Hezekiah refused to “stand on ceremony” and, instead, trusted that the people who came to Passover “from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun” (II Chronicles 30:11a, NLT) should be included in the service. They may not have been through the exacting requirements of ritual purification, but their attitude in going against the vast majority who made fun of Hezekiah’s invitation showed an inner change. These people had truly “humbled themselves” (II Chronicles 30:11b) in coming to Jerusalem and were permitted to join in with the rest of the celebrants.
“So the people of Israel who were present in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments. Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the Lord. The celebration continued for seven days. Peace offerings were sacrificed, and the people gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors” (II Chronicles 30:21-22).
“Hezekiah encouraged all.” Hezekiah didn’t sit or stand with his hands hanging to his sides as the musicians sang and played for the glory of God. He let them know that he and all the people appreciated “the skill they displayed as they served the Lord.” He let them know that God was pleased with their efforts and their attitudes. How in need of encouragers are our churches, homes, schools, and workplaces!
“The entire assembly then decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week. King Hezekiah gave the people 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for offerings, and the officials donated 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. Meanwhile, many more priests purified themselves” (II Chronicles 30:23-24).
“The entire assembly then decided to continue… another seven days.” Reminds of the little old ladies who sat in a restaurant booth next to my family after church one Sunday. One voiced what was clearly the opinion of their whole table: “I go to church from 11am till noon. If that preacher can’t say what he’s got to say in that length of time, I don’t need to hear it.” Imagine if her pastor had just announced a week-long extension on the service!
To the people of Hezekiah’s day, God dwelt in the Temple. To be in the Temple was to be in the presence of God and they were thrilled to be with Him and didn’t want this special time to end. “So they celebrated joyfully for another week.”
“The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah. There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from His holy dwelling in heaven” (II Chronicles 30:25-27).
“God heard their prayer.” Oftentimes when a worship service is coming to a close, there’s a mass exodus of people who want to be first out of the parking lot and first into the eateries. Nobody in Jerusalem was in a hurry to go anywhere; they just wanted to be with Jehovah.
Don’t spend the last minutes of your church service figuring out where you’re going to eat or what you’re going to fix. Forget about the agenda ahead of you that week. Pray. Pray for the lost. Pray for the hurting. Pray for your spiritual eyes and ears to be open. Tell the Lord that nothing is more important to you than hearing His Message.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates