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And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and to Judah, they wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, [this is up in the northern] that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto Jehovah God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. Inasmuch as they could not keep it at this time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation. So they established a decree to make the proclamation from Israel, from Beersheba [which is in the southern portion towards the desert] even unto Dan ( 2 Chronicles 30:1-5 ),
Which is up almost at the base of Mount Hermon in the northern part of the Hula Valley above the Sea of Galilee.
So the messengers went out with letters from the king and his princes throughout all of Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, they said, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto Jehovah the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria ( 2 Chronicles 30:6 ).
So notice, they are now addressing themselves to the remnant that had escaped out of the hand of the king of Assyria. And they were up there in the northern tribes, Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon and all.
And be not you like your fathers, and like your brothers, which trespassed against Jehovah God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as you see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him ( 2 Chronicles 30:7-9 ).
Now Hezekiah's sending out this letter. You see, the Assyrians had come and they have taken now the northern kingdom. They have taken the people captive and just a remnant of people were left. He writes to them and he says, "Look, come and let's turn back to God. If we'll just turn back to God, God will work and your families that have been carried away captive they can be returned again. Let's really turn with all of our hearts to God. Come on down and let's worship God." And it was an endeavor to unite again the people and draw those from the northern kingdom back to the worship of the Lord, a very beautiful attempt on the part of Hezekiah. Then his statement to them, "If you will do this, surely God will bless. For God is gracious and merciful."
There is a false concept that the Bible actually portrays two Gods-the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament being a God of wrath and vengeance, and the God of the New Testament being a God of love. Not so. In the Old Testament God is revealed as a God of compassion, and as Hezekiah said, "For God is gracious and merciful." And He is presented in the Old Testament as a gracious, merciful, compassionate God.
However, for those that reject His grace and mercy, their own lives bring upon themselves destruction. God is compassionate; God is merciful. But God will not shield you forever. And ultimately, the fruit of your own wickedness is going to catch up with you. And then people want to blame God for the judgment. The judgment that is constantly around them. And the only thing that keeps you from that judgment is God's protecting hand.
Now in the New Testament, God is portrayed as a God of love, yes. "God so loved the world... " But also a God of judgment. If you want to read Revelation chapters 6-18, you'll find all about the God of justice and the God of judgment, as He allows to come upon the earth the fruit of their own rebellion. And as He pours out His wrath against the ungodly.
So those people who say, "Well, there are two Gods revealed in the Bible; the God of wrath in the Old Testament and the God of love in the New," just really don't know the Bible. They've never really done a serious study of the Bible. It's ridiculous to say that there are two Gods revealed. One God. He is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of compassion, revealed both in the Old and the New Testament. But He is also a God of righteousness, of justice.
And so Hezekiah's encouragement, "Turn to the Lord."
Nevertheless, the people in the northern kingdom just sort of laughed at the messengers who came. Sort of put them down. Put down their message. However, many of them came on down to celebrate the Passover and a great multitude gathered in Jerusalem. This was going to be a momentous event. Here the worship of God had been forsaken for so long and now a great holy day, the day of Passover. And they were going to gather together and the multitudes gathered together in Jerusalem for this Passover. And even to gather for the Passover it was necessary to go through a purification rite. They had... what you'd have to do is actually shave your head and then you'd have to come into the temple everyday and go through certain bathings and so forth to be sanctified, to cleanse yourself, really, from the defilement of the Gentile world. And this was especially true of those who had been living in Gentile nations and would come back to Jerusalem for the holy days. It was necessary to sort of cleanse yourself from all of the pollution of the Gentiles, so they had this whole purification rite.
You remember when Paul returned to Jerusalem and the feast day was coming and Paul wanted to participate in the feast day in Jerusalem as long as he was there. And so he started into the purification rites and he started sponsoring a couple young men in the purification rites, because you couldn't work during this time so you really needed someone to sort of sponsor you if you didn't have the bucks yourself. And so James said, "Now, Paul, I hear that you've been stringing up the Jews in the Gentile cities and you're not really being a good Jewish boy and you've been falling into the practices of the Gentiles and all. Now a lot of the church is quite upset. They hear that you're sort of radical and out there among the Gentiles. So why don't you just sort of settle them all down and take the part of a good Jew boy and just go ahead and go through the rites and sponsor these two boys and show everybody that you know you're still a Jew."
So Paul, to keep peace went into the temples, went through the purification rites. But it was there that some of the Jews from Asia who were also being purified saw Paul and they said, "This is the fellow who has created all the problems through Asia and all." And a big tumult where Paul was saved, actually, from a lynching mob by the Roman guard and taken into the fortress of Antonio where, as he was going in, he said to the guard, "Let me talk to these people a minute." And the guard said, "Okay." And so Paul began to preach to these people. Waved his hand, "Quiet, folks." They were all out there yelling and screaming, "Kill him! Get rid of him!" And, "Let me talk to you fellows. Quiet a minute." And they all hushed and Paul began to tell them. "Hey, look, I know how you feel. I know where you're at. I was just like you are. The Pharisees will testify. I was one of them. In fact, I was persecuting the church. I thought I was doing God a service, just like you do today. I know where it's at. I know exactly how you feel. In fact, it was when I was on my way to Damascus that I was apprehended by Jesus Christ. And He said, 'Why are you persecuting Me?' And I said, 'Who are You, Lord, that I might serve You?' And He said, 'I am Jesus whom you're persecuting.'" And Paul said, "And so He spoke to me and said that He was going to send me to the Gentiles."
Now when he said the word Gentiles, things just broke loose. People began to rip off their clothes, throw dirt in the air, started screaming and all. And he was talking to the people in Hebrew so that the Roman captain couldn't understand. He was, of course, knew Latin, but he didn't know what Paul had said. And the crowd started rushing and he said, "Grab him inside quick!" And they took Paul inside the fortress there. And he said, "Find out what he said to those people. Scourge him! Make him tell."
Now the scourging was actually the Roman third degree. They would take and whip you with this leather whip with little bits of lead imbedded in it, and broken glass. And they would lay it across your back, ripping open your back until you'd scream out your crime or whatever. And so he said, "Examine him by scourging. Find out what he said." Created such a tumult out there. And so Paul was going through this same purification thing.
Now the people had come. But here they were straggling in and the time for the ceremony had arrived and they just came. They didn't have time to go through the whole ritual of sanctifying themselves. So Hezekiah said, "Lord, have mercy on these poor people. They've come so far and here they are to worship You. Let them get by without the rites. Let's bypass the whole ritual and just receive them, Lord." And the Lord spoke and said that He would receive them without the rituals for them to go ahead and observe the Passover. And so it was a turning point again for the people and turning them back to God.
And Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one ( 2 Chronicles 30:18 )
I like that.
That prepares his heart to seek God, Jehovah God of the fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and he healed the people. And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread for seven days with great gladness ( 2 Chronicles 30:19-21 ):
Such great celebration they decided to go on for another seven days. And so they went on for seven more days worshipping the Lord.
And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast for seven days, offering peace offerings, making confession to the LORD God of their fathers ( 2 Chronicles 30:22 ).
And then determined to go on for seven more days.
So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon there had never been an occasion like this in Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 30:26 ).
For many, many years.
Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to the holy dwelling place, even unto heaven ( 2 Chronicles 30:27 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20