Revival Before the Fall


God Save AmericaSecond Article in the Series

The Fall of a Godly Nation

Hezekiah Brings Reforms and Revival to Judah

Background:

Hezekiah - A Righteous King of Judah

Hezekiah – A Righteous King of Judah

King Hezekiah was a descendant of the House of David and reigned over Judah for 29 years from 716 to 687 BC[1]  His father was King Ahaz.  Hezekiah served as co-regent with his father from 729 BC to 716 BC.  He became co-regent when he was twelve years old.  When Ahaz died in 716 BC Hezekiah assumed his role as king.  Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, served as co-regent alongside his father beginning in 700 BC at the age of 12, just as his father had done. Hezekiah died when he was 54 years old and Manasseh became sole king of Judah in 687 BC.  A future article in this series will deal with Manasseh.

The Bible records that King Hezekiah faithfully served Yahweh.  He is favorably remembered in Jewish and Christian history as a “good king”  2 Chronicles 29:1).

King Sennacherib of Assyria in Royal Dress - This painted sketch is of the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib relief which was discovered on the walls of his palace in Khorsabad, near the ruins of ancient Nineveh.

King Sennacherib of Assyria in Royal Dress – This painted sketch is of the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib relief which was discovered on the walls of his palace in Khorsabad, near the ruins of ancient Nineveh.

Hezekiah ascended to the throne in a very troubled time for Judah.  His “rotten”[2] father, Ahaz, had not been a good king.  Ahaz promoted pagan worship destroying the godly work of his father, King Jotham,  and his grandfather, King Uzziah.

The Assyrian Empire under Sargon II had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and carried off the ten northern tribes into captivity.  Under King Ahaz Judah had agreed to pay an annual tribute to Assyria to maintain their independence and safety as a vassal state.  However, this arrangement only placated the Assyrians until Sargon II died and was succeeded by his son Sennacherib in 705 BC.

Initially Hezekiah withheld the tribute from Sennacherib thinking that he might have an opening with this new ruler.  Sennacherib responded by sending a letter to Hezekiah telling him that he was mounting an attack on Jerusalem and that he should surrender because the gods of Assyria were stronger than Yahweh.  Unfortunately for Sennacherib his plan completely backfired when “The Angel of the Lord” (Yahweh, the only true God), brought about the death of Sennacherib’s entire invading army of 185,000 in one night (2 Kings 19:35-37) without any help from Judah.  The Bible records that with this “… Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh …” and as he was worshiping his pagan god “his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.”

Scripture:  (all NKJV unless otherwise noted)

2 Chronicles 30:21-27 – 21 So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments. 22 And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the Lord; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers. 23 Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, and the leaders gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. 25 The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.

Discussion:

When Hezekiah took over the throne, Judah … to put it mildly … was in deep trouble. Their sister kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians and was seriously threatening to take Judah as well.  But early in his reign, Hezekiah took the opposite approach from his father Ahaz and instead followed the way of his grandfather, King Jotham.  As a result, Hezekiah returned Judah to the sole and true worship of Yahweh.  The anonymous writer of 2 Chronicles records Hezekiah’s religious actions in chapters 29-30 that set “the service of the house of the Lord … in order (2 Chronicles 29:35).”   The Scripture tells us that Hezekiah:

  • restored the Levite priests to all of their temple duties
  • repaired and reopened the Jerusalem temple closed by Ahaz
  • removed pagan idols and vessels from the temple
  • cleansed and sanctified the Jerusalem temple
  • centralized the worship of God at the Jerusalem temple
  • returned biblical forms of temple sacrifice
  • destroyed the “high places” of worship to the foreign gods established by his father
  • restored the Passover pilgrimage and celebration (2 Chronicles 30:26)
  • required a tithe of the crops
  • personally went to the temple and prayed[3]

2 Chronicles 30:21-27 documents in great detail the joyful time in the Jerusalem temple as worshipers participated in the Hezekiah led restoration of the Passover pilgrimage and feast.  Hezekiah was so pleased with the celebration that he “… gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the Lord; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers (2 Chronicles 30:22).  The festivities were so enjoyed that they extended the celebration another seven days (2 Chronicles 30:23).  “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:26).”

Praise God … WHAT A REVIVAL!! 

Hezekiah also strengthened Judah politically as he:

  • expanded Judah’s borders
  • entered into a league with Egypt to improve protection (Isaiah 30-31) if attacked[4]
  • successfully constructed an underground tunnel to the Gihon Spring outside the walls of Jerusalem to provide water at a new pool (later called the Pool of Siloam) inside the walls of Jerusalem in the event that Jerusalem was under siege and the gates closed
  • constructed a broad wall to further protect Jerusalem from Sennacherib’s pending attack (Nehemiah 3:8, Isaiah 22:9-10)

Reflection:

God Save AmericaThe Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians because of their continued disobedience to God.  When Hezekiah became King, Judah was still standing and with Hezekiah’s Reforms and Revival that were ushered in under his leadership, Judah was spared, albeit temporarily.  The revival that Hezekiah started was quickly squashed by his son Manasseh when he became King upon Hezekiah’s death.

History has much to teach us.  You can draw some parallels between the demise of Israel and Judah and the coming demise of the United States of America.  The U.S. is most certainly not the favored nation of God’s people who were given the Promised Land.  But the U.S. has definitely been the beneficiary of God’s favor and His grace over our 239 year history as an independent nation.  There have been times of war, depression, drought, disasters, internal strife and a myriad of other difficult obstacles to overcome.  But our country still stands … at least politically speaking … though many are forecasting the end of our nation as we have known it.  I have lived through 70 of the 239 years of our existence and I submit that I have never been more disappointed in my country than I am now.  Our leadership is corrupt.  The majority of our people have abandoned their religion, their faith and the local church.  Our focus as a people on Almighty God and abiding by His commands and statutes has eroded to the point that it is out of vogue and even derisive to be called a Christian.  Christians are attacked by a vocal minority backed by our self-serving national news media.

As Christians it is time for us to stand up for our God and our nation by turning our hearts and lives over to God.  It is time for us to live by the Book … the Bible, God’s infallible Word!  It is time to allow Jesus to dwell within us and let Him live outward through us.  It is time to take man off of the throne and put God back on the throne of our hearts.  It is time to support our local church with our attendance and our tithe.  It is time to support and work for Godly candidates for political office.  It is time for us work against and to vote out leadership that favors the murder of our children, same-sex marriage, undeserved/unwarranted transfer payments, socialistic control of our lives.

As was the case with Hezekiah, one man did make a difference!  Through his staunch stand for God a whole nation turned around.  BUT, a word of caution here.  One man, his son Manasseh, again turned a nation away from God.

To summarize, here are some lessons I derive from this discussion:

  • Our work as Christians is never done.
  • We are to allow Jesus to live in us and work through us.
  • Never give up on God.  One person can make a difference.
  • Godly Revival leads to cleansing, celebration.
  • Revival will not continue if Christians try to do God’s work for Him.
  • Revival is contagious.
  • The Word of God, the Bible, is the ONLY guide and the ONLY definition of all that is good, perfect and right.
  • Leadership left unto man and not fostered by God will fail.
  • God will use our enemies to bring us down.
  • We can often be our own worst enemy.
  • There are earthly and eternal consequences to our individual and collective sin.

Epilogue:

As Christians there are many lessons we can learn from the fall of Israel and Judah.  As a direct result of my study I have quite a number of topics in mind that I plan to develop into articles in the future, Lord willing.  This first set of articles will deal with a portion of the time period when King Hezekiah of Judah and his strong Assyrian adversary, King Sennacherib reigned.  As always, the articles will be based on Scripture and include a Reflection that draws parallels to our modern times. Here’s my ambitious list of the topics, not necessarily listed in order, that I want to cover:

I am excited about the message of these articles and look forward to completing them!  It will take me some time as I have again begun working on my third book, Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul, which will include an extensive updated article on Evangelists Seth and Bessie Sykes.

Look for the next article in this series soon.

Footnotes:

[1] Exact dating of Hezekiah’s reign remains a point of debate for Biblical scholars.  It is not my purpose to enter into that debate.  So, let’s just agree that the dates I am providing are approximately correct based on my research and subject to correction by the more learned.  For the purpose of this article, the dates are “good enough.”
[2] “rotten” – consider these scripture verses:  2 Chronicles 28:1-4 – “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.  And, 2 Chronicles 28:5,17-19 Therefore the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram… The Edomites had again come and attacked Judah and carried away prisoners, while the Philistines had raided towns in the foothills and in the Negev of Judah…  The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD. ”  Do you see why I say “rotten?”
[3] 2 Kings 19:15 records that Hezekiah went to the Temple and there he prayed, the first king of Judah to do so in about 250 years, since the time of Solomon.
[4] Although, when Sennacherib did attack, Egypt did not support Hezekiah with soldiers, just as the spokesman for the Assyrians told Hezekiah through a messenger. See Isaiah 36:6-9.

__________________________________________________________

Where to Read More:

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About jimdavenport

Jim Davenport resides in the USA in Northeast Georgia, is a member of a Southern Baptist Church and is a retired Christian business man. Jim and his wife Charlotte have one son and daughter in law, Keven and Amy, four grandchildren - Ashlyn (Davenport) & Josh Murphy, and Mason & Rebecca Davenport. We have three great-grandchildren, Rhory Camile Murphy, Rhett Levi Murphy and Sawyer Joshua Murphy. Jim and Charlotte own a mountain get-away home located on Lookout Mountain in Alabama where they spend many spring, summer and fall days working in their raised bed organic garden. Jim has served as a Deacon and Trustee in his local church most of his adult life and on the Executive Committee and Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees of Shorter University, an intentionally Christian institution located in Rome, Georgia. Jim has a passion for the word of God and has always believed that Christian principles should guide every aspect of his life. He also loves Christian music and often served as a tenor soloist in his church. One of the highlights of his life was the nearly 20 years he spent singing with The Good News, a Southern Gospel quartet. Jim served as an Information Technology professional his entire working career of 50 years holding senior positions in and consulting with hundreds of world-class organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Jim remains as President and CEO of InfoSys Solutions Associates, Inc. and is a retired partner of IT Governance Partners, LLC, both of which are “Trusted Advisor” technology and business consulting firms. Jim has authored a number of books available at www.jimdavenport.me/jims-books. His blog has ben read by readers from more than 170 countries. Jim holds both a BS and an MS in Mathematics from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and completed Management Development Training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
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16 Responses to Revival Before the Fall

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  13. Liz Favaro says:

    This is a great article and yes, Christians need to recommit to the One True God, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. I am making my stand in all I do, and know that this may mean suffering and rebuke at some point in the future. Our Country is on a very slippery slope and I do not see how God can bless us. Christians need to not be one in name only, but in all their life work. We need to look totally different from the culture in which we live. Church attendance is at an all time low. It isn’t enough to say you love God and then ignore worship and fellowship. The church is the Body of Christ. If we are not supporting our church, we are denying Christ….both with time and money. Our obedience to God’s Word reflects our heart. I look forward to your continued articles!

    Like

    • jimdavenport says:

      Good morning Liz. It is so good to hear from you and to know that you are still following my blog. I totally agree with all of your comments. The conviction that we share simply must be acted upon by us as individuals and collectively as the body of Christians without fear or shame. The fact is that Christ Himself is resident IN us embodied in the Holy Spirit. Our assignment is to let Jesus act through us and for us to not attempt things on our own. Sometimes we succeed on our own, sometimes we fail on our own. But when we allow the Jesus IN us to act through us, HE never fails. Boldness in our Christian witness and standing for Christ is the only guaranteed method of successfully spreading the Word of God. Encouraging our fellow Christians, especially those in our churches and small group settings to allow Jesus to work through them is a great step in the right direction. Bless you Liz and my wife and I will pray that your boldness for God will positively affect not only you but those with whom you interact on a daily basis. Happiness in the Lord is infectious. Blessings, Jim D.

      Like

  14. bwebbjr says:

    What a powerful, powerful article Jim … I find the parallels between your recaps of Judah’s demise apart from Yahweh, their return under the leadership of Hezekiah and your insights into the USA today and power of one man devoted to God spot on … and extremely convicting. It starts with me … it starts with you … and it starts with a leader like Hezekiah. May the Lord bring forth such men and women and then such a man in the coming days … may the USA once again become devoted to the Lord and His will! Anxiously looking forward to the remaining articles … and to the book they will together at some point in the future become. May the Lord continue to bless you and us in this teaching and writing endeavor Jim!

    Bernie

    Like

    • jimdavenport says:

      Bernie, God laid these articles on my heart and mind over a period of time. There is no question in my mind that He did so. While reading through the bible chronologically I paused on the scriptures, compelled to read them over and over for a fuller understanding. I am convinced that was God telling me in His own way in thoughts something like this, “… pay attention Jim … there is a message for you right here in my word that I had recorded thousands of years ago. The message is for you Jim. And I want you to tell others what I have to say.” Somewhat melodramatic, I know, but I believe that was God’s message with all my heart. As I develop the remainder of the articles, I pray that God will lead me to include what He wants to convey … that I will get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit from within inspire the words. To Him be ALL the Glory!! Amen, and Amen!! Jim

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