Immediately following the introduction of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles, his very first acts as Judah’s new king are recorded … and he wastes no time getting to work:
“In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east and said to them, ‘Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.” – 2 Chronicles 29.3-5
The first acts of any great leader are significant as they tend to reveal the priority of things in his heart. It is especially significant in this particular case because the inspired account makes it a point to record the fact that king Hezekiah’s first acts took place “in the first month” of his reign. It is almost as though he couldn’t wait to implement all that was in his heart. Like a race horse just leaving the gate, he charged toward the goal of restoring right worship to the LORD.
Furthermore, it is significant that king Hezekiah’s very first acts were to restore the house of the LORD. Notice, he didn’t run out and begin strengthening his military, or building up the city, or even strengthen relations with his allies, like most of his predecessors had done. No, he focused his heart and his resources on that which was most important to him: the worship of the LORD!
Note, the very first act of king Hezekiah, which is recorded in this account, is that “he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.” It is worth noting that the inspired author thought it important to mention the fact that up until this point, the doors of the house of the LORD were shut. This is illustrative of the hearts of the people of Israel toward their God. In the account of King Uzziah, who reigned just prior to the two kings preceding Hezekiah, he is recorded to have “entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the alter of incense” (2 Chronicles 26.16). He was immediately judged by God for committing this prideful offense, but this points to the fact that the house/temple of the LORD was “open for operation” at that point in Judah’s history. Unfortunately, the two reigning kings who followed, king Jotham and king Ahaz, were both recorded to have allowed the people to follow “corrupt practices” (2 Chronicles 27-28). By the end of the reign of king Ahaz, it is recorded that:
“In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD–this same king Ahaz… And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the LORD, the God of his fathers.” – 2 Chronicles 28.22-25
By the time king Hezekiah arrives on the scene, the people of Judah were completely absorbed in pagan worship as a result of the faithlessness of king Ahaz. However, king Hezekiah does not respond to this situation (like many in the “seeker” movement today might) by seeking to please sinful men, but he sets his heart to restore right worship of his God. King Hezekiah begins making changes to re-establish a high view of God in the minds and hearts of the people of Judah. He illustrates the importance of the worshipping God by immediately focusing his attention and resources on restoring the place of worship. He models obedience to God by ordering the worship as God had ordained. He emphasized the holiness of God by ordaining that all the “filth” (i.e. false idols) be carried out of the Holy Place (i.e. the place that rightfully belonged to God). He drew the hearts of the people back to their God by commanding that all objects of worship (both priest, instrument, and temple) be consecrated.
Oh, that we, God’s people, would heed the account of king Hezekiah! That we might follow his example to order our ‘sphere of influence’ (i.e. home life, work environment, neighborhood, church ministry, family relationships, friendships, etc.) to bring about a right worship of our God. God has entrusted us all with some area of our lives that we might use as a platform for His glory. Whatever it is, may we seek to use that as an opportunity to speak and model truth to those whom He has placed under our influence. May we use those opportunities to call others to thrust-open the doors of their hearts, carry out the “filth,” and consecrate themselves anew to a high view of God and a right worship of Him. To God be the glory!