We pick up with the story of Hezekiah. Next, he called for a national Passover (2 Chronicles 30:26), something that had not happened for at least 150 years. He sent messengers – evangelists, in a sense – all over the countryside with the invitation to join in the revival at the newly opened national worship center, the temple, in Jerusalem (30:5-8). Sadly, few accepted (30:17-19). The populace was so rooted in resistance to the old ways, and the pagan priests were so threatened by the reforms, but Hezekiah persisted. The call to Passover was an appeal to recover their history. Perhaps they had experienced the same ‘rewriting’ of their national narrative that we see today, one in which religious, specifically in our case, Christian elements of history are scripted out. It was also a call to national unity – for north and south to come together as they had been in the days of David and Solomon.
Eventually, the pagan shrines were thrown down all over the nation. The high places where the children had been sacrificed, where immoral and decadent behaviors mixed with bad religion, were destroyed (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chronicles 31:1). The brazen serpent that Moses had made and which Judah had come to worship (2 Kings 18:4) was also destroyed. Hezekiah’s reforms brought about spiritual healing both nationally and individually (30:20). The Levites went back to teaching the Word of God (30:22). The people were so excited about worshiping God that they requested another seven days of celebration, praise and sacrifice to the Lord (30:23-24). God’s people had never experienced anything like this before, certainly not since the days of Solomon (26). The Bible tells us, in probably the most heart-warming of words found in this entire story that “their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, even unto Heaven” (27). This revival went much further than pleasant feelings in a religious atmosphere. These people knew that they had to change their lives, reorder their homes and communities, and discard everything that was an offense to God. Their idols went out the door immediately when they arrived back home (31:1). That is revival. Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:2; 31:20) succeeded in bringing Judah back from the brink of judgment.
On the international front, the Assyrian empire had overrun Syria and Israel (the northern kingdom). Sargon II had conquered Samaria, the capital of Israel. His son, Sennacherib, then attacked Judah. But his campaign in 701 BC failed due to God’s intervention. The righteousness of King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet were instrumental in Sennacherib’s downfall. Imagine that. National security was tied to the moral condition and fiber of the nation and its spiritual leaders.
God so blessed Hezekiah that he was able to break the Assyrian domination and defeat the Philistines as well (vs. 7, 8). Israel, and its capitol, Samaria to the north, were destroyed. But Judah was spared (2 Kings 18:9-12). Righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). That was true for Judah and it is true for our own nation today. “But sin is a disgrace” and will ultimately weaken and destroy a nation. Those that live by faith have a good example in Hezekiah.
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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.