Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are 2 Chronicles 28-31
We have much to rejoice over in our readings today but we gotta get over quite the hump, first.
2 Chronicles 28:1 tells us that Ahaz is yet another evil king, this time of Judah. We move on to see a “therefore” statement, which is in line with our if/then statements. In this case, “therefore” brings us a consequence of direct defiance of YHWH. YHWH allows a great number of people to be defeated by an enemy army, including 120,000 men of valor from the tribe of Judah. This is a reminder that no matter how mighty, powerful, or revered you are, if you stand in opposition to YHWH, any power or might you possess is utterly useless.
2 Chronicles 28:5-15 We go on to see Israel take over 200,000 fellow Israelites captive. However, recall that in the Torah it is forbidden for a member of the tribes of Israel to hold their brethren captive (Lev 25:39-55). Oded, a prophet of YHWH, issues a warning, letting them know that it is because of Judah’s disobedience that YHWH has allowed them to be defeated like this but Israel has now taken it too far and they themselves were not without sin to begin with. It could just as easily been them that YHWH had given over to their enemies as well. The lesson in this is not to pile bad upon bad. When you realize you’re sinning – stop. To their merit, they decide to do just that and clothe their fellow tribes members, feed them, and allow them to return to their homes. This part of the Bible reads like those kids who are throwing a wild party and the parents come home and turn all the lights on.
King Ahaz, of course, keeps piling bad upon bad. He makes alliances with enemy nations, sacrifices to foreign gods when he decides they are more powerful than YHWH, and boldly leads his people into the ways of destruction, making altars throughout Jerusalem. His death finds him buried in the city because he is not even deemed fit to be buried among the other kings.
From Ahaz comes his son, Hezekiah, a wonderful king with a heart to return to YHWH.
And he did what was right in the eyes of YHWH, according to all that David, his father, had done. 2 Chronicles 29:2
2 Chronicles 29:3-11 shows a picture of restitution. He readily admits the sin of their fathers, owns it, and sets about making it right. This is very much in line with the example we have of Josiah as well and both are examples being given to us for the reason of our being able to follow suit. When we realize we have not been walking in the way of the Father, a wholehearted person performs an immediate about face. No hesitation, no questioning the world as to why others aren’t doing it, no shifting the blame. Personal responsibility is understood, accepted, and wrongs are set about to be righted immediately.
Hezekiah set about cleansing the temple via the Levites. Chapter 20 goes into detail on the great care the Levites took to clean the temple and all of the utensils in addition to consecrating themselves so that they would be able to serve in the temple.
2 Chronicles 29:20 shows the eagerness of Hezekiah when, once the temple was able to be put into use again, he rose early to go up to the house of YHWH. (I think it is important to realize that the original text did not say house of the Lord but house of YHWH, referring to it by God’s personal name). They worshipped and offered sacrifices and the people were so eager to make their offerings that the priests were overwhelmed and unable to carry it all out. So other Levites, who were not priests but who had consecrated themselves so that they were able to serve in the temple, had to step in and take over to help manage the load. This was not the prescribed way of doing things but we are going to see that these people were wholeheartedly seeking to serve and honor Him and, while they miss the mark a little bit in how they do it from time to time, their earnest desire is noted, credited to them, and Grace is shown. At this point, Hezekiah and all the people don’t miss a beat. Immediately, they praise the Father for making a way for them to continue offering sacrifices.
2 Chronicles 30:1-5 Y’all, these passages are just so encouraging! We just read the enthusiasm and wholeheartedness in the people’s desire to honor the Father and it continues! They have missed the opportunity to keep Passover as commanded by YHWH because the temple wasn’t ready in time and so now the king and his princes, in their earnest zeal to honor Him, decide to hold the Passover anyway, even though it is late. So they send letters to all of the tribe of Israel, including Ephraim and Manasseh, letting them know that they are going to be keeping the Passover and that they should all travel and come for the feast.
So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. 8 Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you.9For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:6-9
Oh my goodness! How beautiful is that? How compelling! Who could possible not return to the Father after such wisdom!
Answer: Pretty much everyone. The letter was met with mockery and scorn (2 Chronicles 30:10). HOWEVER, some men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 30:12
A people may be determined to ignore the Father, but the individual always has a choice.
2 Chronicles 30:12 And many people come together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly.
This text goes on to detail all the lengths the people went to in order to right the wrongs of their Fathers and to walk in obedience to the Father. They had lived their entire lives not keeping the feast and they could have easily said “Well, we don’t do that anymore. We do something different now.” But no, they humbled themselves, realized that God is right no matter how many generations have tried to declare Him otherwise, stepped in line, and wholeheartedly sought to honor and please Him from that moment forward. They drew a line and declared that generations of disobedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stopped with them.
When it came time for the Passover lambs to be slaughtered, many of the people had not consecrated themselves and therefore weren’t permitted to slaughter the lambs, so the priests had to step in and do it for them. In fact, the text tells us that most of the people were unclean and yet they still sought to keep the Passover and were allowed to. We have such a beautiful statement that explains this all in 2 Chronicles 30:18-19
18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.”
Did you read that? They were SO WHOLEHEARTED after the Father that they were determined to worship, honor, and keep his feasts, even though they didn’t fully understand how to go about doing that. They set their hearts on Him and He met them where they were at and showed them grace. This was just to be one of many Passovers. No doubt, over time, they took the time to study His word and learn what was required of them in order to fully keep this feast – and no doubt as they learned how much grace He had shown them it only made them praise Him all the more!
I want you to take note of this if you are one of the many in our group who have decided to keep the feasts for the first time this year. Please don’t feel as if you must know how to do everything perfectly before you start. Each of us learned to walk with that very first step.
This mindset of King Hezekiah and his people, this wholeheartedness, is so unlike our world today in which Believers look for the bare minimum and when grace is shown they live under the assumption that they can fall upon that grace all the more, abusing it, rather than seeing it as an aid to the goal of growing spiritually so that they can live according to YHWH’s word.
Believers used to ask “What must I do to be saved?”
Now they ask “What all can I do and still be saved?”
In short, we have a heart issue.
There was such rejoicing at keeping the feast of Passover and Unleavened bread that they decided to extend it! (2 Chronicles 30:23).
26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven. 2 Chronicles 30:26-27
Chapter 31 shows all of those keeping the Feasts returning to their homes. Recall that these homelands were mostly made up of mockers and people who scoffed at the very thought of attending this Feast to YHWH. Can you imagine what that must have been like returning home? Imagine the spiritual high those people were feeling, their zeal and excitement after having been a part of such a momentous and moving occasion. Here they were, returning home, the original mission field. Hezekiah’s wholeheartedness had changed Israel, and had changed those people. His example and His action and obedience towards the Father brought untold generations back to Him. We read that He kept the Sabbaths, the Feasts, and observed the New Moons and we see that he taught his people to do the same.
2 Chronicles 31 ends with
20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:20-21
Look at the impact of one wholehearted person.
We are each called to be that one person.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!