II Chronicles 29

 

 

The important reign of Hezekiah extends over this and the following three

chapters, counting in all ninety-seven verses. The parallel, for the contents

of the first three of these chapters, with their sixty-four verses, is limited to

the small number of six verses (II Kings 18:1-6), which in its turn is

very much fuller (ibid. vs. 7-20.) in the subject of our ch. 32. The

reason of this so various disposition of matter is by no means wrapped in

mystery, our writer’s main object being clearly best subserved in exhibiting

the moral and religious aspects of the inner history of Judah, as

distinguished from its foreign politics — so, for brevity’s sake, to

denominate them. The chapter contains Hezekiah’s pious inauguration of

reign and appeal to priests and Levites (vs. 1-11); the cleansing (vs. 12-19),

reconsecration (vs. 20-30), and thank offerings (vs. 31-37) of the temple.

 

1“Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old,

and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his

mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.

2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD,

according to all that David his father had done.”

Hezekiah. The Ezekias (as by margin) of Matthew 1:10). Five

and twenty years old. We have been told (ch. 28:1) that

Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen

years. So that, if these numbers be correct, and the numbers of our verse

correct, Hezekiah must have been born when his father was only eleven

years old. Of which all that can be said is, with Keil, that such a thing was

not impossible and not unknown. It is far more probable, however, that

one of the determining figures is wrong, but we have nothing to guide us to

say which. Abijah. The parallel spells this name “Abi,” omitting the final

he, and dagesh in yod. Zechariah. This may, perhaps, have been the

Zechariah whose name accompanies the mention of the name of Uriah the

priestin Isaiah 8:2, where we may be surprised to find Uriah called a

faithful witness,” when we remember his associations with Ahaz, as told in

our foregoing chapter. Some refer our Zechariah, however, to him of ch. 26:5.

 

 

 

The Accession of Hezekiah (vs. 1-2)

 

  • HIS PERSON.

 

Ø      His name. Hezekiah, “The might of Jehovah;” Hizkiyah (II Kings 18:1);

Hiskiyahu (v. 1; Isaiah 36:1; 37:1, 3); with which last corresponds

Hazakijau, or Hazakiau, of the Assyrian inscriptions.

 

Ø      His parentage. His father Ahaz (ch. 28:27), to whom while

yet a lad he must have been born (see homily on ch.28:1-27);

his mother Abijah, “Father of Jehovah” — in shortened form, Abi

(II Kings 18:2), the daughter of Zechariah, “a citizen of Jerusalem

(Josephus), perhaps the son of Jeberechiah, a contemporary of Ahaz

(Isaiah 8:2),” not improbably the favorite prophet of Uzziah  (Stanley).

 

  • HIS REIGN.

 

Ø      Its commencement.

 

o        When he was twenty-five years old; therefore when, having fully

attained to manhood, he was old enough to have learned something of

the ruinous results of his father’s career, and of the utter folly as well as

wickedness of idolatry.

 

o        “In the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah, King of Israel

(II Kings 18:1), six years before the carrying away of Israel captive by

Shalmaneser, the King of Assyria (ibid. v. 10).

 

o        When Judah as a kingdom had been reduced to a low ebb by the Syro-

Ephraimitish war, with the invasions of the Edomites and Philistines,

not to speak of the impoverishment of the royal bank by the tributes paid

to Tiglath-Pileser (ch. 28:5-6, 8, 17, 21). “Take out of the two

tribes of Judah and Benjamin one hundred and twenty thousand whom

Pekah, the King of Israel, slew in one day; take out two hundred thousand

that were carried away captive to Samaria” (these, however, returned);

take out those that were transported into the bondage of the Edomites,

and those that were subdued in the south parts by the Philistines; alas! what

a handful was left to the King of Judah, scarce worth the name of a

dominion!” (Bishop Hall).

 

Ø      Its close. After twenty-nine years-upwards of a quarter of a century; a

long time for a thoughtful sovereign to bear the responsibilities of a crown,

even had the period been peaceful, much more when it was full of trouble

and anxiety, both on account of the social and religious degeneracy of his

own people, and the threatenings and dangers arising from foreign foes. It

was hardly wonderful that Hezekiah’s health should have broken down

under the intense strain to which it was subjected.

 

Its contents. These may be gathered from chps. 29-32; II Kings 18-20 and

Isaiah (36-39.). The principal events were:

 

o        The reformation of religion, commenced in the first (ecclesiastical)

month of the first year of his reign, by opening and purifying the temple

(vs. 3-36), and concluded in the second month by the celebration of a

Passover (ch. 30:1), and the demolition of heathen altars in Jerusalem

(ibid. v.13) and throughout the land (ch. 31:1). To this the king was most

likely moved by the impressions made upon his mind by the fierce

denunciations of Micah, who had already during the two previous reigns

been testifying against the moral and spiritual corruption of the people

(Micah 1-3.). “The outward reformation was doubtless the expression of

an inward change also” (Stanley).

 

o        The breaking of the yoke of Assyria and the assertion of the nation’s

independence (II Kings 18:7), with the conducting of a successful

campaign against the Philistines (ibid. v. 8), some time before the

fourth year of his reign (ibid. v. 9), clearly before the capture of

Samaria by the King of Assyria (ibid. v. 10). As the monuments

show that the king who commenced the siege of Samaria was

Shalmaneser, and the king who finished it was his son Sargon (Schrader,

Keilinschriften,’ p. 271), it is more than likely that Hezekiah was moved

to revolt by the death of Shalmaneser, B.C. 722.

 

o        The sickness of Hezekiah in his fourteenth year, with the gracious

prolongation of his life for fifteen more years (ch. 32:24-26;

II Kings 20:1-11; Isaiah 38:1-22).

 

o        The imprudent reception of Merodach-Baladan’s ambassadors, who

had been sent ostensibly to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery, but

really to obtain his assistance against Sargon of Assyria (ch. 32:31;

II Kings 20:12; Isaiah 39:1).

 

o        The conquest of Judah and the capture of Jerusalem by Sargon, in

Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, not mentioned by the Chronicler or the author

of the Kings, but described by Isaiah (chps. 10, 11.), who represents an

Assyrian monarch as first conquering Calno, Carehemish, Hamath,

Arpbad, Damascus, and Samarla, and then advancing towards Jerusalem

by the usual high-road from the northeast, and halting at Nob, only an

hour’s journey distant from Jerusalem, in which also (compare ch. 22.)

the prophet presents the picture of a siege which has already lasted some

time, and which can only be explained by Sargon” (Sayce, ‘ Fresh Light,’

etc., p. 139). This conquest of Judah, the monuments show, was carried

out in connection with Sargon’s expedition against Ashdod, which he

entrusted to his tartan, or commander (Isaiah 20:1), while he himself

overran the widespread land of Judah, and captured its capital” (Sayce,

‘Fresh Light,’ etc., p. 137; compare  G. Smith’s ‘Assyrian Discoveries,’

pp. 288-293).

 

o        The fortification of Jerusalem in anticipation of the above attack upon

his capital, not by Sennacherib (ch. 32:1-8), but by Sargon.

 

o        The invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, not in Hezekiah’s fourteenth

(II Kings 18:13-16), but in his twenty-fourth year, since, according to

the monuments, Sargon was murdered in B.C. 705, while Sennacherib’s

campaign against Syria and the West did not begin till B.C. 701.

 

o        The submission of Hezekiah to Sennacherib at Lachish (II Kings

18:14-16).

 

o        The siege of Jerusalem by Scnnacherib’s captains, Tartan, Rabshakeh,

and Rabsaris (ch. 32:9-22; II Kings 18:17-19:36; Isaiah 36:2- 37:37).

 

o        The reception of a blasphemous letter from Sennacherib, with the

prayer to which it led (ch. 32:20; II Kings 19:8-34; Isaiah 37:8-35).

 

o        The destruction of Sennacherib’s army (ch. 32:21; II Kings 19:35;

Isaiah 37:36).

 

o        The extension of Hezekiah’s fame in consequence of this deliverance

(ch. 32:23).

 

  • HIS CHARACTER.

 

Ø      Good. “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according

to all that David his father had done” (v. 2). With this agrees the

testimony of II Kings 18:5-6), that,his piety:

 

o        sprang from the right root — faith: “he trusted in the Lord God of

Israel;”

o        evinced the right quality — constancy: “he clave to the Lord, and

departed not from following Him;” and

o        produced the right fruit — obedience: “he kept the commandments

which the Lord commanded Moses.” The causes which led to

Hezekiah’s conversion were doubtless manifold:

 

§         Divine grace, without which no change of heart or life can be

permanently good (John 3:7); I Corinthians 15:10);

§         prophetic instruction, given by Isaiah (Isaiah 37:2), Micah,

Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18-19), and Zechariah, his maternal

grandfather — no lasting transformation being effected on

the mind or character except through the medium of the truth

(Psalm 19:7; 119:9; Micah 2:7; John 15:3); and

§         personal observation of the sinfulness and ruinous consequences

of idolatry.

 

Ø      Energetic. Sufficiently apparent from the above-recited record of his life.

Besides being a pious sovereign, he was:

 

o        a military commander of pronounced skill and undaunted courage

(ch. 32:3-8),

o        a wise and judicious civil administrator (ch. 32:27-30),

o        a zealous and unwearied religious reformer (chps. 29-31.),

o        a student and patron of letters (Proverbs 25:1),

o        an antiquarian and a poet (ch. 32:27; II Kings 23:12; Isaiah 38:9-20).

 

In short, Hezekiah was “one of the most splendid princes that ever adorned

the throne of David, and whose reign of nine and twenty years exhibits an

almost unclouded picture of persistent struggles against the most embarrassed

and difficult circumstances, crowned with elevating victories” (Ewald,

‘History of Israel,’ 4:172).

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      That Divine grace is stronger than hereditary corruption.

Ø      That God can raise up great men when such are demanded by the

times.

Ø      That the hidden root of all true nobility in man is faith in God, and

steadfast adherence to truth and right.

 

3 “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the

doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.”

In the first month; i.e. Nisan, the first month of the calendar

year (see vs. 2, 13, 15 of next chapter), not simply the first month of the

new king’s reign. And repaired them. This repairing of Hezekiah was,

unhappily, subsequently undone of his own hands (II Kings 18:14-16).

 

4 “And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them

together into the east street,”  The east street; Hebrew, הַמִּזְרָח לִרְחוב.

This word, rendered here “street,” occurs forty-two times, and is always

rendered by the same English word, except three times, when it appears

as “broad places,” or “ways.” Probably it should always be translated thus,

its meaning and its manifest preponderant use being “an open space”

(ch. 32:6). So Revised Version: Into the broad place on the east, i.e.

an open area east of the temple.

 

5 “And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves,

and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry

forth the filthiness out of the holy place.  6 For our fathers have trespassed,

and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have

forsaken Him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of

the LORD, and turned their backs.”  Sanctify… yourselves; Hebrew,

הִתְקַדְּשׁוּ.  Note the absence of any such direction in I Chronicles 13., and

see here ch.15:11- 14, with our note on v. 12 in particular. The filthiness;

Hebrew, אֶת־הַגְּדִּה.  This word occurs twenty-seven times, and is rendered:

 

Ø      “separation” fifteen times,

Ø      “flowers” twice,

Ø      “put apart” three times,

Ø      “uncleanness” or “filthiness” six times, and

Ø      menstruous once.

 

The term, therefore, is among the strongest that could be used, and glances

probably at the abominations, of whatsoever sort, that Ahaz’s idolatries had

entailed (compare v. 16).

 

7 “Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the

lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in

the holy place unto the God of Israel.” This verse is the answering echo

of ch. 28:24.

 

8 “Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem,

and He hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing,

as ye see with your eyes.”  Wherefore the wrath. As illustrated by the defeats

and humiliations suffered at the hands of Pekah and Hazael, the Philistines and

Edomites, and the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser. To trouble, to

astonishment, and to hissing. Three words, carrying each a volume of

meaning, and charged with the most powerful and painful of reminiscence

(Deuteronomy 28:25, 28, 32 [observe our v. 9], 37, 46, 65-66). The

Hebrew word for “hissing” (שְׁרֵקָה) occurs, besides, five times in Jeremiah

(19:8; 25:9, 18; 29:18; 51:37), and once in the contemporary Prophet

Micah (Micah 6:16; compare Jeremiah 26:18).

 

9 “For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our

daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.” (ch. 28:5, 8, 17.)

 

10 “Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of

Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.”   To make a covenant;

Hebrew, לִכְרות בְּרְית (see ch. 15:12, and our note there).

 

11 “My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to

stand before Him, to serve Him, and that ye should minister unto

Him, and burn incense.”  Be not now negligent; Hebrew, אַל־תִּשָּׂלוּ.

This verb in kal (supposing it the same verb) occurs but five times (Job 3:26;

12:6; Psalm 122:6; Jeremiah 12:1; Lamentations 1:5), the radical idea

of it being the safety of ease or security rather than any absolute safety. In

niph. it is found only in this place and in II Kings 4:28, where the

rendering of the Authorized Version, “Do not deceive me,” will easily yield

the same essential idea. The derivative adjective (שֶׁלֵו), occurs eight times,

and always has the same flavor about it (I Chronicles 4:40; Job 16:12; 20:20;

21:23; Psalm 73:12; Jeremiah 49:31; Ezekiel 23:42; Zechariah 7:7). And the

derivative nouns (שֶׁלֶו and שַׁלְוָה) occur nine times, and, at any rate, in

almost every instance evidently carrying the same fundamental idea (Psalm 30:6;

122:7; Proverbs 1:32; 17:1; Jeremiah 22:21; Ezekiel 16:49; Daniel 8:25; 11:21, 24).

Our Authorized Version, therefore, sufficiently reproduces the thought of

Hezekiah, though perhaps this would more exactly come out of the

rendering, “Be not now at ease,” i.e. sacrifice ease and self-indulgence, etc.

To serve Him… that ye should minister. The same verb is used in both

these places; so Revised Version, To minister unto Him, and that ye should

be His ministers.

 

 

The Height of Opportunity (vs. 1-11)

 

To Hezekiah as he ascended the throne of Judah there was presented a

very noble opportunity. His father had brought the nation down very low,

had left it “naked” to its various enemies, had caused it to incur the sore

displeasure of the Lord, had suffered it to reach the very verge of

destruction. But he himself was young and strong; he knew what was the

secret and what the source of prosperity; he indulged the hope that

everything might yet be restored if determination and energy were shown

at the right hour. He resolved that, with the help of God, he would be

equal to this great emergency, would rise to the height of this noble

opportunity; and so he was, and so he did. He had what he needed for it:

 

  • ALL DUE PREPARATION IN GODLY TRAINING. For, although his

father was an apostate from the true faith, and his example was everything

that he should avoid, Hezekiah was not without home influences of another

and a very different kind. It is a happy inconsistency we often find in bad

men that they are willing for their children to receive the good counsel

which themselves disregard and perhaps even despise. Whether due to a

contemptuous indifference or to a covert fear, they are willing, sometimes

even wishful, that their children should receive a godly education. It is

highly probable that from his mother, Abijah, he learned those truths and

received those influences which led him to choose the service of God.

Probably Isaiah had access to him; and if so, we may be sure he made use

of his opportunity. Whoever did teach and train him must have felt amply

rewarded in after-years, when Hezekiah rendered such splendid service to

his country. There is sometimes done at the mother’s knee or in the

schoolroom a work for God the full fruits of which are never revealed on

earth.

 

  • SENSIBILITY. As we read the address which Hezekiah delivered to

the priests and the Levites (vs. 5-11), we are impressed with the fact that

the speaker was a man of no ordinary sensibility. The things which had

happened of late had cut him to the heart. His nation’s dishonor, the

domestic sorrows of the people (v. 9), the overshadowing of the high

displeasure of the Almighty, — all this moved him to pure and deep

emotion. He was a man of strong and profound feeling (see also Isaiah 38.).

 

  • RESOLUTENESS. There is reason to think that the ecclesiastical

officials were far from being keenly sympathetic with the king in his work

of reformation. The priests were quite in the background, and the Levites

needed to be exhorted “not to be negligent” (v. 11). The king himself not

only took the initiative, but he brought to the work a firm resoluteness

which carried everything before it. “It is in my heart to make a covenant,”

he said (v. 10); and it was clear that the young king, although his elders

were before him, and although the reins of government were only just in

his hand, intended to carry out his purpose. One strong will, especially

when it holds a high place and has a right to speak authoritatively, will

drive indecision and even half-heartedness before it.

 

  • SAGACITY. Hezekiah showed a sagacity which may be said to have

been “beyond his years.”

 

Ø      He recognized the right order of procedure. He felt that the first thing to

be done was to set the nation right with the God whom they had so

seriously offended; and he perceived that the first thing to be done to

attain this great end was to purify the profaned house of the Lord.

 

Ø      He took the leaders of religion into counsel and co-operation. He called

the Levites and the priests together, and energetically addressed them;

he appealed to them in the language of piety and of affection (v. 11).

 

Ø      He understood that all reformation must begin with our own hearts.

“Sanctify yourselves, he said (v. 5). It must be the clean hands of the

pure heart that cleanse and purify the sanctuary of the Lord.  If we would

rise to the height of our opportunity we must do these things:

 

o        Realize the greatness of the work before us; be impressed and

affected by it; be seriously solemnized by it. It is not the cold

or the chilled heart that will carry a great work through all

obstacles and over all toils to a successful issue.

 

o        Give the first place to the sacred side of the matter; feel that

we must have God with us in our work; consider well what are

its relations to Him, and in what way His favor is to be secured.

 

o        Make a beginning with ourselves“sanctify ourselves” for

the work in hand, by self-examination, by a sincere repentance

and return unto God, by a solemn and deliberate rededication

of ourselves to our Lord and to His service, by earnest and

believing prayer, cleanse our own heart and thus be ready

for the part we are to take.

 

o        Cooperate with our fellows to the utmost of our power; not

proudly consider that we alone are sufficient, nor selfishly

desire to reserve sacred duty and opportunity for our own

hand, nor contentiously make it difficult for others to work

with us; but gladly and graciously enter into fellowship

with our friends and neighbors.

 

12 “Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel the

son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the sons of

Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of Jehalelel: and

of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of

Joah:  Then the Levites arose. This verse gives two apiece of the

three divisions or “families”Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, “sons of

Levi” (I Chronicles 6:1-2, 16-20; 23:6-7, 12, 21, 24; compare

Genesis 46:11; Exodus 6:16). Though some of the names of this

and the following two verses are known, they do not designate, of course,

the same persons. Through many a generation of Levites, the same names

were, no doubt intentionally, reproduced.

 

13 “And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of

Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:  Elizaphan (Exodus 6:22). He was chief

of the Kohathites in the time of Moses (Numbers 3:30; compare I Chronicles 15:8).

This family, though we do not read why, seems always to have retained a

separate existence.

 

14 “And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of

Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.” Asaph (former verse), Heman, Jeduthun.

These were the chiefs of the singers and musicians (see, again, I Chronicles

6:31-33, 39; 25:1-7; here ch. 5:12).

 

15 “And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and

came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of

the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.”  By the words of the Lord.

The Hebrew here (בְּדִבְרֵי יְהוָה) may possibly mean, in the business

of Jehovah,” upon which King Hezekiah was now intent. But it is not by

any means needful so to understand it. The words or commands of the Lord

are such as are written in Exodus 19:22; Leviticus 11:44.

 

16 “And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD,

to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in

the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD.

And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron.”

The inner part. That is to say, only the priests were warranted to enter inside

the temple, while the Levites’ sphere of work and service lay in the courts

and round about the temple. Kidron, as we have seen (note ch. 27:3), lay on

the east of the temple mount.

 

17 “ Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and

on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the

LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days;

and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.”

They began… to sanctify. This is not the hithp, conjugation

(v. 5), and the whole verse probably purports to speak only of the

sanctification of things, not of the self-sanctifying of the official persons,

which, whether it occupied longer or shorter time, had been already done.

The sanctifying of all outside, then, to the threshold, or porch, took eight

days. So, manifestly, should be rendered, in the van here found, and. The

sanctifying of the interior occupied another eight days, and the legitimate

feast-day of the Passover, viz. the fourteenth day of Nisan, became

overlapped by two days. Nevertheless, many may have observed the

Passover on its strict date.

 

18 “Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have

cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering,

with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the

vessels thereof.  19 “Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his

reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified,

and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.”  This and the following

verse purport to say that, while all “filthiness” had been swept out and away to

Kidron’s dark waters, all that had been polluted of the proper furniture of the

temple and its worship had now been cleansed and sanctified by those who

had been entrusted with the work, and likewise that things misplaced and

removed had been replaced, also after cleansing and sanctifying. This is the

happy report that the priests bring now to Hezekiah (ch. 28:24; II Kings 16:14).

 

 

The Purification of the Temple (vs. 3-19)

 

  • THE GATHERING OF THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES (v. 4.)

 

Ø      When? In the first year of the king’s reign, in the first month (vs. 3,

17), but whether of that reign (Caspari) or of the ecclesiastical year

(Bertheau, Keil, Jamieson, Ochler in Herzog) cannot be determined. In

either case it was not long after his accession. The acts evinced:

 

o       piety, the king giving his first thoughts to religion (Matthew 6:33);

and

 

o       prudence, since a good work never can be too soon begun, and

reformations may be wrought at the beginning of a reign that

cannot be so easily effected afterwards. “As the spring-time

of nature or of the year is the most suitable season for purging

natural bodies, so is the spring-time of a reign the best time

for purging the body politic” (Bacon).

 

Ø      Where? In “the broad place on the east;” either the inner court of the

temple (Bertheau), or the open space in front of the temple towards the

east (Keil), which will depend upon whether the doors of the temple had

been opened prior to the assembling of the priests.

 

Ø      Why? To invite their cooperation in the work of cleansing the sanctuary

Ahaz had shut up (ch. 28:24), and of reestablishing the worship Ahaz

had abolished. For these purposes and as a preliminary thereto,

according to one view, the king had already opened the temple doors;

according to another, he only did so when the work of cleansing

commenced.

 

  • THE WORDS ADDRESSED TO THEM BY THE KING. (vs. 5-11.)

      Hezekiah regarding them without distinction as Levites — not

speaking to the Levites as distinguished from the priests, as if these were

not present, though they certainly (v. 34) “hung back from the revolution

which swept away the neglect which the head of their order, Urijah, must

in some measure have countenanced” (Stanley, ‘Lectures on the Jewish

Church,’ vol. it. p. 465), and, exhorting them with fatherly affection (v.11),

set before them three things.

 

Ø      The work which required to be done.

 

o        The sanctification of themselves, without which they could not enter

on such service as that to which he was about to invite them (Exodus

19:10-12; Leviticus 11:44). This sanctification was doubtless carried

out formally by the offering of sacrifice, by washing and putting on

clean garments, and perhaps by anointing with oil (Leviticus 8:1-7, 30);

inwardly by acts of spiritual heart devotion and dedication to the work

about to be performed, and to Him whose work it was.

 

o        The sanctification of the house of the Lord; or, the carrying forth of

the filthiness that had accumulated therein since the day when its

doors were closed, the burnishing of all the utensils that had been

left to rust through disuse, and the replacing of all the sacred vessels

which had been cast away. Without this the true national Jehovah-

worship could not be re-instituted. In this everything must proceed

according to the pattern prescribed by the Law.

 

o        The two things symbolized what is needful to constitute true worship

under the better dispensation of the gospel:

 

§         in the worshipper:

ü      faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ,

ü      renewal of heart and mind in the laver of

regeneration,

ü      personal separation from all known sin;

 

§         in the worship,

ü      purity,

ü      beauty,

ü      completeness.

 

Ø      The reasons why it needed to be done.

 

o        Because, through the wickedness of their fathers in forsaking God,

the temple had fallen into disrepair; its doors had been closed, its

lamps put out, its altars left without offerings (vs. 6-7). What their

fathers then had done it became them to undo. Unless they would

be sharers in their fathers’ guilt, they must separate themselves

from their fathers’ sin. Their fathers’ trespass would not condemn

them if they disowned it by acting differently.

 

o        Because on account of this wickedness the wrath of God had fallen

upon the nation, “upon Judah and Jerusalem,” upon the inhabitants

of the cities and of the metropolis; their troops had been slaughtered

in the field (ch. 28:6), their sons and wives and daughters carried into

captivity (ibid. vs. 5, 8), their country delivered to trouble, to

astonishment, to hissing.

 

o        Because it was the king’s intention, in restoring the ancient worship of

Jehovah, to renew the covenant between himself with his people and

Jehovah (v. 10), as had formerly been done by Joash and his subjects

(ch. 23:16), and earlier by Asa and his warriors (ch. 15:12) — being

moved to this by the consideration that not otherwise could they escape

the fierce wrath their national apostasy had kindled against them.

 

Ø      The argument why they should do the work. The Lord had selected them

to be His temple ministers — the Levites and priests together to stand

before Him and serve Him, the priests to burn incense upon His altar. (N.B.

This is an indirect proof that “Levites” in v. 5 includes the “priests.”)

Hence:

 

o        faithfulness should lead them to do the work specially assigned them,

and

o        honor impel them, seeing Jehovah had chosen them, rather than

others, to be His ministers.

 

  • THE RESPONSE GIVEN BY THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES TO

THE KING (vs. 12-16.)

 

Ø      The absent members of the order were collected. Fourteen Levites had

heard the king’s speech — two from each of the great families of Kohath,

Gershon, and Merari; two of the sons of Elizaphan, the son of Uzziel, the

son of Kohath (Exodus 6:18), and in Moses’ time the head of the

family of Kohath (Numbers 3:30); two of the sons of Asaph, who

belonged to the family of Gershon; and two of the sons of Heman, who

again proceeded from the family of Kohath; and two of the sons of

Jeduthun, an offshoot from the family of Merari (on these names see

Exposition). Responding with alacrity and gladness to the king’s summons,

they went forth and mustered the whole body of their brethren in

Jerusalem. The work to which they had been called should be done by a

united body, all hands and one heart — a good model for the Christian

Church.

 

Ø      The duty of personal sanctification was scrupulously attended to. God’s

work must be done in God’s way; always with fear and trembling, never

with irreverent presumption; always in the beauty of holiness, never in the

uncleanness of sin.

 

Ø      The work was divided between the Levites and the priests. To each was

assigned that for which he was qualified and had been appointed; the

cleansing of the temple proper to the priests, since these alone could enter

the holy place; the removal of that which the priests brought from the

interior of the sanctuary into the porch to the Levites, who bore it thence

to the brook Kidron, which flowed through the valley of Jehoshaphat, on

the east of the temple hill. So should all in the Christian work be content to

do the work to which they are called, and for which they are qualified. As

all have not the same gifts, so all are not intended for the same spheres of

Christian activity.

 

Ø      The work was carried on until it was completed. It began with the

purification of the buildings exterior to the temple, which occupied eight

days. In eight days more they had finished the temple proper, both the

porch and the sanctuary. On the sixteenth day they made an end. How

much good work is begun by Christian people without being ended! How

many become weary in well-doing before they have half completed what

they have put their hands to!

 

Ø      A report of the work done was carried to the king. The whole house of

the Lord had been cleansed, all its furniture and utensils purified, the

vessels found wanting replaced.

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      That God can be worshipped only in the beauty of holiness.

Ø      That as God calls none of His servants to uncleanness, He can

be served only by the clean.

Ø      That God’s house — whether heart or church (or our bodies

“What?  know ye not that your body is the temple of the

Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of god, and

ye are not your own?” – I Corinthians 6:19 - CY – 2016) —

should be studiously guarded against defilement.

Ø      That God’s people, like God Himself, should be unwearied

in doing good.

Ø      That God’s servants must one day render to Him an account

of their works.  “For we must all appear before the judgment

seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in

his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good

or bad.”  (II Corinthians 5:10)

 

 

Doing Duty (vs. 12-19)

 

The way in which these Levites received and executed the commission of

the king may indicate to us the way in which we should enter upon and

discharge our duty.

 

  • UNDERTAKE IT IN A RIGHT SPIRIT. These men “arose” and went

forth to do what Hezekiah called upon them to execute. It will not be

presuming much if, judging from the account which follows, we conclude

that they undertook their work in a spirit of:

 

Ø      obedience to the king, and

Ø      devotion to their God.

 

Certainly that would have become them and have honored them.

And that is, undoubtedly, the spirit in which we should go forth to any duty

with which we are charged; we should:

 

Ø      realize our obligation to man — to do what is just and fair toward him;

Ø      our responsibility to God; for in diligence and fidelity we may do

everything unto him also (Colossians 3:23).

 

  • BE UNDISTURBED BY ITS UNPLEASANTNESS. This duty laid

upon the Levites and upon the priests was not inviting work. To “bring out

all the uncleanness” from the temple, and to “carry it out into the brook

Kidron,” could not be very agreeable occupation. But they did not hesitate

to do it. And, indeed, they could not possibly have been better occupied. In

that act they were carrying forth a curse; they were bearing away the wrath

of their God. They were not merely cleansing an edifice; they were clearing

their conscience; they were righting their record in the books of heaven.

No fair hand was doing that week in Jerusalem any work of refinement that

more graced its owner than did the hands of those Levites as they stripped

the false altar of its clothing, or as they swept the accumulated dust from

the courts of the sanctuary. Let us not despise any true work of any kind.

Even if it is not of a kind that answers to our taste or to our training; even

if it should be uncongenial to our spirit. If it be that work which the

emergency requires of us, or if it be that which Divine providence assigns

us at the time; if it be that which our Master Himself asks of us in order to

serve His cause or to help one of His little ones, it is honorable employment,

it should be accounted holy in our esteem.

 

“Do thy little; though it be

Dreariness and drudgery.

They whom Christ apostles made

Gathered fragments when He bade.”

 

The twelve apostles gathering broken bits of bread and fish, or Paul going

about the island of Malta gathering sticks, — in these incidents we have

illustrations of the truth that all work which is timely and helpful is work

that is honourable and excellent.

 

  • CALL TO OUR AID EVERY WILLING WORKER. It may be taken

that those whose names are given (vs. 12-14) were the foremost in

offering themselves for the work required. But they did not propose to do

it by themselves; they called in all who would join them (v. 15), and then,

as a strong united band, they set about their task. In the work of the Lord

we should engage all who have a heart and a hand to help. We should do

so:

 

Ø      For the works sake; that it may be more rapidly and more effectually

done.

 

Ø      For their sake; because they will be blessed in their deed, and after it.

 

Ø      For our own sake; that we may not be overburdened, and may do all

that we do more carefully and thoroughly.

 

  • KNOW WHEN TO STOP, AND WHEN TO PROCEED; when to

draw a boundary-line, and when to cross it. These dutiful Levites

understood their duty well.

 

Ø      They did not intrude into the priests’ domain; they stopped short

at the inner part of the house” (v. 16).

 

Ø      At the same time, they went beyond the actual letter of instruction by

preparing and sanctifying the vessels which Ahaz had cast away,”

and by bringing these “before the altar of the Lord.” It is a great thing

to know what are the limits beyond which it is not right or wise for us

to go. But it is a still greater thing to have so deep an interest in our

work and so fervent a love for our Lord that we are not to be confined

to any limits by literal instructions; that we gladly and eagerly go

beyond these, if we can only render a larger and fuller service to

our Master and to His cause.

 

  • DO OUR WORK THOROUGHLY AND SPEEDILY. “They

sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days” (v. 17). “We have

cleansed all the house of the Lord,… with all the vessels thereof” (v. 18).

To do all that is required, leaving nothing undone because it is trivial

or because it is not likely to be observed; and to do all without delay,

losing no time, accomplishing everything within the days expected of us;

this is the way to do Christian work, to do our duty as disciples of

JESUS CHRIST!

 

  • HAVE THE DAY OF ACCOUNT IN VIEW. “They went in to

Hezekiah the king,” etc. (v. 18). We may not be accountable to any

human master; but to a Divine One we are (Romans 14:12;

II Corinthians 5:10). Then “every work” will be “brought into judgment.”

(Ecclesiastes 12:14)  Let us therefore labor, that we may then be “accepted

of Him.”  (II Corinthians 5:9)

 

20 “Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city,

and went up to the house of the LORD.”  The rulers of the city are its chief

citizens — Hebrew, שָׂרֵי הָעִיר (ch. 24:17; 30:1-4) — who bring contributions

of sacrificial victims, the word being generally rendered “princes,”

 

21 “And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven

lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and

for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests

the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.”

There is diversity of opinion, whether the seven bullocks

(פָרִים), seven rams (אֵילִים), seven lambs (כְבָשִׁים) were burnt offering

(עולָה), or, with the seven he-goats (צְפִירֵי עִזּים), were sin offering

(חַטָּאת). Some think (as, for instance, Canon Rawlinson) that they were

sin offering, as the account of the offering of them (v. 22) takes priority

for them over the he-goats; others (as Bertheau, Professor J. G. Murphy,

etc.), that they were certainly burnt offering. It scarcely appears as though

much stress can be laid upon what is apparently the chief reason of Canon

Rawlinson’s opinion, in face of the immediate language of the last sentence

of our v. 24, “for the king commanded the burnt offering and the sin

offering for all Israel.” The fact of no mention of burnt offering in our

present verse, and of the natural construction of the description, “for a sin

offering for the kingdom,” etc., as applying to all that had preceded, seems

the better argument, and all that is necessary, unless something moderately

decisive be forthcoming to rebut it. The solution of all, however, is

probably to our hand in Ezra 8:35, which is a very close and significant

parallel to our present verse. The first mention of the sacrifice of פָרִים, or

young bullocks” is found in Exodus 24:5, and afterwards in ibid. ch. 29:1, 3;

Leviticus 4:3, etc.; 8:2, 14, etc. The first mention of the sacrifice of אֵילִים is

Genesis 22:13; and, after, Exodus 29:15-18, 19-21, etc.; Leviticus 5:15; 8:2, 22, etc.

The first mention of the sacrifices of the כְבָשִׁים is Exodus 12:3-7, and, after,

ibid. ch. 29:38, etc. The first mention of the sacrifice of צְפִירֵי עִזּים is the present

passage; and, after, Ezra 8:25. But the mention of sacrifices of goats is

found in Leviticus 1:10; 3:12, and often besides. For the kingdom; i.e.

probably for “all that are in authority,” viz. the king and rulers, the Hebrew

word (מַמְלָכָה) designating here those exercising dominion (I Kings 11:11; 14:8;

I Samuel 28:17) rather than the country under dominion (Joshua 10:2; I Samuel 27:5).

It is, however, possible that allusion to the whole kingdom of Judah and Israel is

made here. For the sanctuary; i.e. those who officiated in holy things. For Judah;

i.e. for all the people.

 

22 “So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and

sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams,

they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs,

and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.”  Received… sprinkled.

The sprinkling of the blood marked the expiation (Leviticus 4:7, 18, 30; 5:9;

8:14-15; Hebrews 9:12-14, 19-22).

 

23 “And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the

king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:”

The he-goats for the sin offering. No preposition “for” is

found in the Hebrew text, and the previous noun is in the construct state,

שְׂעַירֵי.  Laid their hands. This signified the supposed laying of sins — the

sins of the people — on the head of the animal (Leviticus 1:4; 4:4, etc.).

 

24 “And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with

their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for

the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering

should be made for all Israel.”  They made reconciliation with their blood

upon the altar;  Revised Version, and they made a sin offering with their blood. etc.;

Hebrew, piel future of חָמָא.  The piel conjugation occurs in all fourteen

times:

 

Ø      seven times rendered “cleanse;”

Ø      twice, “purify;”

Ø      twice, “offer for sin;”

Ø      once, “purge;”

Ø      once, as here, “make reconciliation;” and

Ø      once (Genesis 31:39, “I bare the loss of it”), to “bear loss.”

 

This last instance, being the very first occurrence of the word in this conjugation,

beautifully harmonizes with the simple and most elementary idea of the

doctrine or facts underlying the word. To make… atonement; Hebrew,

לְכַפֵד,  piel infinitive. This word, which in the one kal occurrence of it

(Genesis 6:14) means “to pitch, or cover with pitch,” occurs in piel

eighty-six times, and is rendered:

 

Ø      “atone” or “make atonement” sixty-six times,

Ø      seven times “reconcile” or “make reconciliation,”

Ø      the other renderings being such as “pacify,” “purge,” “forgive,”

             cleanse,” “be merciful,” “put it off,” i.e. “expiate” (margin).

 

We are so distinctly twice told that these sacrifices were for all Israel, that it may

be taken for granted that the desire of Hezekiah was to include the northern

kingdom — with which, under Hoshea, in subjection to the Assyrian king, times

were now very hard and ominous of the end — in the benefits of the expiatory

offerings now made (so see vs. 5-6, 10-12 of next chapter).

 

 

Confession, Propitiation, Consecration (vs. 20-24)

 

By the sacrifices now offered to Jehovah, by the sin offerings and the burnt

offerings, the king and the representatives of the people laying their hands

upon the heads of the slain animals (v. 23), three distinct sentiments were

expressed, three several spiritual states were passed through:

 

(1)   confession of sin,

(2)   atonement offered for sin, and

(3)   consecration of themselves to the service of God.

 

Here was made the most public and solemn acknowledgment that

could be made of the guilt which the nation had incurred by its apostasy;

here was an appeal made to the mercy of God in His appointed way of

sacrificing the goats and of laying the hand upon their heads; and here was,

through the burnt offerings, a formal and deliberate dedication of

themselves to Jehovah for the future. These three experiences are the

radical and essential experiences through which penitent and godly men

MUST ALWAYS PASS!

 

  • CONFESSION. Not always, not often national, as on this occasion

(text). Not always, not often now, admission of idolatrous reaction. But

always confession of SIN:

 

Ø      of departure from God,

Ø      of the neglect of His holy will,

Ø      of a rebellious exalting of our will against His,

Ø      of unlikeness to Him in:

 

o       the spirit we have been breathing and

o       in the principles on which we have been acting,

of doing or saying or being that which has grieved His

Holy Spirit.

 

And our confession of sin will be heard and accepted, not because it is

couched in the most approved language, but because it is

the most simple and honest utterance of our hearts.  (And is in accordance

with the salvation plan of God – See How to Be Saved - # 4 – this website –

CY – 2016)

 

  • PROPITIATION. Not that God asks now of us a sacrifice for sin.

There has been “one sacrifice [offered] for sins for ever.” He is “the

Propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” But we come to plead that

one Sacrifice as offered for our sins; we come to God to pray that that one

Propitiation may be accepted on our behalf. We come to “lay our hand on

that dear head” of Christ, the Lamb of God. We ask that the abounding and

abiding mercy of God may, for His sake, cover our guilt and rest upon our

soul and thus, by a living faith, we apply and appropriate to ourselves “the

common salvation” (Jude 1:3) — that “righteousness which is through

the faith of Christ”  (Romans 3:22).  Thus is our sin “borne away”

(Leviticus 16:21-22; Isaiah 53:4) into the land of utter forgetfulness, and we

ourselves are “brought nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).

 

  • CONSECRATION. The consumption of the entire animal in the burnt

offering symbolized the entire consecration of the offerer to the Lord. This

was the significance of those offerings now presented (v. 24). Hezekiah

and his people now offered themselves anew unto the Lord God of their

fathers. Their sin being purged, themselves having been forgiven and

accepted, they dedicated themselves to God for the coming time.

With us:

 

Ø      Consecration attends our entrance upon the Divine life; when we seek

the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, we “yield ourselves unto God as those

alive from the dead.” (Romans 6:13)

 

Ø      Consecration is a spiritual act continually renewed. It should be an act in

which we offer to our Divine Redeemer our whole selves:

 

o        our entire nature (body and spirit);

o        our whole life, thenceforwards:

 

§         at all times,

§         in every sphere,

§         under ALL CONDITIONS!

 

25 “And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals,

with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of

David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so

was the commandment of the LORD by His prophets.”

(See I Chronicles 16:4; all of ch. 21; 23:5; 25:1, 6; here ch.5:12.)

 

26 “And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the

priests with the trumpets.” To references of foregoing verse may be

added Numbers 10:8; I Chronicles 15:24.

 

27 “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the

altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD

began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by

David king of Israel.  28 And all the congregation worshipped, and

the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until

the burnt offering was finished.”  Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt

 offering. These verses with graphic brevity, purport to describe the actual

consummating of the preparations rehearsed before, and, as seems most

probable, in the significance of the last clause of Ezra 8:35, already

referred to. The whole of the burnt offering was burnt on the altar, but of

the sin offering the “fat” alone (Leviticus 4:19).

 

29 “And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that

were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.

Bowed; Hebrew, כָּרְעוּ.  Of the force and forcibleness of the

verb here employed an idea may be obtained from comparison of

Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9; Judges 5:27; 7:6; I Kings 19:18.

Worshipped; Hebrew, יִשְׁתַּחֲווּ. This verb, on the other hand,

proclaims the force, not of the posture of the body merely, but rather of

the mind, in the rising degrees of respect, reverence, allegiance, and the

worship of profound adoration paid to Him, who is “God over all, blessed

for evermore.” The scene imaged in this description is indeed splintstirring,

in a high degree.

 

30 “Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to

sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer.

And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and

worshipped.”  With the words of David, and of Asaph. We can scarcely

exclude from our thought the impression that loving human reverence for

their own past religious helpers of song and music, and enthusiasm for the

memory of them, were here glanced at. The king’s and the princes

supplementary (moreover) injunction and instruction to the Levites as to

what words they should put on their lips. Asaph the seer. This is the only

place in which Asaph is thus distinctly named seer, but it is contained

virtually in I Chronicles 25:2; and for the substantive title given to two

colleagues, see ibid. v. 5; here, ch. 35:15. The princes (see their growing

prominence in ch. 24:17; 28:21; 30:2, 6, 12, 24; 32:3).

 

31 “Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated

yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and

thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation

brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a

free heart burnt offerings.”  Ye have consecrated yourselves. The Hebrew text is

(with the margin of both Authorized and Revised Versions), “have filled your

hands to Jehovah.” Our somewhat awkward and somewhat misleading

reproduction in English of the Hebrew text is, nevertheless, on the whole

defensible. The phrase occurs some seventeen times (Exodus 28:41;

29:9, 29, 33, 35; 32:29; Leviticus 8:33; 16:32; 21:10; Numbers 3:3;

Judges 17:5, 12; I Kings 13:33; I Chronicles 29:5; here, ch. 13:9;

Ezekiel 43:26), and in some of these instances is most conveniently

represented by the rendering “consecrate.” The plural noun

הַמִּלֻאִים, or חַמִּלוּאִיִם, is found thirteen times:

 

Ø      in three of which places it is spoken of “stones to be set,” as e.g. “for”

or “in the ephod” (Exodus 25:7; 35:9, 27; I Chronicles 29:2); and

 

Ø      in the other ten, of “consecration,” as e.g. “a ram of consecration,”

the ram of Aaron’s consecration” (Exodus 29:22-27, 31, 34;

Leviticus 7:37; 8:22, 28-29, 31, 33).

 

Some think our text, “Now ye have consecrated yourselves,” glances at the

sacrifices of a propitiatory sort, which had just been completed; others, that the

reference is by anticipation — to the fact that the people invited to draw near had,

in an honorable, holy, and sincerely devoted way, armed themselves with worthy

offerings. The sacrifices and thank offerings were sacrifices “of thank offerings,”

 in the nature of the peace offerings (Leviticus 7:11-21, 29-36). The burnt

offerings marked the “free heart,” inasmuch as there was nothing of them

reserved from the consuming of the altar for use. As many as were of a

free heart; Hebrew, וְכָל־נְרִיב לֵב.  Among some sixty occurrences of

this word, in its verb, noun, or (as here) adjective form, perhaps the most

touching and beautifully expressive is that of Psalm 60:12, “Uphold me

with thy free Spirit.” Sacrifices; Hebrew, זְבָחִים. This is the plural of זֶבַח

a word that expresses the generic idea, as e.g. the feast of sacrifice;

again, the act of slaying and sacrificing a victim; again, the victim itself;

again, those kinds of sacrifices that were expiatory or eucharistic, but not

holocaustic (Leviticus 7:12). Thank offerings; Hebrew, תּודות. This

word occurs about thirty-two times; in about two-thirds of that number

denoting the spiritual acts of giving of thanks, even when accompanied by

the figurative idea of “sacrifices” (Psalm 56:13; 107:22; 116:17), the

genuine adoring praise or thanksgiving constituting the sacrifice; and in the

other third denoting strictly sacrificial offerings, as several times in

Leviticus (7:12; 22:29) and here. Our ch. 33:16 classifies these with

peace offerings” (שְׁלָמִים), as do many other passages with

burnt offerings” generally (Judges 20:26; 21:4; I Samuel 13:9;

II Samuel 6:17; I Chronicles 16:1; 21:26).

 

 

 

The Revival of Religion in Church or State (v. 31)

 

  • PREPARATORY STEPS. In order to secure such an awakening of

religious life as took place in Judah under Hezekiah, three things are

indispensable:

 

Ø      Confession of sin. “Our fathers have trespassed,” etc. (v. 6). As all

religion begins with saying, “Father, I have sinned” (Luke 15:18), so

the first symptoms of reviving life in souls that have been apathetic is

acknowledgment of their trespass (Psalm 51:3-4).

 

Ø      Cleansing of the sanctuary. “We have cleansed all the house of the

Lord” (v. 18). As the visible Church is a temple of the Lord (Psalm 132:14;

Matthew 18:20; Ephesians 2:21-22; I Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6), this

may symbolize the removing from its doctrine, worship, and practice of

everything that is contrary to the mind and will of God as revealed in the

Scriptures; and again, as the individual heart is a habitation of the living

God (I Corinthians 6:19), it may suggest the duty,, of purging. . . it from

every known sin’ (II Corinthians 7:1).

 

Ø      Renewal of the covenant. Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant

with the Lord God of Israel (v. 10); and the same must be done by all,

whether communities or individuals, who would experience a quickening in

their religious life. It is nnecessary now, as in the days of Hezekiah, to offer

slain victims and make propitiation for sin, that having been done once for

all by JESUS CHRIST (Hebrews 9:11-14), it is still indispensable to

appropriate the reconciliation and make the self-surrender to which

Hezekiah’s offerings pointed.

 

  • CERTAIN RESULTS. A revived condition of the religious life of

either Church or individual will discover itself in three things, as it did with

Hezekiah and his people:

 

Ø      Self-consecration. Already expressed in the act of covenant-making, this

will reveal itself in the life that proceeds therefrom. Christian individuals in

the Church, recognizing themselves to be not their own, but bought with a

price, will lay themselves upon the altar as a willing sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

 

Ø      Gladness. “And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang,”

etc. (v. 28). Joy is an invariable accompaniment of a revived condition of

religion in the soul or in the Church (Psalm 149:2, 5; Isaiah 65:14,18;

Habakkuk 3:18; Ephesians 5:18-19; I John 1:4).

 

Ø      Liberality. “And the congregation brought in sacrifices,” etc. (v. 31).

Generosity in giving almost necessarily follows on a heightened

experience of DIVINE GRACE!   “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

(Matthew 10:8)

 

32 “And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation

brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and

two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.”

This verse manifestly purports to gauge in some degree the

amount of free- heartedness present in the nation.

 

33 “And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three

thousand sheep.” The consecrated things; Hebrew, הַקָּדַשִׁים. Not the

word just discussed in v. 31; these are the thank offering sacrifices.

 

34 “But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt

offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work

was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the

Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.” 

Originally, the worshipper who was moved to sacrifice was

enjoined to slay, flay, and cut in pieces the victim (Leviticus 1:2-6).

Later the Levites performed these duties, and on great public occasions, at

any rate, the priests themselves. The simple tale of this verse speaks

volumes of the state of the ecclesiastical profession and of the ecclesiastical

heart at this very time. Into the dishonored sepulcher already two or three

unsuspected and apparently unacknowledged chinks had let in reproving

light as to this, and very lately the almost unavoidable inferences respecting

Urijah (see note on our v. 1, and on ch. 28:24, compared with II Kings 16:10-16)

served the same purpose. How true to nature and to history, both secular and

ecclesiastical also, the superiority, in sincerity and life and preparation for work,

of the subordinates (the Levites), to those who fed on dignity rather than

maintained it, in the highest sense, by religious life and conscientious practice!

 

35 “And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the

peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So

the service of the house of the LORD was set in order.”

And the drink offerings for every burnt offering. The “drink offerings”

(גֻסָכִים) have not been mentioned before in this chapter.

Of these libations of wine and oil, the most particular account is given in

Numbers 15:5-10, 24). The first scriptural mention of them occurs in

Genesis 35:14; followed by Exodus 29:40-41; 30:9; Leviticus 23:13, 18, 37;

Numbers 6:15, 17, etc.

 

36 “And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared

the people: for the thing was done suddenly.” (Compare Proverbs 16:1.)

 

 

            The Reformation of Hezekiah — “the thing done suddenly.”

    (vs. 1-36)

 

Hezekiah was the thirteenth of the twenty kings of the line of Judah; but

when his reign of twenty-nine years had run to its end, as many as two

hundred and eighty-two years had sped away of the three hundred and

ninety-two of the duration of the line up to the date of the Captivity. It may

also be remembered that, of the seven reigns following upon that of

Hezekiah, two (those of Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin) lasted only three months

each. Something, no doubt, is to be learned from the comparative lengths

of the lives of individuals, of kings with their reigns, and of nations. Some

solemn law, no doubt, obtains, which, however, especially as regards the

first, is to a very great degree simply inscrutable. We can only think with

wonder, awe, and the resignation of adoring submission, of the young, the

beautiful, the useful, and the most promising and loved being so often

taken away, while so many all the reverse remain. We never less dogmatize

than when our thought dwells with this mysterious and veiled theme. We

are especially helpless to pursue it, to any detail, or in its minutiae and its

individual examples. We know that we are even then in the presence of the

sovereign Arbiter of life and, what we call, death. One profoundest truth is

rather afresh brought to our recollection, than by any means for the first

time taught us hereby, viz. that all life and all things here are but a part —

ay, and that a small part — of a vaster scene, vaster scheme, and one

measureless for the ken of our present mental horizon. Another probably

reliable impression made on us is, not only that time makes for goodness,

even in the present shorter and sharper conflicts of good and evil, but that

the slower growth of goodness, as compared with the frequently gigantic

strides of evil, is providentially calculated for, where often it is simply

impossible to us to trace it. The unredeemed evil of Ahaz and his sixteen

years, while these lasted, is reduced in its proportions, when viewed as the

work of sixteen out of forty-five years, the balance of which was made up

of the twenty-nine of Hezekiah. The present chapter, however, of the reign

and work of Hezekiah, is itself the account of:

 

  • SWIFT WORK. “The thing that was done suddenly,” i.e. promptly, and

with the promptness that indicated that the doer of it felt it to be such as

could not permit nor brook delay. The “suddenness” was no doubt

praiseworthy on the part of Hezekiah, and it was a testimony to this, and

an encouragement to all imitators of it, that God sanctioned the

suddenness, and let nothing fall to the ground because of it, in that He

directly contributed to the work and soundness of the whole result by

preparing the people,” i.e. disposing their hearts to every good word and

work required. Swift and slight work for God is the very last to secure His

approval and help; but swift and earnest work, because the “days are few

and evil,” will have His gracious pardon in respect of many a too probable

defect, and with pardon His assisting and preventing help.

 

  • THE PRACTICAL WORK OF CLEANSING. Priests and Levites

cleanse themselves; and then the house of God, the altar and all its vessels,

the table of shewbread and all its vessels. This was outer work, but not

only such; for with an urgency and zeal which proved it but the expression

of deep inner conviction, it was pressed on priests and Levites, and also

executed by them. King Hezekiah, for the time preacher and prophet, takes

the right means to influence those to whom he speaks, that their outward

work may go on right motives, and spring from depth of conviction, and be

the likelier to be continuous and sustained. He calls their attention plainly

to the evil of the ways that had been the ways of the kingdom now these

sixteen years, and calls that evil by its right name. It is evil, and it is

trespass; and it is “forsaking” God; and it is “turning the face from his

habitation, and turning the back” to it; it has involved the criminality and

horror of “temple doors shut,” of the “perpetual lamp” being made a lie to

its own most sacred name, of “incense” refusing its fragrant ascending to

heaven, and “altar of burnt offering” a pitiable blank! Hezekiah challenges

them to deny that all the suffering of these years past is punishment —

plain punishment from the just “wrath of the Lord.” And punishment it

was, as e.g. the being “delivered over to trouble, and astonishment, and

hissing;” and with the fresh memories of “fathers fallen by the sword, and

of sons, daughters, and wives” being at this time “in captivity.” Hezekiah

leads the way in lifting the courage, which the terrible retrospect might well

go to quench; he tells them of the covenant that he, for his part, purposes

in his heart” and proposes; and, with warm, loving exhortation, entreats

their hearty and diligent assent and consent, their not negligent” cooperation,

with solemn record of their election and, so to say, ordination

vows. This, at all events, looks like an earnest endeavor to repair in the

sixteen days’ the evils of the past “sixteen years.” For Hezekiah

remembers that

 

“Delay is dangerous, sleep disease;

   And few that slumber, wake.”

 

  • THE DEVOUT REMEMBRANCE AND REHEARSING

CELEBRATION OF ATONING BLOOD AND THE SPRINKLING

THEREOF.  Notice vs. 21-24; and (in v. 24) especially to the

doctrine couched in the words, “to make reconciliation;” and to the stress

laid upon the “atonement” and the “sin offering,” being said to be for all

Israel, as signifying, probably, that Hezekiah’s heart yearned again over

the schismatic kingdom, and would fain comprehend it within the compass

of the blessing of the sacrificial blood.

 

  • THE DEVOUT REMEMBRANCE AND EUCHARISTIC

CELEBRATION OF THE BURNT OFFERING, WITH ALL DUE

ACCOMPANIMENTS OF PRAISE, SINGING, MUSIC, AND THE

FULL PROFESSIONAL CHOIR. The sin offerings must, with all their

significance of penitence and humiliation, and confession of punishment

deserved, precede. And it appears that, in full number and with faithfulness,

they were offered. But after them, with what surrender of themselves, with

what abandon of true and “free heart,” did the Israelite who was an

Israelite indeed take his burnt offering to the altar and the priest! Now, in

particular, when the holy worship of the olden and happier times

recommenced to the sound of “the song of the Lord… with the trumpets

and the instruments of David,” it was the inspiration of a blessed service

indeed. All the congregation worshipped… the king and all that were

present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped And they sang praises

with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.” “The service

of the house of the Lord was set in order,” and “God was in the midst of

His people.”

 

 

 

The Rededication of the Temple (vs. 20-36)

 

 

  • THE TIME OF THE CEREMONY. Early on the following morning.

Hezekiah lost not a moment in entering upon the good work his heart

contemplated (v. 10), rising up with next day’s dawn, gathering the

rulers of the city, and proceeding with them to the house of the Lord. In

this he acted in accordance with Jehovah’s instructions to Moses at Sinai

(Exodus 34:2); with the example of Abraham (Genesis 22:3), Jacob

(ibid. ch. 28:18), Moses (Exodus 24:4), Joshua (Joshua 3:1), Job (Job 1:5),

and other good men who selected the morning hours for executing good

resolutions, and especially for acts of devotion; with the practice of God

Himself, who had been ever forward in blessing His people

by sending to them his messengers the prophets “rising early” (ch. 36:15;

Jeremiah 7:13, 25; 25:3-4). Perhaps Hezekiah also felt that if wicked

men rose up with the dawn and even “prevented” the daylight in order to

prosecute their nefarious works (Job 24:14), yea, that his own subjects

had risen up early to corrupt themselves (Zephaniah 3:7), much more

ought he to bestir himself and awake up early to begin the splendid work

of temple-dedication on which he had resolved.

 

  • THE PARTIES TO THE CEREMONY.

 

Ø      The king himself. Hezekiah, as the vicegerent of Jehovah and head of

Jehovah’s people, led the way. This the sort of kingship after which

sovereigns should aspire — kingship in works of faith and labors of love.

 

Ø      The princes of the city — again, in their individual capacities and in their

representative characters — joined in the ceremonial. So had they done at

Sinai (Exodus 24:11), and in the wilderness (Numbers 21:18); in

the days of Solomon (ch. 5:2), and in those of Jehoiada (ch. 23:20).

Happy is that nation whose nobility are ever foremost in noble deeds!

 

Ø      The priests and the Levites were present to do their respective offices,

to sacrifice upon the altars of Jehovah, and to play upon the instruments of

David; two necessary parts in all Old Testament worship — the former to

make atonement, the latter to express that which should ever be its fruit

(Romans 5:11).

 

Ø      The people, or a portion of them, were there as assenting parties to the

transaction.

 

  • THE STEPS IN THE CEREMONY.

 

Ø      The presentation of sacrifice.

 

o        Burnt offerings. Seven bullocks, seven rams, and seven lambs were

slain in succession upon the altar in the fore court, the blood of the

slain victims being caught up by the priests in a basin and sprinkled

on the altar, while their carcasses were retained to be consumed by

fire upon the altar after all the other victims had been slain.

 

o        Sin offerings. Seven he-goats were next presented before the king and

the congregation, the priests’ hands laid upon them — if not with

formal confession of sin, at least symbolizing its transference to the

animals — their lives taken, and their blood sprinkled by the priests

upon the altar.  This done, the carcasses of the burnt offerings were

consumed by fire.

 

Ø      The accompaniment of music. Hezekiah reinstituted the Levitical service

of music, according to the Divine ordinance communicated through David,

Gad, and Nathan (I Chronicles 23:5); and on this particular occasion “he

set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and

with harps;” and “the priests with the trumpets” (I Chronicles 15:16, 24).

When the burnt offering began, i.e. either when the slaying of the

victims commenced, or when the carcasses were lifted to the altar to be

consumed, the temple courts rang with the strains of instrumental and

vocal music — “the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded” — until the

offering was finished, until the last ember died upon the altar, and the last

wreath of smoke vanished in the air. Meanwhile the congregation, standing

round in the court as spectators, “worshipped.”

 

  • THE MEANING OF THE CEREMONY.

 

Ø      Confession of sin. This idea was generally comprehended in the

presentation of sin offerings, and particularly set forth in the imposition of

the officiating priest’s hands upon the victim’s head. The sin thus confessed

was the sin of the nation as represented by its royal house, its sanctuary,

and its people. All of these, the occupants of the throne and the members

of the royal family, the ministers of the sanctuary, the priestly order and the

Levitical alike, the common people of the realm, both in Israel and in

Judah, had been guilty of trespass and apostasy.

 

Ø      Propitiation for guilt. The blood of the sin offering, when poured out

before and sprinkled on the horns of the altar — in particular when done in

the holy of holies — was designed to make atonement for the people’s

sins, to cover up from the eyes of a holy God the wickedness of which they

had been guilty, and so to reconcile them to God (Leviticus 6:30).

 

Ø      Expression of self-surrender. This was symbolized by the burning of the

carcasses of both the sin and the burnt offerings. As the bodies of the

animals whose blood had been brought within the sanctuary for

reconciliation were all devoted to Heaven or given up as food to Jehovah,

so the nation whose guilt had been put away by that same blood of

atonement surrendered itself to Jehovah to be consumed by the fire of a

new zeal for His glory.

 

Ø      Utterance of thanksgiving. This the significance of the musical

accompaniment to the sacrificial ritual. It gave an outlet to the gratitude

and joy of the reconciled and pardoned worshipper.

 

  • THE CLOSE OF THE CEREMONY.

 

Ø      A national act of worship. The king and all that were present with him

bowed themselves, and worshipped” (v. 29). It was worship of the right

sort:

 

o        unanimoussovereign and subjects were of one mind;

o        humble — they bowed themselves;

o        joyous — they sang praises to the Lord, the Levites leading, in the

words of David and Asaph.

 

Ø      A royal word of invitation. “Hezekiah answered and said” (v. 31) —

declaring the fact of their consecration to Jehovah, and desiring them to

show their acquiescence in the same by personal acts of worship and

sacrifice“Come near, and bring sacrifices and thank offerings unto the

Lord.” Practice is the best vindication of profession (James 2:14);

obedience the only true justification of faith (Romans 16:19); the

sacrifice of one’s wealth the most reliable index that one has

consecrated his heart.

 

Ø      A popular outburst of liberality. “The congregation brought in sacrifices

and thank offerings.”

 

o        Promptly, on the spot, without delay, as if they had been only waiting

for such an invitation. It is well to be prepared for giving before the

opportunity of giving comes. Preparation makes giving easy!

“....let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered

him..”  ( I Corinthians 16:2).

 

o        Freely: “as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.”

Considering the number of these latter, the people generally must have

been well disposed towards the movement. Voluntariness  is

indispensable to all acceptable religious giving (II Corinthians 8:12).

 

o        Largely: “the number of the burnt offerings was seventy bullocks, a

hundred rams, and two hundred lambs,” while the consecrated

things,” or other offerings, were six hundred oxen and three

thousand sheep.” Indeed, so abundant were the sacrificial victims

that the few priests who had taken part in the ceremonial were unable

to cope with the task of preparing them for the altar, and had to call

in the assistance of the Levites until more priests were sanctified.

Extraordinary emergencies in Church as in state call for and allow

extraordinary measures. Where the services of unordained pastors

and teachers cannot by obtained, those of  the unordained may be

lawfully employed. Compare the liberality exemplified by the

Israelites at the erection of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:21-29;

Numbers 7:1-89; 31:48-54) and the temple (I Chronicles 29:6-9,16,17).

 

  • LESSONS:

 

Ø      Union is strength, in religion as in other things.

Ø      The inspiration of all acts connected with religion should be the glory

of God.

Ø      In religion all things are of God, the preparation of the heart no less

than the direction of the hand.

 

 

The Public Worship of God (vs. 26-36)

 

The record of the latter part of the proceedings on this solemn occasion at

Jerusalem may well suggest to us some aspects of public worship at all times.

 

  • ANTICIPATIVE SERVICE. David, who lived several generations

before, had his hand in that good work. The Levites played with “the

instruments of David King of Israel (v. 27); and they “sang praise with

the words of David and of Asaph (v. 30). A very great and admirable

service have those men rendered to Christian worship who have written

hymns that are sung in all the Churches. In the words which they have

given us, sweet and strong, our hearts ascend to God in adoration, are

poured forth in praise, are humbled in confession, renew their vows in glad

self-surrender. Few men have rendered their race a truer or greater service

than those who have thus contributed to the worship of many generations.

 

  • THE SERVICE OF SACRED SONG. “And the singers sang, and the

trumpeters sounded.” This part was rendered by the Levites, and no doubt

it did much to brighten the engagements of that hallowed time. “The

service of song in the house of the Lord” constitutes a very important part

of public worship, for two reasons:

 

Ø      Therein and thereby all the spiritual attitudes and actions which become

us in the near presence of God are expressed:

 

o        reverence,

o        aspiration,

o        penitence,

o        submission,

o        gratitude, etc.

 

Ø      Therein all the worshippers can join. It would not have been possible for

all those who were in the temple to take audible part in the music and song

without discord and confusion. But it is possible, and in every way

desirable and delightful, for every voice among us (furnished, as we are,

with all appliances) to bring its note of praise to THE WORSHIP

OF THE LORD!  And thus there is ensured or there is facilitated:

 

  • COMMON PARTICIPATION. In this sacred service, on this great

occasion, every one took his part and had his share. All the congregation

worshipped (v. 28) “The king and all that were present with him bowed

themselves, and worshipped.” (v. 29). It is best when all the people can

take an audible part in public worship, as in the service of song. They can

then and thus more readily enter into the spirit of it. But when this may not

be, it is open to every one to take an appreciative and appreciated part by

an unbroken, spiritual sympathy with all that is said and done; by an active,

intelligent acquiescence, signified by the bowed head or by the final

“Amen” when the ministering voice is silent. The unuttered sympathy of all

reverent, earnest worshippers is a common participation, which, we may

make quite sure, is observed and honored in heaven.

 

  • THE SERVICE OF CONTRIBUTION. “And the congregation

brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free

heart burnt offerings” (v. 31). The people gave of their own possessions

freely as an offering to the Lord. This service of contribution should always

be regarded as an integral part of Divine worship. It should be rendered as

reverently as an act of prayer or praise.

 

Ø      It is — or it should be, as it certainly may be an offering that comes

from the heart as well as from the hand.  (II Corinthians 8:12)

 

Ø      It is an eminently appropriate service; for what can be more fitting than

that, when and where we are recognizing THE FULLNESS AND

GREATNESS OF GOD’S GIFT TO US we should then and there

offer Him our humble, grateful gifts in response?

 

Ø      It is acceptable to the Lord whom we serve (see Mark 12:41-44;

I  Corinthians 16:2).

 

  • REVERENT JOY. “And they sang praises with gladness” (v. 30);

“And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people” (v. 36). What was more

fitted to fill their hearts with overflowing joy than the feeling that they, as a

nation, had returned unto the Lord, and had renewed their covenant with

Him; that he had accepted them; that “His anger was turned away;” that

they might now look forward to a time when they would dwell in the light

of His countenance and walk in His loving favor? It was an hour for the

exuberance of the people’s heart, from the heart of the king to that of the

humblest citizen of Judah. And there is no time when joy, reverent joy, is

more becoming to ourselves than when we are worshipping in the

sanctuary of Christ. There we are conscious of our reconcilation to our

heavenly Father, in Him who is our Divine Saviour; there we feel the

nearness of our glorious Redeemer who is “present in the midst of us;”

there we pour forth our gratitude and love, and there we renew our happy

bonds of holy service unto “Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins

in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5), there we realize our substantial and

abiding union with all His people, our fellow-citizens in the kingdom and

fellow-workers in the vineyard of Christ; and there we anticipate the purer

joys and the nobler service of the heavenly land. Sacred joy is the true

key-note of the strain when we meet in the sanctuary and engage in the

worship of Christ.

 

 

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