Hey, great to see you again today. I hope you’re keeping up with the readings. I’ll be asking you to do the reading yourself again today. I got separated from my microphone, and the audio sounds fairly lousy without it. But who knows, maybe you’ll pick something up new and interesting in reading instead of listening.
Today’s reading is largely about king Hezekiah and his reforms (really restoration efforts) of God’s pattern in Judah. But before we dive in, there might be a couple of things that would make the reading more interesting. First, you might be interested to realize that all the things that we’re reading about are happening approximately 6 years before Israel (the northern kingdom) was going to be conquered and taken into Assyrian captivity. Judah was going to be on its own, its brethren forcibly and cruelly scattered across the Fertile Crescent. Second, I found it interesting to note that 29:25 mentions that the instrumental music of the Old Testament was not merely tolerated, but commanded by God. This doesn’t justify or condone instrumental music in the New Testament era, since the covenants are different; instruments are no more warranted than is animal sacrifice, both being sanctioned in the OT, but not in the NT. Third, you may have found the reference to the Passover being celebrated in the second month of the year an digression from the patterned first month, but you must remember the provision God made in Numbers 9:10,11, sometimes called “the Little Passover” for those who were unclean. Rather than a departure from the pattern, Hezekiah is calling for the Little Passover for everyone, since the priests had not been consecrated.
He did right — After a father like king Ahaz, you have to wonder how Hezekiah turned out so well. It’s unknown for sure, but his mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah, Is this the same Zechariah who prophesied for king Uzziah? There were a lot of different Zechariahs in the Bible; but if there is a connection, it makes a good point about the power of a good parent. There are lots of moms and dads that are in mixed marriages (meaning one spouse is a faithful Christian and the other is not); such marriages are often strained over many a moral issue and the Christian will often worry about their children’s path under such circumstances. Strong convictions, strong positive examples, and a clear articulation of why you do what you do will make a big difference. Whatever the ultimate reason was for Hezekiah’s U-turn from the ways of his father, Hezekiah is to be admired for the confident action he took immediately upon becoming king to restore the patterned worship of God.
They laughed them to scorn — Hezekiah did something in 30:1-12 that as far as we know, no other king tried, made a sincere appeal for people in the northern kingdom of Israel to come back to worship in Jerusalem. Sadly, many of those who heard the invitation laughed them to scorn. One can only speculate about what they said, but it could have been something like: “Come back to Judah to worship that old way?” Are you kidding. What a bunch of dinosaurs! Nobody has worshipped that old fashioned way in centuries around here! We’re far more progressive; far more understanding of people’s feelings, their need to be included, to feel like what they want matters. Why don’t you go back home where you came from from and carve out a few more commands on stone.” It may have been very discouraging — not unlike it sometimes is in sharing the Gospel. But the discouraging part is never all the story.
But some humbled themselves and came — Some do listen and respond, but the key element is almost always that they must first humble themselves. The beatitudes seem to really underscore this principle:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:3-6, NAS95.
If you think you know it all, you will never be teachable. If you believe yourself to be spiritually rich, you’ll never feel the need to seek the “pearl of great price”. If you never grieve over your sins, you’ll never really want to change. May God grant us all humility in our discipleship.
With all his heart —Wouldn’t it be great to such a thing to be said about us at the end of our lives?
“Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” 2 Chronicles 31:20, 21, NAS95.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.