Those of us who have put our faith in Jesus have become the temple of the Most High God. But though the structure may be different, God’s purpose remains the same.
Getting rid of the idolatrous attachments in our hearts makes room for God Himself to fill the sanctuary! Why is that so important, beloved?
Because the presence of God brings the power of God.
Hezekiah understood that, and he led his wandering people to worship and serve God alone.
This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.
2 Chronicles 31:20-21
Sounds good, doesn’t it…prospering under the Lord’s hand?
Part of me wants to stop right here. I know what’s about to happen, and you may not be pleased. You see, we delight in God’s promises to prosper His faithful people, but our limited understanding of prosperity makes us balk at the next verse.
After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. 2 Chronicles 32:1
Surprised? That’s not supposed to happen, is it? We could easily understand God allowing Hezekiah to come under attack if he was a wayward king, but he was faithful to God. Doesn’t obedience to God lead to experiencing His favor?
Actually, it does. And that attack on Hezekiah occurred under God’s prospering hand.
But Hezekiah didn’t do what most of us do when God allows something to come into our lives that we didn’t ask for and don’t understand. He didn’t cry out that God had abandoned him or complain that it was unfair. He simply made preparations, knowing he belonged to the only, all-powerful God.
His men blocked off the springs outside the city to cut off the Assyrian king’s water supply. He repaired and built up walls and made large numbers of weapons and shields (verses 4-5). Then he assembled military officers before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”
2 Chronicles 32:7-8, emphasis added
Funny how most of us still try to fight our battles with our own arms of flesh instead of trusting that the God of Scripture will fight for us.
What was different for Hezekiah? How could he so readily believe?
I see a direct link between Hezekiah’s purposeful submission to the one true God and his ability to trust in God’s power. You see, he had cleaned house and removed all the other idols. Unlike most of us, his heart was not divided between God and other sources of security. It was firmly set on God alone. So when an enemy rose against him, he didn’t flail and falter between the various potential gods that could save him. He had only one to turn to. His undivided heart made it easy to believe.
So when a powerful enemy that had toppled one kingdom after another came at Hezekiah, insulting his God and equating Him with the false gods of all the other nations he’d defeated, Hezekiah simply cried out in prayer to his one source of security.
And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword.
So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side. 2 Chronicles 32:21-22
Looks like God’s favor to me, dear one. The enemy rising against Hezekiah never once meant God had left him. Rather, it became the way in which God proved Himself present! The people of Judah got to witness God revealing His glory on their behalf. And . . .
Many brought offerings to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations. (verse 23)
Hezekiah’s faith was tested, and he came forth as gold (1 Peter 1:7). Hezekiah received blessing, God’s name was glorified, and the world witnessed the power of the one true God.
Do you see what wholehearted devotion to God can do, dear one? Why not give it a try.