READINGS: 2 Chronicles 29-30 Acts 19:21-41
The airwaves these days are clogged with the voices of politicians promising answers to the dilemmas faced by the United States and the world. We are asked to make a choice as to which political party might return prosperity to America. Who, or what is responsible for the financial and cultural problems we face? May I suggest that greed and avarice, and a lust for power have landed America in its current messes.
I am neither a politician nor a cultural expert. I think, however, that I am aware enough of our surroundings to know that blame can be widely distributed. Let’s be honest, it took more than our political parties to create the problems of America. God is neither a democrat nor a republican. We must take a long hard look at ourselves.
29 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.
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 theLord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents 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 horrorand 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.”
Our reading this week from II Chronicles describes a time of spiritual collapse in Judah. The temple had been taken over by false gods. The people had lost interest in coming to Jerusalem for celebration days. It was as if God had taken residence elsewhere. Only the buildings remained to remind the nation of its spiritual poverty. The instruments of true worship gathered dust. True religion had turned cold.
In my tradition, when the church seemed to be in a chill, you could count on it. Someone would come to the fore and announce, “The church needs revival!” I am sure that in the minds of many, that meant, “we need to return to the past.” Things just aren’t like they used to be. By the measure of my past tradition, we would have to say that Judah died for lack of revival.
The twenty-nine year reign of Hezekiah began when he was only twenty-five years old. Our introduction to the new king in II Chronicles twenty-nine simply declares, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.”
“He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord…” A picture of true revival would be characterized by a church full of people bent on doing right.
What a difference it would have made in Judah if everyone had done that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. In Great Britain, in America, in Israel, in your church and mine; what a difference right living would make.
The opposite of right living is “unright-eous” living . Hezekiah’ first act was temple repair. The doors were opened and a major clean up began. “Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. Our fathers were unfaithful and they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook Him,” he thundered.
Revivalists from England carried the message of spiritual awakening to our shores many years ago. It is sad to note that many of those same churches of England have disbanded and are now occupied by night clubs and museums. Each generation must assume the responsibility for right living.
Enough of the bad news! The good news is that Hezekiah took action. The temple was cleansed, the Passover was re-instituted. Once again, Jerusalem’s streets were crowded with worshipers, eagerly anticipating the Passover.
Our nation’s future will be determined by God. What kind of leadership does our nation deserve? Let’s unite to return to God’s principles. After all, He is the one who puts kings up or down.