Synopsis 2Chron 31:14-32:2 5/13/2020
With the Temple’s renewed operations, King Hezekiah recognized the need to manage the tithe. And so, he selected worthy men from the tribe of Levi to distribute the tithe to the appropriate recipients. Accordingly, they distributed the tithe to the priests and Levites who lived in various towns throughout the kingdom.
With this, there was a renewed effort to ensure all the priests and all the Levites were properly registered in their family records.
Because of his faithfulness, King Hezekiah prospered in everything he did. And the nation experienced peace in all directions.
However, later in his reign, the Assyrians invaded the southern part of the kingdom.
The Peace of Hezekiah
King Hezekiah sought to please God through re-establishing Temple worship. Relationship with God was his first priority in all he did. And this brought peace and prosperity to the entire nation of Israel.
The Peace of Christ
Jesus made a promise to you and to me. He said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added.” So, if I spend my life seeking Him, he will give me everything I need.
And confidence in this promise is, almost by definition, peace.
“But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Matt 5:33
Synopsis 2Chron 31:3-13 5/12/2020
When the seven days of the Passover feast were complete, King Hezekiah and the entire assembly agreed to extend the feast. So, they continued the celebration for another seven days.
The king and the leaders of Jerusalem each contributed enormous numbers of cattle and sheep for the sacrifices and the feasting. It was said of the Passover that nothing like it had been seen in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon.
After the Passover was complete, the people went out to the countryside and destroyed all their old idols located in the villages and high places around the nation. And then, they all returned to their homes.
Now that the Temple was functioning, King Hezekiah re-established the rotation of the priests and Levites in accordance with King David’s process. In this way, he assigned each priest and Levite his proper time of service.
The priests had been through a lot over the previous decades. When King Ahaz shut the Temple doors, he also shut down the priesthood. As a result, all the priests had to go out and find jobs. They all had to go out and rebuild their lives.
So, they exhibited some reluctance to the opening of the Temple. They rejoiced at the prospect of once again serving God. But, making the total commitment of priestly service to the community wasn’t easy. Perhaps understandably, they didn’t want to be disappointed again.
I suspect it was the fervor of the people that changed things. The people won over the priests by their fervent worship. As the people came from all over Israel, the priests began to believe that something permanent was happening. And with this, they began to believe in authentic renewal.
I work in prison ministry. Sometimes it’s hard.
Often, I feel the need to keep myself down. I don’t want to risk becoming too excited about what God might be doing in another person’s life. Of course, the deeper truth is I don’t want to be disappointed when things don’t work out the way I think they should.
I tell myself that I need to be balanced.
Of course, it’s merely a defense mechanism.
But this is the way of renewal. Born again means born again to a new set of potentialities. And, as the apostle has reminded us, the command to love means that we “always believe”.
So, even if I don’t always see, I know God’s word is not empty. Instead, God has filled it with life. And, it will eventually have its effect. For this, I will trust in the Lord.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely;” Prov 3:5
Synopsis 2Chron 30:22-31:2 5/11/2020
King Hezekiah sent couriers throughout Israel. He sent them with the invitation to all the Israelites from every tribe to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover. In the north, the people mostly derided the messengers. But some made the decision to come.
However, in the southern kingdom, all of the people rejoiced at the news. So, they gathered in Jerusalem at the appointed time. And people from every tribe of the Israelites filled the city.
Unfortunately, some of the Israelites were so unfamiliar with the celebration that they came without having sanctified themselves. Still, King Hezekiah made a special prayer to the Lord to allow all to participate in this special Passover celebration. And, the Lord heard his prayer.
Accordingly, the entire assembly celebrated the Passover with great joy for seven days.
The celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem filled the people with joy. This was in part because of the nature of celebrating the Passover. But it was also because the Passover had never been celebrated so well.
Hezekiah invested his wealth in creating an experience for the people. And that investment tied the people to an actual experience of the goodness of God through the blessing of community.
Community in Revival
God is always present. Yet, sometimes I lose my ability to perceive His presence. There is a certain opaqueness that prevents me from experiencing God directly.
When a person has cataracts removed from their eyes, they experience a radical change. In the span of a few minutes, they go from being almost blind to having clear vision. Suddenly, no more need for glasses. In a refreshing moment of revelation, the ordinary things that have always been nearby are all at once visible.
Revival is like this.
I go to church week in and week out. And somehow, after a while, the blessings of fellowship seem to evaporate. The common becomes so common that I can’t see it anymore.
My tendency is to take every good thing for granted. I start off overwhelmed with joy. But I end up forgetfully wandering.
So, revive us Lord. Help me to renewed awareness of your blessings. As you have done before, help us to once again invest deeply in the lives of others. And by this, open our eyes to the miracles that daily surround us.
“Then we will not withdraw from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.” Psa 80:18
Synopsis 2Chron 29:35-30:8 5/7/2020
King Hezekiah reestablished Temple worship. Specifically, he directed the priests and Levites to formally restart the Temple. And he provided a special offering as a way of purifying the Temple. After this, all the leaders of Jerusalem joined in the festive celebration.
After this, Hezekiah sent letters via courier to all of Israel. He even sent the couriers to the northern kingdom. Each of these proclaimed that the Temple was once again opened. With anticipation, they invited all Israel to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem.
In his message, Hezekiah encouraged all Israel to return to the Lord through sacrifice in Jerusalem. And he warned them that many of the challenges they were experiencing could only be overcome through faith in God.
Hezekiah’s Expanding Vision
Once Hezekiah successfully reinstituted Temple worship in Jerusalem, he realized more clearly what God wanted. He perceived that God was calling all of the Israelites back to the law of Moses, which could only be fulfilled through worship at the Temple. Accordingly, he wanted to share the joy of worshipping in the Temple.
And so, he set an alternative date for that year’s Passover. In this way, there was time to invite all of Israel to worship God in Jerusalem.
Sharing Good News
The most normal thing in the world is to share good news.
And, nothing is better than when a community of faithful men and women come together to worship God.
So, perhaps now is a time when we can all gain a renewed vision for what it means to worship Jesus Christ, in Spirit and in truth. And maybe with that, our hearts will also ache to see drifters and the uninitiated join the joyful celebrations.
“Without a vision the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction.” Prov 29:18
Synopsis 2Chron 29:23-34 5/6/2020
King Hezekiah called together all the princes of Israel who lived in Jerusalem. As part of the reopening of the Temple, they assembled to offer purification offerings.
And after these offerings were set before the Lord, Hezekiah ordered the musicians and singers to offer praise songs to God. So, the entire assembly sang out the songs of praise which King David and Asaph had written generations before.
Finally, after this, came the goodwill offerings. The people in the assembly offered so many animals that the priests could not process all the sacrifices. As a result, the Levites came forward to assist in this priestly activity.
Full Of Joy
King Hezekiah directed the singers to offer praises to God in song. And so, “They sang until their joy was full”.
Sing for Joy
Every culture has music and song. So, it seems safe to say that there is a reason song is so pervasive in virtually every culture.
But what does it mean that Hezekiah and the assembly sang “until their joy was full”?
“I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live.” Psa 104:33
Synopsis 2Chron 29:12-22 5/5/2020
King Ahaz hated when people worshiped God. Accordingly, he shut up the Temple so no one could worship God there.
So, when King Hezekiah began his rule, he ordered the priests and Levites to reopen the Temple.
In order to do so, they began by sanctifying themselves. And then they cleaned and sanctified the Temple. Remarkably, it took eight days to remove the foreign objects and filth that had accumulated inisde the Temple.
After the cleansing, King Hezekiah gathered all the leaders of Israel who lived in Jerusalem. And together, they came and began to offer a special sacrifice before the Lord at the Temple.
Clean and Sanctify
In accordance with Hezekiah’s command, the priests came together. They abstained from any activities that could make them ceremonial unclean. And after this, they went to work removing anything that made the Temple ceremonially unclean.
After this, the priests reported to the king that the Temple was once again ready. And so, with the preparations complete, King Hezekiah summoned a convocation. His intent was that all the leaders of the land would come together and worship God together.
And this was a sign for the rest of the community.
Sanctification and Community
Sometimes, I feel tempted to think that it doesn’t matter that much if I miss mass. My inclination is to think that sanctification is an inner work that only God can do in me. And, of course, it is true that I can’t sanctify myself in this sense.
But the way of Jesus isn’t a solitary work. And Christians are more than a collection of solo sanctification projects.
We are a community called and chosen by God for His purpose. And we can function as a community only by coming together in shared experience. Essentially, in the strictest sense, communion is for community.
“We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Heb 10:25
Synopsis 2Chron 28:27-29:12 5/4/2020
King Ahaz was an evil ruler over the southern kingdom of Judah. Through his actions, he led many people astray. And so, although he was a descendant of King David, he was not buried with his royal ancestors.
Ahaz was replaced as king by his son Hezekiah.
Almost immediately, King Hezekah set the nation in a new direction. Specifically, he recognized the need to reestablish relationship with God via the Temple.
King Ahaz had shut the Temple so that no one could worship there. So, Hezekiah called the priests and the Levites together. And, he charged them with preparing the Temple to begin offering sacrifices once again.
Hezekiah Prepared the Way of the Lord
By committing to reopen the Temple, Hezekiah made it possible for others to worship the God of Israel. In this way, he “prepared the way of the Lord.”
Prepare the Way of the Lord
Sometimes I get it in my head that “preparing the way of the Lord” somehow means that I have to perfect myself before God can really dwell in me.
Of course, this is nothing more than foolish pride. God doesn’t come with preconditions. And, no matter how I might try, I couldn’t begin to perfect myself.
So, maybe what God means by “preparing the way of the Lord” is more like what Hezekiah did when he threw open the doors to the Temple. Maybe what it means is to do everything in my power to make God available so that others can come to worship Him – and Him alone.
“A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” Isa 40:3
Synopsis 2Chron 28:15-26 5/1/2020
Because of Oded’s prophecy, the leaders of Ephraim decided to return the large number of women they had taken captive after the army had defeated King Ahaz’s forces.
So, the people began to care for the women with food and clothing. And then tribal leaders led the entire group of two-hundred thousand women to Jericho, where they were restored to their families.
However, even after the defeat, King Ahaz did not repent. Instead, he chose to begin worshipping the false gods of the Arameans. In fact, Ahaz went so far as to close the Temple and prevent the worship of the God of Israel.
Ahaz Blamed God
King Ahaz disobeyed God and disregarded the temple. Additionally, he led the people away from the worship of God by setting up high places throughout the southern kingdom. So, God allowed for he and his army to be defeated by the Arameans.
As a result, Ahaz began following the gods of Aram. He reasoned that, since serving these false gods brought the Arameans victory, that he should likewise serve the same false gods.
My tendency is to blame God for the havoc I create in my own circumstances. So, I turn away from Him. Maybe I even reject Him.
And this never serves me well.
God is not hurt because I blame Him. But by blaming Him, or refusing to honor and praise Him, I put myself further away from the answers I so desperately need.
“Their own folly leads people astray; in their hearts they rage against the LORD.” Prov 19:3
Synopsis 2Chron 28:6-14 4/30/2020
Because of his wickedness, King Ahaz suffered a string of defeats. First, the Arameans defeated him and plundered the nation. After this, the northern kingdom of Israel defeated him. They not only plundered the land, but they also took over two-hundred thousand women from the southern kingdom. The women were marched to Samaria, the capital city.
But a Godly prophet lived there and heard about the captured women. His name was Oded. And so, Oded approached the leaders of Ephraim at Samaria. He reminded them that the women were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. In other words, they were near relatives.
And so, he warned them that if they kept the women as slaves, they would bring guilt on the nation. What’s more, if they didn’t repent, God would punish them.
The leaders considered Oded’s prophecy. And so, they decided to return the women.
Ephraim: A Way Out
“To the victor goes the spoils”. This ancient adage has been the mantra of military battle since the beginning of history. In fact, despoiling the vanquished has been a traditional motivation for the masses to support war. In other words, soldiers who win in battle have been allowed to despoil the losers, both alive and dead, of all their possessions. This tradition continued well into the nineteenth century.
The Ephraimites who invaded Judah found the land already despoiled by the Arameans. So, having nothing else to take, they took the women of Judah and Benjamin. They felt justified making them slaves as spoils of war.
But the prophet Oded brought them to a clearer sense of how wrong they were. God sent him with a prophecy in order to give them the opportunity to repent. And to their credit, they did.
Never Beyond Repentance
I am a sinner. Actually, I am a great sinner. In fact, I am the greatest sinner I will ever know.
My sins are so great, I sometimes wonder why God has even preserved my life. I know that it isn’t because of anything I have done.
Instead, it is because God still sees potential. When I feel desperate, I remember that as long as I have breath, God has provided a way of repentance.
He has forgiven.
He will forgive.
And, He has provided. So, there is always a way of repentance.
“The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Prov 9:10
Synopsis 2Chron 27:3-28:5 4/29/2020
King Jotham was Uzziah’s son. And like his father, he continued to build up the kingdom through massive infrastructure projects.
Like his father, he led his army to great victories over the Ammonites. And after these, the Ammonites paid him a large tribute for many years.
Jotham reigned for sixteen years and then he died. After his death, his son Ahaz became king.
Now, Ahaz was described as a very evil man. For example, he worshipped the Baals. And he even built altars to these false gods. What’s more, he subjected his children to the pagan rituals including immolation in fire.
Because of his wickedness, King Ahaz was very quickly defeated in battle by both the Arameans and the northern kingdom of Israel. And both nations plundered Judah and Jerusalem.
King Ahaz – Failed Legacy
King Ahaz was a descendent of the great King David. And he bucked the example and experience of multiple generations of successful rule that came before him. The result was disaster.
Legacy of Danger
The word Catholic means Universal. And so, it’s important for me to keep in mind that the claims of the Catholic church are Universal claims. They represent God’s thinking concerning the universe that He created.
Now, I’m an American. And so, I’m culturally conditioned to resist over-regulation. I don’t want to follow rules – especially those that seem arbitrary.
But this is God. And He is never arbitrary. So, the decision to ignore His way is an invitation to my own temporal and eternal disaster.
“The wise will possess glory, but fools will bear shame.“ Prov 3:35