Reformation By Woodrow Kroll
Then Hezekiah, the king, rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
Unlike the 10 northern tribes of Israel, which had only downs, the two tribes of Judah to the south had their ups and downs. Just five or six years before the Northern Kingdom came to an end with the fall of Samaria, Hezekiah became king of Judah. As the 13th king of Judah, Hezekiah succeeded his father, Ahaz, in the third year of Hoshea, the 19th and last king of Israel. He was 25 years old when he began to reign and had a long reign of 29 years in Jerusalem.
In contrast to his father, Hezekiah proved to be the most faithful to Jehovah of any of Judah's kings since David. It is said of him, "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done" (2 Chronicles 29:2). Ben Sira, the ancient historian, reckons Hezekiah with David and Josiah as the only three kings who did not forsake the law of the Most High God. Of him it is written, "He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth" (2 Kings 18:5-7).
In the very first month of his reign Hezekiah set in motion the most thorough religious revival that Judah had ever known. This revival began by reopening and repairing the doors of the temple, which had been closed by Ahaz, and by cleansing and purifying that sacred edifice. Undoubtedly the prophet Isaiah had a beneficial influence on Hezekiah to initiate such a revival. There is even a Jewish tradition that he was a cousin of King Hezekiah. Regardless, he is said to have prophesied in the reign of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). Together, Isaiah as prophet and Hezekiah as king, they would restore the religion of Israel to the worship of Jehovah.
In just eight days the house of the Lord was restored and sanctified. The report came back to Hezekiah that the priests and Levites had cleansed the house and the altar of burnt offerings with all the vessels and the table of shewbread thereof. These had been discarded during the reign of Ahaz.
After all had been made ready, "Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD" (2 Chronicles 29:20). The priests made the appropriate sacrifices and the Levites, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, began to praise the Lord with music. All the congregation worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters blew their trumpets. It was a joyous occasion indeed. All that were present with the king bowed themselves with Hezekiah and worshipped Jehovah. And this was only phase one of Hezekiah's great revival.
In phase two he sent word to all Israel and Judah that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem and keep the Passover. This is the first recorded ceremony of Passover-keeping since the time of Joshua, hundreds of years earlier. How low the people of God must have sunk during these turbulent years.
The heart of Jehovah must have been thrilled to see a man so concerned with the spiritual well-being of His people that he would restore the house of God, cleanse it, reinstitute the services and sacrifices in it, and rise early in the morning to worship Him. All of this was just the beginning of Hezekiah's reforms. How it would thrill the heart of Jehovah to see a man like Hezekiah raised up today to reform the worship of Israel once again. Let's pray to that end. Pray for the salvation of God's people and for the peace of Jerusalem.
Revive Thy work O Lord!
Thy mighty arm make bare;
Speak with the voice that wakes the dead,
And make Thy people hear.