“Therefore the wrath of the Lord fell upon Judah and Jerusalem, and He has given them up to trouble, to desolation, and to jeering, as you see with your eyes. For indeed, because of this our fathers have fallen by the sword; and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us” (2 Chronicles 29:8-10).
The above words were spoken by Hezekiah, the king of Judah, in the beginning of his reign to the priests and the Levites which he had gathered together. To better understand the challenges Hezekiah faced one needs to look at what happened during the years prior to his reign. Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz, had been an evil king who had engaged in idol worship, including the offering up of his own children as human sacrifices (2 Chronicles 28:1-4). Because of Ahaz’s wickedness, God’s wrath had been great against the nation of Judah. “For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 28:19). Instead of responding positively when God chastened him, King Ahaz engaged in even greater rebellion against the Lord, even to the point of shutting up the doors to the Temple of the Lord (2 Chronicles 28:22-24).
As Hezekiah begins his reign the first thing he does was to reopen the temple (2 Chronicles 29:1-3). This required the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves and the temple because it had been filled with rubbish during the time of his father (2 Chronicles 29:4-5). In 16 days the priests and Levites sanctify themselves and the temple. Following this sacrifices are offered up seeking God’s forgiveness and the people greatly rejoice (2 Chronicles 29:16-36). Hezekiah and the people then keep the Passover feast unto the Lord and even invite their wayward brethren from the northern kingdom of Israel to come and join them (2 Chronicles 30:1-31). It was a time of great rejoicing!
Hezekiah was one of the great leaders of God’s people. He came to power when the country was in a mess. His father had led the country down a disastrous path by encouraging the country in moral decline. Because of this, rather than the country enjoying God’s favor and blessing, they were facing God’s wrath and judgment because of their sins. To his credit as soon as he begins his reign Hezekiah knew why his country faced the problems they did: They had departed from God. He also knew what the solution was: They needed to return back to God. So from the very first moments of his reign Hezekiah tells the leaders of his country what he proposes to do: “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us” (2 Chronicles 29:10).
As I think about these words, it is humbling because we see the direction our own country is heading as our nation’s leaders encourage “moral decline” in our own country (e.g. promoting the homosexual lifestyle, abortion, etc). We are privileged to have the freedom and right to vote for leaders who will not do this. However, more important than this is the need for each Christian to follow the example of Hezekiah and strive to “make a covenant with the Lord” and exercise influence upon others by their being able to see our love for the Lord and how we are seeking to honor him by our lives. We may not be able to change the political leadership of our country but we can strive to change the hearts of men one at a time as they observe us and are influence by our godly example!
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).