« ForrigeFortsæt »
to keep holy day. With David, the monarch best beloved of God and the nation to whom the Bible compares him and his great-grandson Josiah only, of all the kings of Judah or Israel-he had doubtless often resolved, that on coming to the throne he would not give sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids, until he had found "a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the mighty God of Jacob."
The sceptre is in the hands of Hezekiah, and the time for executing such a purpose has now come. Nor does he, occupied as he must have been at the beginning of his administration, waver or delay. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.” He does not wait for the priests and Levites, to whom the service and care of the sanctuary specially pertained, to urge him to undertake the work of reform, but he goes forward from the spontaneous impulse of his own mind. He gathers them together from their various cities in Judah, and addresses them with dignity and parental kind
“Hear me, ye Levites, and sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of
your fathers. 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. My sons, be not now negligent, for the Lord God hath chosen you to stand before him to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him and burn incense unto
him.” He reminds them of the evils which the nation had suffered in the time of Ahaz. Pekah, king of Israel, had slain a hundred and twenty thousand valiant men of Judah in one day. Some of the chief among the people, and one of Hezekiah's own brothers, were also slain in the same
The king of Syria had invaded the land, and carried a great multitude to Damascus, and the sons and daughters and wives of many of the inhabitants were still captives in that city. The Philistines had broken into the south of Judah, and were in possession of many of its cities and villages. Hezekiah does not hesitate to ascribe these disasters directly to the hand of God, chastising the people for their revolt from his service. Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes." Nor is he afraid that any will accuse him of want of respect for his father's memory, in so hastily abolishing these rites of heathenism. “Our fathers,” says he, distinctly referring to Ahaz, though doubtless including others who had sanctioned his impious acts, “have trespassed and done that which was evil in the sight 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." Hezekiah felt that he must render allegiance to God at the sacrifice of any earthly tie. And no less is required under the milder system of the gospel. Our Saviour, who would not lay upon man more than is right, says, “ He that loveth father or mother more than
is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.”.
We must suppose Hezekiah was encouraged in this movement by Isaiah and Micah. He could scarcely fail to summon these distinguished men to advisé and countenance him in a work so dear to their hearts, and so accordant with their character and prophetic office. Still, this attempt at reform was a bold step in a prince who had but just assumed the reins of government. The body of the nation were prone to idolatry, and might be expected to dislike so abrupt a change. Many of the courtiers, addicted to the worship of the gods introduced by Ahaz, would be little disposed to aid in demolishing their altars. The old counsellors of his father might urge the impolicy of so sudden and entire a revolution in the religion of the state. They might suggest that the people ought to be weaned by degrees from their attachment to idols, and not be alienated from his government by violent measures.
But Hezekiah wisely judged that it was best at once to reëstablish the rites and worship ordained by the law of Moses. In such a course he might expect the divine favor, which he would forfeit by partial obedience.
The firmness manifested by tho king would strengthen the hands of the pious part of the nation; while those that favored idol-worship would have less hope of successful opposition to a prince so resolute and determined. Hezekiah, too, would find it easier to effect other schemes for reclaiming the people from idolatry, by an upright course at the commencement of his career, than if he wavered between duty and popularity-between the service of Jehovah and idols. By so early taking a stand on the Lord's side, he laid himself under a sort of necessity to complete the reformation. Even the idolatrous and ungodly in Judah would regard him with contempt, if he faltered in a work so vigorously begun, and turned back to the worship of graven images.
So, if the young convert is open and decided at the outset of his Christian life-if he takes counsel, not from the suggestions of expediency, but from the word of God, he will readily persevere in the ways of piety. Consistency will require that he should not afterwards live as do others, and even the ungodly will expect and demand it. When his position is once known, the world will not often attempt to insnare him in its amusements, or solicit him to adopt its pernicious customs. And not only so, but he brings himself within the range of the principle that “unto him who hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly.” Grace will be imparted as he needs it, because he uses it well; and
he will go on from strength to strength in the way to heaven, because he entered it with a heart fixed, trusting in God.
Animated by the fervid spirit and exhortations of Hezekiah, the Levites and some of the priests, after purifying themselves according to the rites of the Mosaic law, set out in good earnest to purify the temple and its courts. They first cleansed the latter. In the court of the priests stood an altar of costly workmanship, which Ahaz built after the pattern of one he had seen at Damascus. On this altar he had commanded Uriah to burn the daily morning and evening sacrifices, as well as all the burnt sacrifices offered by the king or others. This monument of national apostasy and shame, the Levites, in their newly kindled zeal, would tear down with willing hands. The brazen altar which Solomon erected in the court of the priests for sacrifices to Jehovah, Ahaz had removed to the north side of the court, under pretence of reserving it for his own special use. It was now restored to its proper place in " the forefront" of the sanctuary. To supply water for the priests in the service of the temple, Solomon had also made in this court a large brazen laver, or “molten sea,” about twenty feet in diameter and ten feet deep, capable of containing more than twenty thousand gallons. It was en. riched with various ornaments, and stood on twelve brazen oxen; three facing to the north, three to the