Having reopened the temple and restarted the sacrifices Hezekiah began planning for the first Passover of his reign, which would be the first celebration of this great freedom ritual for many years. The revival and reformation, which began so suddenly in the previous chapter, now gathered pace and was set to make an even greater impact upon the spiritual life of Israel. This was a not a shallow, fleeting work, but one which was deep and continuing, a fruit that remained.
1: The Invitation to the Passover
Hezekiah had a vision for the entire Jewish nation. He looked beyond the borders of Judah to his brothers and sisters which had languished under apostasy since the breakup of the Kingdom in the days of Jeroboam. God had dealt harshly with this people because of their allegiance to the golden calves, which Jeroboam 1st had established in Bethel and Dan. A succession of dynasties, which were ended with rebellions and assassinations had finally crumbled as the Assyrian empire swept in taking tens of thousands captive. The Kingdom north of Judah was broken by sin and judgement. But godly Hezekiah was determined to take these people under his wing and give them hope and light despite their hopeless and dark circumstances.
Letters were sent through the entire Jewish people inviting the people to this Passover Feast. Never in the history of Israel was such a feast necessary. The enemy had come in like flood but now was the time to raise the standard and return to the old paths. God’s law required a yearly observance of this redemption feast and this was must be celebrated at Jerusalem. And so the invitations went out; it was a call to return to the Lord, to seek forgiveness and find peace in uncertain times.
Hezekiah was supported in his mission by the people of Judah who are described as being of “one heart”. Unity is a blessed and a treasured gift that only God can give. Yet this gift of unity was selfless, there was a yearning that others might enter into the blessing.
While many throughout Israel mocked the letters that Hezekiah had despatched there were others who humbled themselves and came. For some this was a rekindling of truths that had long been neglected. For some prayer had been offered for this day, that the Passover would be re-instituted in Jerusalem. Those who came were the fruit of Elijah and Elisha’s ministry, with the schools of the prophets who followed in their wake. The remnant had been preserved for this hour.
God preserves His truth, He never abandons His word and even in days of wrath His mercy continues to be evident.
2: The Supplication for the Passover
A very great congregation descended on Jerusalem for this momentous occasion. They followed the Biblical pattern according to the “law of Moses” as the blood was sprinkled. The people from the northern Kingdom had not cleansed themselves, probably because of their ignorance and lack of teaching. Therefore Hezekiah prayed for these people and God healed them, from their uncleanness, preparing them for this occasion.
Hezekiah as the King, praying in a priestly manner, making intercession is Christ-like. Christ too is our King, who prays and intercedes for us that we might be accepted in the heavenly courts; and His prayers are always answered.
3: The Exhortation at the Passover
Hezekiah’s Christlike work continued as the King also became a prophet teaching the word and exhorting the Levites who taught the people. There was a need to rebuild the knowledge of God’s Word once again. There had been so much neglect of the truth through all the Jewish peoples, that it was necessary that this Passover be used as a reason for returning the people to the fundamentals of the faith. Not only did the people observe this Passover in their thousands but they were taught why it was important that they did so.
The Levites, inspired by their King would have took the people back to their servitude in Egypt, the Passover night and the freedom that ensued. They would have opened up the Law and shared the commandments regarding the Passover, congregating together for this feast at the place which the Lord would choose. But above all, central to their message was the blood of the Passover lamb, the great story of redemption.
Likewise as we worship, instruction is needful. We must avoid the ritual of going through a mere formality, we must know why we worship as we do, and who the God is whom we serve. The minister receives his instruction from Christ, through the Spirit and the Word, as the Levites received the Word from Hezekiah. This instruction, while it involves history and doctrine, must have the story of the redemption through the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, at its heart. Remove the truth of the atonement and the Church ceases to exist.
Donald Cargill, the Scottish Covenanter preacher, once described his ministry by saying that he had ‘been much in the main things’ The doctrine of the atonement is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Take it out of our churches and what remains cannot be called Christian.Andrew Stewart, 2nd Chronicles, A House of Prayer
4: The Contribution for the Passover
The manner in which Hezekiah represents Christ in this chapter is amazing; he prayed for the people, ministered to the people and sacrificed for the people. While he could do the role of the priest at the altar he gave generously from his own herds and flocks. These offerings from the King, leading by example are presented as the grand climax of this momentous day.
The climax of God’s redemptive plan is the cross of Christ. God gave not of his herds and flocks but He presented His only begotten Son. Christ offered Himself on the cross without spot to His father for our sins, the centre point not only of redemption but of world history.
5: The Commendation of the Passover
The spirit of revival continued throughout this Passover and culminated in intense joy. The comment that this was the greatest day in Jerusalem since Solomon is most striking. God had indeed stepped in, during the darkest of times and done a new a thing. The presence of God was felt as the prayers of the Levites ascended into the sanctuary above. Itv was as if the sanctuary on earth and the sanctuary in heaven became one. God’s will was being done on earth as it was on heaven.
Let us encourage our hearts in these dark times, rejoicing in what God will yet do; regarding His purposes for the world, the half has not been told us.