2 Chronicles 28 36 Hezekiah
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|Title||:||2 Chronicles 28-36 (Hezekiah’s Passover; God Protects Jerusalem; Josiah’s Passover)|
|Description||:|| 2 Chronicles 28 - The Evil Reign of Ahaz |
A. The sin of Ahaz and the punishment of Ahaz.
1. (1-4) Ahaz rejects God and embraces idols.
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD, as his father David had done. For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made molded images for the Baals. He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
a. He did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD: This briefly describes the reign of perhaps the worst king of Judah. Whereas many previous kings fell short in some area or another, of Ahaz it is simply said that he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD.
b. As his father David had done: Ahaz had plenty of good examples, both immediately in his father Jotham and historically in his ancestor David. Ahaz rejected these godly examples and walked in his own way.
c. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel: Ahaz not only rejected the godly heritage of David, he embraced the ungodly ways of the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. The southern kingdom of Judah had a mixture of godly and ungodly kings; the northern kingdom of Judah had only ungodly kings, and Ahaz followed their pattern.
i. “This is the first instance where Judah imitates Israel’s apostasy.” (Wiseman)
ii. Micah 7:2-7 is a good description of the depravity of the times of Ahaz and the reaction of the godly remnant to it.
d. And burned his children in the fire: This describes Ahaz’s participation in the worship of Molech. The pagan god (or, demon, more accurately) Molech was worshipped by heating a metal statue representing the god until it was red hot, then placing a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it burned to death.
i. In Leviticus 20:1-5, God pronounced the death sentence against all who worshipped Molech, saying: I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name (Leviticus 20:3).
ii. Sadly, even a man as great as Solomon at least sanctioned the worship of Molech and built a temple to this idol (1 Kings 11:7). One of the great crimes of the northern tribes of Israel was their worship of Molech, leading to the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:17). King Manasseh of Judah gave his son to Molech (2 Kings 21:6). Up to the days of King Josiah of Judah, Molech worship continued, because he destroyed a place of worship to that idol (2 Kings 23:10).
iii. “The ‘Valley of (the son of) Hinnom’ descended eastward below the southern edge of the city of Jerusalem; and it became noted as the scene of Judah’s most revolting pagan practices (2 Chronicles 33:6). It was later defiled by King Josiah and converted into a place of refuse for the city (2 Kings 23:10); thus the perpetual fires of ‘Gehenna’ became descriptive of hell itself (Mark 9:43).” (Payne)
e. According to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel: The Canaanite nations that occupied Canaan before the time of Joshua also practiced this terrible form of human and child sacrifice. God would bring judgment upon Judah for their continued practice of these sins.
i. This reminds us that the war against the Canaanites in the Book of Joshua – as terrible and complete as it was – it was not a racial war. God’s judgment did not come upon the Canaanites through the armies of Israel because of their race, but because of their sin. If Israel insisted in walking in the same sins, God would bring similar judgment upon them.
2. (5-8) A great slaughter and captivity of many from Judah.
Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria. They defeated him, and carried away a great multitude of them as captives, and brought them to Damascus. Then he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the officer over the house, and Elkanah who was second to the king. And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters; and they also took away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.
a. Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria: 2 Kings 16:5-6 tells us more about this confederation of Israel and Syria in this attack against Judah. This was part of King Pekah of Israel’s anti-Assyria policy. He thought that with Judah defeated, Syria and Israel together could more effectively resist the resurgent power of the Assyrian Empire.
i. Isaiah 7 makes it clear that the goal of this attack was to dethrone Ahaz and set up a Syrian king over Judah, a certain son of Tabeal (Isaiah 7:6).
ii. The LORD his God: “God was his God, though not by covenant and grace, and special relation, which Ahaz had renounced, yet by his sovereign dominion over him; for God did not forfeit his right by Ahaz’s denying of it.” (Poole)
b. Who defeated them with a great slaughter: The loss of 120,000 Judean soldiers and 200,000 civilian hostages in these battles with Israel and Syria meant that it was dark time for Judah, and it looked as if the dynasty of David would soon be extinguished, as so many dynasties in the northern kingdom of Israel had ended.
3. (9-15) The prophet’s rebuke to Israel is heeded
But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out before the army that came to Samaria, and said to them: “Look, because the LORD God of your fathers was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand; but you have killed them in a rage that reaches up to heaven. And now you propose to force the children of Judah and Jerusalem to be your male and female slaves; but are you not also guilty before the LORD your God? Now hear me, therefore, and return the captives, whom you have taken captive from your brethren, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.” Then some of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who came from the war, and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives here, for we already have offended the LORD. You intend to add to our sins and to our guilt; for our guilt is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the leaders and all the assembly. Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and from the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them, dressed them and gave them sandals, gave them food and drink, and anointed them; and they let all the feeble ones ride on donkeys. So they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.
a. A prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: This brave prophet went with the 200,000 captives taken from the conquered southern kingdom to the northern kingdom of Israel, to call the leaders of Israel to conscience for this crime against their fellow tribes.
b. You shall not bring captives here, for we already have offended the LORD: Remarkably, the leaders of Israel responded to the message from Oded and recognized their own sin and guilt. They cared for the captives from the spoil of battle and sent them back to Judah.
i. “Here we have the picture of a good preacher. Oded teacheth, reproveth, exhorteth, turneth himself into all shapes, of spirit and of speech, that he may work upon his hearers; and he had his desire.” (Trapp)
ii. “To this beautiful speech nothing can be added by the best comment; it is simple, humane, pious, and overwhelmingly convincing: no wonder it produced the effect mentioned here. That there was much of humanity in the heads of the children of Ephraim who joined with the prophet on this occasion, 2 Chronicles 28:15 sufficiently proves.” (Clarke)
B. The decline and fall of King Ahaz.
1. (16-21) Ahaz puts his trust in the kings of Assyria instead of the LORD.
At the same time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria to help him. For again the Edomites had come, attacked Judah, and carried away captives. The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the lowland and of the South of Judah, and had taken Beth Shemesh, Aijalon, Gederoth, Sochoh with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages; and they dwelt there. For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had encouraged moral decline in Judah and had been continually unfaithful to the LORD. Also Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him and distressed him, and did not assist him. For Ahaz took part of the treasures from the house of the LORD, from the house of the king, and from the leaders, and he gave it to the king of Assyria; but he did not help him.
a. At the same time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria to help him: This was because, as 2 Kings 16 explains, the combined armies of Israel and Syria had not only overcome many cities of Judah, but were at the time laying siege against Jerusalem. 2 Kings 16:5 says, they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. To his shame in this time of crisis, Ahaz looked to the kings of Assyria instead of the LORD.
i. Before Ahaz did this, Isaiah offered him a sign for assurance of God’s help in the struggle against the combined armies of Israel and Syria (Isaiah 7:1-12). “This was a fair offer to a foul sinner” (Trapp), but Ahaz refused under the excuse of not wanting to test God, when instead he really wanted to trust in the king of Assyria.
ii. The prophecy of Isaiah 7 – including the announcement of the Immanuel sign – came from Isaiah to King Ahaz during this joint Israel-Syrian invasion (also apparently with the help of the Edomites and the Philistines) Yet for the sake of David, God did not allow this disastrous attack on Judah to prevail. He would not allow this Satanic plot against the Messianic dynasty of David to succeed.
iii. The kings of Israel and Syria thought of themselves as burning torches, come to destroy Judah and the dynasty of David. God said they were just like burnt-out smoking sticks, who would not ultimately do much damage (Isaiah 7:4).
iv. Through Isaiah’s message to Ahaz, he assured the wicked king – who did not really listen – “There should be a remnant left to return to the land; and the virgin should bear a son, so there should not fail a king upon the throne of David. The dynasty could never be destroyed, for of Immanuel’s kingdom there shall be no end.” (Knapp)
v. “The kings of Assryia, i.e. the king; the plural number for the singular.” (Poole)
b. For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel: This was both because of the personal ungodliness of Ahaz and because of the poor example he was to others (he had encouraged moral decline in Judah).
i. An example of his personal decline was his appeal to the Assryian King, to whom he said, I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me (2 Kings 16:7). Ahaz surrendered to one enemy in order to defeat another. He refused to trust in the God of Israel and instead submitted himself and his kingdom to an enemy of Israel.
ii. “The address ‘I am your servant and your son’ clearly places Ahaz as the petitioning vassal and shows he was trusting in Assyria rather than in the LORD, against the advice of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:10-16; cf. Exodus 23:22).” (Wiseman)
c. For Ahaz took part of the treasures from the house of the LORD . . . but he did not help him: Essentially, Ahaz made Judah a subject kingdom to Assyria. Ahaz now took his orders from the Assyrian king, sacrificing the independence of the Kingdom of Judah. Worse yet, he did not help him. It was useless.
i. We can only wonder what blessing might have come if Ahaz would have surrendered and sacrificed to the LORD with the same energy and whole heart that he surrendered to the Assyrian king.
ii. “How different was his great ancestor David! ‘In my distress,’ he says, ‘I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God’ (Psalm 18:6). Even his wicked grandson Manasseh sought the Lord his God ‘when he was in affliction.’ But Ahaz seemed determined to fill up the measure of his sins.” (Knapp)
2. (22-27) The apostasy and end of King Ahaz.
Now in the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD. This is that King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, saying, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers. Now the rest of his acts and all his ways, from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem; but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
a. In the time of his distress King Ahaz became increasingly unfaithful to the LORD: Times of trial and distress do not necessarily drive people closer to God. Sometimes people allow such distresses to drive them away from God. Ahaz was notable among that type, so much so that the Chronicler noted, That is that King Ahaz.
i. “These hammers of the Most High did but beat upon cold iron.” (Trapp)
ii. “Ahaz also ‘behaved without restraint’ and was most unfaithful. The former expression really means to favour licence rather than true liberty, while the latter is a typical term in Chronicles for failing to give God his due.” (Selman)
iii. “The evil of his character is supremely demonstrated in that calamities seemed not to have the effect, as they so often had among his predecessors, of rousing him to consciousness of his sin.” (Morgan)
iv. This is that King Ahaz: “A black mark is put against his name, to show how greatly guilty he was. Those who rebel against divine checks, and will not be held in by the providence of God, are to be written down in capital letters as great sinners. They sin with emphasis who sin against the chastising rod.” (Spurgeon)
b. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which defeated him: 2 Kings 16 tells us that this happened after a visit that Ahaz made to Damascus. He returned from the visit and made a new altar after the pattern of what he saw in Damascus and he took their forms, their style, and their gods. Sadly, he even received the help of Urijah the priest.
i. 2 Kings 16 also tells us that Ahaz served as a priest at the altar of his own design. Since he created his own place of worship, it also made sense that he would disregard God’s command that a king must not serve as a priest (Numbers 18:7).
ii. Ahaz’s grandfather Azariah (Uzziah) dared to enter the temple and serve God as a priest (2 Chronicles 26). Yet at least Azariah falsely worshipped the true God. Ahaz falsely worshipped a false god of his own creation. “Uzziah for so doing was smitten with leprosy; but Ahaz of a far worse disease, an incurable hardness of heart.” (Trapp)
c. Cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the LORD: Ahaz could not bring in his pagan, corrupt innovations without also removing what had stood before at the temple. This was an ungodly exchange, taking away the good and putting in the bad. Collectively, all these things served to discourage the worship of the true God at the temple of God.
i. “He caused the Divine worship to be totally suspended; and they continued shut till the beginning of the reign of Hezekiah, one of whose first acts was to reopen them, and thus to restore the Divine worship.” (Clarke)
ii. “Ahaz’s appropriation of the panels and bases from the sacred furniture does not seem to be for the purpose of sending a further gift to Tiglath-pileser but rather for deemphasizing their importance in the worship services. Perhaps he planned to reuse them in some other decorative way. At any rate death overtook him before his attention could be turned to them. They are mentioned among the several items that were carried away in the later Babylonian despoiling of Jerusalem (25:13-14; Jeremiah 27:19-20; 52:17-23).” (Patterson and Austel)
iii. We remember that all this took place at the temple Solomon built unto the LORD. The mere location did not make it true worship. Sometimes idols are worshipped at a house that was once dedicated to the true God.
d. And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods: During these changes, Ahaz shut down the operation of the temple and established small pagan altars all around Judah.
i. “It would seem as though the light of truth were absolutely extinguished. It was not so, however, for it is likely that throughout the whole reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, Isaiah was uttering his message, and that during the reign of Ahaz Micah also was delivering the word of God.” (Morgan)
e. Now the rest of his acts and all his ways: So ended the reign of perhaps the worst king of Judah. Micah – who prophesied during the reign of Ahaz – describes the man who works to successfully do evil with both hands (Micah 7:3). The idea is that the man pursues evil with all his effort, with both hands. He may very well have had King Ahaz in mind.
i. “He died a natural death, though he was so detestable a miscreant. God putteth off the punishment of many wicked wretches till the other world.” (Trapp)
ii. “Ahaz was evil by choice, persistent in evil in spite of calamity, blasphemously rebellious notwithstanding the direct warnings of the prophet of God. This attitude of the king made the darkness all the denser.” (Morgan)
2 Chronicles 29 - Hezekiah and the Cleansing of the Temple
A. The cleansing of the temple.
1. (1-2) The general assessment of his reign.
Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.
a. Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old: Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah at the very end of the Kingdom of Israel. Three years after the start of his reign the Assyrian armies set siege to Samaria, and three years after that the northern kingdom was conquered.
i. The sad fate of the northern kingdom was a valuable lesson to Hezekiah. He saw first hand what happened when the people of God rejected their God and His word, and worshipped other gods.
b. He reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem: Hezekiah was one of the better kings of Judah, and thus had a long and mostly blessed reign. No doubt his mother Abijah was a godly and important influence on his life.
i. “His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah, probably the person mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 8:2) as a ‘faithful witness.’ This possible friendship of his mother for the prophet, combined with the certainty that up to this time he had been under the influence of Isaiah’s ministry, may account for Hezekiah’s action on coming to the throne.” (Morgan)
c. He did what was right in the sight of the LORD: Hezekiah was one of Judah’s most zealous reformers, even prohibiting worship on the high places (2 Kings 18:4). These were popular altars for sacrifice set up as the worshipper desired, not according to God’s direction.
i. “God was never happy about this practice, but none of the other good kings ever found the courage to forbid it. Hezekiah did.” (Dilday)
ii. 2 Kings 18:5 makes this remarkable statement about Hezekiah: He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.
2. (3-11) Hezekiah exhorts the cleansing and restoration the temple.
In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, and said to them: “Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place. For our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the LORD our God; they have forsaken Him, have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and turned their backs on Him. They have also shut up the doors of the vestibule, put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the LORD fell upon Judah and Jerusalem, and He has given them up to trouble, to desolation, and to jeering, as you see with your eyes. For indeed, because of this our fathers have fallen by the sword; and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense.”
a. Sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place: Tragically, the condition of both the Levites and the temple was so bad that they seemed incapable of reforming themselves without this push from King Hezekiah.
b. Have turned their faces away . . . and turned their backs on Him: They had failed because they gave God their back instead of their face. One might say that in every opportunity to encounter God, we have the choice to turn either our back or our face to God.
i. Poole suggests that the idea of turning the back to God could also be understood literally, because according to 2 Kings 16, in the days of Ahaz the altar was moved and its replacement was directed to the east, in the manner of pagan altars instead of toward the west as God commanded. The idea was therefore that under this dangerous innovation, one had to literally turn his back to the temple and the ark of God to stand before the altar.
c. They have also shut up the doors of the vestibule, put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings: This happened in the days of Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 28:24). Hezekiah knew that it was time to open up the temple again, both to clean it out and so that it could operate as intended.
d. Therefore the wrath of the LORD fell upon Judah and Jerusalem: In a remarkable way, Hezekiah recognized that the calamities that had come to Judah came because of their disobedience. It takes a wise and godly person to admit this, and to act appropriately.
i. “He made no attempt to blame on God the calamities which had overtaken the nation.” (Morgan)
e. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him: This call to courage from Hezekiah to the priests and Levites was focused on their sense of calling (the LORD has chosen you). Getting back to a focus upon their calling and their central purpose (to serve and honor God) was essential, and this exhortation demonstrates that they had lost this focus.
i. Hezekiah set the example in this devoted service to God, in that he even destroyed a notable artifact from the Exodus – the bronze serpent of Moses known as Nehushtan – when it became an idol (2 Kings 18:4).
3. (12-19) Cleansing the temple.
Then these Levites arose: Mahath the son of Amasai and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; of the sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi and Azariah the son of Jehallelel; of the Gershonites, Joah the son of Zimmah and Eden the son of Joah; of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeiel; of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; of the sons of Heman, Jehiel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel. And they gathered their brethren, sanctified themselves, and went according to the commandment of the king, at the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. Then the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the LORD to the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it out and carried it to the Brook Kidron. Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. Then they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. Then they went in to King Hezekiah and said, “We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offerings with all its articles, and the table of the showbread with all its articles. Moreover all the articles which King Ahaz in his reign had cast aside in his transgression we have prepared and sanctified; and there they are, before the altar of the LORD.”
a. Then the Levites arose: These were men who had been complicit in the neglect and disgrace of the temple. Yet the Chronicler rightly noted these men by name, because when they were exhorted by King Hezekiah to do what is right in cleansing and restoring the temple, they did it.
b. On the sixteenth day of the first month they finished: This relates the staggering extent of the prior damage to the temple, in that it took 16 days to simply carry out the rubbish that had accumulated in the temple, including even the inner part of the house of the LORD.
c. All the articles which King Ahaz in his reign had cast aside in his transgression we have prepared and sanctified; and there they are: After the first step of removing the problem, now they could put back what had been taken out during the reign of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:24 and 2 Kings 16:17-18).
B. The restoration of worship.
1. (20-27) Sacrifice and worship is organized again.
Then King Hezekiah rose early, gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
a. Then he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD: In his bold restoration of the service of the temple, Hezekiah was not so foolish as to overstep the Biblical and traditional commands and to offer these sacrifices himself. His great-grandfather Uzziah did this to his own judgment (2 Chronicles 26:16-23).
i. “The whole enterprise is characterized by a concern to do everything as God required, especially as the king’s command was regarded as ‘the words of the LORD’ (2 Chronicles 29:15).” (Selman)
ii. “For the assembly to lay their hands on the goats of the sin offering was to designate these as substitutes for their own lives and to transfer their sins to the animal victims (Numbers 27:18-21). The goats thus served as types of Christ’s death in the sinner’s stead (2 Corinthians 5:21).” (Payne)
iii. The diligence of Hezekiah was evident in that he rose early to do these things. “His zeal for God’s glory made his obedience prompt and present, ready and speedy. He could not rest until he had reformed.” (Trapp)
iv. It was also shown if offering more than the law commanded. “This was more than the law required; see Levitcus 4:13, etc. It ordered one calf or ox for the sins of the people, and one he-goat for the sins of the prince; but Hezekiah here offers many more.” (Clarke)
b. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD also began: In his arrangement of this restoration of temple service, Hezekiah was careful to include both offering and worship. Each honored God in important ways.
i. “The Hebrew that lies behind the phrase ‘singing to the LORD’ is literally ‘the song of the LORD’ (NASB), which suggests a specific writing, i.e., perhaps including the canonical Psalms that were then available for use in worship.” (Payne)
ii. Hezekiah was wise in making worship such a priority. “Every human being’s first priority should be to acknowledge God’s worth. That, for example, is how the ten commandments begin (Exodus 20:3-6), it is the reason for Jesus’ obedient death on the cross, and it is the chief characteristic of the community in heaven (Revelation 4:1-5:14; 22:1-9).” (Selman)
2. (28-30) The assembly of Judah joins in the worship and recognition of sacrificial offerings.
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. 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.
a. So all the assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: Each person played their part in this large, communal honoring of God.
i. “This chapter contains a parable of the cleansing of the heart, meant to be a temple for God; but the doors of prayer are unopened, the lamps of testimony unlit, the burnt-offerings of self-sacrifice neglected.” (Meyer)
ii. “You tell me that you cannot sing the Lord’s song; then I know you have gone into the strange land of backsliding. You acknowledge that for some time now you have taken no delight in god or his service; then I am sure that the temple is badly in need of renovation.” (Meyer)
iii. “The music of your life is still, because you are out of accord with the will of God; but when by surrender and consecration there is unison, your heart will be filled with songs without words, and love like an ocean in the fullness of her strength.” (Meyer)
iv. The description of instruments in this passage is compelling evidence that they should be used today in worshipping God, but not all are convinced of this. “Away with such portentous baubles from the worship of that infinite Spirit who requires his followers to worship him in spirit and in truth, for to no such worship are those instruments friendly.” (Clarke)
b. King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer: They worshipped God with the best words they could find – the words of the great psalms of praise written by David and others.
3. (31-36) Thank and fellowship offerings and the resulting joy.
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. 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. 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.
a. Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near, and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD: Once they had properly sacrificed and cleansed the temple and their own hearts before the LORD, now the assembly was invited to come and bring their personal offerings. One of the great purposes of the temple – as a place for the personal sacrifice and worship of the believer – was now restored.
i. “Sacrifices and offerings are only acceptable when those offering them are themselves consecrated to Jehovah.” (Morgan)
ii. “Sacrifice for sin in both the Old Testament and the New is the springboard for the sacrifice of praise (Colossians 3:15; Hebrews 13:15-16) and for the fellowship or communion meal (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).” (Selman)
b. The priests were too few, so that they could not skin all the burnt offerings: The pent-up desire of the people to sacrifice and honor God through sacrifices was so great that when they were given the opportunity the priests were overwhelmed.
i. Wisely, their brethren the Levites helped them until the work was ended. This was a good example of temporarily suspending a commandment out of godly necessity.
ii. It was also fitting on this occasion because the Levites were more diligent in their sanctifying themselves than the priests. “For the truest faith is often found among the humble; and throughout history ‘professional’ religious leaders have too often been among those least willing to submit to Christ and to the Word.” (Payne)
c. Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people: The remarkable response of the assembly was proof that God had prepared the people. There could never be such a response unless God was at work among His people, and this was evidence of such a work.
i. “It was, as a very great, so a sudden change, that the people, who but the other day were so ready to comply with wicked Ahaz in his idolatrous and impious prescriptions, were now so free and forward in God’s service; whereby it plainly appeared to be the work of the Almighty God changing their hearts by his Holy Spirit.” (Poole)
ii. “Two consequences followed from these offerings. The first was to acknowledge that only God had made it all possible (2 Chronicles 29:36; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3; Ephesians 2:18). The second was that everyone rejoiced (2 Chronicles 29:36), in complete contrast with the situation with which they had begun.” (Selman)
2 Chronicles 30 - Hezekiah’s Passover
A. The letter of invitation.
1. (1-5) The tribes of Israel are invited to celebrate the Passover.
And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem. And the matter pleased the king and all the assembly. So they resolved to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem, since they had not done it for a long time in the prescribed manner.
a. Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah: The timing of this invitation is somewhat hard to precisely determine. It seems to have happened when Israel was defeated and prostrate under Assyria, yet perhaps before the kingdom as a whole had been depopulated through exile. Therefore this invitation actually went out to the remnant that had, up to this point, escaped exile (2 Chronicles 30:6).
i. “In all probability, this Passover was observed before the final passing of the northern kingdom into captivity.” (Morgan)
ii. “Any such compliance had been prohibited during the two centuries that had followed Jeroboam’s division of the Solomonic empire (2 Chronicles 30:5, 26; 1 Kings 12:27-28). But now King Hoshea’s capital in Samaria was subject to Assyrian siege (2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Kings 17:5), and the northern ruler was powerless to interfere.” (Payne)
b. To keep the Passover: This great feast remembered the great and glorious deliverance of God on Israel’s behalf in the days of the Exodus (Exodus 12). It was a deliberate, emblematic reminder of the central act of redemption in the Old Testament (the deliverance from slavery in Egypt).
i. Communion is likewise an emblematic reminder of the central act of redemption of the New Testament (and the Bible as a whole). The long neglect of Passover among the tribes of Israel would be like a church that had not celebrated the Lord’s Table in a long, long time.
ii. “Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb, who by his own body and blood established a new covenant (cf. Luke 22:14-20). Just as Hezekiah’s congregation were cleansed and healed, Christians are made clean by their Passover sacrifice, except that Jesus’ sacrifice is the ultimate and unrepeatable Passover.” (Selman)
c. Had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month: Normally, Passover was kept in the first month (Numbers 9:1-5). However, there were special circumstances under which Passover could be kept in the second month (Numbers 9:5-14). Because they could not keep it at the regular time, here under Hezekiah they kept it in the second month.
i. “Hezekiah therefore, and his counsellors, thought that they might extend that to the people at large, because of the delay necessarily occasioned by the cleansing of the temple, which was granted to individuals in such cases as the above, and the result showed that they had not mistaken the mind of the Lord upon the subject.” (Clarke)
d. Since they had not done it for a long time: Even though Passover was one of the three feasts that deserved special emphasis (Exodus 23:14-17), it had not been celebrated for a long time. Hezekiah was dedicated to righting this wrong.
2. (6-9) The letter to the tribes.
Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: “Children of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see. Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
a. Children of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel: The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen and all that remained after exile to the Assyrians was the remnant of you who have escaped. Yet Hezekiah still believed in the concept of the Children of Israel, those of the tribes of Israel descended from the great patriarchs.
i. In the history of the divided kingdoms there were some attempts to reunify by force, but these came to nothing. “In comparison with previous failures, this incident shows that the only really effective approach to unity has to be based on the principle of faithful worship.” (Selman)
ii. “The good of our brethren in other kingdoms must also be minded.” (Trapp)
b. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were: This was especially relevant as the letter went to the remnant of the northern kingdom. Generally speaking, they had neglected the Jerusalem Passover for a long time.
i. “Hezekiah knew that the poor remnant of Israel were in great affliction: he therefore presseth them to repentance, whereby men return to God, as by sin they run from him. . . . Hezekiah though it was good striking while the iron was hot.” (Trapp)
c. For if you return to the LORD: The letter of invitation promised two things if the remnant of Israel would return to the LORD and obediently celebrate this Passover in Jerusalem. First, under God’s blessing it would go well with those already taken captive by the Assyrians. Second, God would restore the northern kingdom and allow them to come back to this land.
i.. These promises were based on an eternal principle of God’s character: that He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him. God promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him.
3. (10-12) The reaction to the letter in Israel and Judah.
So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them. Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.
a. But they laughed at them and mocked them: Mostly, the reception among the remnant of the northern kingdom was not warm. Reflecting the same attitude of heart that brought the kingdom as a whole into exile, the people of the northern kingdom laughed at and mocked the messengers who invited them to this great Passover in Jerusalem.
i. We note there was no rational argument against the invitation; it was all opposed with simple laughter and mocking. For the frivolous and simple-minded, these replace serious thought.
ii. “Josephus saith that these Israelites this invited slew both the messengers and those prophets also that exhorted them to go up.” (Trapp)
b. Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem: Happily, there was a remnant of the remnant that responded to the message and came from the former northern kingdom.
i. “Far more northerners participated than previously, and the recent fall of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. meant that Jerusalem now offered the only alternative for corporate worship of the Lord.” (Selman)
c. The hand of God was on Judah: The response among the peoples and villages of Judah was entirely different. God gave them singleness of heart to obey the command of the LORD and their king.
B. The Passover celebrated.
1. (13-17) Preparations and sacrifices made.
Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron. Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the LORD. They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the LORD.
a. Many people, a very great assembly: This was the greatest assembly gathered for a Passover in generations. Not only had the Passover been neglected in Judah for many years, but this Passover also included those from the remnant of the northern tribes who responded to the invitation.
b. They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem: These were either altars to pagan gods or unauthorized altars to the true God. Both were prohibited, and as a demonstration of preparation for this great Passover, the city was cleansed of all idolatrous or unauthorized worship.
i. “So must we also first cast the baggage into the brook, and then come to the Lord’s supper.” (Trapp)
c. Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month: This shows the Passover being celebrated according to the Scriptural commands (allowing for the celebration of Passover in the second month according to Numbers 9:5-14). They took care to honor and obey in their celebration of this important feast.
2. (18-20) God is merciful to the ignorant worshippers.
For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.
a. For a multitude of the people . . . had not cleansed themselves: This multitude seems to have mostly come from the remnant of the northern tribes, who would naturally be ignorant about how to properly prepare for Passover.
i. “It was a motley crowd which assembled, and multitudes of the people were utterly ignorant of the Divine arrangements for preparation. Hezekiah’s tenderness was manifested in the pity he felt for these people, and in the prayer he offered on their behalf.” (Morgan)
ii. “This largeness of heart is always characteristic of men who are really in fellowship with God, for it is in harmony with the heart of God.” (Morgan)
b. Yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written: We would expect that this would result in a great punishment or judgment against them. Instead, Hezekiah prayed for them, asking the good LORD to provide atonement. In response, the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.
i. This shows the wonderful and warm mercy of God. By the letter of the command the people deserved judgment for their disobedience. Yet God showed his mercy and goodness to those who had prepared their heart to seek God, though in ignorance they did not do it all according to the commandments.
ii. “Unaccustomed to temple usage, strangers to the temple rites, they had participated in the festivities of this great Passover without submitting first to the necessary ablutions. Their heart was prepared to seek God, they were proud of the great past, they desired to stand right with the Lord God of their fathers; but they were sadly ignorant and careless. The only thing to be done was to pray that their ignorance and negligence might be forgiven.” (Meyer)
iii. “You may not understand doctrine, creed, or rite; but be sure to seek God. No splendid ceremonial nor rigorous etiquette can intercept the seeking soul.” (Meyer)
iv. Their pattern of preparing to receive the Passover is instructive for those who come to the communion table, especially those who feel unworthy to partake of communion.
· They forgot their differences and came together as one people.
· They removed their idols.
· They prepared their hearts.
· Their sins and ignorance were confessed.
· They prayed.
3. (21-22) Worship, teaching, and fellowship.
So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing to the LORD, accompanied by loud instruments. And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the LORD; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.
a. So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem: There was special gladness for these who had come from the northern tribes. They had never before experienced such obedient and joyful worship, where they praised the LORD day by day, singing to the LORD.
b. All the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the LORD: The gathering at this Passover was not only given to worship, but also to teaching. This was helpful and good at all times; one might say it was urgently needed with the presence of the northern tribes.
i. This remnant of the remnant of the northern tribes came to God in ignorance and in His mercy, God received them (2 Chronicles 30:18-20). Yet God didn’t want to leave them in ignorance, so He used the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the LORD.
ii. “It is a fine and expressive character given of these men. ‘They taught the good knowledge of God to the people.’ This is the great work, or should be so, of every Christian minister. They should convey that knowledge of God to the people by which they may be saved; that is, the good knowledge of the Lord.” (Clarke)
c. They ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession: The third component to their gather was fellowship. They shared the same food, the same relationship with God (demonstrated by the peace offerings) and the same need for Him (demonstrated by their confession of sin).
i. “Making confession: either, 1. Confessing their sins; which work was to accompany many of their sacrifices; of which see Leviticus 5:5; 16:21. Or rather, 2. Confessing God’s goodness, or praising of God, which oft goes under this name, as 1 Chronicles 16:8, 24, which also seems to be more proper work for this season of joy.” (Poole)
4. (23-27) The resulting joy and answered prayer.
Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness. For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, and the leaders gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 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. Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, to heaven.
a. The whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days: This was a remarkable and wonderful response to their experience of worship, teaching, and fellowship. They wanted to make the necessary sacrifices to continue the feast for another week, and they did it with gladness.
i. There is no indication in the text that they offered more Passover lambs or continued eating unleavened bread, which belonged to the specific seasons of these feasts. The emphasis is on their continuation of worship, teaching, and fellowship.
ii. This was substantially supported by King Hezekiah. “A thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; which generosity is the more considerable, because it was in the beginning of his reign, when he found the royal exchequer exhausted and empty; and when he had been at great expense about the cleansing and refitting of the temple, and making preparations for this great feast.” (Poole)
b. Since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem: Since those days there had not been a Passover in Jerusalem so widely and enthusiastically celebrated.
c. The priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people: According to Numbers 6:22-27, it was the duty of the priests to bless the people with these words: The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. As the priests obeyed this command, their voice was heard, even to heaven and the people were indeed blessed.
i. “The phrase ‘the priests and the Levites’ may here be rendered as ‘the Levitical preists,’ since it was the priests whom Moses had authorized ‘to bless the people.’” (Payne)
2 Chronicles 31 - Provision for the Priests
A. The aftermath of Hezekiah’s Passover.
1. (1) The work against idolatry.
Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars; from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh; until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession.
a. All Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars: After the glorious double-length Passover celebration, the people renounced all idolatry in the strongest terms possible.
i. “Hezekiah’s previous emphasis on removing the paraphernalia of idol worship (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:15-19; 30:14; also 2 Kings 18:22) now became a popular movement.” (Selman)
b. From all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh: This shows how broad the work was, including not only the Kingdom of Judah but also substantial portions of the territory of the northern tribes.
i. This reformation “was not only carried on through Judah, but they carried it into Israel; whether through a transport of religious zeal, or whether with the consent of Hoshea the Israelitish king, we cannot tell.” (Clarke)
2. (2-3) The restoration and support of the regular priestly work.
And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to serve, to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camp of the LORD. The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD.
a. And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions: Hezekiah did not allow the recent Passover celebration to be a one-time event. He followed up by the organization and institution of the regular priestly service.
i. “The Hebrew for Hezekiah’s assigning the priests to divisions is definite: he ‘appointed THE divisions of the priests.’ He reestablished the twenty-four rotating courses that had been set up by David (1 Chronicles 25) to insure orderly worship.” (Payne)
b. For burnt offerings . . . to serve . . . to give thanks . . . and to praise in the gates: This shows some of the duties of the priests and the Levites. Their work included the administration of the sacrifices, general service, and worship.
i. In the gates of the camp of the LORD: “Of the temple, fitly compared to a camp, for the watch and the ward there kept by the priests, and for the convention of the people thither, as to their rendezvous, to pray, which is the chief service of our spiritual warfare.” (Trapp)
c. The king also appointed a portion of his possessions: King Hezekiah was so committed to the restoration of the proper priestly service that he personally supported their work with a portion of his possessions.
3. (4-5) The tithe is commanded and brought.
Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
a. Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites: King Hezekiah did not present this as an option for the people of Judah. They were commanded to fulfill their obligations under the Law of Moses to support the priesthood through their tithes (Numbers 18:21-24).
i. As God said in Numbers 18:21, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel. God commanded the tithes (a giving of ten percent of one’s income) be given to the Levites for their support. This establishes the principle that the tithes belong to God (He said I have given, so they are His to give), but He gave them to the Levites.
ii. When an Israelite failed to give their tithe, they were not robbing the Levite - though the money ended up with them. They were robbing God (Malachi 3:8-10), because God received the tithe from the giver, and He gave it to the Levite.
iii. Some today think the tithe, since it went to support the Levites (who were, in a sense, government workers in ancient Israel), is covered by government taxes of today, and that free-will giving mentioned in the Old Testament answers to the New Testament emphasis on giving. We can say that the New Testament nowhere specifically commands tithing, but it certainly does speak of it in a positive light, if it is done with a right heart (Luke 11:42).
iv. It is also important to understand that tithing is not a principle dependent on the Mosaic Law; as Hebrews 7:5-9 explains, tithing was practiced and honored by God before the Law of Moses.
v. What the New Testament does speak with great clarity on is the principle of giving; that giving should be regular, planned, proportional, and private (1 Corinthians 16:1-4); that it must be generous, freely given, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9).
vi. Since the New Testament doesn’t emphasize tithing, one might not be strict on it for Christians (though some Christians do argue against tithing on the basis of self-interest); but since giving is to be proportional, we should be giving some percentage - and ten percent is a good benchmark - and starting place! For some to give ten percent is nowhere near enough; for others, at their present time, five percent may be a massive step of faith.
vii. If our question is, “How little can I give and still be pleasing to God?” our heart isn’t in the right place at all. We should have the attitude of some early Christians, who essentially said: “We’re not under the tithe - we can give more!” Giving and financial management is a spiritual issue, not just a financial one (Luke 16:11).
b. That they might devote themselves to the Law of the LORD: This reminds us of another duty of the Levites, beyond what was mentioned in 2 Chronicles 31:2 – the study and teaching of the Law of the LORD. The support of the Levites through the tithes of the people enabled this.
i. This is much the same principle as what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:17-18: Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
c. As soon as the commandment was circulated . . . they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything: The response of the people was impressive. Instead of thinking of reasons why this command did not apply to them or excuses to relieve themselves of the obligation, they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.
i. “The firstfruits were the priests prerogative (Numbers 18:12-13), but the tithe, whether of crops and fruit or the herds was presented to the Levites (Numbers 18:21; cf. Leviticus 27:30-33).” (Selman)
B. The distribution and blessing of the tithe.
1. (6-10) The reception of the tithes.
And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the LORD their God they laid in heaps. In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the LORD has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance.”
a. In the third month they began laying them in heaps: The giving of tithes was so abundant that it took four months to simply receive all the gifts. No wonder Hezekiah and the leaders blessed the LORD and His people Israel when they saw the evidence of generous giving.
i. “They blessed the Lord; both for giving such plentiful provisions to his land in this year, and for giving his people such liberal and pious hearts towards this good work.” (Poole)
ii. Their happiness was not only because it meant that there would be plenty for the priests and Levites, it also showed that the Spirit of God was working powerfully in the people of Israel.
iii. The tithe of holy things: “The tithe of the holy or dedicated things probably refers to gifts made by the Levites to the priest from what they themselves had received.” (Selman)
b. Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left: The priests and Levites had long been neglected, and now they had plenty.
2. (11-19) The administration of the tithes.
Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the LORD, and they prepared them. Then they faithfully brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things; Cononiah the Levite had charge of them, and Shimei his brother was the next. Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the East Gate, was over the freewill offerings to God, to distribute the offerings of the LORD and the most holy things. And under him were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, his faithful assistants in the cities of the priests, to distribute allotments to their brethren by divisions, to the great as well as the small. Besides those males from three years old and up who were written in the genealogy, they distributed to everyone who entered the house of the LORD his daily portion for the work of his service, by his division, and to the priests who were written in the genealogy according to their father’s house, and to the Levites from twenty years old and up according to their work, by their divisions, and to all who were written in the genealogy; their little ones and their wives, their sons and daughters, the whole company of them; for in their faithfulness they sanctified themselves in holiness. Also for the sons of Aaron the
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