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KEEPING THE PASSOVER
The concern of Hezekiah to honour the Lord was then extended to his purpose that the Passover should be kept and that all Israel should be invited to this feast. Therefore he sent letters to Ephraim and Manasseh (in fact, announcing it throughout all Israel, v.6), to invite them to come to the only centre where God had ordered that the Passover should be kept, Jerusalem. At this time the ten tribes had been so overrun by enemies that they had no king reigning over them, but Hezekiah in great compassion for them, desired that individuals at least should be awakened to recognise God's centre and come to honour Him by keeping the Passover.
However, being so concerned as Hezekiah was, the time was too late to gather the people together on the first month of the year, which was the stipulated time. But God had allowed that if anyone was unable to keep the Passover in the first month because of uncleanness or travelling away from home, he might keep the Passover in the second month. Hezekiah took advantage of this provision to announce the Passover in the second month (v.2).
Runners then took the message to all Israel and Judah, urging them as "children of Israel" to return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, assuring them that if so, God would return to them, the small remnant that had not been taken captive by the kings of Assyria. Further, they were told, "Do not be like your fathers and your brethren who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see." For the idolatry that the ten tribes chose was a refusal of God's centre, Jerusalem. Now at least let them recognise that centre and God would bless them for it. It was necessary that they should be told not to be stiff-necked, as their fathers were, but to yield themselves to the Lord (vv.7-8). If they would show the faith to return to Jerusalem, they would not be refused permission to enter God's sanctuary (not the holiest of all, of course), but would be welcomed to the house of God.
Though the message was one of kindness and grace (v.9), when it was brought to Ephraim, Manasseh and Zebulun, it was received with only contempt and mockery, on the part of the people generally (v.10). The Lord had largely broken down their false worship, yet when the opportunity was given them to return to God's true centre of worship, Jerusalem, they foolishly and proudly refused.
Nevertheless, there were some who responded to the invitation, from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun, and humbly came to Jerusalem. Also, God disposed the hearts of the people of Judah to willingly obey the command of Hezekiah, so that there was a large gathering in the city in the second month (v.13).
But as soon as the Passover was contemplated, it was clearly seen that the idolatrous altars raised by former kings must be allowed no place. These were taken away and thrown into the Brook Kidron. Similarly, when we desire to honour the Lord by remembering Him in the breaking of bread, we shall want to get rid of all those forms and relics of humanly devised worship and give the Lord Jesus His place of supreme honour.
The Passover lambs were then slaughtered on the 14th day of the second month (v.15). It is noted that the priests and Levites were ashamed and sanctified themselves. It appears that the contemplation of the Passover woke them up to the shame of their previous laxity, for surely they ought to have purified themselves immediately if there was defilement, just as we too ought to confess our wrongs and be restored just as soon as we have done the wrong. At least they became ashamed enough to sanctify themselves. The Passover was kept "according to the law of Moses the man of God" (v.16). We too should keep the Lord's supper in accordance with its institution by the Lord Jesus on the night of His betrayal. The simplicity of that institution is beautiful, yet many churches have added such ritual and ceremony to it today that it cannot be recognised as the same service the Lord introduced.
The ordinance of the Passover required that those who were defiled by a dead body could not eat of the Passover until they were sanctified from this (Numbers 9:9). Because of some being defiled at the time of the Passover in Numbers, God had made an allowance for them the keep the Passover in the second month (Numbers 9:10-11). However, since it was the second month that Hezekiah arranged the Passover, and there were large numbers from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun who had not been purified, yet they were allowed to eat the Passover, though it was contrary to the Word of God. This was a marked exception, and Hezekiah prayed for them, that the Lord would provide atonement for this infraction of the law. The Lord accepted this prayer and healed all the people (vv.19-20). In explanation of this, would it not have been cruel to refuse their participation in the Passover after having invited them to come from so far for this purpose, and after these people had shown such faith as to come to God's centre in order to honour the Lord? This was the exception of pure grace.
All those present at Jerusalem at this time kept the feast for seven days, with great gladness, and the priests and Levites daily praised the Lord in singing with the accompaniment of musical instruments (v.21). Instrumental music is pleasant to the human ear, though it is not really worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), as the Lord insists that worship should be in this present age, in contrast to the "carnal (or fleshly) ordinances" prescribed for Israel (Hebrews 9:9-10). The New Testament is silent as to the use of musical instruments in the service of God. When the Lord instituted the Lord's supper, it is recorded that they sang a hymn (Mark 14:26), but there is no mention of any musical instrument. Why? Because true worship is from the heart, and though one plays an instrument well, this is not worship, for worship is for the Lord, not for people. The people may enjoy the instrumental music, but it is not worship of God. A gospel meeting is for the benefit of people, and instrumental music may attract people to hear, but this is not worship.
But Hezekiah acted according to the times in which he lived, and he encouraged the Levites during the feast to teach the knowledge of the Lord, for the feast was seven days long (v.22). However, the assembly agreed to keep it up for seven days more, which gave opportunity for much teaching as well as offering peace offerings and making confession to the Lord (v.23). Their history under previous kings surely called for such confession.
Hezekiah himself gave to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for offerings, and the leaders of Judah gave 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. A great number of priests sanctified themselves so that they could help in the offering of all these (v.24).
Thus the whole assembly of Judah rejoiced together with the priests and Levites and the number who came from Israel. There had been no occasion like this since the time of Solomon (vv.25-26), so that it was a unique revival after years of failure on the part of the kings. The prayer of the priests and Levites came up to God's holy dwelling place, to heaven. God was vitally interested and heard their prayer with glad approval.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20