King Hezekiah: Week 2

King Hezekiah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Hezekiah Recap

So remember last week we started discussing King Hezekiah and the state of the Kingdom of Judah.
He inherited a broken and fallen kingdom
He called for reform quickly in his reign
He repaired the temple doors and opened them
He asked the Priests to consecrate themselves
He called the people to also consecrate themselves

Hezekiah and Celebrating the Passover

If we continue on in the story of King Hezekiah we can see that shortly after he called for these reforms that he desired to celebrate passover. Unfortunately they had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time as we see in
2 Chronicles 30:3 NIV
They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem.
There was some obvious challenges when you are trying to change a kingdom and a people to begin serving God and this was just one of the first problems. The law does allow for this idea in Numbers 9:9-12 particular with dealing with those who would have become unclean by coming in contact with a corpse or those who had been on a journey. There is some precedent for this idea to celebrate it at later time because of the need for purification despite that this situation doesn’t match up perfectly to the described situation in numbers. The second one is that it was unusual for so many people to gather to celebrate like Hezekiah was doing.
2 Chronicles 30:5 NIV
They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.
This call moved beyond the political borders of the kingdom but instead focused on the religious reality that the people of Israel are supposed to be one. This push thought to be inclusive is telling of the focus of Hezekiah. His push to see the entirety of the people of Israel to return to worship God and not just focus on his kingdom speaks volumes of his character and should inspire us to seek the same attitude in our lives when we approach our views of our fellow Christians who may have differing ideas than we have.

The Removal of Impurities

Hezekiah continued to move forward with his plans and the people gathered and the celebration was to happen. Though not everyone came to join the assembly many did still come. It is powerful to see the first action in verse 14 to what the people did.
2 Chronicles 30:14 NIV
They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
The Priests also recognized their shame and consecrated themselves so that they could perform their duties.
2 Chronicles 30:15 NIV
They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord.
This is where some uniques challenges arose for Hezekiah and this large assembly of believers. The people who did come down from the north had not been able to consecrate themselves the Levites had to kill the passover lambs for them.
2 Chronicles 30:17 NIV
Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the Lord.
In many ways these problems and issues you can tell that Hezekiah was trying to do good in the eyes of the Lord and that in many respects...

Hezekiah was Flying by the Seat of his Pants

This actually brought about changes in the tradition of the sacrificial system because by time Josiah’s time it was standard practice that the Levities killed all the lambs, whereas previously this was the community leaders responsibility.
These changes and actions though seem to be contrary to so much of what the sacrafical system was and is that it had to of felt like it was a epic failure what Hezekiah was trying to do within his Kingdom.
Here is Hezekiah trying his best to be the leader that he knew God was calling him to be and it seemed like every corner he turned some new problem kept creeping up. Murphy’s law was out to get Hezekiah. Then Hezekiah does something amazing.
2 Chronicles 30:18–19 NIV
18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.”

Hezekiah Prayed

Hezekiah prayed for his people. He prayed for the people of Israel and asked for God’s forgiveness. He realized that so much was happening and that they were not living up to the standards of what God had set for them in the law that he realized the most important thing he could do as a leader of these people was to pray for them and seek God and his forgiveness. Sure enough God did not disappoint.
2 Chronicles 30:20 NIV
20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
God heard the cry of Hezekiah and had grace. He knew the challenges that they were facing and he did not hold it against them Instead we see that God Honors the prayers of his people and that yes prayer can overcome any formal deficiency in our religious practice.

What does this mean for us?

When we look at stories like this we see that God can move and work in exciting ways. That God is not a static God who has set expectation and if they aren’t exactly met then we have failed. No we see that God is a loving God who knows that challenges will arise and that we just need to ask and we can gain access to forgiveness and healing because of our request.
I thought about this long and hard and put it within context of what happens a lot in the Church these days. For some we see our denominational practices and beliefs or or non-denominational beliefs as absolutely essential and we are willing to die on that hill no matter who we harm.
For pastors many of us hold to specific theologies on topics that are important and we need to maintain but we also sometimes forget that in our pursuit of maintaining these institutions that we can crush the grace of God to work even in difficult situations.
I think of issues like
Lord’s Supper
These are all very important issues that we must have strong theologies on and have a standard that is respected within the church and our understanding of how they are to be done.
It is important because we do not want to cheapen what they are or mean in our world today. Take the example of Salvation. If we don’t have a strong understanding of what is being asked of us when we commit ourselves to Christ than we fail to have a proper understanding of one of the key defining characteristics of our faith. We don’t want to cheapen Salvation though to a specific set of words or prayer because we know that that isn’t what is perscribed in the Bible. Salvation is a state of the heart and mind that is given over to Christ. It isn’t a special magic set of words that you have to say. What would happen then to the person who is unable to speak are they exempt from salvation? The person on their death bed racked in pain and no longer audible but can they seek the forgiveness of their sins?
It is in these moments like Hezekiah that we see that God can work and move beyond our normal expectations and understandings and shows grace and love. He is a God that is all powerful and we can’t limit the work he can do in any way.

We can be flexible but...

We can have flexibility and we can be open to seeing God work but we must still maintain the standards and see these moments as not the norm. Obviously with Salvation we prefer to hear an audible confession of faith because we know that it helps to formulate what is going on in the heart and mind of a person but it isn’t absolutely necessary. What is necessary is the change of the person from the inside out and that they have faith that Jesus Died on the cross for them. It is their faith that saves them. This is the key element.
Similar with Baptism and The Lord’s supper we have these set rules and expectations for good reasons because we strive to keep these things Holy and set apart for Him. We do this because we want them to not become corrupted by our human ideals but instead remain focused on God.

King Hezekiah: Week 2

We see that Hezekiah strived to follow after God as is his charge and he did his best to maintain all that he is called to do in his charge as the leader. Sometimes though plans just don’t work out the way you want them to. God can work through that despite the problems and help us to return to Him as long as our focus always remains on Him.
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