The Start of a New Year
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
And he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.
He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them.
And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,
And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord, and turned their backs.
We recently ended a year and began a new one. No doubt, many people spent the last week or two of 2011 reflecting on what had transpired over the past year. Many people may have experienced things in their life in 2011 which brought about great change in their life. It may have been the loss of a job or the start of a new one. Some families lost loved ones while other families welcomed new additions to their household. As we looked back on 2011 we also had the opportunity to look ahead to 2012 in anticipation of what the new year might have in store for us. People many times choose the new year as a time to get a fresh start in their lives. It is a time where we can hit the reset button, so to speak, and get our bearings to begin anew in certain areas of our life. Nearly everyone I know had some form of New Year's Resolutions, (whether they called it by that term or not) which they thought out or maybe even wrote down, of areas in their lives where they wish to improve in 2012.
Let us also take a spiritual inventory of our lives as we get into 2012. We should look back at where we stood in our relationship with God in 2011 and work on getting closer to God going into the new year. Never should we become satisfied with where we are at in our walk with God. Every one of us could draw closer to Him. When Hezekiah became king he started off his rule with drawing himself and the children of Judah closer to God. Let us learn from his example on how we can get this new year started off right.
1. He Took Care of First Things First
The very first thing which Hezekiah did upon becoming king was to open up the house of the Lord. He did not worry about the material well-being of his kingdom until it was taken care of spiritually. The kingdom was not only in a mess spiritually but also economically. God had judged the land because of Hezekiah's father, Ahaz's, wickedness. They had been invaded by the Syrians, the northern ten tribes of Israel, the Edomites, the Philistines, and the Assyrians. With all of the problems the land had Hezekiah knew that the things of God had to be taken care of before anything else. If we would learn to put God first in our lives then everything else would be taken care of. Too many times we look to our physical needs and make sure they are provided for, but we fail to do anything about our spiritual needs. If we make the spiritual needs of our life our main priority then God will bless us because of it. Hezekiah was putting Matthew 6:33 into practice long before Jesus ever uttered the words here on this earth.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
2. There was a Cleansing
Hezekiah had commanded the Levites to cleanse and sanctify themselves so that they could then cleanse the temple. The priests went into the temple and brought out all the uncleanness into the courtyard so the Levites could then take it out of the city and dispose of it. The temple had accumulated dirt and dust from sitting idle and the vessels of God had been replaced by idolatrous altars. Ahaz had taken the vessels of God and had profaned them during his reign using them in his false worship. Those vessels the priests now took and restored to the House of God. They were so minded to do the work of God and to get back to worshiping God properly that they completed the temple cleansing on only 16 days. In our own lives many times we allow things to come in and dirty us up spiritually. Sometimes our lives become unclean because we do not exercise the spiritual enough. Our Bible reading, prayer life, and church attendance can all gather dust and cobwebs when we fail to spend time with God as we should. If we are not careful then we may even allow idols to take up residence in our lives. Anything which comes between us and God is an idol in our life. We need to take the time to clean up our lives spiritually and we should have a mind to do it the way these priests did. Instead of dragging it out over the entire year, let us get busy about drawing closer to God so that we can worship Him properly sooner rather than later.
3. They humbled themselves before God and Worshiped Him
The very next day after the temple was cleansed; Hezekiah went up and offered sacrifices to God. The first offering which Hezekiah gave was a sin offering to make atonement for the sins of the people. They had repented of their sin but the Law required that blood had to be shed for the remission of their sins. I'm glad that some 2000 years ago Blood was shed on an old, rugged cross to make atonement for my sin. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice offered up once and for all so that all who come through Him might have forgiveness of their sins. There is no other way that we can stand before God then to come by the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else has the power to wash away our sin.
The people also offered up burnt offerings to give glory to God. These offerings were burnt up entirely upon the altar as a sacrifice solely to God. The Bible tells us that we ought to present our own bodies a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). We ought to live our lives in such a way that God gets all the glory, honor, and praise. The children of Judah had such a heart to worship that the priests could not keep up with the offerings. In 2012, we need to have a heart to worship God, to give Him the glory, and to lay ourselves down as a living sacrifice for Him.
May we all draw closer to God in 2012.
Preached at Piedmont Baptist Church on December 28, 2011