2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 30
The Celebration of the Passover Festival.
THE FESTIVAL PROCLAIMED BY THE KING. V. 1. And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, to the entire congregation adhering to the worship of Jehovah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, the chief tribes of the northern kingdom, as many of them as were left after the bulk of the people had been led into captivity by the king of Assyria, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel, for he was anxious to restore the observance of the festival, as in ancient days. V. 2. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, upon the occasion of the rededication of the Temple, to keep the Passover in the second month, as the Lord had provided for in cases of emergency, Num. 9, 10. 11. V. 3. For they could not keep it at that time because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently; they were slow about putting away the personal defilements and about returning to Jerusalem; neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem, the time had been too brief to summon them all for a general celebration. V. 4. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation. V. 5. So they established a decree, they settled the matter, resolved upon their course of action, to make proclamation throughout all Israel, the entire country occupied by the tribes, from Beersheba, in the extreme south, even to Dan, in the far north, that they should come to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem; for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written, with an attendance of all the men of the congregation, as the precept of the Lord required; it had been celebrated more as a local festival. V. 6. So the posts, special runners, acting as messengers of the king, went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria; for both Pul and Tiglath-pileser had taken away large numbers of Israelites captive into Northern Media, the latter in two campaigns, 2 Kings 15, 29; 17, 6. V. 7. And be not ye like your fathers and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see; for the territory of the northern tribes was now lying desolate. V. 8. Now, be ye not stiff-necked as your fathers were, the picture being that of a stubborn animal refusing to yield to guidance, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, submitting to His guidance by giving Him their hand, and enter into His Sanctuary which He hath sanctified forever; and serve the Lord, your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. V. 9. For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, through their intercession and the power of their example, so that they shall come again into this land; for the Lord, your God, is gracious and merciful and will not turn away His face from you if ye return unto Him. This appeal to repentance is always held out before every sinner, bidding him return to the Lord in true penitence. V. 10. So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun, toward the north and northwest. But they laughed them to scorn and mocked them, the majority of those invited ridiculed the messengers and even openly insulted them. V. 11. Nevertheless, divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem; they heeded the invitation, because their hearts were struck by the appeal of the king. Even so there are always some in the great mass of people who heed the invitation of the Gospel and accept Jesus, their Savior. V. 12. Also in Judah, rather, in Judah, on the other hand, by way of contrast, the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the Lord; they were practically unanimous in their acceptance of the invitation. There is always a better opportunity for the Word of God in a community where it is in general use.
THE JOYFUL CELEBRATION. V. 13. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people, a great multitude, to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as the Passover Festival was also called, because the two festivals were always celebrated together, in the second month, a very great congregation. V. 14. And they, fired with the enthusiasm of the reformation, arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, those which had been used for idolatrous purposes, and cast them into the brook Kidron. V. l5. Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month; and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, they were put to shame and stimulated to greater zeal by the enthusiasm of the people, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord. V. 16. And they stood in their place after their manner, as it was prescribed for the sacrifices of the day, according to the Law of Moses, the man of God. The priests sprinkled the blood which they received of the hand of the Levites, either because the Levites slaughtered the paschal lambs for such of the Israelites as were unclean, or because they handed the basins to the priests from the line of waiting men, since the number was so great. V. 17. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified, not Levitically clean; therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for everyone that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Lord. V. 18. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, not gone through the rite of purification as demanded before this festival, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written, a feature opposed to the Law, Num. 9, 6. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon everyone v. 19. that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, eager to enter into the covenant relation with Him once more, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the Sanctuary, even if he had not complied with the strict ritual of purification. V. 20. And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah and healed the people. It was either that in consequence of their transgression they had reason to fear disease and even death, Lev. 15, 31, or that some of them had already been stricken with some malady. V. 21. And the children of Israel, the members of the congregation in general, that were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness. And the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord, their psalms accompanied by the playing of the Temple orchestra as provided for by David. V. 22. And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord, literally, he spake to the heart, he addressed cordial, loving, encouraging words to them. And they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace-offerings, in connection with which sacrificial feasts were held, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers, confessing Him with praise and thanksgiving. V. 23. And the whole assembly, filled with joyful enthusiasm, took counsel to keep other seven days; and they kept other seven days with gladness. V. 24. For Hezekiah, king of Judah, in order to make this extension of the festival possible, did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes, joining the king in his munificence, gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves, that is, they had sanctified themselves during the first week of the festival in order that a sufficient number might be on hand. V. 25. And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel and that dwelt in Judah, proselytes from heathen nations, rejoiced. V. 26. So there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, there was not the like in Jerusalem, in point of attendance and unrestrained enthusiasm. V. 27. Then the priests, the Levites, of the tribe of Levi, arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling-place, the habitation of God's holiness, even unto heaven. Even in times of general trouble and distress the Spirit of the Lord is busily engaged in the hearts of at least some men in leading them to the knowledge of truth and in making them willing to serve their God with all their heart.