(2 Kings 18.1-3)
1Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled 29 years from Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2Hezekiah obeyed the Lord by doing right, just as his ancestor David had done.
The Temple Is Purified
3In the first month of the first year of Hezekiah's rule, he unlocked the doors to the Lord's temple and had them repaired. 4Then he called the priests and Levites to the east courtyard of the temple 5and said:
It's time to purify the temple of the Lord God of our ancestors. You Levites must first go through the ceremony to make yourselves clean, then go into the temple and bring out everything that is unclean and unacceptable to the Lord. 6Some of our ancestors were unfaithful and disobeyed the Lord our God. Not only did they turn their backs on the Lord, but they also completely ignored his temple. 7They locked the doors, then let the lamps go out and stopped burning incense and offering sacrifices to him. 8The Lord became terribly angry with the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and everyone was shocked and horrified at what he did to punish them. Not only were 9our ancestors killed in battle, but our own children and wives were taken captive.
10So I have decided to renew our agreement with the Lord God of Israel. Maybe then he will stop being so angry with us. 11Let's not waste any time, my friends. You are the ones who were chosen to be the Lord's priests and to offer him sacrifices.
35Besides all the sacrifices that were burned on the altar, the fat from the other animal sacrifices was burned, and the offerings of wine were poured over the altar.
So the temple was once again used for worshiping the Lord. 36Hezekiah and the people of Judah celebrated, because God had helped them make this happen so quickly.
The decisions made in the first days set the trajectory for a new leader and send a signal to all. Hezekiah’s priorities were proclaimed in the first month of his reign. He opened and restored the doors to the temple and called on the priests and Levites to make it functional once again.
Boldly and publically he made it known whom he’d serve and urgently called on the people to follow. Sometimes people just need someone to take action, to set the direction and that’s what Hezekiah did. He capitalized on the first impression he was making when everyone’s attention was focused on him. The first days are a critical time for leaders. Many followers decide early on whether to follow or disengage. Get it right and you have an army. Get it wrong and you stand alone.
Hezekiah could have become just another unremarkable name on the long list of Judean kings who came and went. Instead, his urgent call for religious reform and for resolute, exclusive worship of the one true God had a unifying effect. It aligned the people behind him and removed the blight on the land.
Interestingly, his instruction to the priests and Levites was merely a call for them to do their job, no more, no less. “You are the ones who were chosen to be the Lord’s priests and to offer him sacrifices.” In other words, “Be faithful to your calling. Do what you’ve been trained to do.” This required no grand leap into unfamiliar tasks or territory. Just get moving and doing.
Perhaps that’s a good place for all of us to start. You can only begin from where you’re at. You can only do what you know to do. But when you do, momentum becomes your friend. Use it. Go.
Our Lord God and most gracious leader – Looking to you, we see your priorities, we see the direction we are to go. You’ve equipped us mightily and promise to provide all that we need. We ask only for the strength and wisdom to follow through and honor you in all that we do. Amen.