*“ALL ON THE ALTAR”*
*(II Chronicles 29:27)*
* “/And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar.
And when the burnt offering began, the song of the/* */Lord began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.”/*
Several years ago, during a missions conference in a large church, a missionary made an impassioned appeal for world missions.
Immediately after the message, a missionary offering was taken.
A young woman present did not have any money, but she wanted to give something to the Lord and to His world-wide cause.
She took off her beautiful diamond ring and put it in the plate.
At the end of the service the pastor brought the ring back to her, saying, “Dear sister, your action was beautiful, but there is more than enough money in the offering to meet the need.
Here is your ring back.”
The young woman replied firmly, “Pastor, I did not give the ring to you or to the church.
/I gave it to Jesus/!” Our text in this study speaks to us of another very important offering made to God.
The message of the text is almost concealed in the camouflage of the Old Testament, but a careful examination of it will disclose great riches of Divine revelation and Christian experience.
It reveals a scene which needs to be re-enacted a thousand times on the more private, personal altars of our hearts.
To guide us in exploring the story, I have selected three guide words.
* *The first guide word is the word /silence./
We read in verse 27 that “the song of the Lord /began.”/
The word “began” indicates that the song of the Lord had ceased in the temple.
The temple had become like a body without a spirit, like an envelope without a letter, like a house without a family.
Everything inside was still and silent.
What had happened to make the song of the Lord cease in the temple?
The preceding chapter shows us the cause of the silence.
Before the righteous reign of King Hezekiah, an evil king named Ahaz reigned over Judah for sixteen years.
In chapter 28, verse 1, we read, “And Ahaz reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; but he did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord.”
So he encouraged idolatry, the worship of false gods, in Israel.
In verse 3, we read that “he burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.”
He reverted to the heathen practice of child-sacrifice to false gods.
But the height of his sinful folly was reached near the end of the chapter, where in the 24th verse we read, “And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.
And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.”
So you see, before Hezekiah came to the throne, for sixteen years Ahaz had poisoned the spiritual life of the people.
There was an /abrupt departure from God /early in his reign.
Then came a /positive repudiation and defiance of God./
He “shut up the doors of the house of the Lord.”
This was an announcement that all relations had been broken off with God.
And for sixteen years, Ahaz stumbled from one frustration to another, from one defeat to another.
But look under the surface a bit during those sixteen years.
There was one gigantic symptom of what had taken place in Israel during those years: the “song of the Lord” ceased in the land.
For sixteen years, the song of the Lord did not break from the throats of the people.
The temple courts of the house of God, which were intended to echo ceaselessly with the praises and the worship of God, instead were silent and still.
And Ahaz prevented any possible restoration.
He put out the lights of the temple, closed the doors, took away the keys, and set the people adrift from God. Filthiness accumulated in the temple, and no one entered to worship.
Anyone listening for the song of the Lord would have been greeted by dead silence.
Is there not a perfect parallel to this situation among Christians today?
The temple courts of /that /day resemble the hearts of thousands of Christians today.
Indeed, “You are the temple of God” (I Cor.
But many Christians are mocked by the dead silence of the inner sanctuary of their hearts.
The “song of the Lord” has ceased!
/Your heart was meant for music!
Jesus Christ came to stir the Lord’s song in human souls.
/In John 15:11, He said, “These things have I spoken unto you that /my joy might be in you/, and that your joy might be full.”
/He came that “the song of the Lord” might reach full volume in your soul! /In I Peter 1:8, the Bible speaks of “rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
/This is to be the normal experience of every Christian--he is to have a joy at the center of his life that is humanly indescribable!/
The Christian is to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, and “the fruit of the Spirit is... joy” (Galatians 5:22).
Fruit is natural.
There is no effort about fruit.
If the branch is properly connected to the trunk, it will bear fruit.
If you are properly related to your Lord, joy will be as natural to you as singing is to a bird.
But something is wrong in many lives.
The song of the Lord has ceased.
The mechanics of the Christian faith have become a drudge to many.
It is an ancient tradition of the Jews that in heaven there is trumpet music every morning.
And one of the most pathetic legends in the world is an old Jewish legend which refers to that.
It is about “Lucifer, son of the morning,” who for pride was cast out of heaven into the pit.
And some one asked him what he missed most about Paradise.
Lucifer answered, “I miss most the sound of the trumpets in the morning.”
In contrast, when Bunyan’s Mr. Valiant-For-Truth died and entered heaven, the story (Pilgrim’s Progress) says, “So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”
But the trumpets will only sound /for /the believer in heaven if they have first sounded /in /him on earth.
For many, the sound of the trumpets has ceased in the temple of their hearts.
What is the reason?
There is but one reason--/sin/.
Jonathan Goforth said, “All hindrance in the church is due to sin.”
But sin is never merely an /occurrence/; it is always also a /sequence.
/The sin is followed by the silence.
The story of the /song-stopping sin/ in this account is not hard to trace.
There was /the crowning of an evil king/.
Hezekiah was one of the best kings in the Old Testament records, even as his father, Ahaz, was one of the worst.
Ahaz was so vicious and wicked that the people loathed him.
When he died, they refused him a sepulcher among the kings of Israel, so he had to sleep in a dishonored grave.
All sin begins with the crowning of a wrong king in the human heart.
Oswald Sanders spoke of “the wicked King Self.”
When this king is on the throne, the first big step has been taken to silence the song of the Lord.
Then, there took place /the corrupting of the people by wicked practices/.
A rapid succession of degrading sins began to be practiced throughout the land.
Then /the Temple doors were closed/ against God and His people.
When there were no sacrifices on the alter, no sweet incense in the Holy Place, no blood on the Mercy-Seat in the Holy of Holies, there was no song of the Lord in the Temple.
The lamps were no longer lit (proclamation ceased); and the incense was no longer burned (prayer ceased).
Then came /the cluttering of the temple/ /with debris and filth/.
The birds built their nests, the spiders spun their webs, and the mice played in the neglected courts of the Temple of God.
Because of this, the joy was missing, and the song of the Lord had ceased.
For the same reasons, there is /dead silence/ in the souls of many today.
Silence prevails because sin prevails, and that “loud silence” fills the hearts of multitudes today.
/ /The second guide word for this message is the word /surrender./