2 Chronicles 29:36
"And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly."

2 Chronicles 29 encourages my soul. At the age of twenty-five, Hezekiah decided to change the nation of Israel. His father, Ahaz, had led Judah away from the LORD. In verses six through nine, Hezekiah summarizes that history. He describes the people as unfaithful because they turned their backs to the LORD. The temple was abandoned, and there was no offering of incense or burnt offerings in the Holy Place. Because of the people's rejection, the LORD's wrath came against them. They became an object of horror as the men were killed and their families were taken into captivity.

The steps Hezekiah took to restore the proper worship of the LORD are instructive for those who love God in all generations. Notice in verse ten Hezekiah's first action: "Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger may turn away from us." The heart is always the place true repentance begins. Hezekiah did more than just hope things would change; he made a promise to the LORD to do his part to correct what was wrong.

2 Chronicles 28:24 says Ahaz not only closed the doors but destroyed the instruments of worship God instructed Moses to make. Because of this, after Hezekiah committed himself to do God's will, he approached those the LORD had uniquely set apart for His service. He challenged and encouraged the Levites to purify themselves and the Temple as their proper act of worship. In a short time, they cleaned and restored all the damage Ahaz had done to the Temple.

With the Temple restored, Hezekiah and the leaders of Jerusalem brought sacrifices to offer to the LORD by rejoicing with music and singing. After the initial sacrifice and worship, Hezekiah invited the people to offer burnt offerings, thank offerings, peace offerings, and liquid offerings to the LORD. The priests were unprepared for the magnitude of the people's response. They had not expected the people to have such a willing heart to worship the LORD. Because of the priest's lack of faith, the Levites, the laborers of the temple, had to perform much of the sacrifice that day.

Verse 36 explains the people's response. "And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly." The Hebrew word translated as "provided" is used two other times in chapter 29. In verse 19, it is "we have been made ready." In verse 35, it is "was restored." The people responded with enthusiasm and rejoicing because God had "made them ready," and He had "restored" a willing heart. Because it was The LORD's doing, all of this "came about suddenly." When the LORD's people covenant in their heart to do His will, He will accomplish His purpose with seeming ease and speed.

While writing, I thought of two verses that encourage me to follow Hezekiah's pattern. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." We as disciples of Christ Jesus are to have that willing heart because of what He did. Ephesians 5:25-26 says it like this, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish."

Lord Jesus, thanks for the "new" heart that desires Your will. Please forgive me for wishing rather than acting upon Your will for Your Church and myself. Since, through Your Spirit, we are cleansed by the washing of Your Word, please stir within us the desire to cleanse ourselves as we pursue holiness that ultimately only You provide.

I hope and pray you and yours have a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.