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CRITICAL NOTES.] Preparations for Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1-12); the keeping of Passover (2 Chronicles 30:13-17); H.’S prayer for unclean persons (2 Chronicles 30:18-22); the solemnities of the second seven days.
2 Chronicles 30:1-12.—Preparations for Passover. Sent messengers. Special letters to remote and near tribes (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 29:24 for object in sending them). 2 Chronicles 30:2. Second month, a time which allowed for purification of priests, proclamation to be made through all Israel and for absentees. 2 Chronicles 30:3. Other reasons assigned. Pleased, i.e., arrangements made. 2 Chronicles 30:5. Order made and proclaimed from Dan to Beer., i.e., the extent of Israel; “for they had not (for some time) kept the Passover in full numbers, as required (written) by law. 2 Chronicles 30:6. Posts, runners or bearers of letters (ch. 2 Chronicles 23:1-2). Remnant, portions of people had been removed by Assyrian invasions to Asshur (2 Kings 15:20), the rest now tributary (2 Kings 17:1-4). 2 Chronicles 30:8. Stiffnecked, hardening neck (Deuteronomy 10:16); gesture of disobedience (2 Kings 17:14; Ezra 10:19; Ezekiel 17:18). Yield, lit., give the hand, i.e., submit (1 Chronicles 29:24; Lamentations 5:6). 2 Chronicles 30:9. Find, “shall be for compassion before your captors.” 2 Chronicles 30:10. Zeb., extreme north. 2 Chronicles 30:11. Divers, certain; representatives of five tribes sent. 2 Chronicles 30:12. Hand, direct ascription to God for united national response.
2 Chronicles 30:13-17.—The keeping of Passover. 2 Chronicles 30:14. Altars which Ahaz had erected in city (ch. 2 Chronicles 28:24) partly for victims and partly for incense—a sign of earnestness. 2 Chronicles 30:15. Ashamed, behind in zeal for worship or given to idolatry, put now to blush by forwardness of people; received burnt-offerings from offerers at doors of inner court, and took them to brazen altar in front of porch. 2 Chronicles 30:16. Hand, Levites being obliged to help in slaying numerous victims. 2 Chronicles 30:17. Charge, because unsanctified people could not do it themselves.
2 Chronicles 30:18-22.—His prayer for unclean. Otherwise, i.e., contrary to Mosaic rites. 2 Chronicles 30:19. Prepareth, so is sincere. 2 Chronicles 30:20. Healed, forgave (sin) uncleanness and delivered from physical or moral consequences. 2 Chronicles 30:21. Seven, according to requirement (Exodus 12:18; Exodus 23:15); loud, strong instruments, ascribing might to the Lord. 2 Chronicles 30:22. Comfortably, encouragingly to heart. Confession of past sin and keeping feast full appointed time.
2 Chronicles 30:23-27.—Solemnities of second seven days. Took, resolved to imitate Solomon’s feast at dedication of temple (1 Kings 8:65). 2 Chronicles 30:24. Give, lit., gave as heave-offering (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 35:7). Thousand, victims liberally offered by kings and princes, many priests sanctified themselves to overtake this extraordinary abundance. Strangers responded to invitation, and not such a national feast since time of Solomon (cf. Josiah’s Passover, 2 Kings 23:22-23). 2 Chronicles 30:27. Blessed, benediction of priests, who were entitled to bless, reached to heaven itself (cf. Numbers 6:24-26).
THE PROCLAMATION OF THE PASSOVER.—2 Chronicles 30:1-12
Division of kingdom, disorders which followed, and prevalent idolatry prevented national observance for long time. Hezekiah desired to revive it, consulted princes and chief men, met with hearty response, and resolved to proclaim it.
I. The invitation to keep the passover.
1. Official, from kings and princes.
2. Special, by decree (2 Chronicles 30:5).
3. Pressing, by letters and proclamation.
4. Universal, to Israel as well as Judah. Indicating zeal, generosity, and love.
5. Timely, though temple, priests, and people not duly sanctified by 14th day of first month Nisan. Yet only postponed till 14th day of second month, not a whole year.
II. The motives to comply with this invitation. In passionate language he urges personal obedience and ready response.
1. Their covenant relation urged them. God forsaken, though “the Lord God of their fathers” and “the Lord their God.”
2. Their present condition urged them. Trans-Jordanic region desolate. Two tribes in captivity would find compassion from their captors (Psalms 106:46), and God would return unto the remnant.
3. If they complied God would be gracious. “Gracious and merciful, &c.” (2 Chronicles 30:9). His fierce wrath would be turned away if they sought him (Joel 2:13).
4. If they refused God would be angry.
III. The response which was given to the invitation. A twofold reception.
1. Some were ready and willing. “Divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” “In Judah” God’s power seen in zeal and unanimity of people.
2. Others mocked and insulted. Not merely refused, but openly derided. “Laughed them to scorn.” A type of gospel message, “a savour of life unto life or of death unto death.” Which to you? Neutrality impossible. Are you refusing or yielding? “They mocked the messengers of God and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.”
HEZEKIAH’S INVITATION.—2 Chronicles 30:1-12
Hezekiah determined to keep passover not in selfish spirit within narrow limits of Judah or Jerusalem, but commanded “that the burnt-offering and the sin-offering should be made for all Israel.” In this we learn—
I. The centre of unity for all God’s people. “The house of the Lord.” The sanctuary the centre round which all Israel should gather. Through Jeroboam’s act three centres, Jerusalem, Bethel, and Dan. Hezekiah pointed out one. “Turn again to the Lord God of your fathers.” Not places of worship, cities of refuge, creeds or denominations, but Christ the centre and bond of unity. One Lord, one table, one object.
II. The method of securing this unity.
1. Cherish and cultivate a spirit of love. Hezekiah not cold and exclusive, thought not of his own people merely, but of those in connection with him. Too much sectarianism and bigotry separate true believers one from another and repel the world.
2. By personal effort endeavour to bring it about. Discountenance everything that promotes separation. Encourage and incite in minds of all Christians a desire to be found together. Not the purpose of God that his people should be “scattered abroad” in bitter feelings, sectarian feuds, and selfish actions. Working to secure the unity of the body, we co-operate with God for a divine object. That “he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”
THE OBSERVANCE OF THE PASSOVER.—2 Chronicles 30:13-26
I. At an unusual though legal time. “In the second month.” “At that time” (in the first month, ch. 2 Chronicles 29:3), they could not keep passover, because priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people assembled. King and princes consulted not to delay another year, but to hold it second month. Zeal of people might cool down. Present benefit desired. Let circumstances give way to realities. Never neglect a greater for a smaller good.
II. By an unprecedented number of victims. Hezekiah gave a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep. The princes gave a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep. These besides the stock of sacrificial animals brought by the people which soon were exhausted. Pious example should ever incite. Rich will never be poorer for genuine liberality.
III. By the great numbers who attended. Some refused, but others gladly observed passover. All Judah with priests and Levites, some from Israel, the northern kingdom, and strangers—probably proselytes from both Judah and Israel. “A very great congregation” (2 Chronicles 30:13), to whom God’s arm was revealed (Isaiah 53:1), and who were made willing in the day of God’s power. No passover like this since the great festival of Solomon, which lasted fourteen days, for excess of Levitical zeal, unbounded joy, and extent of duration.
HEZEKIAH’S PRAYER.—2 Chronicles 30:18-20
Passover kept, but remarkable is the description, “otherwise than it was written.” Many involved in ceremonial or moral uncleanness, and unfit to slay their own lambs; needed intercession of the king, who proved himself to be a true ruler and a true priest for the people. Learn—
I. That purity of heart is required for sanctuary worship. Outward cleansing of Old Testament a symbol of inward. Truth in the inward parts, sincerity of heart and mind needful. Worship is not sensual, but a living fellowship with Christ; for this, preparation must be made. “If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands towards him, &c.” (Job 11:13).
II. That the best preparation in sanctuary worship is defective. Not what law requires, not up to spiritual ideal, “according to the purification of the sanctuary.” Iniquity cleaves to our holy things, and “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not.” Best offerings, holiest worshippers unworthy—need the intercession, the incense of the great High-Priest.
III. That when the heart is sincere God will hear prayer. God is Jehovah the good, kind and merciful; proclaiming goodness in forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. Prayer to Him will be heard. “And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah.” God ever condescending to the upright in shortcomings and defects. But this no excuse for negligence in preparation, for reliance upon duty performed as well as we can perform it, nor any ground for despair on account of weakness or imperfection. “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”
A SECOND JOYFUL MONTH.—2 Chronicles 30:23-26
A voluntary service made in addition to requirements of law, a fruit and sign of abundant zeal and gladness. This illustrates—
I. The true method of deliverance from sectarianism. No form prescribed. Law not exactly obeyed. The sweetness of unity in decided hostility to separation, idolatry, and narrow-mindedness. Hospitality warmed, the nation enthusiastic and one; numbers grow, and pardon multiplies at the feast.
II. The true principle of all reformation. Not to pull down what is false, but to build up what is true. Assemble Israel round the altar, lead them into the presence of the God of their fathers; then a mighty power will go forth from Jerusalem to sweep the land from idols, upset the seats of superstition, and confirm righteous works. Not to resuscitate fallen religion by novel measures, to promote excitement, and raise up a denomination, but to return to appointed means, regularly, orderly, and reverently observe divine worship, and restore to freedom and efficiency old institutions by which God will raise the Church and bless the nation.
III. The only way to secure service out of worship. “When all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces,” &c. (ch. 2 Chronicles 31:1). Altars not destroyed in going up to Jerusalem. They needed the experience of the feast, the blessings of worship. Hezekiah began with God in sanctuary, Israel pursued the same order. Power to reform and execute judgment derived from God’s presence. Luther and Knox prayerful in closet, therefore successful in reform. “Not by might, &c.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 30:14-17. Removal of altars.
1. Destruction after construction. Evil taken away before good accomplished.
2. Official lukewarmness to remove evil. Its widespread and its future end.
3. Personal revival to stir up others.
2 Chronicles 30:18-20. Hez.’s prayer.
1. Sin brings sickness. Ceremonial uncleanness exposure to danger. In consequence of transgression they had cause to fear physical and moral disease (Leviticus 15:31).
2. God the physician. Will heal this moral sickness. “The Lord healed and restored to penitence and health.” This revealed probably by a prophet (cf. 2 Kings 19:20; 2 Kings 20:5).
2 Chronicles 30:22. Hez.’s encouragement to Levites. Work holy and great. Unity and resources of all to accomplish it. Hence “H. spake comfortably.” I. Qualifications required. (a) Knowledge, good and extensive, ritual and musical. (b) Wisdom to execute and consecrate it to God’s service, (c) Humility before God. “Knowledge is proud because she knows so much, wisdom humble because she knows no more.” II. The advantages of possessing these qualifications, (a) Ability to encourage others. (b) Facility to arrange and conduct public worship.
2 Chronicles 30:1-27. Reviewing whole, we have—I. A revival of theocratic spirit. II. Destruction of idolatrous customs. III. Establishment of true unity in public worship. IV. A pattern Reformation, in its benevolent design, in the spirit in which it was conducted, and in the priestly blessing it secured. Benedictions fell from lips of leaders, praises of the people ascended to heaven, the nation restored to God “and great joy.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 30
2 Chronicles 30:1-12. Zeal (“My sons, be not negligent”) should be inspired by principles, not by circumstances. Yet the value of circumstances must not be underrated, for they are means which God employs to awaken our attention to duty. It is not difficult to trace the course of events through which the dying embers of religious zeal, and especially of zeal for Christian missions, have been kindled by the breath of God. We may not overlook the happy results from the commanding influences of leading men and the powerful impressions produced on the lethargy into which the public mind is ever sinking, by the stirring appeals of pulpit, platform, and press. By such means it has pleased God, in a degree, to conquer public opinion, and they must continue to be plied with unabating energy till the conquest is complete [W. H. Stowel, D.D.].
2 Chronicles 30:22. Confession.
“What better can we do than to the place
Repairing where he judged us, prostrate fall
Before him reverent, and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg with tears” [Milton].
2 Chronicles 30:23-27. Universal joy. I am not unmindful of the assertion that the God of the Hebrews is usually thought of as a Being of preternatural severity, overwhelming men by his majesty, begetting profound and soul-filling awe by his greatness, dwelling in the thick darkness, making clouds his chariot, and sweeping down on his foes like a cyclone. But this representation is one-sided and unfair to a religion which had more festivals than fasts, more psalms than prophecies, and more triumphs than despairs. By the side of intolerance of sin there is mercy that reacheth to the very heavens, and near to the righteousness that is like the great mountains there is a forgiveness that inspires hopeful petition, even out of depth of sufferings and misfortune [Dr. J. Clifford].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 30". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18