The cleansing of the Temple is finished; both physically and spiritually. Hezekiah wastes no time in restoring the Temple through rededication of the people to the Lord.
The first verse and the last verse in our reading tell us how anxiously Hezekiah awaited the completion of the cleaning of the Temple. He wanted to restore what was lost and do it ASAP (As Soon As Possible).
“Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the Lord” (verse 20). Hezekiah did not send out an edict announcing to the people that this was going to take place. He didn’t wait for the people to gather. He heard from the priests that the Temple was ready and the next morning, as soon as the sun was up he was underway gathering the leaders to rededicate the Temple.
“And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly” (verse 36). It had been a total of 16 days since Hezekiah assembled the Levites to begin this task. The people had not had months to prepare for this moment. They had years of looking at the closed doors and their equally closed hearts. They had not saved up for this moment or prepared for the journey, yet somehow when the day arrived, all were in attendance and ready. God moved in their hearts to bring them to this moment together as a people AND with the animals that would be offered as their sacrifices. On the spur of the moment the Spirit of God acted on the whole people together.
I wonder how Hezekiah would have felt if everyone had wanted to stay in bed that morning. Would he have ordered them to come anyway? Would he have shaken them from their slumber? Would he have gone alone if no one else showed up? Or would he have crawled back in his bed in defeat?
Hezekiah’s excitement was contagious! His heart LONGED to serve his God in the ways He had ordained. He knew Judah’s troubles were directly tied to how they treated the Lord and His commandments. He wanted more for his people. And he knew the only way to get it was through revival. That was his purpose for calling the Levites in the first place.
While I was thinking about this glorious morning for Hezekiah and Judah I was reminded of the stories about the bridegroom. In bible days there was not a set day or hour for the bride and groom to assemble for their wedding. The date of the ceremony was dependent on the preparations made by the groom. It was his job to get their new home ready. Once all was in place, then he would go to gather his bride. I’m sure there were hints of when it was close to time as family members could see the progress being made. I have no doubt that friends of the bride kept her appraised too as to their observations of the process. But neither party had consented to a fixed date and time. Even the father of the groom didn’t know the exact time when all would be ready.
Hezekiah was the ‘bridegroom’ in this story. He wasn’t able to prepare the ‘house’ himself but he set things in motion for it to happen. He probably also kept tabs on the progress. I have no doubt he stood and watched as load after load of abominable things were brought out of the Temple. He watched as each load was taken to the Kidron brook to be disposed of. He saw the dwindling of these trips and observed as the last one transpired, not knowing it was the last until no others came and went. He may have wished for some vantage point where he could peer over the walls to observe the Levites in action. But at this moment he was as helpless as the ‘bride’ in his waiting.
When all was ready and set in place, the priests came to Hezekiah to tell him. We don’t know what time of day this happened. Perhaps it was towards evening. Rather than rush the rededication and celebration that was sure to follow, Hezekiah waited until morning to ‘gather his bride’.
In the stories of the bridegroom we are told of the bride waiting with expectancy for her groom to fetch her. She knows that the day has arrived for he sent word to her. But she doesn’t know at what hour it will be. She watches and waits for that special moment; prepared for whenever it may come. These are the elders and the people of the land in our story today. They wait with expectancy for Hezekiah’s call that all is ready.
Hezekiah wants as much time with the Lord as possible so he jumps up early the next morning and begins assembling all the elders. The people see the elders being gathered and they join in too. Together they make their way to the House of the Lord, bringing the appropriate ‘wedding gifts’ for the occasion.
The ceremony is something to behold! Hezekiah though wants to make certain that ALL the guests are ‘dressed’ for the occasion. The first sacrifices to be offered were those of dedication for the Temple and the altar. Next comes the one that unites ALL those in attendance; the guilt offering. As many people as possible lay their hands on the goats Hezekiah provided. He knew the people needed this cleansing as much as he did. Together they would become one again with the Lord. Symbolically they were now the bride. Restored in beauty and clothed with the garments of repentance.
During this sacrifice the WHOLE assembly was focused on the Lord. The singers and those playing musical instruments started praising God at the first stroke of the sacrifice and they didn’t stop until it was completely consumed. The people watched and waited as the sacrifice was consumed. Afterwards they joined in with praise and worship, bowing down before the Lord. The Levites resumed singing the praises written by David and Asaph.
After the priests completed Hezekiah’s sacrifice for the whole kingdom, he invited the people to bring their own offerings to the Lord. SO MANY came and brought sacrifices and offerings that the priests could not keep up. These offerings all came from their hearts. None were forced or mandated. They gave freely from their hearts. God had moved the whole kingdom through the heart of one man.
I’m certain the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will surpass this assembly by leaps and bounds. That doesn’t make this one any less special or less cherished in God’s eyes. I wish I could have felt the Spirit of the Lord in that place. He most certainly was there. I will be at the final Wedding supper. I’m looking forward to seeing you there too!
Father God, thank You for showing me a different angle on Your story today. I am SO grateful to hear Your stories that show how You can bring revival with just one person. Granted, Hezekiah had a LOT of authority but he was still just one man. You worked through him and renewed a nation. Let me do my part in whatever revival You are bringing about today. Let me be expectantly waiting for the Bridegroom to bring me to His home. I can’t wait to see the rest of the family gathered there too!