WORSHIP BRINGS REVIVAL 2 Chronicles 29–32
“In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them” (2 Chron. 29:3).There is nothing as revitalizing for the believer as heartfelt worship of the Lord.
During Hezekiah’s reign the Assyrians crushed the Hebrew kingdom of Israel and deported its citizens. Sennacherib then invaded Judah, expecting to do the same. Divine intervention alone saved the Southern Kingdom, and Judah remained an independent nation for another 136 years. In telling the story of these pivotal years in Judah’s history, the author of 2 Chronicles emphasizes Hezekiah’s concern for the worship of God, indicated by the attention he gave to the temple and to the Passover. The author’s point is that the person or people who truly worship God find their faith renewed, and that God responds to a renewed faith by acting on behalf of His worshipers.
Hezekiah’s emphasis of worship is seen in his rededication of the temple (29:1–36), his celebration of Passover (30:1–27), and reorganization of the priests and Levites who served God (31:1–21). The king’s trust in God was rewarded as the Lord threw back Sennacherib’s invading force (32:1–23). Later Hezekiah became proud, but repented and was restored (vv. 24–33).
Understanding the Text
“Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord” 2 Chron. 29:1–11. Hezekiah was stimulated to restore the worship of the Lord to Judah by the realization that his nation’s past troubles had come when his people turned their backs on God. Judah’s only hope was to return to God in full commitment. This the king was determined to do personally and nationally. The leader who wants to influence others must first be fully committed himself. “The whole assembly bowed in worship” 2 Chron. 29:12–36. Hezekiah immediately set the priests and Levites to work purifying the temple and themselves. When this was done, “early the next morning” the king gathered his officials and went up to the temple to worship. Hezekiah’s action clearly demonstrated that worship was his first priority as king. The immediate impact of this emphasis was internal. Those who worshiped found themselves singing praises “with gladness” and willingly bringing “sacrifices and thank offerings.” Worship remains the key to joy for the believer. And worship remains the key to spontaneous giving. A modern church which neglects worship will not touch the hearts of its members or overcome contemporary materialism. “Come to . . . Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover” 2 Chron. 30:1–31:21. Hezekiah invited believers in hostile Israel to celebrate Passover with his own people. The invitation was accepted by many, who joined in the joyful worship. The result is striking. The text tells us that after participating in the worship experience, the Israelites who were there went through the countryside destroying the pagan worship centers and altars in Judah and in their own tribal lands. Worship still stimulates commitment. If we need encouragement to remain fully committed to God in our daily lives, we can find that encouragement in worshiping God with others. It’s one thing to share a spontaneous worship experience. It’s another to maintain the spirit of worship. Hezekiah carefully organized the priests and Levites who were responsible for temple worship. You and I need to be as disciplined. We need to set aside daily time for worship as well as to meet with others in a church that makes worship a priority. If we do attend to worship, Scripture’s commendation of Hezekiah will surely apply to us as well: “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the Law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” “Hezekiah . . . cried out in prayer” 2 Chron. 32:1–23. Worship deepens our awareness of who God is, and thus strengthens our trust in Him. When Judah was invaded by the Assyrians and Jerusalem was threatened, Hezekiah turned immediately to the Lord. And God answered. The most important thing we can do to enrich our prayer lives and deepen our trust in God is to worship Him. When worship is a vital part of our relationship with the Lord, we too have great confidence in prayer when troubles come. “Hezekiah’s heart was proud” 2 Chron. 32:24–33. The author concluded with an account of Hezekiah’s pride and repentance. Not even an enriched worship life will keep us sinless. We human beings are always vulnerable to our sinful natures. Yet the text reminds us that “Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem.” The closer our relationship with the Lord, the more responsive we will be to His rebuke.
Kneel Down and Worship (2 Chron. 29)
The Hebrew words usually translated worship mean “to bow down” or “to prostrate oneself out of respect.” The underlying thought is that of showing reverence; of a growing awareness of who God is, and the expression of our awe and our praise. David Mains views worship as “praising God for who He by nature is.” That is, in worship we show our respect and appreciation by focusing our attention on one of His revealed attributes, and by thanking and praising Him for being this kind of Person. This is the significance of the worship-based revival that Hezekiah led. Yes, that worship followed the ritual patterns that were established in Moses’ Law. But we need only read the text to realize that Hezekiah’s worship revival was a matter of the heart. Ritual served simply as a mode of expression. For this worship, Hezekiah purified and consecrated himself, for God is holy (vv. 18–19). For this worship, Hezekiah appointed a multitude of sacrifices, for God deserves our best (29:20–24). For this worship, singers sang and trumpeters played, for God is the source of joy, and worship is to be joyful (vv. 25–28). For this worship, Hezekiah and others brought rich gifts, for God has given us rich gifts, and we are privileged to return to Him some of what He gives (29:29–31). And in this worship, Hezekiah and all Judah found a source of joy. Whatever ways of worship we have today, if our worship is preceded by consecration, expressed joyfully and accompanied by gifts of our best, that worship will bring us joy and will deepen our trust in the Lord.
What place does worship have in your life and in your church?