Hezekiah’s faithfulness to God led the people of Judah to turn back to the Lord. And because of this, Judah experienced God’s blessings. Hezekiah “remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did” (II Kings 18:6a, 7a, NLT).
“When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes.
Hezekiah then organized the priests and Levites into divisions to offer the burnt offerings and peace offerings, and to worship and give thanks and praise to the Lord at the gates of the Temple. The king also made a personal contribution of animals for the daily morning and evening burnt offerings, the weekly Sabbath festivals, the monthly new moon festivals, and the annual festivals as prescribed in the Law of the Lord. In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord” (II Chronicles 31:1-4).
“The king also made a personal contribution.” Even though Hezekiah generously provided from the royal coffers, he wanted to give from his private holdings, too, so he “made a personal contribution of animals” for every occasion “prescribed in the Law of the Lord.”
Hezekiah also “required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites.” Why? So the priests and Levites “could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord.”
Ask any bi-vocational pastor how hard it is to prepare sermons, visit church members, and do the countless other tasks of a church leader while trying to hold down another job because the church won’t or can’t pay him enough to live on. Hezekiah didn’t want anything to divide the focus of the priests and Levites; he wanted them provided for so that their only job was serving in their assigned capacities in and around the Temple.
“When the people of Israel heard these requirements, they responded generously by bringing the first share of their grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity – a tithe of all they produced. The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them up in great heaps. They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw these huge piles, they thanked the Lord and His people Israel!” (II Chronicles 31:5-8).
“When the people of Israel heard these requirements,” they whined? They complained? They begrudged? No, “they responded generously.” Note that this passage says “the people of Israel.” Not only did the people of Judah give generously, but so did “the people who had moved to Judah from Israel.” Everyone “brought in the tithes.”
Because everyone was obedient in their giving, the Temple was filled to overflowing. “‘Where did all this come from?’ Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites. And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, ‘Since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed His people, and all this is left over’” (II Chronicles 31:9-10).
Obedience brought blessing. “God loves a person who gives cheerfully” (II Corinthians 9:7b).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates