Hezekiah - The Devoted King
John Griffiths, Port Talbot, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
2 Chronicles chapter 30
Gathering God’s Way
proclaiming to the tribes the place and purpose of the meeting.
The Place – As the post went out to Israel as well as Judah, they were to impress upon the people the significance of the place where the Passover would be kept. It was not to be held at Dan or Bethel, places which were meant to distract Israel from the temple worship at Jerusalem. It was not to be held at the shrines or high places, whether significant for idolatry or the ‘worship’ of Jehovah. These were to be destroyed. Ten times in chapter 30 we read of Jerusalem.1
This was the divinely appointed centre of gathering in Hezekiah’s day. The New Testament assembly is the divinely appointed centre of gathering today. There were those of the professing people of God who laughed and mocked, v. 10, but this in no way detracted from the truth of the one place of gathering. One way of salvation, and only one way of gathering!
The Period – The priests and Levites took sixteen days to purify the sanctuary, overshooting the date of the Passover which should be celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month. Hezekiah does not copy Jeroboam, who ‘ordained a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month like unto the feast that is in Judah’, 1 Kgs. 12. 32. He recognizes God’s will in the dating of the festival, but is also aware of the proviso, ‘If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean . . . yet he shall keep the Passover unto the Lord. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it’, Num. 9. 10, 11. It is celebrated exactly one month later once the terms of Numbers chapter 9 are met. The remembrance of our blessed Lord is to be the first act of the first day of each new week.
The feast of unleavened bread which followed immediately after Passover lasted for seven days normally, but by general consent this was increased by a further seven days. Solomon had acted similarly in connection with the feast of tabernacles. This feast could be doubled in length, as it speaks of the believer’s holiness of life and does not contravene any principle, or compromise any type or antitype.
The Purpose – ‘that they should come to keep the Passover for they had not done it of a long time . . . as it was written’, v. 5. Also see, ‘by the word of the Lord’, v. 12; ‘according to the law’, v. 16; ‘than it was written’, v. 18.
Our remembrance of the Lord should be celebrated on the first day of every week. This was the practice of believers in the Acts.2 It should be kept in accordance with the order of scripture . . . in simplicity and yet with the purpose of the gathering in mind, ‘This do in remembrance of me’.
The Problem – ‘For a multitude of the people . . . had not cleansed themselves . . . yet they eat the Passover . . . but Hezekiah prayed for them’, v. 18. God heard his prayer and healed them, inasmuch as their hearts were right before God. The standard of God’s holiness must be maintained amongst His people.3
The Pleasure – ‘So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon . . . there was not the like in Jerusalem’, v. 26. O, the joy to be felt when we engage in the things of the Lord and worship Him not out of duty but sheer delight, in keeping with His desire!.
providing for the priests and Levites.
This chapter divides into two parts:
Hezekiah’s Twofold Appointment, vv. 2, 3 – courses for the priesthood; the portion of the king.
Hezekiah’s Twofold Commandment, vv. 4-19 – the superabundance of their giving; the storehouses for their gifts.
Giving to the Lord and His servants is thus the thrust of the passage.
Their giving was purposeful, v. 4, ‘to give . . . that they (priests and Levites) might be encouraged in the law of the Lord’.4
Their giving was planned, v. 5, ‘the children of Israel brought the firstfruits’. Do we give of our firstfruits to the Lord? Cp. 1 Cor. 16. 1, 2.
Their giving was plentiful, vv. 5, 6, 10, ‘brought in abundance’; ‘brought they in abundantly’; ‘laid them by heaps’; ‘we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty’, cp. 2 Cor. 8. 2 – ‘liberality; 2 Cor. 9. 5 – ‘bounty’; 2 Cor. 8. 14 – ‘abundance’.
Their giving was proportionate, vv. 5, 6, ‘the tithe’ or tenth. We are not asked to tithe, but under grace surely we should not expect to give less than they gave under the law! They were not restricted to tithing. This was only the minimum, for on top they also contributed ‘freewill offerings’, v. 14.
His National Pride
based on his tenure of office.
He builds with foresight
Hezekiah, realizing the threat of Assyria now that he had refused to pay the tribute money to them, protected the water supply to Jerusalem against a siege. He also repaired the Broad Wall, raised towers and reconstructed the Millo, to seek to make Jerusalem impregnable.
The water supply ran from the spring at Gihon to the pool of Siloam. Hezekiah’s tunnel was discovered by Sir Charles Warren in 1867. In 1880 the Siloam Inscription was found inside the tunnel and is now in a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.5 God grant us the spiritual foresight to build with an eye to the future!
He battles with foes
He was initially successful against the Philistines and brave in his decision to withhold tribute from Assyria, however, his faith failed him when the Assyrians came knocking at his door! He tried to ‘buy off’ the Assyrians by repaying the tribute money that had been owed. He raided the temple and his own treasures. He undid much of his good work in relation to the temple by his lack of trust in God. Sennacherib then laid siege to Judah, conquering forty-six cities before threatening Jerusalem. Hezekiah turns to Isaiah for reassurance before spreading the Assyrian’s letter before the Lord in the temple. He prays for deliverance for Jerusalem on the basis that God may be exalted in the eyes of the heathen. Isaiah assures Hezekiah that his prayer has been heard and answered. Sennacherib will not invade Jerusalem, Isa. 37. 33-35. Angelic intervention overnight destroyed 185,000 of his soldiers. He returned by the way he had come, as the Lord had promised. Twenty years later he was killed by two of his sons whilst he was worshipping in the house of his gods. Secular material giving Sennacherib’s version of these events can be found on a hexagonal cylinder in the British Museum. Lord Byron’s poem of 1815, The Destruction of Sennacherib, is also worth reading in this connection.
Two lessons, at least, should be learned from this episode. ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths’, Prov. 3. 5, 6. Further, we need a comprehensive appreciation of the kind of God we believe in. He is sovereign; He is almighty; nothing is too hard for God. He is the God of the impossible!
He beseeches with fervour
Isaiah chapter 38 verse 1 begins, ‘In those days’, and follows Sennacherib’s defeat, but verse six suggests that the events of this chapter fall between the two Assyrian visits, the one fended off with tribute money and the other dealt with by God. We will take this point of view.
Isaiah delivers the Lord’s message to Hezekiah. What a bombshell! ‘Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live’. Is this chastisement for Hezekiah’s lack of faith and looting of the temple in order to pay the Assyrian tribute?
Hezekiah resorts to prayer. He was a man of prayer and the Lord granted him his requests on every recorded occasion: at the Passover; at the announcement of his death; at the siege of Jerusalem. Why did he pray for an extension to his life?
That the nation was faced with this powerful adversary and Hezekiah did not yet have a son to succeed him were two compelling reasons. Had not David been told, ‘There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel’, 2 Chr. 6. 16? Hezekiah also appeals on the grounds of his godly walk and perfect heart, Isa. 38. 3. After all, longevity was promised in the Old Testament for such character. Even in the New Testament this is not a foreign idea, ‘And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight’, 1 John 3. 22. His praying was accompanied by weeping and God responded, ‘I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years’. May we learn the value of effectual fervent prayer, Jas. 5. 16.
- Hezekiah went back to Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 5, ‘But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek and thither thou shalt come’.
- See Acts 20. 7.
- 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 27 reminds us of those not fit to remember the Lord. The next verse exhorts us, ‘Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup’.
- Note 2 Corinthians 9 verse 7.
- See E W Bullinger The Companion Bible, Pt. 3; pp. 99-103