In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and he shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods, provoking to anger the Lord, the God of his fathers. II Chronicles 28:22-25
You will notice that Ahaz cut up the vessels and he shut the doors of the temple. A cursory reading of this may not give the full meaning of what Ahaz did. He sealed the doors of the temple and made his own altars to other gods and idols. This means the priests would not be making sacrifices or caring for the temple. It also means there was no worship of God whatsoever. It would be the equivalent of our government closing all the doors of churches so that we can no longer worship (at least not corporately). Worship, sacrifice and offering to God was permanently closed.
After the dark time of Ahaz, King Hezekiah did several things to restore worship and the temple. It was a great restoration from a horrific condition. I think it is great to look back and see the steps Hezekiah took to bring this restoration to the nation of Judah. (II Chronicles 29)
1) He opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.
2) He brought in the priest and Levites and told them to consecrate themselves and carry out the filth from the temple.
3) The house is totally cleansed from idol worship.
4) The holy things of the house are restored to working order.
5) Officials gathered and a sin offering (atonement) made for the nation and sanctuary.
6) True worship was restored.
7) Service of the house of the Lord restored.
You may be wondering as I have, how does opening the doors of the temple, as Hezekiah did, apply to us. Well, first of all we must assume that they are closed. Well friend, remember we are New Testament Christians; the house of God is not a building. The temple is inside of us. And I am here to tell you that we have closed the doors – the doors to our hearts. Now think about what Hezekiah was doing. What was the end result of his restoration? We see clearly it was true worship of a mighty God, which included the cleaning up and returning the house to working order. But true worship was absent before Hezekiah’s restoration. And I think this is where we are falling short. We have closed our hearts to true worship. Consider this, the temple was littered with idols and finally the doors were shut, cutting off all worship of God. Today what would be the equivalent? Well, we know we can worship God anywhere. We do not have to be in a certain building to worship him. Yet, we do have to have a “house” that gives its heart to him. If our “house” is littered with idols then true worship will not occur. Think about this the next time you are in a church service (or in your personal prayer time). Do we really connect with God during worship? Or are we constantly thinking of other things. An idol is whatever is more important than God. So whatever comes in the way of us worshiping God (cares of this world, money, family, job) is an idol. Our hearts are closed to worshiping God and open to idol worship. We are constantly putting everything before God. We do not truly worship God because we are too busy worshiping everything else (even in the middle of singing worship songs). The doors of our heart need to be opened again. This is only the first step, but every reformation has a beginning. And for us as Christians, this is our beginning. Make a beginning today and open up the doors!