Ahaz, the worst king in Judah is dead. His son Hezekiah takes the throne and does an about face from his father. Hezekiah is the best king in Judah.
Hezekiah is on the throne when Israel falls. He sees what their sin has brought upon them. He wants NO PART of their future. His father, Ahaz, was leading Judah down that same path. Hezekiah puts a stop to it and then some. Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (verse 3). His whole heart followed the Lord. And he insisted the people do so too.
First, Hezekiah and the people bury Ahaz in Jerusalem but NOT with the other kings. His sins were so great that burying him separately speaks loud and clear of them distancing themselves from him AND his practices.
Second, Hezekiah cleans the Temple of God. He reopens the doors to the people so they can come before the Lord again. He removes the altar Ahaz had brought in and he rededicates the Bronze Altar of God. He removes all traces of Ahab’s apostasy. The only things remaining in the Temple of God are His.
Third, Hezekiah removes all the high places where the people go to worship. This includes ALL high places, no matter what god was being worshiped there, even God Himself. There is one place God has set aside for His people to worship Him. He will NOT be worshiped like all the gods of the other nations. His people will worship Him as HE directs.
Fourth, Hezekiah breaks the golden serpent that Moses made in the wilderness. The people had continued to carry this reminder of God’s deliverance with them. They had moved from gratefulness to abject worship. God told Moses to make this item and to use it as a symbol for the people of the time. At the time of Hezekiah it should have been little more than a reminder; a souvenir. But the people had ascribed to it present power. They looked to it for deliverance and miracles. Hezekiah, by breaking this, removed another idol the people had set up and pointed them once again directly back to God.
I have a feeling the reason we do not have relics of bible days is to prevent this same worship of things today. Noah’s ark, the Ark of the Lord, the cross of Jesus; all these things are lost to us. We have none of them that we can set up as objects of worship. None we can offer sacrifices to. God knows our tendencies to focus on things. He wasn’t our focus on HIM, not what He made.
Hezekiah won’t be without sin or struggle as no man is beyond these things but his rule reset Judah back on the path of the Lord. They would NOT suffer Israel’s fate while he lived.
In all the good he did, Hezekiah would be the first to tell you to focus on the Lord instead of the acts of man. Even the best of men fall short. I know I’m going to ruffle some feathers here but I TRULY feel the Spirit calling me to say this.
We are none of us without symbols or items that focus our thoughts on a specific topic. When I was pregnant with my first child, when it was very near my due date I craved to have relief. My mom told me of the powers of castor oil in inducing labor. She assured me it was safe. If the child was ready labor would follow soon after ingesting it. If the child wasn’t ready nothing, besides diarrhea, would happen. I was desperate and ready to try anything! She prepared me a glass of orange juice with castor oil mixed into it. I drank this NASTY tasting concoction with great hope. It didn’t induce labor but it did induce vomiting. It also had the side effect of creating a permanent association with the glass it was presented in. From that moment forward, all I had to do was see that glass and it produced in me the same need to vomit as when I actually drank the concoction. I literally had to throw the glass away because the association was so strong. I know, this sounds WAY off topic but I do have a point I’m trying to get to. Let me give you another example that is closer to the point I’m trying to reach.
When I was growing up I was taught to revere my bible. Not just the words within it or that it was a gift from God but the book itself. NEVER were we to stack anything on top of it. NEVER leave it lying around where it might become damaged. NEVER mar it’s surface or its pages. Treat it with the utmost care and carry it with pride. One day while I was at a youth group gathering in our leader’s home someone put something on top of my bible and I had a melt down! How could they be so disrespectful of God’s word! I challenged this person immediately on their behavior. And then I was challenged right back.
My bible is God’s words recorded for me but it is NOT God Himself. I was treating my bible as if its very being was God instead of a tool He gave me to use to focus my attention on Him. I need to care for my bible as I would care for any critical tool. Don’t tear it up but mark it up so I can find the passages the HE spoke to me through. Keep it on hand, no matter where I am, even if that place is dirty so I will have it handy when I need to refer back to an important point He impressed on me or to point another to in their time of need. Treat it as a book BY the Author and NOT the Author Himself.
The same holds true of all other items we can ascribe significance to. Be it a necklace bearing the representation of a cross or a figurine of a favorite saint or a statue adorning the great cathedrals. These are things to focus our thoughts on HIM. They hold NO power in themselves. Even the men/women ascribed ‘sainthood’ hold no power. I believe they would jump up and slap us if they caught us praying to them for deliverance. Their whole lives they pointed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Not once did they point to themselves and call for worship. Not even the mother of Jesus Himself called people to worship her or to pray to her. At the wedding in Canna when she needed a miracle for her friends she told those who were in need to “Do whatever HE tells you” (John 2:5b, emphasis added by me). She didn’t claim any responsibility for His miracle, she only pointed them to the one they needed to listen to and seek direction from.
Bottom line, if what you are holding up isn’t pointing you DIRECTLY to God it is an idol and needs to be removed from your life or at the very least refocused. I still have my bible but I don’t treat it with awe and reverence. I treat it as my favorite book that gives me special insight into its Author. I’m reading His ‘diary’ but when I have questions left at the end I turn to the Author for insight. My bible focuses my thoughts on my Lord and I let His Spirit do the work in me from there. And this ‘soap box’ is where HE took me today, kicking and screaming. I say “kicking and screaming” because I don’t like offending ANYONE but He wouldn’t let me take a pass on this lesson.
Father God, thank You for raising up Hezekiah who was brave enough to say ‘enough is enough’ and brought the people back to You. (I’m NOT trying to compare myself to Hezekiah here, in case anyone reading is wondering.) Hezekiah pointed out how even a thing created according to Your word can become an obstacle of sin. ANYTHING in between us is sin. Be it my car, my ‘sacred bible’, a likeness, or a person. I want NOTHING between us. I will take anyone BESIDE me though who is also focusing on You.
Help the words that I type bring the salve of healing and direction for those You desire to speak to. Don’t let me be a source of dissention or an obstacle of stumbling. You are big enough to change the words written here if You so choose and if I have gone off on my own without Your Spirit. You can even delete this post if You so choose because I ‘have gone too far’ in what I have said. I leave this in Your hands where it rightly belongs.
I pray for my brothers and sisters who are challenged by these words. May they hear YOUR voice and not mine. Heal ALL our hearts and remove anything that separates us from You in our relationship.