The Temple and the people were rededicated to God: “The king and everyone with him bowed down in worship. Then Hezekiah declared, ‘Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, bring your sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings to the Temple of the Lord’” (II Chronicles 29:29, 31a, NLT).
“So the people brought their sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings, too. The people brought to the Lord 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 male lambs for burnt offerings. They also brought 600 cattle and 3,000 sheep and goats as sacred offerings.
But there were too few priests to prepare all the burnt offerings. So their relatives the Levites helped them until the work was finished and more priests had been purified, for the Levites had been more conscientious about purifying themselves than the priests had been. There was an abundance of burnt offerings, along with the usual liquid offerings, and a great deal of fat from the many peace offerings.
So the Temple of the Lord was restored to service. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had done for the people” (II Chronicles 29:31b-36a).
With the Temple and the people back in harmony with Jehovah, “King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual. They were unable to celebrate it at the prescribed time because not enough priests could be purified by then, and the people had not yet assembled at Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 30:1-3).
You’ve heard the expression, “Better late than never.” Despite being unable to hold their Passover celebration at the appropriate time, Hezekiah wasn’t going to let Judah miss out. The Passover commemorated the Israelite’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As the death angel passed through the land, only those houses with the blood of the sacrificed Passover lamb were spared the death of their first-born. Year after year this ceremony pointed God’s people to Jesus.
“This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people. So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law.
At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said: ‘O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that He will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to His Temple, which He has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that His fierce anger will turn away from you.
For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to Him, He will not continue to turn His face from you” (II Chronicles 30:4-9).
Despite their conflicts, Hezekiah still cared deeply for the spiritual welfare of all his fellow Israelites. He urged Israel to join with Judah in repentance and celebration of the Most High God. How would Israel respond?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates