Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hezekiah's Passover

Every reader of Hezekiah's reform in Judah should be impressed by the steps taken to have all Israel and Judah celebrate the Passover.  Driven by a repentant heart for the people, Hezekiah implemented reforms to restore worship as God intended.  One reform mentioned specifically was the Passover.  The joint time of Passover/Unleavened Bread was one of three required events for Jewish men (Exo 23:14-17) and was to always be held on the 14th of Abib, the first month of the year.  Only in the event of uncleanness or distance could someone not respond, and then only to the second month.  Such was the case here.  Because of Judah's great sin and idolatry practiced by his father Ahaz (2 Chr 28:22-24), the temple and priesthood were in disarray and required cleansing, prompting Hezekiah to initiate action and call for the feast to be held at the later time.

Passover Observed

The Invitation – The chronicler records that Hezekiah sent word to both kingdoms of the great feast about to take place.  Ephraim and Manasseh are singled out as receiving letters most likely because of their relative size and importance in the north.  That the king invited the northern kingdom says a great deal about his desire for those wayward brethren.  Here was an opportunity for him to exalt the Lord while inviting the Northern Kingdom to worship together as one people.

The invitation's message was a call of repentance (2 Chr 30:6-9).  Hezekiah knows Israel has lived wickedly and needs to return to the God of their fathers.  He understands the goodness and mercy that can be extended to them by returning to the
Lord.  The king knows that if they only heed, not only will their generation be healed and blessed, but also their children will benefit.

The Response – Couriers delivered the message to the north, who were largely unreceptive, though some did respond and attend (2 Chr 30:11, 18).  In the south, the people were wholeheartedly given to the task of restoring God's rightful place among them (2 Chr 30:12).

The Feast – Because so much cleansing amongst the Levites had to be accomplished in order properly fulfill the feast requirements, the people came together in the second month.  Many of the non-priestly tribes still had not properly consecrated themselves but kept the feast anyway in view of Hezekiah's prayer that they be pardoned for this shortcoming—one divinely and willingly answered.

Hezekiah had so supplied the people with animals for offering that the people feasted not just for for the prescribed seven days but fourteen, even exceeding the required practice by sacrificing peace offerings each day and ending with a blessing of the people by the priests  (2 Chr 30:21-27).  The net result was great joy in Jerusalem and a resolve so that at the end of the feast, the people went home and destroyed the idolatrous things not just in Judah but in Ephraim and Manasseh as well (2 Chr 31:1).


1.  Above all things the Lord desires his people to worship before him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).  This does not allow for just any expression of worship.  Often people attempt to perform acts of worship that he does not condone and hope it is acceptable.  No, God had clearly articulated what was required from his people to be acceptable worship.  He was willing to make up what was lacking, because they had a mind to complete that lack in themselves.  God noted this, and they were made clean in order to offer with clean hands and pure heart.

2.  The Lord's commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).  He orchestrates all things to glorify himself and to be for our good.  How could he who is by nature good do any less?  We do well to follow by faith all he has told us through Christ.

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