In 2 Chronicles 29, Hezekiah leads the people of Judah in a great reformation. The center of the reformation is the restoration of worship in the temple: cleansing the temple, purifying the priests and levites, bringing the sacrifices, singing the songs of David and playing his musical instruments in praise to the Lord.
It’s all pretty astonishing especially given the last king, Ahaz. He had set up images to the Baals, burned his own children in fire, sacrificed on every hill and under every green tree, and stripped the temple of its treasures in order to bribe the nations around him. And when things were at their worst, Ahaz sacrificed to the gods of the nations that were afflicting him (2 Chron. 28:23). Ahaz closed the temple of the Lord, and he set up altars in every corner of Jerusalem to burn incense to the other gods.
And in the midst of this massive apostasy and confusion, Hezekiah comes to the throne, and he opens the doors of the Lord’s house and calls all the priests and levites, and says that he will renew the covenant with the Lord. And 2 Chronicles 29 ends with the understated line, “And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people, for the thing was done suddenly.” The reformation seemed to come out of nowhere. One minute the temple was closed, children were being burned in the fires of false gods, and incense was being offered on every corner to idols, and the next minute, the temple was re-opened, cleansed, and sacrifices and praise were being offered to the Lord. It happened suddenly, but the Lord had prepared the people.
We live in a day not much different than the reign of Ahaz. Our rulers call evil good and good is called evil. Our children are offered on the altars of convenience and choice. We offer sacrifices to the very gods that afflict us. We cry foul when children are neglected and mistreated, and we insist that it is good and proper to chop them up into little pieces and sell their organs to the highest bidder. We cry foul when children are sexually abused, but we insist that perverse men be allowed to share locker rooms and bathrooms with our little girls. We claim to care about the poor and the needy, and yet we spend billions propping up the very industries that keep their faces pressed into the ground. We burn incense in every corner to the idols of our lust and envy and greed.
But we serve the living God, and He can move suddenly. And when He does, we will find that He had been preparing us. So we might as well get ready.