Hezekiah sent an invitation to the people of Israel, inviting them to come and share in a time of repentance and celebrating the Passover. They responded by making fun of the messengers, which means they were also making fun of the message. They had no use for the things of God and thought it was hilarious that Hezekiah and Judah were so caught up in this old-time religion. Israel had found plenty of new gods to worship – and these gods went in for stuff that the old way condemned as “sinful.” No, let Judah have the Temple and the old God; Israel was having more fun with its idolatry.
Israel was getting slammed on every side. They were clearly headed down the road to disaster, and yet they preferred their false gods to the Real One. Reminds me of people I’ve known who get caught up in the drug scene. They’re broke; homeless; willing to do anything to get their hands on one more hit; and every time they wake up, they’re sick and miserable and needing to get that fix all over again. How fun is that! And yet they’re so entangled in that lifestyle that they refuse to see themselves for the messes they’ve become. Such was Israel.
But all of Israel hadn’t turned their backs on Hezekiah’s invitation: “Some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 30:11).
Jesus taught a parable about a farmer scattering seeds. He scattered a lot of seeds, but all of them didn’t hit the same kind of ground. However, some, my brothers and sisters, “fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Matthew 13:8). Pray. And plant lots of seeds, because the more you plant, the more opportunities for seeds to hit places where they’ll begin to take root. And God will bless you for your faithfulness, just as He blessed Hezekiah.
“God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the Lord. So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspring to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them” (II Chronicles 30:12-13, 17-18a).
You’ve heard the expression “stand on ceremony.” Hezekiah didn’t. Even though there was a prescribed way of cleansing in order to be purified for participating in religious ceremonies, Hezekiah believed that “those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun” had displayed their repentant attitudes by coming to Jerusalem when most of the people of Israel had merely laughed at Judah’s messengers. Hezekiah wisely realized that “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7b).
So how did Hezekiah’s reception of these people work out? “They were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, ‘May the Lord, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony’” (II Chronicles 30:18b-20).
Not one person said, “That’s not the way we do it here.” Nary a one said, “If you’re going to let them participate, count me out.” The people were so focused on honoring the Lord that they didn’t waste time criticizing. Nobody wanted to spoil such a holy time with one negative word about anything.
And because of their right attitude, “the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.” Attitude. It can make or break a church, a marriage, or a friendship.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates