2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 29
The Beginning of Hezekiah's Reign.
HEZEKIAH RESTORES THE WORSHIP OF JEHOVAH. — V. 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, very likely the prophet of that name, chap. 26, 5. Cp. 2 Kings 18. V. 2. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David, his father, had done; he patterned his life of piety strictly after that of the founder of the dynasty. V. 3. He, in the first year of his reign, in the first month, the month Nisan, the first of the church-year, just as soon as he could well arrange for it, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, which had been closed by his father, chap. 28, 24, and repaired them, put them in order for constant use. V. 4. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, who had, of course, been dismissed when the worship of Jehovah was suspended, and gathered them together into the east street, literally, “in the broad way toward the east,” either in the Court of the Priests or in some open space outside of the Temple area, v. 5. and said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, this special consecration being required whenever the Levites were to enter upon their ministry, Ex. 19, 10, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, putting it into condition to be used in the service of Jehovah once more, and carry forth the filthiness, every evidence of idolatrous customs and worship, out of the Holy Place. V. 6. For our fathers, particularly Ahaz and his generation, 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, as one does in utter contempt of a thing. Note the heaping of parallel, synonymous expressions to designate the greatness of the transgression described by Hezekiah. V. 7. Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, those leading to the Sanctuary proper, thereby discontinuing the regular sacrifices to Jehovah, and have put out the lamps, those illuminating the Holy Place, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the Holy Place unto the God of Israel. The lawful worship of Jehovah had been abandoned entirely. V. 8. Wherefore the wrath of the Lord, as shown in His severe displeasure and punishment, was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and He hath delivered them to trouble, to commotion and horror, Deut. 28, 25, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes; for the country had been laid waste and its resources drained by the successive raids and wars, as they knew only too well. V. 9. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, chap. 28, 6, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this, chap. 28, 5. 17. 18. V. 10. Now it is in mine heart, he had firmly resolved upon this course, to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, by restoring the covenant which had repeatedly been made with Jehovah as the one true God, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us. V. 11. My sons, so the king addresses the Levites in a familiar, persuasive address, be not now negligent, by drawing back from the king and delaying or hindering his proposed reformation; for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that ye should minister unto Him and burn incense, taking up all the work of their ministry according to the Lord's precepts, and helping the king carry out his plans for the restoration of the ancient law and order. V. 12. Then the Levites arose: Mahath, the son of Amasai, and Joel, the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites, this family being especially distinguished among the Levites; 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 Zimnah, and Eden, the son of Joah; v. 13. and of the sons of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel; and of the sons of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah; v. 14. and of the sons of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun: Shemaiah, and Uzziel. These fourteen chiefs among the Levites undertook the task of preparing their brethren and cleansing the house of the Lord. V. 15. And they gathered their brethren and sanctified themselves, by taking the usual measures to purify themselves from any defilements, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord; for the king's command was founded on the precepts of the Law, to cleanse the house of the Lord. V. 16. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, within the Sanctuary and especially within the veil, where the Levites were not permitted to enter, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the Temple of the Lord, whatever idolatrous vessels and remains of idolatrous offerings they found, into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron, where the uncleanness could be burned and the ashes swept down with the winter rains into the Dead Sea. V. 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 long it took them to remove the accumulated filth of the courts. So they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days; that much longer it took them to remove the filth from the sanctuary proper; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end. V. 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, those used in the sacrifices, and the showbread table, with all the vessels thereof, for all these things had no longer been in use during the last years of Ahaz. V. 19. Moreover, all the vessels which King Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, including Solomon's altar of burnt offering, the brazen sea, and the lavers on the stands, 2 Kings 16, 14. 17, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the Lord. Note: It is a special sign of God's grace if a person is kept in the ways of the Lord and does not turn from them either to the right or to the left.
THE SERVICE OF THE TEMPLE SET IN ORDER. — V. 20. Then Hezekiah the king rose early, full of anxious zeal to complete the cleansing of the Temple, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the Lord. Since all the people of his kingdom could not be reached, he wanted at least the princes of Jerusalem to be the representatives of the people. V. 21. And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he-goats, the number seven being the sacred number, for a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sins of the king and his predecessors, and for the Sanctuary, for the priests themselves and for the desecration of the Sanctuary, and for Judah, for all the members of the nation who had consented to the introduction of idolatry. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the Lord, to make an atonement for all the trespasses and sins as indicated. V. 22. So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood and sprinkled it on the altar, as the ritual of sacrifices required, Lev. 8, 14-24; 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. V. 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, thus signifying that the act of atonement, while made directly by the princes, was done for the entire nation. V. 24. And the priests killed them; and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, for the purpose of obtaining a purification for sin, Lev. 14, 20, 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. The sacrifices agreed, in general, with the precepts of Lev. 4. V. 25. And he set the Levites, those designated for that work, 1 Chron. 16, 4; 25, 6, in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, the former being a guitarlike zither or lute, and the latter a small harp, according to the commandment of David and of Gad, the king's seer, and Nathan, the prophet, for the latter two had advised and assisted David in arranging the Temple service; for so was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets, the Lord Himself having acted through the agency of His prophets. V. 26. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, those invented and introduced by David, and the priests with the trumpets, for the blowing of these was their special privilege, Num. 10. V. 27. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar, when everything was in readiness for the service. 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, the instruments of David governed and led the entire orchestra as it played with full force in the intervals of the psalm or psalms. V. 28. And all the congregation worshiped, and the singers sang, the psalm was intoned, and the trumpeters sounded; and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished, the musical performance of praise being continued during the whole time of the offering. V. 29. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped, in grateful adoration. V. 30. Moreover, Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded, they had done so before the beginning of the service, the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, some of the psalms composed by the royal singer, and of Asaph, the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, literally, “unto gladness,” until their hearts were lifted up in ecstasy; and they bowed their heads and worshiped. V. 31. Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, by having filled their hands with the sacrifices of atonement; come near and bring sacrifices and thank-offerings into the house of the Lord. The sin and trespass-offerings having been made in order to remove the guilt of the king and the people, peace-offerings were now in order to establish the relation of the covenant between Jehovah and His people once more. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, with which sacrificial meals were connected; and as many as were of a free heart, in making vows to Jehovah, burnt offerings. V. 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, presented by the rulers of the people for the nation or congregation. V. 33. And the consecrated things, the animals presented as thank-offerings, were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. V. 34. But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings, a task which they were supposed to perform themselves; wherefore their brethren, the Levites, did help them, it being a case of unavoidable necessity, of an emergency, till the work was ended, and until the other priests, those who came in from the outlying cities, had sanctified themselves; for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests, they displayed greater alacrity than the priests, probably because the latter had become more deeply involved in idolatry under Ahaz. V. 35. And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, that was the second reason why the Levites were drafted into service, 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, the newly consecrated Temple reopened for the service of Jehovah. V. 36. And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people, had made their hearts willing with such promptness; for the thing was done suddenly, with unexpected readiness on the part of the majority of the nation. One of the surest proofs of true piety is the rejection of idolatry in every form and the eager participation in the worship of the true God.