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2 Chronicles 29:1 . Five and twenty years old. Ahaz was twenty when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years. Now, imperfect years are not reckoned, as might be proved from several texts. Therefore Ahaz might be near twenty one years old on receiving the crown, and he might reign near seventeen years; yet after all, Ahaz must have been very much inclined to connubial pleasure to be a father at fourteen; and there is no doubt but he was immodest in early life. If this be not allowed, Hezekiah was his adopted son. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah, the blessed priest and martyr under Jotham, as recorded in chap. 24. She was descended by her mother’s line from David’s house.
2 Chronicles 29:16 . The priests went into the inner part of the house; that is, the Holy of holies, the place into which none but the priests might go. The sanctum sanctorum was a figure of heaven. Hebrews 9:7-12.
2 Chronicles 29:21 . Seven bullocks, a plenary sacrifice offered by the patriarchs in times of extremity, as we read in Numbers 23:24. Seven he-goats. The term “he-goat” was not used among the Jews till after the destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel has used it in Daniel 8:5.
2 Chronicles 29:23 . The he-goats they laid their hands on them, as Aaron did, Leviticus 16:7, reciting confessions and prayers.
2 Chronicles 29:25 . He set the levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps. Moses associated music with sacred song, as in the case of his sister Miriam. The minstrels aided Iddo in obtaining pools of water for the army. From the levites being thus employed it is evident that religious worship, in singing with or without music, is subject to christian ministers, as David, the prophet Gad, and Nathan had ordained: it must not be left to the less enlightened judgment of a clerk, or of a singing master.
2 Chronicles 29:30 . The words of Asaph, who composed the twelve Psalms which bear his name.
2 Chronicles 29:34 . The priests were too few. Many of them had been active at the altars of Baalim and Ashteroth, and were unclean. They had forfeited their right of approach to the Lord’s altar, had justice been done to them: so they could not face the king and the people. Therefore the more faithful levites were raised to some participation of sacerdotal honours. They killed also the passover: 2 Chronicles 30:17. The levites were more upright in heart; a delicate word of reproach to the priests, who had been idolaters.
Here is a bright morning star which rises to cheer the Hebrew sky, after a most calamitous night of political darkness and disasters. Here is a reformation auguring every good to church and state. Hezekiah, more worthy than his father, had long wept in secret for the wickedness and ruin of the late reign: and on receiving the crown, being of age to think and act for himself, he acknowledged that all those tremendous calamities proceeded from a divine hand. He therefore began his reign with God, and sought counsel of those pious friends, who were willing to come forward in the cause of reformation.
In doing this he acted with the utmost prudence and dispatch. He never once consulted the ministers of superstition, nor the princes of Judah who had forsaken the God of Israel. He assembled the disspirited priests and levites; and the first and most glorious act of his reign was to open the doors of the Lord’s house. Perhaps the idolaters knew nothing of his purpose, till they knew it by his works. Go on, great prince, go on and prosper; for God will confound thy foes, and deliver thee from every evil. It is well when a young prince begins to be religious, and tells the world of it by his works, rather than by his words.
Seeing himself surrounded in the temple, now grown green with neglect, he recited the calamities and ruin of his country; he traced those calamities to evils which their fathers had done in the eyes of the Lord, and he mentions the shutting of the Lord’s house as the last and worst of all evils: he therefore exhorted them to cleanse the sanctuary. Oh, if we ever forsake the house of God, if we neglect his worship and forget his covenant, we may expect all the calamities to fall on us, which befel the Jews in the reign of Ahaz.
While the priests and levites cleansed the temple, Hezekiah cleansed the nation. He cut down the groves, brake in pieces the images; nor spared that venerable relic, the brazen serpent which Moses had made, for the people burnt incense unto it. This he degraded of its supposed divinity, calling it, “nehushtan;” that is, mere brass, and not a god. Let the magistrate then learn to strike vice without, while the true ministers strike at the sinner’s heart, and endeavour to revive piety. Then the days of Hezekiah will return on the church, and every blessing of the covenant will follow.
The ministers of God having, after sixteen days of hard labour, purified the temple, Hezekiah rose early in the morning, and by a vast holocaust of twenty eight victims, or a sevenfold atonement, he hasted to expiate the great and grievous sins of the past reign: and not only the sins of Judah, but of Israel too, as far as any consented in heart. Oh how deep are the stains of seventeen years of great wickedness! Oh what tears, what atonement, and what sprinklings of blood are requisite to purge the conscience, and wash the heart of a sinner!
Hezekiah did not do all this in exterior pomp and vain parade, but with the heart. No sooner did the altars smoke with the atonement, the blood being already sprinkled, than the music struck up with psalms, and all the congregation worshipped the Lord. The wicked had long reigned, piety had long been as embers secretly kept alive in the heart of an Isaiah, an Oded, a Jonah and others; but now it blazed abroad, and shamed the ignorance and apostasy of the age. So it is when God’s people take courage in evil times, and boldly glorify his name.
But while the king was so prompt in his measures, and fervent in his worship, and while the levites came forward to his aid, what a pity that any of the priests should be reproached with lukewarmness on so glorious a day, for the heart of the levites was more upright, or ready than theirs: rectioris, vel alacrioris. How awful when the ministers of religion temporize! The time-serving Urijah had contributed towards the ruin of Ahaz; and the sons of Aaron having so unworthy a highpriest, were sunk into all the wretchedness of the age. Having no faith that Hezekiah would succeed, they were to drag to the altar. How discouraging must it be at all times to see laymen zealous, and clergymen faithless and indolent. May the zeal and piety of others provoke them to jealousy, and to greater piety and vigour in the work of the Lord.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 29". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent