Let’s turn to II Chronicles, chapter twenty-nine. Ahaz was one of the most wicked of all of the kings of Judah. He did every vile, abominable thing imaginable. He closed the temple of the Lord. He began to worship Baalim, Ashtoreth, Molech, Mammon, all of the gods of the pagans. He placed little pagan altars on every corner in Jerusalem. As the result of his total apostasy, God allowed the nation to suffer tremendously in the hands of her enemies. People were carried away captive, and the nation was in a very serious condition of weakness by the end of his reign.
He had a son, who ascended to the throne on his death, his name was Hezekiah. Interestingly enough, Hezekiah was an extremely good king. Probably in seeing the example of his father, and seeing the total mess that his father had made of the nation, he was resolved in his heart to turn the people back to God, and to undo the evil that his father had done, to the nation. So Hezekiah’s first order of business was to restore the worship in the temple, restore the hearts of the people to the true and the living God, the God of Israel, who is known by the name of Yahweh. So, in chapter twenty nine…
Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty five years old, and he reigned for twenty nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done (29:1-2).
David was called, “A man after God’s own heart”, and surely Hezekiah became the same. He used David as his model, and he did the right things before the Lord, even as David, and he sought to model the kingdom after the times of David. He sought to model the worship of the temple after that which David had set up. In fact, he had them singing David’s psalms again within the temple. He no doubt, a good student of history, read of David’s reign, and the blessing and the glory of Israel, during the time of the reign of David, and knew that the glory of the nation, was directly related to its relationship with God, as is always the case. A nations power and strength is really in the Lord. If a nation is seeking the Lord, and serving the Lord, they’re gonna be strong, they’re gonna be powerful, they’ll subdue their enemies. The nation forgets God, turns away from God, they’re gonna be preys in the hands of their enemies.
Now in the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of Yahweh and repaired them. [The temple had been closed by his father. His first action is to open the doors, and to repair them.] He brought in the priests and the Levites, and he gathered them together in the east street, And he said to them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of Yahweh God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place (29:3-5).
The temple of God had been profaned. It had become a place of just junk, and refuse, under his father’s reign. So he ordered them to clean the place up. Even the Holy of Holies, had become just a place of filthiness. So he said…
Our fathers have trespassed, they have done that which was evil in the eyes of Yahweh our God, and they have forsaken him, they’ve turned away their faces form the habitation of the Lord, [That is the temple.] and they have turned their backs on him (29:6).
So notice the indictment against their fathers. First of all, they have trespassed. They trespassed by doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. They’ve forsaken Him. They’ve turned their faces away from the temple, the place of His habitation, and turned their backs on God.
They also have shut up the doors of the porch, and they’ve put out the lamps, [These lamps that were in the temple, that were to be kept burning before God continually. “They have put them out”,] and they have not burned incense, nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. [So a total turning away from God, from the worship of God within the temple. The doors had been closed. The fire has gone out. The, no offerings, no burnt incense.] And because of this [And you see he, he makes the direct relationship.] Wherefore [Because of this] the wrath of Yahweh was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as you can see with your eyes (29:7-8).
The hissing was the scorn of their enemies, because of the problems that they had, their enemies just scorned them. And that is the idea behind the hissing. Just hiss, you know. “Look what’s happened to you.” So God delivered them to trouble.
For lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and daughters and wives are in captivity for this (29:9).
Now it is quite possible that Hezekiah had a wife that was carried away, even a child that was carried away as a captive to their enemies. For he said, “Our sons and daughters, and our wives are in captivity because of our sin. Because of our forsaking God”.
Now [he said] it’s in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord [Or Yahweh] the God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. My sons, be not negligent: for Yahweh hath chosen you to stand before him, and to serve him, that you should minister unto him, and burn incense (29:10-11).
So he is first of all, dealing with the priests. He’s dealing with the heart of the problem. A corrupted priesthood, means a corrupted religion. A corrupted religion means a corrupted people. So he comes right back to the beginning to get things straightened up. The Bible says, “The time has come when judgement must begin in the house of the Lord”. But the thing is, if it begins here, where will the ungodly and the unrighteous fare? God’s judgement begins in the house of the Lord. So he’s first of all, getting a hold of the priests, sharing with them his covenant that he has made with God. “Gonna serve the Lord.”
And so the Levites arose, [And it gives the major families, and those from the major families, of,] Korah, Gershom, and the Kohathites: the Merarites, and those from the [tribe or the] family of Azariah: [And then those that came from David’s appointed singers.] Jeduthun and Asaph, and Heman; [In verse fifteen.] They gathered their brothers, and they sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord (29:12-15).
So hearkening unto the voice of Hezekiah, they first of all went through the purification rites for themselves. So that they could enter and begin to cleanse, to clean up the temple.
The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, they brought out all of the uncleanness that they found in the temple of Yahweh into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, and carried it outside to the brook Kidron. Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the porch of the Lord: and so they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end (29:16-17).
So starting out at the beginning of the month, it took them sixteen days to clean the place up completely. And as they cleaned it up, to again sanctify it, set it apart as a place where the people can worship the Lord.
And so Hezekiah the king, said, We have cleansed all of the house of Yahweh, the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, the shewbread table, with the vessels thereof. Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz [his father] in his reign did cast away in his transgression, we have prepared or repaired and sanctified, and, behold, they are all before the altar of the Lord (29:18-19).
He went in and examined the work, he said, “Great. It’s you know, good job. We’ve got the thing all sanctified again”.
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and he went up to the house of Yahweh. And they brought seven bullocks and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the Lord. So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, they killed the rams, and sprinkled their blood, and then the lambs. And they brought forth the goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: The priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make the atonement [That is the covering] for the sins for all of Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all of Israel (29:20-24).
So notice that the first offering that they made was the sin offering. When God created man, God created man for fellowship. That word fellowship has a, in a biblical sense, has a much deeper meaning than we’ve come to think of fellowship today. We talk about a fellowship today, we think often of a party. “We’re gonna have fellowship, you know, next Friday night. We’re gonna have a pot luck dinner, and time sharing together, games and all.” We think of just getting together for a time of, of fun. From a biblical sense, the word fellowship means, “to be one with, to become one”, one in heart, one in mind, one in purpose. So it’s much deeper, it’s much more intimate, fellowship from a biblical sense. Now God wanted fellowship with man from the biblical sense. He wanted that communion, that oneness with man. Where there is that beautiful intimacy of sharing heart, mind, with each other. That was the purpose of God in creating man.
Essential for that fellowship was man’s obedience to the will of God. “Can two walk together”, the Bible said, “unless they be agreed?” So God warned Adam, that the thing that could kill that fellowship would be disobedience to the command of God, or sin. So God said, “In order that this fellowship continue, you’re not to eat of the tree there in the midst of the garden. For in the day that you eat of it, the fellowship will die”. Your, the life of God will depart from you. You’ll lose that conscious relationship with God. We know the tragic story of how Adam ate, and how that fellowship with God was broken.
Now the purpose of God then, became the restoration of that fellowship, otherwise the whole purpose for the creation of man, is at naught. So God began to establish the methods whereby fellowship might be restored.
Now because the penalty for broken fellowship, or sin, was death. That death had to be meted out, in order that there might be the forgiveness for the sin. So God established that man could take an animal, and use that animal as a sin offering, and in the slaying of that animal, that animal became the substitute for the man. In a sense, the man’s sins were passed off, and the guilt of his sin, was passed off onto that animal.
So when you would bring an animal to the Lord, you would place your hand upon its head, and you would confess upon the head of that animal, your sins. Then the animal would be slain by the priest, and it would be offered as a sacrifice, a sin offering sacrifice unto the Lord.
Now in your endeavor to approach God, this had to be first. Because in your sinful state, you could not be one with the holy God. You could not have communion with Him.
Now of course in the new testament, Jesus Christ became our sacrifice for sin. He was our sin offering. Isaiah in prophesying the coming of Jesus Christ, said, “All we, like sheep have gone astray. We turned every one of us to our own ways, but God laid on Him, the iniquities of us all”. The guilt of our sin was placed upon Jesus Christ, and He died for our sins. In order that He, being the sin offering, might make the way whereby guilty, sinful man, could again be restored into fellowship with the holy, righteous God. It would be impossible that a holy, righteous God could be one with sin, in any form.
Therefore Jesus bore the guilt of our sins, so that God has established now, that by our faith in Jesus Christ, as the sin offering, He then cleanses us, and washes us. His blood, cleanses and washes us from all our sin, which then makes fellowship with God a reality, a possibility. So tonight, you can know the blessing, the joy, the glory, of fellowshipping with God. Becoming one with God in heart, mind, and purpose. Because Jesus is the sin offering.
Now without the sin offering, there was no approach to God. You see, you’re trying to bring darkness and light together. But they cannot coexist. They’re mutually exclusive. The bible said, “If we say we have fellowship with God, and we’re walking in darkness, we’re lying. We don’t even know the truth. But if we will walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we have this fellowship one with the other, as the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, is cleansing us from all of our sins”. But there’s got to be that cleansing of sin. There cannot be fellowship, until first of all, something is done regarding the guilt of sin that is upon us.
The word “sin”, literally means, “missing the mark”. That’s the root of the word in Greek and in English. The missing of the mark. The bible said, “All of us are sinners”, and you need not be offended because the bible calls you a sinner, it is just saying, “You missed the mark”, and the mark is perfection. Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”. If you’re not perfect, then you’ve missed the mark, and you’re a sinner. That sin will hinder you from fellowshipping with God. Being one with God.
So the purpose of God, once man had sinned, the purpose of God was then to make a way of restoration, where man, now alienated by God, might be able to come back into fellowship with God. God has provided, for our sins. In the old testament, through the sacrifice of the animals.
Now the first offering then, that I would have to offer to God, if I wanted to come into fellowship with God, would be the sin offering. Thus, as they cleansed the temple, as they cleaned the place up, the first thing they offered, was the sin offering unto the Lord.
Now, after the sin offerings, the next offering that they made unto the Lord were the burnt offerings. The burnt offerings were the offerings of consecration. It is saying, “Lord, I want you to burn out the flesh, that I might live, and walk after the Spirit. I want to consecrate my life to serving you, and to walking after the Spirit”. The burnt offerings of consecration.
Then, the third offering that would be offered, would be the peace offering, which was the offering of fellowship. Having taken care of my sin, having made now my commitment to walk after the Spirit, I now offer the sin offering, and I enter into the communion with the Lord, into the fellowship.
Now the purposes of God for man, are once again fulfilled, as man is brought into fellowship with God, through the peace offering. So, Jeremiah, following this pattern, they first of all brought the animals for the sin offerings, to offer not only for their own, but for the sins of the nation. “Lord, Judah as a nation, has sinned against you, and so we are offering these sin offerings for the nation.” And then they commanded after that, verse twenty four “b”…
the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all of Israel. And then he sent the Levites in the house of the Lord with their cymbals, and their psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, [As I said, David was sort of his hero. He had studied about the reign of David, he read how that David had established the musicians there in the temple, to play unto the Lord.] and so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets, Gad and Nathan. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and with the priests and with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of Yahweh began also with the sound of trumpets and with the instruments that were ordained by David the king of Israel (29:24-27).
So as they offered now, the burnt offering. Sin offering, solemn thing, quietness, but now with the consecration, the consecration was made with the singing, with the music and all, as, as we’re you know, the way is now made where man can approach God, because the sin, having been dealt with.
The congregation worshiped, the singers sang, the trumpeters sounded: and all of this continued until the burnt offering was finished (29:28).
Glorious day! A day of restoration. A nation that had turned its back upon God and was suffering the consequences, is in the, is in a period of national revival. Movement towards God, a happy day, a joyous day! As these burnt offerings are being made, the worshiping of God, the singing, the praising of the Lord, as the people now are making this commitment, renewed commitment to serve the Lord.
And when they had made an end of the offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshiped. Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, [He loved David, so, “Sing the songs of David!”] and of Asaph [Who was David’s chief musician.] the seer. And they sang the praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads, and they worshiped. Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now you have consecrated yourselves to Yahweh, come near and bring the sacrifices and the thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in the sacrifices the thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart the burnt offerings (29:29-30).
So again, nothing that was forced. It was something that has to come from your own heart. So with all things that you bring to God. So with your worship to God, so with your service to God. It always has to be from a free heart. You can’t be forced, else it’s not meaningful. It’s got to be something that’s from your own heart to do. Whenever I give to God, I must give to God from my heart, it’s got to be something I’ve determined in my own heart to do. It shouldn’t be because someone is saying, “Now, hey! You give!”. Got to be a free heart.
So they brought in such a vast amount of burnt offerings, there were seventy bullocks, a hundred rams, two hundred lambs: all of these were brought for a burnt offering to the Lord. And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. And there were so many they didn’t have enough priests to [do all of the butchering of the animals] flay the offerings: therefore they brought in their brothers the Levites who did help them till the work was finished, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests (29:32-34).
Now in order to be in this area of, of the priesthood, it was necessary that you, yourself be sanctified, that you not be from the law, from the standpoint of the law, ceremonially unclean. There were many things that could make you unclean, and not fit to serve in this position, in the priesthood in those days. If you would touch a dead body, or if you’d touch a dead carcase, or several things, you had to go through purification rites. Through, what they called the Mitbah, the baths, the bathing of purification. That had to be in uh, done in a prescribed way.
Of course, they’ve added a lot to that and today in Israel, quite often, if you’ll go to the spring of Gihon, you’ll find some young guy down there, with the black robes and everything else, who has taken them off, and is bathing there in the running water of the spring of Gihon. They sort of resent the fact that tourists come down to take a look at the spring, because they like to use it for their Mitbah’s. You’ll find, actually in the ruins of the houses there in Israel, all of these bathtubs, for which were, not like we use a bathtub, but they use them for their ceremonial bathing, the cleansing, the Mitbah, the ceremonial bath, and all. They have, they developed a whole ritual on just how to do it, how to hold the cup, how to hold your hands, you know. It became just a burden after awhile.
But they sanctified themselves, they went through the rites of purification, which sometimes took a week or so. You remember when Paul the apostle, had returned to Jerusalem, and he was wanting to participate in the upcoming feast in the temple. Having been among the Gentiles for so long, it was necessary that he go through this ritual of cleansing, in order that he could even enter into the temple precincts, to worship at the coming festival.
So they brought the burnt offerings in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings, [Last of all, the peace offering. Where we enter into this peace with God, where we sit down to eat together.] the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of Yahweh was set in order. And Hezekiah rejoiced, [And all the people that God had prepared.] that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly (29:35-36).
I mean this, this was a, you know, sixteen days from the time that they started their work. They got the thing cleansed, the guys got sanctified, and they began to offer the offerings. I mean it was really a, a pushed project.
So then Hezekiah sent to all of Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto Yahweh the God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priest had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation (30:1-4).
So here was the first month, and of course, according to the law, on the fourteenth day of the first month, they were to have this feast of the Passover, with the various offerings and all, that were made to the Lord. But they didn’t have time, they didn’t get the place cleaned up until the sixteenth day, and they had not time to go through all of the rites for the purification, sanctification, and all.
But in the law of Moses, there was a situation where there were certain men who were not able to observe the Passover in the first month, because they were ceremonially unclean. So Moses had inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said, “If they can’t do it in the first month, then they can do it in the second month”. So those that were not ready or prepared in the first month, were able to observe the Passover in the second month. So they, Hezekiah got together with the counselors, they talked the thing over, and they said, “Look, we’re not ready to do it now. But why don’t we do it in a month, in the second month, according to the law of Moses”. And they said, “Great!”, you know.
So they decided to have a great gathering of the people. Something that hadn’t been done for years! To gather the people together before the Lord to observe the beginning of the nation really, the Passover, when the nation was born. When God brought them out of Egypt, one of the most important of all of the ceremonies in the Jewish calendar.
So they established a decree to make a proclamation throughout all of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba [They’re going to include the invitation to those that are in the northern kingdom. For the northern kingdom already had been subdued by Assyria. Many of the inhabitants of the nation of Israel, the northern kingdom, were already displaced into other parts of the world by the Assyrians. There was only a remnant left out of the tribes, there in the northern kingdom. So they decided to invite them to come down. “Let’s have a whole national renewal!” It wasn’t really an inviting to submit to the reign of Hezekiah, but, “Let’s submit to the rule of God over us once again”. So he’s inviting them to come, and to submit themselves again unto the Lord. “All the way from Dan to Beersheba.” Those were the limits. Beersheba is the southern limits of the land, on the border of the Negev desert, and of course, Dan was the uppermost area. It was the northern most city of Israel, right at the foot of mount Herman. So, “From Beersheba to Dan”,] that they were invited to come and keep the Passover unto Yahweh God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it for a long time in such sort as it was written. [They had not been keeping this holy day.] So the messengers, the posts [That’s where you get “postman”.] they went out with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all of Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, they said, You children of Israel, turn again unto Yahweh the 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 (30:5-6).
So first of all, the challenge for them to return to God, with the promise, “If you will return to God, God will return to you. You that still remain. You that have not yet been taken captive”. Over and over God promised that if you seek the Lord, you’ll find Him. If you forsake the Lord, He will forsake you. That’s just a basic law of God. James said, “Draw nigh unto God, and He will draw nigh unto you”. Over and over, “Seek the Lord, and you’ll find Him. If you return to God, God will return to you.” Then secondly, he said…
Don’t be like your fathers, and like your brothers, which trespassed against Yahweh the God of their fathers, who because of this gave them up to desolation, as you see (30:7).
“Your fathers and your brothers are existing now, under the desolate conditions of captivity to the Ninevites. The Assyrians, Nineveh was its capital. “They are in these desperate states because they forsook the Lord! Don’t be like them, who because of their trespasses against Yahweh, are in such desperate conditions.” Then he said…
Don’t be stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto Yahweh, and enter into his sanctuary (30:8),
A lot of times when a person turns their back upon the Lord, and problems begin to arise, they get very hard and very abdurant. Many times, a person as they begin to reap the consequences of their actions, they begin to get bitter against God. Because for some quirky reason, they seek to blame God for the problems. When the problems have resulted from our own folly, our own disobedience, and yet, as we begin to experience the consequences, it’s like breaking one of the laws of nature that we know. Say, the law of gravity. You decide you don’t like that law. You feel that that’s too restrictive. God is seeking to keep you from having a great time, a lot of fun, how fun it is to just fall, free fall. “This stupid law of gravity. Why should I obey it? It’s keeping me you know, from all this fun that I could be having.” So I determine I’m gonna defy the law of gravity. “I’m not gonna obey that law!” So I head to a high rise building, and I go to the top floor, get out on the roof, and I’ll say, I say, you know to gravity, “Phooey on you!”, and I jump.
Now, should I survive the fall, and lying there at the bottom of the building with a body that is broken and mangled, and I’m hurting desperately because my body is so battered, say, “God why did you do that to me! You’re so cruel! I hate you God! Because I hurt all over!”. Well wait a minute! You’re the stupid one! God didn’t make you jump! You did that at your own rebellion against the law that God established.
Now I can tell you, if you jump off of a building, you’re gonna get hurt. I just know the inevitable consequence of such a foolish thing. But it isn’t my fault that you get hurt, just because I told you you’re gonna get hurt! I could be standing there on the roof saying, “Man don’t jump! You know that’s only gonna hurt you man! When you hit, you’re gonna really be hurting!” Then you try to blame me, because you are hurting, because I told you, you were gonna hurt if you jumped.
You see how it doesn’t make sense? It doesn’t add in logic. Just because I declared to you the law of gravity, and told you the consequences of such an action, that doesn’t make me the villain, it makes you the fool! Because, you defied the law, now you are suffering the inevitable consequences of the defying of that law.
So God has established the laws, He tells you what the laws are, He tells you what will be the consequence of your violating those laws. Now if you want to be foolish enough to just go ahead and just violate them any how, you have that freedom. You can jump if you wish! However it is manifestly wrong to blame God for the consequences. He, just knowing the spiritual laws, declared to you what they were, and what would be the consequence of violating them, and now, you were the one that chose to violate them, and now you are suffering the consequences.
But God isn’t to blame, as some people would like to blame God, and they get angry, they get stiffnecked, they get hardened against God. “Because of this thing I’m going through”, and they just really become angry with God. He said, “Don’t be stiffnecked. Your problem arises out of forsaking God. It’s not God’s fault that this calamity has come upon you. It’s your fault. God didn’t turn from you, you turned from God. You forsook God. So don’t be stiff necked like your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, enter into His sanctuary. Come on down! Enter into the temple! Make a new covenant with God.”
This, “Yield yourselves to the Lord”, the word “yield” there, in the Hebrew, is “yad”, which is the Hebrew word for hand. The idea is, “striking hands”, as in a bargain. I come to you, and you’ve got a bicycle for sale, and I look and I say, “I like that. I’ll give you forty bucks for it”, you say, “Okay. It’s a deal.”, “Alright, shake”. The shaking of the hands, it confirms the deal. “I’m gonna go to the bank and get the money, and I’ll be back. Let’s shake on it.” So that shake is for a confirmation of the agreement. So he’s saying, “Shake hands with God. Make an agreement with God to serve Him. Shake on it. Strike hands with God. Yield yourselves”. Or, “Strike hands”.
Over in Israel, one of the interesting things is to, on Friday morning, go to the sheep market, which is at the northeast, northwest corner of the city walls, and watch these guys bring their sheep to the market. Then the guys are there to buy sheep. So there’s a whole you know, process that goes on, that dates back way, way back, I mean as far back as I guess time, uh almost, where people were dicker on the buying of sheep. The interesting thing today though, sometimes you’ll see the people driving a flock of sheep right up the street. Other times, and this is what really gets me, you’ll see a Mercedes pull up, and they’ll open up the trunk, and they’ll get the sheep out, they hold up the back door, and pull all the sheep out of the Mercedes, and then, they’ll take them into the sheep market.
But then they begin to haggle over the price of the sheep. As the guy looks at the sheep, he examines it, he wants to buy it, and so you’ll see these guys beginning to argue. They are a, they are an excitive kind of people, and as they start to yell at each other, waving their hands and their arms, you’d think, “Man one of them is gonna pull a knife in a moment and this is gonna be it!”. They’ll be yelling, yelling, and you know, they’ll turn and yell, and ooh just, it really becomes an emotional thing! Then, because you can’t understand it, it’s all in Arabic, you can’t understand it, but all of a sudden, after all this yelling and all, then you’ll see them just slap hands. The guy will reach in his pocket, get the money, pay him and take the sheep off. That striking of the hands. “We made a deal! We’ve agreed on the price.” And the slapping of the hands, and that’s what this is here. The yield. Slapping of the hand, “We’ve made an agreement. I’ve made an agreement I’m gonna serve the Lord”. So, “Don’t be stiffnecked. Make this agreement with God. Yield yourselves, and serve Yahweh your God”…
in order that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you (30:8).
They had already began to experience the tragic consequences of their turning away from the Lord, as their fathers, and sisters, and families were carried away captives to Assyria.
For [he said] if you turn again to Yahweh, your brothers and your children will find compassion before them that have led them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: [“God can still restore. Even though they’ve been carried away, God can restore!” God is so patient, God is so long suffering, and He, and He puts up with so much. Even after you’ve begun to suffer the consequences of your sins, even then, God will restore, if you’ll just turn to Him. Though you may be a long way down the road in judgement, still if you’ll turn to God, there’s forgiveness, there’s cleansing, there’s pardon.] for [he said] Yahweh our God is gracious and he is merciful, and he will not turn his face away from you, if you will return to him (30:9).
So the mercy and the graciousness of God. He is so gracious, so merciful!
So the posts [the messengers] passed from city to city though the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: [The northern part.] but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them (30:10).
Here they are, stiff necked, continuing in their rebellion against God. Having set themselves against the Lord. When people come and warned them, “Look this is happened to you because you’ve forsaken God. Just turn back to God and He’ll help”. They just laughed them to scorn. They mocked. “Ah come on! You want the president who prays? Are you kidding! What kind of a president would he make if he would seek the advice of God? I couldn’t have confidence in that kind of a man, who doesn’t know what he’s doing, and has to seek the advice of God!”. So we hear by our liberal press. They laugh, and just scorn and mock Him.
The call to serve the Lord, to worship the Lord, always, it seems, receives a varied, varied types of responses. There are always those even today, who when you talk about the Lord, they just mock. “I’m a sinner. He, he, he, he!” you know. And it’s sort of a mockery and a scorning of their, of their need of salvation. They, they can be on the border of eternity, and still mock over the things of God, scorn them.
Then [it says that] there were those divers [or diverse] from Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun who humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem (30:11).
They responded to the invitation. But the indication here is that it wasn’t a, a full whole- hearted kind of response, it was just sort of, “Well, you know, can’t hurt. We are in a mess, so let’s try it”. But then the third type of response was…
From those of Judah where 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 (30:12).
I mean these guys, “Let’s go for it!”, you know, one heart. “Let’s really do it!”
And there assembled at Jerusalem many people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, [Now remember, Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, put altars on every corner. Hey they’re gonna clean up the city. They got rid of all of these altars that Ahaz had set up there in Jerusalem.] and they cast them into the Kidron brook, and the altars for the incense for the false gods. [And all.] Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord. And they stood in their places after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: and the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the Passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them to the Lord (30:13-17).
A lot of people weren’t, according to the law, ceremonially clean. They really, according to the law should not be participating. But yet, they wanted to. They wanted to return to the Lord, but they hadn’t gone through the full legal kind of preparation that was required for participating in the Passover. Thus, the Levites were killing the sacrifices for them. Because they were not ceremonially clean to do it.
For the multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim, and Manasseh, and Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover [I mean they shouldn’t have been doing that, according to the law.] otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah [Seeing them, seeing their earnest desire for God, even though they were a bunch of, you know, sort of rough unready people, yet they were there because they were seeking the Lord, so Hezekiah,] prayed for them and said, Oh the good Lord pardon every one of them (30:18).
I love it! Hezekiah, watching these guys. Instead of getting all uptight. Saying, “You know look at that! Did you see that! Ooh. He’s got long hair!”, and all that kind of stuff. “Oh God pardon them”, you know, and that love and that compassion for those that were seeking the Lord. Not judgmental. Not pointing a finger of accusation, but rather, praying, “Oh the good Lord pardon them”. Realizing that they had a heart for God. Just asking God to, “Hey Lord, overlook it, pardon them Lord”.
Pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, [“Lord, it may not be outwardly, but look at their hearts, you see that in their hearts they want to seek you. So Lord, overlook the outward aspects here”.] the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary (30:19).
“Though he hasn’t gone through the whole ritual Lord, pass over it.”
So the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, [I love it! The Lord is merciful.] and he healed the people. And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread for seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day after day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord. And Hezekiah spoke comfortably unto all of the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord: and they did eat throughout the feast for seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord the God of their fathers (30:20-22).
Great spiritual revival! Oh happy days are here again! The people are praising and worshiping to God day after day, they’re offering the sacrifices, they’re, they’re just, there’s an excitement, there’s a thrill, there’s a move of God’s Spirit once again upon the hearts of the people. Everyone is just rejoicing, and so happy, having returned to the God of their fathers. In fact it was so great that they decided, “Hey, let’s do it for another week! Let’s just keep going you know!”, and so…
The whole assembly took counsel to keep another seven days: and so they kept another seven days with gladness. [Such a great time, “Let’s not go home. Let’s just stay here and worship God!”. Oh it’s so glorious! The move of God’s Spirit. Those special times, when it’s just so wonderful you don’t want to leave. You know, just ahh, God’s love and God’s Spirit, moving in our hearts in such a glorious way. We just want to linger around and stay there in that place of blessing.
For Hezekiah the king of Judah did give to the congregation a thousand bullocks [“You’re gonna stay around, you gotta feed them.” So he offered a thousand bullocks,] seven thousand sheep; and the princes also gave to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of the priests sanctified themselves (30:24).
I mean, everybody was getting into the act now.
And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, all the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David the king of Israel there had not been anything like this in Jerusalem (30:25-26).
I mean this was the, you know, the greatest thing that had happened since Solomon!
Then the priests and the Levites arose and they blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven (30:27).
God, and the people united again! The people worshiping the Lord. Notice what was the result, as far as the people were concerned, what are the emotions when a person gets right with God? Recommits himself to serving the Lord? What are the emotions that you feel? Joy, gladness, great joy and gladness, as your heart is right with God, as you’re worshiping Him! The bible says, “In His presence is fullness of joy!”, and as you’re there worshiping the Lord, what joy there is! What gladness of heart!
You know there’s nothing like having peace with God. There’s nothing like surrendering yourself to God. There’s nothing like stopping your rebelling, and stopping your war against God, and just say, “Hey God, I surrender. I’m on your side now”. You know, “Not running anymore. Not fighting anymore God”. What joy, what gladness, what peace, when you finally get right with God. So it was with the people. Tremendous revival, as the people gathered together under the command of Hezekiah, and returned to the Lord. The result was the joy and the blessing.
Now, we’ll see further results, as God begins to deliver their enemies. In our next lesson, we’ll find how God, took this enemy Assyria, and dealt with them severely, against insurmountable kind of odds, God worked on behalf of the people. God responded and God returned, and became their defense once again. We’ll look at that in our next lesson.
I was remembering, during those days of the Jesus people movement, when we were holding concerts at Milliken High School, in Long Beach, Wilson High School, of course our concerts here, the concerts down at the Municipal Auditorium, but what was going through my mind especially, was the concert at Wilson High School. Where, we had so many kids turn up, that the High School auditorium was so jammed, they wouldn’t let anymore in. So they opened up the gymnasium, and how that the kids just jammed the gymnasium. So we shuttled the groups back and forth. The love song would be playing in the gym, while the Way was playing in the auditorium, and then they reversed and so forth.
The thing that really though, you know they kicked us out of there, I think at ten o’clock, but as I was leaving that night, and hundreds of kids had come forward to accept the Lord, and as I was leaving, all around the neighborhood, for a couple of blocks, I observed little groups of kids huddled together in prayer. That was such a moving, touching time. Because it was times of social upheaval. The hippie movement and so forth, it was a real social upheaval. But to see these kids gathered in clusters, all over the school grounds, all through the neighborhood, on the corners and all, clustered together in prayer meetings, as God’s Spirit was moving in their hearts, and in their lives! I think of the joy and the gladness, when you get your heart and life right with God.
A lot of those kids, who made their commitment, became Yuppies. The gods of this world, materialism, began to replace their commitment to Jesus Christ. I think of the tragedy of that. Because you’ll never find real gladness, or real joy, or real happiness in the material things. A man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.
Oh that we would turn again to God! Oh that we would seek the Lord! Oh that Jesus would become first in our lives again! The joy, the gladness, the blessing, that accompanies that kind of commitment! May you experience the joy of the Lord this week, as His love fills your heart, and as you make your commitment to serve God, in Jesus’ name.
Edited & Highlighted from “The Word For Today” Transcription, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #7140