Royalty and Ruin


King Hezekiah Repairs the Damage

Hezekiah came to the throne determined to save Judah from the fate that was overtaking the northern kingdom. The prophets offered no halfway measures. Judah could avoid the threatened judgments only by a genuine reformation. RR 121.1

No sooner had Hezekiah ascended the throne than he began to plan and execute. He determined first to restore the temple services and solicited the cooperation of priests and Levites who had remained true. “Our fathers have trespassed,” he confessed, “and done evil in the eyes of the Lord our God; they have forsaken Him.” “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” 2 Chronicles 29:6, 10. RR 121.2

The king reviewed the situation—the closed temple and the suspended services; idol worship practiced in the streets of the city and throughout the kingdom; the apostasy of multitudes who might have remained true if the leaders had set a right example; and the decline of the kingdom and loss of prestige among the surrounding nations. Soon the northern kingdom would fall completely into the hands of the Assyrians and be ruined. This fate would come to Judah as well, unless God would work mightily through His chosen representatives. RR 121.3

Hezekiah appealed to the priests to unite with him in bringing about reform. “Do not be negligent now,” he exhorted them, “for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him.” “Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers.” Verses 11, 5. RR 121.4

The priests began at once. Enlisting the cooperation of others, they put heart and soul into cleansing and sanctifying the temple. Remarkably soon, they were able to report their task completed. They had repaired the temple doors and thrown them open, assembled and put in place the sacred vessels, and made everything ready for reestablishing the sanctuary services. RR 121.5

In the first service held at the reopened temple, the rulers of the city united with King Hezekiah and the priests in seeking forgiveness for the sins of the nation. On the altar the priests placed sin offerings “to make an atonement for all Israel.” Once more the temple courts echoed with praise. The songs of David and Asaph were sung with joy, as the worshipers realized that they were being delivered from the bondage of sin and apostasy. “Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.” Verses 24, 36. RR 121.6

God had prepared the hearts of Judah’s chief men to lead out in a determined reform movement, in order to stop the apostasy. The kingdom of Israel had rejected his messages, but in Judah a good remnant remained, and to these the prophets continued to appeal. Hear Isaiah urging, “Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.” Isaiah 31:6. Hear Micah declaring with confidence, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness.” Micah 7:9. RR 122.1

These and similar messages had brought hope to many in the dark years when the temple doors remained closed. Now, as the leaders began a reform, a multitude of the people, weary of the slavery of sin, were ready to respond. RR 122.2

Those who sought forgiveness had wonderful encouragement from Scripture. “When you return to the Lord your God,” Moses had said, “and obey His voice (for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.” Deuteronomy 4:30, 31. RR 122.3

And at the dedication of the temple Solomon had prayed, “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel.” 1 Kings 8:33, 34. By night the Lord had appeared to Solomon to tell him that He would show mercy to those who would worship there: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. These promises met abundant fulfillment during the reformation under Hezekiah. RR 122.4