Today’s Reading: 2 CHRONICLES 29:3-31:21
It has been since late May when we read about the glory days of King Solomon. Since then we have had four weeks of misery. First we find out that Solomon blew it through the influence of his 700 wives and 300 concubines (See Solomon had 999 problems). Then we read about the rebellion, the divided kingdom and a series of loser kings who followed other gods and led the people astray and the exile of the nation of Israel.
Today from our very first verse we have the Dawn of a New Day.
2 Chronicles 29:3 (NLT)
3 In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them.
We find out that Hezekiah is not going to be like the other kings for the last 225 years. He was going to be different. He was going to return to the One and Only True God. Hezekiah began the following reforms:
- He called back the Levites.
- He cleaned the temple.
- He returned the temple artifacts.
- He rededicated the temple.
- He reinstated the feasts.
- He prepared to celebrate the Passover (albeit a month late – better late than never).
- He invited all the Jews, even the Jews left over in Israel to celebrate the Passover.
In an effort to get as many people back for the Passover remembrance he sent the following letter throughout the land:
2 Chronicles 30:6 – 9 (NLT)
6 At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said:
“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. 7 Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. 8 Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
9 “For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.”
As you can read in the letter, King Hezekiah laid out a means for the people to return to One and Only True God.
- He calls them to return to God.
- He reminds them that God is the same God of their distant forefathers.
- He warns them to not follow the recent forefathers who abandoned the Lord.
- He warns them not to be stubborn and calls them to submit themselves to the Lord.
- He calls them to worship in the House of God.
- He promises them the return of God’s favor and mercy.
Can’t this letter be one for you and I when we turn stubbornly away from God? Isn’t this letter one that could apply to us when we walk away from God are absent from His will for us?
There was such a positive response to King Hezekiah’s letter that they had new problems. So many people had come to make the required sacrifices that the temple priests were overwhelmed. We also read:
2 Chronicles 30:21 – 27 (NLT)
21 So the people of Israel who were present in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments. 22 Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites regarding the skill they displayed as they served the Lord. The celebration continued for seven days. Peace offerings were sacrificed, and the people gave thanks to the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
23 The entire assembly then decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week.
24 King Hezekiah gave the people 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for offerings, and the officials donated 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. Meanwhile, many more priests purified themselves.
25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son. 27 Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.
What a celebration they must have been having after 200 + years of being spiritually lost and directionless! What a joy it is when one who is lost is returned to God’s mercy, goodness and love. Imagine God’s pleasure at seeing His chosen people return to him with the hearts!