Last week was a well-timed kickoff of my online virtual Zoom study for Discovering Jesus…
It only takes one decision to change everything. Imagine you were King Hezekiah at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 29. You are 25 years old. The previous king was stubborn, hard-hearted and just plain evil. He had killed a number of his own kids and offered them as sacrifices. He had locked up the doors of the temple and placed idols on the most prominent corners in Jerusalem. He was insecure, violent and immoral. He was one of the worst kings in the history of Jerusalem. He had a terrible reputation and, although he was feared, he was not trusted. Under his reign, thousands of people and the spiritual life of Israel died. And he was your dad!
Now it is your turn. Everyone is wondering, “Are you like your dad? Are you going to continue the brutality and manipulation? Will God continue to be angry with us because of your leadership like He was when your dad was in charge?” Hezekiah did well, however, because he understood what all of us need to keep in the forefront of our thinking. Since God is all-powerful and gives grace in abundance, dramatic change can start at anytime and anyone can get it started.
This young man resolved in his heart that things would be different under his guidance. The foolishness would stop. Pride would no longer override truth. Respect for God would be restored. The praise of God would become a priority. God’s guidance would overrule all human opinion. The key was he didn’t just think about it or talk with his circle of friends about it. He decided to do things differently and he didn’t hesitate. Check out the list of actions he took that transported his kingdom from fear and frustration to rejoicing and resolve.
- He opened the doors of thetemple that his dad has sealed shut. (v. 3)
- He repaired the doors. (v.3)
- He assembled the priests and Levites and called them back to their work. (v. 4)
- He commanded the priests and Levites to “remove all the defilement from the sanctuary.” (v. 5)
- He declared the difficult truths that were holding them back – “Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD. . .” (v. 6) It is hard to say that people you love have done wrong but healing cannot take place without honesty!
- He commanded people to do what was obvious. In this case, the Levites needed to get the temple ready for sacrifices. (v. 10-11)
- He deliberately held to his convictions. The people responded so enthusiastically that hundreds of animals were brought to be sacrificed. It was too much work for the priests who were on duty so more needed to be brought on. The priests had been slow to consecrate themselves but the Levites (temple assistants) had caught on and got themselves ready. Rather than compromise and bring on priests who were not ready, they recruited more of the assistants. (v. 34)
As a result of Hezekiah’s focused and courageous decisions, things started to change quickly. In verse 12 the Levites set to work. They got the neglected and defiled temple ready to accept the sacrifices for an entire nation in 16 days. (v.17) Don’t make too much out of this but it took King Ahaz 16 years to make a mess of things and in 16 days Hezekiah got the most important part corrected! Change really can happen quickly. It was a lot of work and it took painful admissions of mistakes and poor decisions but when he resolved in his heart that the junk would stop with him, God’s redemptive power kicked into gear. “Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.” (v. 36)
Our world is filled with people who live with regrets or grew up in families that were not right. It is easy to think that the influence of our mistakes or the power of our parents is too much and that we will never get out from under them. The truth is that change can and does happen quickly. We can’t tell God what to do and we can’t orchestrate the decisions of others but we can decide to do what is right today and see what God does.