3 In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. (2 Chronicles 29:3-5)
Thus begins the first month of King Hezekiah’s reign over the southern kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz, one of the most vile kings Judah ever had. Ahaz was an idol-worshipper who offered many of his own sons in child sacrifice to a pagan god, and caused Judah to become a puppet nation to Assyria, paying an annual tribute to that foreign nation to keep them from attacking. Above all this, Ahaz shut the doors of the temple, essentially outlawing worship of the one true God in favor of idol worship.
Such was the kingdom of Judah that King Hezekiah inherited when he became king at the age of 25.
This passage tells us that the first thing that Hezekiah did after he became king was to clean house. His first recorded act as king was to reopen the doors of the temple, and introduce sweeping religious reforms.
Recently we had a lot of company come over to our house for a big cousin’s birthday party. Seventeen kids, plus moms, dads, uncle and aunts. Now I’m sure your house is always spotless, so you may not be able to identify with this story, but before we had everyone over, we had to clean the house. Which makes no sense whatsoever by the way…we clean house, so that we can have a bunch of kids come in and be really impressed with the freshly vacuumed carpets as they track mud all over the house. It was kind of like taking a shower before mowing the yard…you’re gonna get all nasty anyways. But regardless, why did we clean the house prior to company coming over? It’s because a dirty house shows dishonor to your guests.
Hezekiah cleaned out the temple because that was where God showed up, and having it defiled and in disorder was dishonoring to the Lord. So he cleaned it up.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”
The Bible says that we are God’s temple. And just like evil and idolatry in the temple of Jerusalem dishonored the Lord, so these things in us dishonor the Lord as well, because we are His temple.
For Hezekiah, this meant removing the idols from the streets of Jerusalem, shutting down the pagan altars, and cleaning up the temple of the Lord.
How did Hezekiah go about this kind of reform? Surrender, confession, and removal.
Surrender – The first thing that Hezekiah did was open the door to the temple. Remember, his dad had shut the doors of the temple, so the first thing he did was open them. If we are God’s temple, then opening the door to the temple involves surrender. Who was Ahaz to shut the doors to the temple, and who are we to shut our doors to the Lord working in us and through us? If we can maintain a posture of surrender before the Lord, then we will keep the door to our heart and life open, and the Lord can help us maintain godliness under pressure.
Confession – Now, once the doors were open, then Hezekiah had the priests consecrate themselves and consecrate the temple. This consecration was a formal ceremony where the priests (who had previously been put out of a job by Hezekiah’s dad, Ahaz), were rendered clean again, and then the temple was ceremonially cleansed. Our ceremony of cleansing is confession. 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, then He (the Lord) is faithful and will “cleanse” us from all unrighteousness.
Removal – Then third, Hezekiah had the priests remove all the “defilements” from the temple. You see it’s not enough to just open the door of the temple, go through a ceremony, and then leave the idols in place. You’ve got to remove the idols, remove the sin, remove the ugliness.
I have to do this daily. I really do. Everyday I find myself doing things I know I shouldn’t, or not doing things I know I should. Do you?
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of confessing things to the Lord. You see, I skip that first step of surrender. Sometimes I see myself just going through the motions of just a ceremonial confession, or maybe just mechanically trying to remove the junk in my life, and sometimes the Lord will stop me midstream, as I’m taking that idol out of the temple of my heart, and He say, “Wait…that’s My job, let Me do that. I’ll clean it up, it’s your job to surrender.” You see, for me, my struggle is the first step. Surrender. Opening the door to the temple of my heart. I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ on February 5, 1984, but what I’ve found is that in order to keep the house clean, I have to surrender to him every day…every morning…every time, I mess up.
And the beauty of the gospel is that just as He promises to save us from sin’s penalty by faith, He also promises to save us from sin’s power by faith. The former results in our eternal salvation, while the latter results in our present salvation….being rescued from the momentary pleasures of sin to the abiding and complete joy of knowing Christ more and more each day.
What about you? Where do you need to clean house. Maybe for you, you need to start with surrender. Maybe it’s to begin by admitting that it’s not your house you are keeping dirty, it’s His house. Surrender to Him again today, and by faith, allow Him to clean house for His glory.