2 Chronicles 30-31 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Seven: Whole-hearted Obedience
The theme of this portion of Isaiah concerning good King Hezekiah is to explain how a godly man fell to his pride. There are three areas which Scripture fully develops in the reign of Hezekiah as king of Judah.
- duties in the realm of worship
- military leadership
- personal life
I Hezekiah and Worship
We’ve seen in a prior post (Devotional Journal 81) how Hezekiah and the people of Judah determined to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. They did so according to the law Moses laid down in Scripture. The people had not held the feast this way for a long time. This presented obstacles to be overcome. For example, because they weren’t prepared, they held it in the second month, rather than first. This gave time for a sufficient number of priests consecrate themselves (2 Chronicles 30:3). Also, the people needed extra time to prepare for the journey. They hadn’t observed Passover for many generations. Preparations were no longer routine.
King Hezekiah of Judah also took the unusual step of inviting the hostile northern tribes of Israel to attend. Most of them “laughed them to scorn and mocked them” (2 Chronicles 30:10). Nevertheless, a few from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulon were “ashamed and came to Jerusalem” (verse 11).
A. Religious Law-Keeping–The Passover
The Bible in 2 Chronicles 30 reveals that everyone did the best they could under unusual circumstances.
- First, the people removed the altars to false gods and threw them in the river (2 Chronicles 30:14).
- Second, the Levites performed a larger role than usual. There were more sanctified Levites than priests (2 Chronicles 29:34). The Levites handed the blood to the priests, who then “splashed” it (2 Chronicles 30:16).
- Further, many of the congregation from Israel had not sanctified themselves. The Levites stepped in to slaughter the lambs for them (verse 17). King Hezekiah prayed that the Lord would forgive their transgression of eating the Passover lamb uncleansed (2 Chronicles 30:19).
And the children of Israel who were present in Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great joy; and they continued to sing hymns to the Lord daily, and the priests and the Levites played on instruments to the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:21, CAB, LXE)
Revival Breaks Out
If these events happened in our churches today, we would call it revival.
2 Chronicles 30:23 And the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast for another seven days, and so they kept it another seven days with great joy… 25 … the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been no feast like this in Jerusalem… 27 …And their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place in heaven. (SAAS, St Athanasius Academy Septuagint)
When the two weeks ended, “all Israel” went out into the cities of Judah and removed the elements of pagan worship.
- they broke the sacred pillars in pieces (these had been for worship of pagan deities)
- cut down the groves
- cast down the high places
- destroyed the altars
- the congregation from “all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh–until they utterly destroyed them all.” (2 Chronicles 31:1)
Then, “all the sons of Israel” returned to their own possessions and their own cities.
B. Religious Law-Keeping–Tithes and Offerings
Revival under the leadership of Hezekiah continued. Scripture chronicles how he organized the priests and Levites according to their divisions (2 Chronicles 31:2-21). Below is a list of some of the actions he and the people took at this time.
- he appointed the divisions (verses 2-4)
- he commanded a tithe from those who lived in Jerusalem (4)
- the people responded abundantly (5-8)
- heaps remained beyond the needs of the priests and Levites in Jerusalem (9-10)
- Hezekiah arranged for proper storage of the heaps (11-12)
- They distributed from the abundance of tithes and freewill offerings to all the priests and Levites throughout every city of Judah (19)
Scripture Summarizes Hezekiah’s Obedience in Keeping the Ordinances of Worship
Scripture summarizes all Hezekiah’s actions to this point. Two verses summarize everything he did from his coronation in 2 Chronicles 29 through his fidelity to obey the Lord by providing for the priests and Levites throughout the land in 2 Chronicles 31.
2 Chronicles 31:20 And Hezekiah did so through all Judah, and did that which was good and right before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work which he began in service in the house of the Lord, and in the law, and in the ordinances, he sought his God with all his soul, and wrought, and prospered. (CAB, LXE)
God Tests Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 32:1, in all translations, reveals a great deal concerning how God works among his own.
1 And after these things and this faithful dealing, Sennacherib king of the Assyrians came to Judah, and he encamped against the fortified cities, and intended to take them for himself. (CAB, LXE)
I believe that many Christians tend to read Scripture in the upper limits of the speed zone. That is, various daily and yearly Bible reading plans encourage people to basically “whizz” through Scripture. The goal is to read a certain amount in a certain period of time. I am all for reading the Bible in its entirety from time to time. A comprehensive familiarity with all of Scripture is beneficial and necessary. Listening to tapes of someone reading Scripture is a good way to accomplish this.
Additionally, Christians should form the habit of “camping out” on certain portions of Scripture for what may appear to be long periods of time.
Psalm 1:2 But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night. (Brenton, LXE)
I believe that only with such meditation will the heart be receptive to hear what the Spirit teaches. In certain ways, resting on portions of Scripture long enough to prayerfully glean a harvest from them is like spiritual wrestling with God’s word. The Holy Spirit hovers close by, ready to reveal. But often, due to our own unfamiliarity with Scripture and the very ways of God, due to our lack of having trained our hearts to wait with patience for the Lord to speak, and due to our calloused ears in today’s busy world, we may need to devote many days, or even weeks, to one passage.
As mentioned in a prior post, Scripture devotes many chapters from several books to King Hezekiah. He was a great and devoted leader who followed the Lord and his Word with a whole heart. But in the end, he caved in to his own pride. Why did this happen? And surely, if such a man as Hezekiah fell this way, then any one of us might also succumb to pride. Right? To be forewarned is to be prepared.
And so, we should not brush off King Hezekiah’s pride as though he were a wicked man of wicked ways, nor as one who deserves our condemnation. What can we learn about God and about King Hezekiah that we can apply to ourselves?
More on Testing
Scripture packs a great deal of meaning into the first eight words of 2 Chronicles 32:1. “And after these things and this faithful dealing…” In other words, the holy Author of Scripture draws our attention to the fact that Hezekiah had faithfully performed all the duties and actions described in the previous three chapters. With all this joyful faithfulness and worship by Hezekiah and all the people as background, …then … this very bad thing happened. The enemy showed up, prepared to make war (verse 2). In other words, seasoned, faithful saints still need to fight battles. God wants us to know this.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1Peter 4:12 ESV)
Summary of Hezekiah and Worship
This post displayed the first area of King Hezekiah’s obedience to the Lord: worship. Scripture breaks this topic into two sections. The first is celebrating the Lord’s Passover as prescribed by law. The second concerns the giving, collection, and distribution of tithes and offerings. The next post will consider the second area of Hezekiah’s faithfulness: the realm of military leadership.
To be continued…