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AN AWAKENED WORSHIP – 2 Chronicles 29:1-19

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 3, 2017 under 2017 |

Preached Sunday, December 3, 2017: Hezekiah—Ruler in The Revival; 2 Chronicles 29:1-19

Theme: True ‘revival’ worship is based on atonement, practiced through devotion, and expressed in thanks.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Over the past while, we have been looking together at the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles; and at what it tells us about the story of the good and godly King Hezekiah of Judah. And particularly, we have been considering the story of the great spiritual revival that occurred under his reign. Through it all,we have been seeking to learn what lessons God’s word has to teach us about seeking spiritual revival in our own time.

The story began with the terrible times of Hezekiah’s father, the wicked king Ahaz. In Chapter 28, we were told of how Ahaz brought dreadful idolatry and immorality and shame upon the people of Judah. And then, in the first half of Chapter 29, we were told about how Hezekiah—as soon as he began to sit on the throne in his father’s place—immediately changed things. His first official act was to order that the temple of God in Jerusalem be cleansed of the debris and sinful elements of idolatry that his wicked father had brought into it. We suggested that this was an illustration of how, in true spiritual revival, the first thing that needs to happen is that we get the things out of our lives that don’t belong there—so that we, as the spiritual temple of God through Jesus Christ—might be a fit dwelling place that He can use.

And now, we come to the second half of Chapter 29. And as soon as Hezekiah was told that the cleansing of the temple had been completed, we’re told in verse 20, “Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord.” And thus begins the story of the restoration of the worship of God in the temple.

And now, this second half of Chapter 29 brings us to a subject that is very sacred and very dear to God’s heart—a subject that is an essential part of true revival—the subject of worship.

* * * * * * * * * *

I suggest to you that one of the areas in which revival is seriously needed in our day is in the area of worship. But we need to take the time first to consider what is wrong with worship today, and why revival is needed.

If I were to try to give you a definition of ‘worship’, I would put it this way: The stories in the Bible seem to teach us that worship happens when someone take a long, hard, honest look at who God is and what He reveals Himself to be like; and then responds appropriately to what is seen. Most of what gets called ‘worship’ in most churches today, however, does not seem to fit that description. It seems to me that, most of the time, ‘worship’ in a church is a general term that is used to describe the music portion of the church service. And in some cases, the focus in worship is upon how the music makes us feel. The emphasis in much of the modern concept of ‘worship’ has less to do responding to revealed truth about God in an objective way, and more instead about one’s personal experiences and feelings about God in a subjective way.

There was something that happened in our church many years ago that illustrated this problem to me. We had begun to put together a holiday choir, and we were gathering folks together who wanted to be involved. Among those eager to be a part of the choir was a young, relatively new woman who had begun to bring her family with her to the church services.

This young woman was very excited about the choir. She loved the old hymns and the old Christmas carols; and she loved to sing. She had a good voice too; and often expressed how eager she was to put it to use in worship. But as we got to know her a little better, we began to be concerned about the nature of the relationship she had with the man who came to church with her. Her conduct toward him suggested that he was her husband; but we weren’t sure. It fell to me to ask her about it. And when I took her aside and asked her if she and the man that she came with were married, she shrugged and laughed a little and said, “Well; we’re not married. But I am.”

Now; when you hear something like that, you have to ask for more details. And when she explained her situation a little further, I had to explain to her what—in actual fact—she already clearly knew; that this was the sin of adultery. She agreed. But I then told her that we are glad that she has come, and that we always welcome everyone; but also that we are a Bible-believing church, and that so long as she was holding on to a relationship in violation of her marriage, we really couldn’t allow her to sing in our church choir. And that was when the tears and the strong protests came. “But worship music is how I have my relationship with God!” she said. I told her that we as a church would be happy to help her work through the process of severing this improper relationship, to seek repentance before God, and to be restored to her husband; so that her worship could be sincere and proper. I even asked her to take a day and think about it. But I’m sorry to say that, when I called her the next day, she made it clear that she was not willing to end that relationship. The only thing that mattered to her was singing in the choir because—as she said—that was what she looked to for the feelings that she had about God.

That, of course, is an extreme case. But I think it illustrates the problem we see with worship today. It has very often become focused primarily on the music; and the music is what we look to in order to have an experience of feelings toward God, rather than to objective truth about God revealed in Scripture. You and I have all seen this to some degree over the past several years; haven’t we? I don’t ever mean to be improperly critical of what other churches do; but you do see times, don’t you, when the music and the showmanship and the technical display almost become a thing in and of itself?—almost as if to make up for something fundamental that is missing in it all? In some cases, the excited atmosphere-created responses of the congregation aren’t much different from the excited responses of an audience in a rock concert. The total effect of it all is to enhance an experience of feelings. But the experience of those feelings in the ‘worship event’ ends up being the measure of one’s relationship with God.

I question strongly whether this deserves to be called ‘worship. Such experiences are not what God desires to receive from us; because they are not a matter of taking a long, honest look at God—and then at ourselves in the light of His holiness—and responding appropriately to what we see with respect to revealed truth. It is certainly not the kind of experience of ‘worship’ that historically characterizes a true spiritual awakening—a true revival.

I ask that we look back again at the story of Hezekiah, and the great revival that God gave under his rule. And particularly, I ask that we look in 2 Chronicles 29:20-36; and at the nature of worship as it occurred in that revival. I believe that as we do, we discover that joy and excitement was certainly a part of it all. But we will also find that the joy and excitement were not the means to a relationship with God; but rather, the end results of some other things that came first. We will find that true ‘revival’ worship is something that is based first on atonement for sin; and then practiced through devotion of life; and then finally expressed in sincere, joyful thanks.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; this second half of 2 Chronicles 29 can be divided up into three paragraphs—three clearly discernible sections. I believe that we need to pay careful attention to those divisions; because the order of events in this chapter are vital to understanding the kind of worship that truly characterizes ‘revival’.

You’ll notice in verse 20 that we’re told that as soon as the news had reached him that the temple of God in Jerusalem had been cleansed;

Then King Hezekiah rose early, gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:20).

The phrase “rose up early” suggests that Hezekiah took action the very next day—as soon as he possibly could. This, it would seem, had been on his heart to do for a long time; and now that the opportunity finally came to him, he didn’t waste a single moment.

It would have taken some ‘ahead-of-time’ planning to have the leaders of the Jewish people in Jerusalem gathered together so quickly in order to make their way to the newly-cleansed temple the first thing in the morning. And so also would the things that we then go on to read:

And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah (v. 21a).

If you were to go back to Leviticus 4, you would discover that King Hezekiah was carefully following the instructions of God, given through Moses, for what the leaders of the people were to do in the case of their own guilt for sin before God. These offerings were the prescribed offerings for atonement for sin.

Then he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the Lord. So they killed the bulls, and the priests received the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. Likewise they killed the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar. They also killed the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar. Then they brought out the male goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them (vv. 21b-23).

Do you notice how special attention was given to the offering of ‘the male goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly’? That’s because that was the offering that God required in His law for the sins of the king himself. He was confessing his own sins and the sins of his father for having turned away from the God of Israel.

And the priests killed them; and they presented their blood on the altar as a sin offering to make an atonement for all Israel, for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering be made for all Israel (v. 24).

And dear brothers and sisters in Christ; I believe that this teaches us the first thing we need to know about the kind of worship that God truly wants from us—the kind of worship that characterizes true spiritual revival; that …


Such worship happens when we come before a holy God and see Him for who He is. And when we truly see Him in His holiness, we cannot help but see that we are sinners before Him. We have turned against Him. He have disobeyed His commandments; and our hearts and our lives are stained with the guilt of sin. And we desperately need to avail ourselves to the atonement God has provided for sin before we can go another step forward with Him.

This is something that always characterizes true revival: the recognition of the guilt of sin and of the desperate need for atonement. We must not cling to our sin or ignore our guilt when we come to God in worship. We must not try to make up for it all with music, and loud singing, and talented performances, and experiences of happiness and feelings of excitement. Such things can deceive us; and our holy God will not accept so-called ‘worship’ from us on those terms. He once said to Israel, back in Isaiah 1:12-15;

When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:12-15).

Now; God doesn’t call us today to offer up bulls and goats and lambs for our sin. Those things were meant to be symbolic of the complete sacrifice for sin that He Himself provided for us when He put His own Son on the cross to pay for our sins on our behalf—and then proved that He was satisfied with that payment by raising Jesus from the dead.

And so; let’s make sure that we have made the first step in true worship. Let’s make sure that we have personally come to God and confessed our sins to Him. Let’s let His Holy Spirit bring the conviction of sin fully to our hearts. And then, let’s make sure that we have consciously and personally placed our sincere faith in Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice for sin. Let’s make very, very sure that we are ‘in Christ’ by faith and are washed clean of our sin by His blood; because we can, in no other way, stand acceptably before a holy God; and He will receive worship from us on no other terms than on the basis of the atonement for sin through faith in the cross.

And if we will do that; then we will truly have something to be excited about in our worship!

* * * * * * * * * *

So; that’s the first step that we see. True ‘revival’ worship begins with the recognition of sin and bases itself upon the atonement for our sin that God Himself has provided. For us, that means a whole-hearted confession of sin and a personal trust in the cross of Jesus Christ.

But then, look what happened in the case of Hezekiah. After he and the leaders of the people offered up the required offering for sin, we’re told;

And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets (vv. 25-27).

Music, as you see, is part of the picture. They restored the divinely-directed worship that had been established by King David. But all of that happened in a very specific context; and that specific context shows us what must next happen in true ‘revival’ worship. We’re told in verse 27;

Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar (v. 27a).

In the Old Testament law, the ‘burnt offering’ was an offering of complete devotion—a sacrifice that symbolized being completely set apart to God. When it was offered, it was completely burnt away. No part of it was kept or eaten. The priests and Levites were to prepare their instruments and also prepare the burnt offering.

Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel. So all the assembly worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had finished offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed and worshiped (vv. 27b-29).

The music played while the burnt offering of complete dedication was being consumed. What a picture! Worship was first based on faith in the atonement God provided for sin; and was then characterized by—and offered up in the context of—complete devotion of heart and life to Him. It even made use of the Psalms that God provided for worship;

Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped (v. 30).

I believe you find that song of David and of his prophetic scribe Asaph in 1 Chronicles 16. It’s also in the Bible as Psalm 105. Perhaps you’ll read it for yourself. What a song of praise to God it is! And what devotion to Him it calls forth!

And I believe this teaches us yet another important point about true worship that characterizes a genuine spiritual revival;


God doesn’t look for us to simply sing songs in a worship service, and then go out into the world and live our lives for ourselves—as if He didn’t matter, or as if He didn’t redeem us by the blood of His Son. True worship would recognize that, because of the blood of Jesus, we have been bought with a price; and that we are now no longer our own, but belong to God; and that He has the right to the whole of our lives. True worship that is based on atonement recognizes this; and such worship is practiced in the context of a whole-hearted dedication of ourselves to our Savior as our Lord and Master. It’s like those great lines from the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. When we truly see Jesus, and place our faith in His cross—when we wholly embrace the atonement for sin that the Father provided for us there—then we say;

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

That’s the kind of worship God seeks from us. That’s true ‘revival’ worship.

* * * * * * * * * *

And then, finally, note how this chapter ends. We’re told that after Hezekiah and the leaders confessed their sin; and then, after the priests and the Levites provided music in the context of the burnt offering of total dedication; we’re told that Hezekiah turned to the people.

Then Hezekiah answered and said, “Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, come near, and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord.” So the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings (v. 31).

These were the kinds of offerings that the people would have ordinarily brought to the temple back in former days. But they had been neglected over the long years of the reign of Hezekiah’s ungodly father. And now that the temple had been cleansed and the priests and Levites had been consecrated to God again, the people were invited to come gratefully and make their offerings to God—both burnt offerings of dedication and peace offerings of thanks. In fact, they came in unexpected numbers;

And the number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. The consecrated things were six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep. But the priests were too few, so that they could not skin all the burnt offerings; therefore their brethren the Levites helped them until the work was ended and until the other priests had sanctified themselves, for the Levites were more diligent in sanctifying themselves than the priests. Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering (vv. 32-35a).

This wasn’t a matter of mere feelings being worked up. The people were coming in response to a renewed emphasis on the atonement for sin and upon the dedication of the king and the leaders and the priests and the Levites.

And look at what we’re told in verses 35-36. The people’s joy was because of two things:

So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly (vv. 35b-36).

A dramatic change in the entire spiritual character of the people of God had occurred in a very short time—in only a little over two weeks! And this suggests something else to us about the kind of worship that characterizes a genuine spiritual awakening—one that is based on the right things; and that is that …


But for that joy to be there as it should—and for it to be a joy that lasts—it’s vital that things happen in the right order of events—with one thing properly being built upon another!

* * * * * * * * * *

Let me close by asking us to look at another great Old Testament passage on worship. It’s the story of the beginning of the ministry of the great Old Testament prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 6, we’re told about a vision Isaiah was given. He said;

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:1-4).

What a glorious vision Isaiah was given of God in His majesty and holiness! And what effect would such a vision have on such a man as him? We’re told that what it did was reveal to him his own sinfulness.

So I said:

“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts” (v. 5).

That’s what a real vision of God does to us. When we see Him for who He truly is, we see ourselves for who we truly are—and we realize our need for atonement. Isaiah tells us next;

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar (v. 6).

The altar is where atonement for sin is made; and the fact that there were live coals there meant that the atoning sacrifice has been offered. The angel applied this to Isaiah;

And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,And your sin purged” (v. 7).

That atoning sacrifice pointed ahead to what our Lord Jesus would do for us on the cross. By faith in Him, we are made clean. And then look what happened:

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:

“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (v. 8).

Isaiah had been cleansed of his sin; and now, he could be consecrated to God’s service. And can you see what a great pattern for worship this is? First, it is based on the recognition of sin in the light of God’s holiness, and the embrace of the atonement He has provided at the cross. And then comes the whole consecration of one’s self to Him—offering worship in the context of a whole-hearted devotion of the whole of our lives to Him.

That’s the pathway to a worship that is truly joyful and thankful. That’s the kind of worship that characterizes true revival. That’s a truly awakened worship.

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