Good kings then evil kings. Evil kings then good kings. The history of the Hebrew people is much like the motion of a yo-yo. Up and down. Good and bad.
Ahaz was bad. He “was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the Lord’s sight like his ancestor David, for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and made cast images of the Baals. He burned incense in Ben Hinnom Valley and burned his children in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree” (2 Chronicles 28:1–4). In worship of pagan gods, he “burned his children in the fire.”
That sounds a little bit like America in our day. Since 1973, sixty million babies have been aborted, sacrificed to the god of expediency. Please don’t stop reading there! Our God forgives. He restores. He revives. He can do it today, just as He did it then.
“Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 18:1–2). “He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and Levites and gathered them in the eastern public square. He said to them, ‘Hear me, Levites. Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove everything impure from the holy place’ ” (2 Chronicles 29:2–5).
As a faithful king and a great leader, he gathered the religious leaders and reminded them of God’s mercy and grace. “Hear me, Levites. Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove everything impure from the holy place. For our ancestors were unfaithful and did what is evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned him, turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place, and turned their backs on him. They also closed the doors of the portico, extinguished the lamps, did not burn incense, and did not offer burnt offerings in the holy place of the God of Israel. Therefore, the wrath of the Lord was on Judah and Jerusalem, and he made them an object of terror, horror, and mockery, as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers fell by the sword, and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity because of this. It is in my heart now to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel so that his burning anger may turn away from us. My sons, don’t be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to serve him, and to be his ministers” (2 Chronicles 29:5–11).
With the Levites and priests leading, the nation followed. “Hezekiah ordered that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offerings began, the song of the Lord and the trumpets began, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. The whole assembly was worshiping, singing the song, and blowing the trumpets—all this continued until the burnt offering was completed. When the burnt offerings were completed, the king and all those present with him bowed down and worshiped. Then King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to sing praise to the Lord ... So the congregation brought sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all those with willing hearts brought burnt offerings” (2 Chronicles 29:27–31).
The son of an evil king set his heart to faithfully serve Jehovah, and the nation soon followed. Regardless of our background or our baggage, I think that God is waiting for each of us to renew our commitment. “The Lord our God is gracious and merciful; he will not turn his face away from you if you return to him” (2 Chronicles 30:9).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.