2 Chronicles 29:1-11, 16-19 (NRSV)
Hezekiah cleanses the temple
Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.
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. He said to them, "Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place. For our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God; they have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the dwelling of the Lord, and turned their backs. They also shut the doors of the vestibule and put out the lamps, and have not offered incense or made burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the Lord came upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has made them an object of horror, of astonishment, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes. Our fathers have fallen by the sword and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us. My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence to minister to him, and to be his ministers and make offerings to him." ...
The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the unclean things that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord; and the Levites took them and carried them out to the Wadi Kidron. They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. Then they went inside to King Hezekiah and said, "We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the table for the rows of bread and all its utensils. All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the Lord."
Oh my friends! I am writing today’s devotional as the tears run down my face! This passage of scripture touches me in the deepest part of my heart. I love the story and example of King Hezekiah.
The Bible says that “In the first year of his reign, in the first month,” Hezekiah began the work to repair and restore the house of the Lord. In other words, as soon as he came to the throne, Hezekiah understood that the first order of business had to be to “get right with God and do it now!”
I’m sure he had a lot to do. I’m sure that he was very busy. I’m sure that there were many people seeking to command his attention. I’m sure that the kingdom had many affairs that needed his governance, but when Hezekiah had to decide how to spend his time, talent, and treasure, his very first priority was to make sure that God was pleased with the condition of the temple and that the hearts of Hezekiah’s people where turned toward God.
This is a very important lesson for us today! In yesterday’s devotional we were reminded that as Christians, our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We, like Hezekiah, need to take inventory of the ways in which our temples are in need of “repair and restoration.”
Hezekiah said, “Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place…For our ancestors have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God; they have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the dwelling of the Lord, and turned their backs.”
Oh my! What an amazing call to confession, repentance and sanctification. Now, before you panic, let’s define these big “churchy words!”
To confess means to tell God (and sometimes others) the truth about ourselves and our behavior. We AGREE with God that “we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!”
After we confess, we must repent. To repent means to turn around. When we repent, we recognize that our thoughts or behaviors have been going in the wrong direction. We stop immediately, ask God for directions, make a U-Turn, and get back on track!
Finally, to sanctify means to be set apart for God’s holy service. When we ask God to sanctify us, we are giving ourselves—body, mind, and spirit--over to God, for God’s work and for God’s glory! We recognize that as beloved sons and daughters of God it is our sincerest desire to reflect God’s light and love within our spheres of influence.
Now, once we confess, repent and sanctify does that mean we will never sin again? Of course, not! But, it does mean that when we do get off track, we will be quicker to take notice and to return to God! No longer will we allow cobwebs to gather on the walls or doors to hang off of the hinges of our “temples!” (grin)
In closing, I want to share one of the most exciting GOOD NEWS passages that I know. 1 John 1:9 says that, “If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Isn’t our God good?!
I am so thankful that God does not hold a grudge, nor ever stay angry with us! Our Loving and Compassionate God loves us so very much that as soon as we begin to form our mouths to ask for forgiveness, God has already forgiven us! God proved God’s great love for us when Jesus died on the cross to make provision for our sin. This is GOOD NEWS my friends! It means that we don’t ever need to be afraid to admit to God that our “temples” have gotten a little bit shabby and we need help to get them cleaned up! Now, ain’ta that good news?!
What do you need to confess to God today?
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true! And with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary, for you! Amen.*
*If you know who wrote the lyrics to “Sanctuary” please let me know in the comments section of today’s devotional! Thanks!
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