Spiritual reform

Hezekiah’s intentional effort to revive his nation’s worship system began immediately after he became king of Judah. It says in 2 Chronicles 29:3, “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.” During his father Ahaz’s reign, idolatry had replaced worship of the LORD and the temple of God had been desecrated by foreigners (2 Kings 16:17-18). Hezekiah took responsibility for his nation’s spiritual reform and acted quickly to make things right again.

Hezekiah saw the connection between Judah’s trouble and the neglect of God’s temple. Hezekiah’s personal commitment to the LORD resulted n a national revival at a time when there was little to no interest in God’s blessing (2 Chronicles 30:10). Much of what Hezekiah did could be attributed to supernatural circumstances or divine intervention. After the temple was restored to daily activity, it was noted that it happened suddenly, as if in the blink of an eye (2 Chronicles 29:36).

The primary focus of Hezekiah’s spiritual reform was restoration of the Passover celebration. The Passover was key to the Israelites relationship with God because it not only represented their deliverance from Egyptian slavery, but also signified their forgiveness of sin. The Day of Atonement was a national celebration in which the priest made reconciliation in order to atone for the sins of all Israel (2 Chronicles 29:34). The sacrifice literally wiped the slate clean for the entire nation in a single moment.

The positive effect of having their sins forgiven resulted in the people of Judah giving generously to support the priest and Levites who served in the temple. It says in 2 Chronicles 31:5, “as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.” The people brought so much stuff to the temple that it took four months to process and store their offerings (2 Chronicles 31:7).

Hezekiah’s spiritual reform shows that the kings influence had a significant impact on the people. His actions were described as “that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20). But, perhaps the best testimony to Hezekiah’s positive spiritual example was the condition of his heart. It says in 2 Chronicles 31:21, “in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart.”

Revival

By the time Jehoshaphat replaced his father Asa as king of Judah, the kingdom of Israel had already been in existence for more than 150 years. Much of what David had established in the way of worship had deteriorated into false religion and idolatry. Like his father Asa, Jehoshaphat focused on reform and he appeared determined to keep Israel’s faith alive.

It says in 2 Chronicles 17:3-4 “the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the LORD God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” Like David, Jehoshaphat led by example. Before he did anything to change the people, Jehoshaphat made sure his own house was in order.

Jehoshaphat understood that the key to his success was living consistently with God’s word, obeying his commandments. Jehoshaphat did not try to fake it. He actually read God’s word and then he sent the Levites out “and they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the LORD with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people” (2 Chronicles 17:9).

As a result of Jehoshaphat’s effort, the nations surrounding Judah saw a change taking place “and the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat” (2 Chronicles 17:10). Jehoshaphat managed to revive his kingdom to the point where no one dared to take him on because they knew God was on his side.