Sunday, November 15, 2009

Endless Possibilities for Sweeping Reform

Each time America holds an election, the political candidates spout lofty goals and promises for change. We listen. Some of us hold out hope in our hearts that this person may be the one to finally make a difference and enact such changes. But once that person enters his term of office, we sit back in disappointment and watch as few (if any) of those goals are achieved.

And then we remember the old adage: “Change doesn’t happen overnight.” We accept the truth of this phrase. We give up on the concept of a true “sweeping reform.” We learn to be content with baby steps forward.

But what if change could happen that fast? Could one man really change an entire country in a matter of a month?

Twenty-five-year-old Hezekiah did.

There’s no way he would have been elected king in any democratic society. Everyone knew Hezekiah’s dad, King Ahaz.

Ahaz had been a bad leader in more ways than one. He led his people to defy God’s commandments and give themselves to idol worship. He sold off Judah’s temple treasures to hold off the King of Assyria who threatened to conquer Judah and send its people in exile. He “sacrificed his sons in the fire” as part of his idol worship (2 Chron. 28:3). In a way, Hezekiah was lucky to have survived his father’s reign.

And yet despite his family baggage, Hezekiah came to power in a big way--he didn’t start his reforms slowly. He didn’t wait 90 days to figure things out. No. He immediately went to work turning the country back around to God:

Starting on day one, he went to work tearing down every idol altar around the country and restoring the temple of the Lord that his father had defiled: “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them” (2 Chron. 29:3). By the “sixteenth day of the first month,” the temple was open and ready for worship (v. 17).

And worship they did—sacrificing burnt offerings, sin offerings, and thank offerings to the tune of 3000+ sheep and 600+ bulls, so many that the few consecrated priests couldn’t skin all the offerings without help. The people didn’t balk at this quick reform, either: “Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly” (v. 36).

All in sixteen days.

But Hezekiah didn’t stop there. In month two of his reign, he sent messengers all over Judah and Northern Israel, inviting all to come celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. Wow—this was different. Since the country split in two shortly after Solomon’s death, the kings of Northern Israel had done everything in their power to make sure the people didn’t return to Jerusalem to worship.

Scripture says some in Northern Israel “laughed them to scorn and mocked them” (2 Chron. 30:10). Not everyone loves a reformist. But for the many who participated in the Passover, healing and joy abounded: “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel” (v. 26).

Can you imagine a political leader making such sweeping changes in our age? He’d get mired down in legislative maneuverings before the ink dried on his swearing-in papers. And yet when God is behind something, He can move it through overnight…if that’s part of His plan.

Sweeping reform will take place when Christ returns. And I’m a firm believer that our nation isn’t beyond hope of a revival. But I also must realize that reforming an individual life is just as much a miracle as reforming a country. One soul transformed by the Holy Spirit and through Jesus’ precious blood…that’s the truest overnight reform you’ll find.


  1. See, now that's why I like reading your devotionals. It never occurred to me that things moved awfully quickly for Hezekiah, such as have never moved so fast in our day. But God will have His way, in His time, hallelujah!

  2. God nearly blew me out of the bed when I realized the time markers and what they meant to Hez's reign. There is joy and glimpses of God at work in those words and phrases that I tend to pass by.