Restoring The Ancient Order
Bobby L. Graham
Near the end of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, during the reign of good King Hezekiah (ca. 724-695 B.C.), an effort to restore the ancient for order of religious practices was successfully undertaken with the full backing and leadership of this righteous ruler. The restoration had been made necessary, in part, by the apostasy of Hezekiah's father Ahaz. According to 2 Chronicles 29:2, the expression "like father, like son" was not true in this case.
Restorations are often necessary and desirable, as in the case of Hezekiah's restoration. The restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, begun several decades you ago and still continued, as well as the more recent restoration of the Statue of Liberty, involves the determined and careful effort to learn the original condition of the object to be restored. After it has been ascertained, then the work of putting the object in its original condition must be scrupulously carried out. The meticulous and tedious search in the two cases just cited, while important, is comparably unimportant in relation to the kind of restoration project undertaken by Hezekiah, just as earthly matters are of little moment compared to heavenly things. If such a project be important and desirable, its completion still depends upon adequate information concerning the of the object being restored.
Importance of Restoring the Divine Order
Throughout the Old Testament and the New, the divine order is seen to have surpassing importance. God's way has no equal or rival in the minds or lives of God-fearing people. Hear the testimony of God's Word:
For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order (1 Chron. 15:13).
Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order (2 Chron. 29:35).
But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come (1 Cor. 11:34).
Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40).
For though I am absent in your flesh, yet am I with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ (Col. 2: 5).
For this season I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the tings that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you . . .(Tit. 1:5).
If these clear statements fail to convince that God does have an order than man can discern, surly a consideration of the following examples of disapproved conduct and approved conduct would be persuasive. Study the details of Adam and Eve's sin, Cain and Abel's sacrifices, Noah's constructing the ark, the details of the Mosaic law, Nadab and Abihu's tragic deaths, Moses' disobedience at the rock, and Uzzah's disfavor with God in the matter of the unsteady ark of testimony. While the details in the several cases vary, the general lesson which they all unite to teach us is that when God reveals His way to man, man must accept the divine order if he would please God.
Breadth of Hezekiah's Restoration
The restoration led by King Hezekiah was broad in its coverage. It included whatever parts or aspects of the divine order that had been disregarded by the people and their leaders. Our attempts to please God though efforts to restore the divine order must be complete, encompassing all of God's way. Selective efforts in this field are not restorations but selfish exercises in self-gratification.
Cleansing the Temple: 2 Chronicles 29:3-19 presents the work of sanctifying the Temple so that it might be restored to divine use.
Temple Worship: In 2 Chronicles 29:20-36 the sin offering was again given its right place, Levites were stationed there for their duties, the burnt offering was reinstituted, the congregation of Israel worshiped, willing hearts were demonstrated, and in other ways the service was set in order.
Passover: Resuming the Passover is seen in 2 Chronicles 30:1-27. Late observance of the feast came in keeping with divine permission after information was sent to the whole nation. In this observance singleness of heart was manifested, as was the great joy unknown since the time of Solomon.
Other Reforms: Removing all vestiges of idolatry, appointing the various divisions of the priests and the Levites, reinstituting the tithe on a regular basis were actions in which the king led. He also gave some of his own possessions for the early offerings (2 Chron. 31:1-21).
Success of Hezekiah's Restoration
The success of any effort is insured when it is carried out in adherence to God's will and standard. That which is "good and right and true before the Lord" is always a prescription for spiritual success. Wholehearted acceptance and performance of it means that geunine love and faith have become the controlling factors in what one does, not stale ritual or external forms. The king's prosperity consisted of divine blessing. What leadership the king exhibited in all these matters (2 Chron. 31:20,21).
The Present Benefit
From such accounts as that of Hezekiah's restoration, certain lessons loudly proclaim themselves. Only when we accept them by acting in accord with them do we receive the benefit which God designed. Otherwise, inspired accounts are little more to you and me than spacefillers. What lessons can we learn?
1. We cannot improve on God's way. He always has sanctified those items and elements that He wants men to accept. Only that which God has sanctified has a place in God's scheme and in our lives of service to Him. May we learn the important lesson of contenting ourselves to practice His will.
2. A thing is not obsolete just because it is ancient. If it is still part of God's plan, it still serves God's purpose and meets man's need. All that meets the test of God's will must be restored to its place in our lives, while every item failing to meet such a test of antiquity must be removed from our spiritual endeavors.
3. Both forms and attitudes are important in God's scheme. The thing practiced is important, but the spirit manifested in the practice is just as important. Apart from willing minds, singleminded efforts, and wholehearted service, it makes no difference that we are doing "the right things."
4. God has established an inseparable link between daily life and public service or worship. Because both are rendered unto God, each must be compatible with the other. It is daily life that prepares us for worship and makes that worship acceptable, and it is worship and strengthens and equips us for life each day.
May we be encouraged to set about to restore whatever has fallen into disuse and disrepair through individual or collective neglect, that we might please God and direct others aright. Matters such as terms of admission into God's family; the worship, work, and organization of the local church; individual consecration to Christ; purity of heart and life; the preeminence of the spiritual over the physical in life; and other things will then be given their proper place in our efforts.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 24, pp. 748-749