2 Chronicles Chapter Twenty-nine
2 Chronicles 29
Hezekiah's good reign in Judah. (1-19) Hezekiah's sacrifice of atonement. (20-36)
Commentary on 2 Chronicles 29:1-19
(Read 2 Chronicles 29:1-19)
When Hezekiah came to the crown, he applied at once to work reform. Those who begin with God, begin at the right end of their work, and it will prosper accordingly. Those that turn their backs upon God's ordinances, may truly be said to forsake God himself. There are still such neglects, if the word be not duly read and opened, for that was signified by the lighting the lamps, and also if prayers and praise be not offered up, for that was signified by the burning incense. Neglect of God's worship was the cause of the calamities they had lain under. The Lord alone can prepare the heart of man for vital godliness: when much good is done in a little time, the glory must be ascribed to him; and all who love him or the souls of men, will rejoice therein. Let those that do good work, learn to do it well.
Commentary on 2 Chronicles 29:20-36
(Read 2 Chronicles 29:20-36)
As soon as Hezekiah heard that the temple was ready, he lost no time. Atonement must be made for the sins of the last reign. It was not enough to lament and forsake those sins; they brought a sin-offering. Our repentance and reformation will not obtain pardon but in and through Christ, who was made sin, that is, a sin-offering for us. While the offerings were on the altar, the Levites sang. Sorrow for sin must not prevent us from praising God. The king and the congregation gave their consent to all that was done. It is not enough for us to be where God is worshipped, if we do not ourselves worship with the heart. And we should offer up our spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, and devote ourselves and all we have, as sacrifices, acceptable to the Father only through the Redeemer.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on 2 Chronicles》
2 Chronicles 29
 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,
And he brought in, … — He found Judah low and naked, yet did not make it his first business to revive the civil interests of his kingdom, but to restore religion to a good posture. Those that begin with God, begin at the right end of their work; and it will prosper accordingly.
 And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.
Filthiness — That filthy altar, which Ahaz had put in the place of God's altar, 2 Kings 16:11, and the idols, or other abominable things which were there.
 For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs.
Turned, … — They have wilfully and obstinately forsaken God and his worship; that posture being a signification of contempt.
 Also they have shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel.
They — He saith not, my father, because it became him as a son, to be as tender as might be of his father's name: and because his father would not have done all this, if their fathers had not neglected their duty.
 Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes.
Hissing — To such calamities as all that see and hear of, shall be astonished at, and hiss at those, who by their own sin and folly have brought such miseries upon themselves. When we are under the rebukes of God's providence, it is good for us to enquire, Whether we have not neglected God's ordinances, and whether that be not the controversy he has with us?
 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
Captivity — Tho' they were presently released, chap. 28:5,14,15.
 My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense.
Sons — So he calls them, though many of them were elder than himself, because he was by his tender love and affection, as he was by his office obliged to be, a nursing father to them.
Negligent — In sanctifying yourselves and the temple, verse 5, and in quickening and preparing yourselves and the people for God's service.
 And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.
To cleanse — From the dirt it had contracted, while it was so long shut up; from dust, cobwebs, and the rust of the vessels. Much more from the idols, and idolatrous altars which had been set up therein.
 Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.
The first day — A happy beginning of the new year! Thus should every year begin with the reformation of what is amiss, and the purging away of all the defilements contracted the foregoing year.
 Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.
Sanctified — Tho' the vessels of the sanctuary may be profaned for a while, God will find a time and a way to sanctify them. Neither his ordinances nor his obedient people, shall be suffered to fail forever.
 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.
Seven — The number seven is customary in sacred matters, and is here used in regard of the vast numbers and various kinds of sins, the guilt whereof yet lay upon the kingdom, which was now to be expiated. Indeed, in case of one particular sin of ignorance done by the people, there was but one bullock to be offered, but here the sins were many and presumptuous.
Kingdom — To make atonement for the sins of the king and the royal family, and the court.
Sanctuary — For all the idolatry and uncleanness wherewith the temple had been polluted. They thought it not enough to lament and forsake their sins, but they brought a sin-offering. Even our repentance and reformation will not obtain pardon, but thro' Christ, who was made sin, that is, a sin-offering for us.
 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:
They laid — The king and the elders of the congregation in the name of the whole congregation.
 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
The song — The psalms composed by David and Asaph. Even sorrow for sin must not put us out of tune for praising God. By faith we must even then rejoice in the Lord our righteousness, and our prayers and praises must attend with his offering, to be accepted only in the virtue of it.
 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.
Consecrated — Now that you have reconciled yourselves and the house to God, and that he is willing and ready to accept your sacrifices.
Burnt-offerings — Wherein there was more generosity than in the other sacrifices, because they were wholly burnt and offered to God.
 And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.
Consecrated things — All the offerings consecrated to God, besides the burnt-offerings already mentioned.
 But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them, till the work was ended, and until the other priests had sanctified themselves: for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests.
Too few — Such as were sanctified and fit for their work, as the following words shew: for otherwise the number of the priests was more than sufficient for this employment.
Burnt-offerings — And much less all the other sacrifices, which were more numerous; the slaying whereof was the priests proper work.
The Levites — Necessity excusing their deviation from the rule.
 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.
Rejoiced — It was, as a very great, so a sudden change, that the people, who but the other day were so ready to comply with wicked Ahaz in his idolatrous presumptions, were now so free and forward in God's service: whereby it plainly appeared to be the work of God, changing their hearts by his Holy Spirit.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on 2 Chronicles》
29 Chapter 29
Hezekiah began to reign.
The surroundings of Hezekiah in his youth seem, at first view, to have been unfavourable in the extreme. He was the son of a depraved father. He grew up at a corrupt court. Good kings and bad follow one another in very illogical succession. It must be that there is a self-acting power at the centre of every personal life. Let us cling to the belief, too, that, however vast the moral inequalities of human lives may be, no life is allowed by the Creator to be altogether destitute of gracious influences. In Hezekiah’s case, at least, we can have no doubt that such influences were present. It is not unnatural to believe that his mother, presumably the daughter of Zechariah, the faithful prophet of King Uzziah’s day, was a woman of devout character. To the loving nurture of a mother was added the faithful counsel of godly men. Moral giants lived in those days. Micah was prophesying, Nahum was about to begin his work. During the entire lifetime of Hezekiah, Isaiah was fulfilling his office in Jerusalem. Tradition says that he was Hezekiah’s tutor; there can be no doubt that he was his faithful counsellor. Repulsed by the father, he would naturally turn with greater earnestness to the son. But all this touches only the outer circle of the gracious influences by which Hezekiah was encompassed. It has been said, and there is a world of truth in the saying, that more than half of the environment of any man is--God. The God who is not far from every one of us was near to the young prince in the corrupt capital of Judah. We have good reason for believing that Hezekiah had not been unresponsive to his heavenly promptings. A work begun so quickly after his accession to the throne must have been premeditated. We must suppose that Hezekiah had lived a thoughtful life. The character of the work to which the king addressed himself is deserving of attention. It was a radical work. Great as was the peril to which the kingdom was exposed from external attack, great as was its moral unsoundness, Hezekiah saw that all its trouble was rooted in ungodliness. The king’s initial sot in “opening the doors of the house of the Lord” was, it is likely, more philosophical than he himself realised. Reverence for God lies at the basis of all that is trustworthy in private character and of all that is enduring in public order. Hezekiah’s reform was also positive in nature. It addressed itself not chiefly to the extermination of idolatry, but to the development of a genuine faith. Of their own accord the people went out to “break in pieces” the emblems of idolatry. When God wishes to regenerate the soul He does not at the outset uproot sinful affections, He implants love for Himself. Hezekiah’s was a thoroughgoing work. The taunting charge of illiberality could not extort from him the smallest concession to the false religions of other lands. Not only image and “grove”--the sacred pillar or tree of Astarte--were to be hewn down, but the worship of the “high places” was to be destroyed. Of Asa and Jehoshaphat we are told both that they did and that they did not interfere with this form of worship. They probably destroyed such sanctuaries as had become openly idolatrous, and allowed the others to remain. But Hezekiah adopted extreme measures. The brazen serpent fashioned by Moses in the wilderness, and still preserved, the people regarded with superstitious veneration. Hezekiah declared that the image was like any other “piece of brass,” and broke it in pieces. Hezekiah would not consent that even the germs of idolatry should remain in the land. How difficult was the mission to which Hezekiah thus committed himself! In the mode of procedure adopted by Hezekiah in carrying through his reformation are certain things worthy of notice.
1. It is peculiarly gratifying to observe that he acted promptly. The die was cast. In the first month of his reign Hezekiah, like Abraham, who, when bidden to offer Isaac, “rose up early in the morning and went to the place of which God had told him,” was wise in allowing himself no time for hesitation. Delay never softens the hard aspects of duty or lessens its difficulties. For committing one’s self to the service of Christ no other time is so favourable as the first year, the first month, the first day, of one’s entrance upon a new sort or period of life.
2. It is instructive to notice that Hezekiah engaged personally in the work of reform. He did not commit it all to subalterns.
3. Deserving of special mention is the fact that in the prosecution of his policy Hezekiah relied chiefly upon moral influences. He might have compelled, but he chose rather to persuade. In this he showed the utmost wisdom. If the reform was to be real, the hearts of the people must be enlisted in it. We are, finally, prepared to inquire what results were effected by the king’s determined effort. The immediate outcome was most gratifying and most wonderful. The officers of religion responded--the priests somewhat slowly, but the Levites with all their hearts. The people did the same. The nation felt to its utmost limits the electric thrill of a new life. The crusade against idolatry waxed strong throughout the kingdom, and “a burst of spring-time,” as Dean Stanley beautifully calls it, succeeded. “The thing was done suddenly,” the record says. But is not the same true of well-nigh every successful reform? Those advocating a righteous cause have at least two excellent reasons for viewing it with larger hope than external appearances warrant. Something in every moral being is in secret alliance with truth and justice. The second reason is stronger still; it is that by which the sacred historian explains the success of Hezekiah: “The Lord had prepared the people.” We may reckon with confidence upon God’s care over any work of His. To the reformatory work of King Hezekiah must be attributed a result still more imposing, though to be sure not more important. It delivered the southern kingdom from the fearful peril by which the northern kingdom had been overwhelmed. Is it not a painful thing to have to add that even so thorough a reform as this did not prove lasting? Some of the people doubtless remained steadfast, but the most fell away. (T. S. Barbour.)
Hezekiah, the good king
I. Hezekiah’s good beginning.
1. Correct in life (verse 2).
2. Prompt in action (verse 8).
3. Holy in influence (verse 5).
II. Hezekiah’s sad confession.
1. The Lord forsaken (verse 6).
2. The sanctuary abandoned (verse 7).
3. The penalty incurred (verse 8).
III. Hezekiah’s wise appeal.
1. To make a covenant (verse 10).
2. To avert wrath (verse 10).
3. To perform duty (verse 11). (Sunday School Times.)
The best way to settle a kingdom is to settle the religion of it, to begin reigning with reforming. Hezekiah’s reformation went on in a true step and pace, for it began first with the temple and ministry. It is but Christian prudence to cleanse the spring if we would have the stream clear; to look to God’s house, and those that should dispense His Word and ordinances if we would have the people brought into conformity with Him. (T. Manton, D.D.)
A friend, who is deeply interested in work for Christ among our sailors, told me that at the close of a prayer-meeting of which he had been the leader, a young seaman, who had only a few nights before been converted, came up to him, and laying a blank card before him, requested him to write a few words upon it, because, as he said, “You will do it more plainly than I can.” “What must I write?” said my friend. “Write these words, sir; ‘I love Jesus--do you?’” After he had written them, my friend said, “Now you must tell me what you are going to do with the card.” He replied, “I am going to sea to-morrow, and I am afraid if I do not take a stand at once I may begin to be ashamed of my religion, and let myself be laughed out of it altogether. Now as soon as I go on board, I shall walk straight to my bunk and nail up this card upon it, that every one may know that I am a Christian.”
Hezekiah’s action, the result of previous brooding
The statement in verse 8 may be taken as a general resume of what follows in detail, but this vigorous speech to the priests was clearly among the new king’s first sets. No doubt his purpose had slowly grown while his father was affronting Heaven with his mania for idols. Such decisive, swift action does not come without protracted, previous brooding. The hidden fires gather slowly in the silent crater, however rapidly they burst out at last. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Taking the right stand at first
We can never begin good things too early, and when we come into new positions, it is always prudence as well as bravery to show our colours unmistakably from the first. Many a young man, launched among fresh associations, has been ruined because of beginning with temporising timidity. It is easier to take the right standing at first than to shift to it afterwards. Hezekiah might have been excused if he had thought that the wretched state of political affairs left by Ahaz needed his first attention. Edomites on the east, Philistines on the west and south, Syrians and Assyrians on the north, compassed him about like bees, and worldly prudence would have said, Look after these enemies to-day, and the temple to-morrow. He was wiser than that, knowing that these were effects of the religious corruption, and so he went at that first. It is useless trying to mend a nation’s fortunes unless you mend its morals and religion. And there are some things which are best done quickly, both in individual and national life. Leaving off bad habits by degrees is not hopeful. The only thing to be done is to break with them utterly and at once. One strong, swift blow, right through the heart, kills the wild beast. Slighter cuts may make him bleed to death, but he may kill you first. The existing state was undeniably sinful. There was no need for deliberation as to that. Therefore there was no reason for delay. Let us learn the lesson that, where conscience has no doubts, we should have no dawdling. “I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandment.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
He brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together.
No one is so strong that he needs no help in carrying out his plans of reform. The head of a nation or of a state must have the co-operation of many, if he would correct abuses and promote a better state of things in the administration of his government. A pastor must seek the aid of the leaders of his people in trying to raise the standard of his church. A superintendent cannot carry his school to any higher point than that to which he can first bring his teachers. The head of a business establishment, who neglects to give wise counsel to those just below him, finds the lack of it in all the departments which they oversee. The true method of uplifting the masses is by uplifting the leaders of the masses. (H. Clay Trumbull.)
Sanctify now yourselves and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers.
I. What is involved in this personal dedication? Thomas Aquinas made three kinds of baptism: Sanguinis, fluminis, fiaminis--the blood, the flood, the fire! By repentance and faith in Christ’s atonement the sinner is saved, and by water-baptism received into the visible Church. But, to be wholly prepared for the Master’s work, there must be the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. The aim of Christianity is to lead us from the material to the spiritual; from the instrumental and accidental to the absolute and eternal. This house is an instrument in the service of God. Its best consecration is the consecration of its occupants, and this is accomplished by the radical work of the Holy Spirit. The tongue of the preacher, the pen of the author, the lips of the singer, the fingers of the musician, and the brush of the painter, are servants of a governing purpose--channels through which thought and feeling, genius and culture, express themselves. If the soul that controls these instruments be consecrated, then they are hallowed. As the wondrous river we read of in ancient fable turned to gold the very sand its currents washed, so does the fountain of a holy heart, pouring forth its enriching flood in speech and effort, dignify the humblest employment or surroundings. With this spirit of consecration enter and occupy this sanctuary, and you will make the place, indeed, holy.
II. What are the fruits of this radical, hearty, and permanent consecration? The people by this spirit of high consecration, are set free from the bondage of low and false views, prevalent in worldly circles. And, finally, if the pure and holy spirit of self-dedication, thus outlined, prevails, genuine revivals of religion will surely follow, healthful growth in activity, love, and liberality will be seen, and true Christian unity will be fostered among all who really love our Lord Jesus Christ. (Prof. E. P. Thwing.)
Reformation must be thorough
A reformation to be worth much must be thorough. Half-way work in this line is of little value. Again and again the kings of Judah, when they swept away all idol worship, left untouched the high places where Jehovah was sacrificed to irregularly; and, because of their failure at completeness, their people went quickly back to gross idolatry. So in all partial attempts at reform. The man who proposes to give up drinking, or gambling, or profanity, or dishonest courses, without surrendering himself wholly to the Lord, is not likely to succeed even to the extent of his attempts. And it is with the house of the Lord as it is with persons. Unless it is wholly the Lord’s, it does little honour to Him. H it is in use for religious purposes on Sunday, and for concerts and fairs and lectures and shows during the week; or if part of it is for a house of worship, and part for shops of trade--it is at the best a much abused sanctuary. “Carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.” (H. Clay Trumbull.)
Wherefore . . . the Lord . . . hath delivered them to be tossed to and fro, to be an astonishment, and an hissing, as ye see with your eyes.
The results of sinning
It is easier to see than to foresee the results of sinning. If a young man won’t foresee the results of an intemperate or a licentious life, those who observe him will, sooner or later, see with their eyes the worst that he was warned of. If a business man won’t foresee the results of a dishonest course, others will see it, by and by, in his character and reputation. The future looks fair to most evil doers at the beginning of their career. It is s pity that they do not more commonly consider at the start what a tossing to and fro, what an astonishment, what a hissing, they are sure to be delivered to in the sight of those who watch them, if they go on in the path which now opens attractively before them. (H. Clay Trumbull.)
Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel.
The best covenant
I. What is meant by making “a covenant with the Lord “ In our days it means that gracious engagement on God’s part to bestow on man the very favour which he supremely needs, and on terms of God’s own ordering; and on the part of man, his acceptance of these terms, according to apostolic exhortation--“Be ye reconciled to God.” There is implied on man’s part--
1. The conviction of
2. The willing and entire abandonment of every other covenant under which the soul has been enslaved.
3. A hearty reception of the terms on which a covenant with God can be made.
II. What counsel and direction can we offer to those who have it in their heart to make a “covenant with the Lord”?
1. Be not satisfied with only having it in your heart to do so.
2. Let the past mistakes which you have made through trusting to your own hearts set you upon your guard against trusting them in future.
3. If you make a covenant with the Lord, resolve that it shall be a perpetual one. (John Lewis.)
The use of covenanting with God
A truly pious man will not be satisfied with serving God in his closet. He will exert his influence to bring others also to a sense of their duty. We have a noble example set before us in the conduct of Hezekiah.
I. Show when we have reason to apprehend that God’s anger is waxed hot against us.
1. When our sins are multiplied against Him.
2. When His judgments are multiplied upon us.
II. Point out the best means of averting His wrath.
1. Repentance and faith.
2. Devoting ourselves to God in s perpetual covenant.
6. Hezekiah manifestly supposed that God would accept him in this duty.
III. Urge upon you the adoption of them.
1. There is no time for delay.
2. If we neglect this duty we cannot hope to escape the wrath of God.
3. If we heartily engage in this duty, we have nothing to fear. (Skeletons of Sermons.)
For the Lord hath chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him.
I. Some persons may ask, “why should we serve God? He doesn’t seem as if He troubled about us?” We admit that so far as outward appearances go, it seems as if this great universe was something like a well-regulated machine with God as the invisible engineer. When a human being, man, woman, or child, goes against the laws of this great machine, God does not stop it, as a human mechanic would his engine. The Christian believer sometimes wonders why God does not in some critical emergency interfere; but shall we that are but as the creatures of a day express any doubt of the wisdom of God?
II. Permit me to say a few words to those who are now serving God.
1. Be cheerful in your service.
2. Let your service be pure and unselfish. One man who had been helping in a good work for a few months, with a cry of discontent said, “I shall not come any more because nobody ever thanks me.” Does the violet, or the rose, or the sun need thanks for giving forth beauty, and perfume, and light? The beat reward of good service is in the heart of the server. A man who engages in the Divine service from selfish motives is like a fettered bird. The bird could wing itself into the vault of yonder blue sky; but it has a stone tied to its leg. Your selfishness is a stone which fetters your usefulness.
3. Let your service be continual.
III. Let me speak to those who have no hope of ever becoming the servants of God. God knows and cares for you. (W. Birch.)
Diligence and exertion in the Chistian ministry
Let us endeavour--
I. To explain the counsel or Hezekiah to the priests and Levites: “be not now negligent.” This is sometimes rendered: “be not now deceived.” This conveys the idea that we are never more apt to impose upon ourselves than when we are remiss in duty, for we vainly imagine that God will not be strict to mark against us what is so natural and so pleasing to the depraved heart of man. It implies a former deficiency in the performance of duty. This counsel was--
1. Most necessary.
2. Highly important and useful
3. Peculiarly reasonable.
II. To consider some motives to its enforcement.
1. If we would act in accordance with the design of God in the appointment of the sacred office of the ministry, we will use the utmost diligence in His service.
2. The number, the variety, the difficulty and importance of the duties connected with the office of the ministry, require diligence.
5. Consistency with your professed character.
4. The shortness and uncertainty of the time allotted.
5. The sense of responsibility. “Ye serve the Lord Christ.” (W. Schaw.)
The Christian ministry
I. While all God’s children are called “to serve Him,” there is a special sense in which the minister of God is “chosen to serve Him”
1. He is outwardly “chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them” in the church.
2. He is inwardly brought to it; for he declares that he “thinks in his heart that he is truly called.”
II. The object of the ministerial office is the glory of God in the salvation of sinners.
III. The means whereby this result is to be effected are--
1. The preaching of the Gospel.
2. The right discharge of his regular official duties, baptism, marriage, etc.
3. Personal intercourse with his flock.
4. The minister’s consistency of life.
IV. The attitude of the minister is one of peculiar dignity; it is to “stand before the Lord.” Exhortation; “be not now negligent.”
1. In Prayer.
2. In study, It is said of the Venerable Bede, that “he never knew what it was to do nothing, and always found it sweet to be either learning, teaching, or writing.”
3. In labour.
4. In conduct. (F. B. Ashley.)
The complex idea of worship
We make mistakes if we suppose that worship is a mere cloud, a foam of sentiment; it is work of all kinds, door-opening and lamp-lighting and floor-sweeping, cleansing, preparing, ventilating, expecting the people and welcoming them with joy; and then incense-burning, and cross-uplifting, and cry of thunderous and mute eloquence, and hymn, sweet, gentle, tender, and prayer that beats against heaven like artillery--all these things and many more ere included in the complex idea of worship. Let each man, therefore, do what he can in this matter, knowing that no one man works the whole ministry of worship, but that it is an act of co-operation and combination, one part playing with another part, and each interrelating itself with each other, so as to constitute a sum total significant of unity, adaptation, music, and homage. (J. Parker, D.D.)
Now they began on the first day of the first month
A new year in Jerusalem
Let us consider--
The work done (2 Chronicles 29:18-19). What a grand work of an analogous character is thereby suggested--as a work, that may possibly be accomplished in the beginning of this year (1 Corinthians 3:16).
II. How it came to pass that it was done, and “done suddenly”.
1. “God has prepared the people” (2 Chronicles 29:29).
2. In so doing He had rendered the priests and Levites greatly useful (2 Chronicles 29:12-16).
3. King Hezekiah greatly influenced the spirit of the priests, the Levites, and the people, as evident from the character of his address (2 Chronicles 29:5-11). But “there is another king, one Jesus,” who builds the temple of the Lord, and cleanses it, to whom we are all invited to look, and who “shall bear the glory.”
III. Some immediate results.
1. A great impulse given to the spirit of worship (2 Chronicles 29:28-30).
2. Extension of a spirit of liberality in connection with the worship and service of the Lord (verse35).
3. Great joy. And that how valuable!
When the burnt offering began, then the song of the Lord began also.
Sacrifice and song
This chapter contains a brief, graphic account of the great reformation which Hezekiah wrought in the beginning of his reign. The text is part of that account.
I. How often these two things--sacrifice and song--self-denial and joy--are associated. We see the union every, where.
1. In the home. When is the husband or wife so supremely happy as when by some deed of self-sacrifice he or she has made the other glad? When does the father’s heart sing for joy? Not when he has bent the stubborn will of the child, but when, by the sacrifice of some luxury he has made the little soul glad on its birthday.
2. In the best works of fiction, i.e., those which are most true to human nature who does not remember the half-sovereign which Tom Pinch, the poor half-starved clerk, concealed in a piece of paper and put into the hand of Martin Chuzzlewit at their parting? And who has not envied the feeling of happiness with which he returned to his bare home and grinding lot?
3. In the lives of God’s servants. The memorials of Robert and Mary Moffat, show what sacrifices they had to make in carrying on their work in Africa. They leave no doubt that they found a joy in them that the selfish and luxurious are seeking in vain.
4. In our own lives we have all experienced it.
II. They are indissolubly associated--joined together in the nature of things. Man cannot have the one without the other. Let there be no sacrifice and there will be no song, no self-denial and there will ere long be no joy. That is a law written broadly over human nature, attested by the widest experience, and recognised by Proverbs 11:24-25. It explains some of what seem to be the hardest sayings and most difficult demands of our Lord, as, e.g., Matthew 16:24-25; John 12:24; and His question put to the two ambitious disciples (Mark 10:37-38). The lesson is clear. We all want happiness--that our joy may be full. But we cannot have it by aiming at it directly. Begin to sacrifice, to give to God what you really value; say, “I will not offer unto the Lord my God that which doth cost me nothing.” Give your money, interest, time, effort. Copy the example of Him who went about doing good, and “pleased not Himself.” Try to make lives brighter, homes happier, business more pure. Take up the cross. Then this bit of old-world history shall record your experience: “When the burnt offering began, then the song of the Lord began also”--a song which grew louder and mightier as the sacrifice went on, and never ended until the sacrifice itself came to an end. (J. Ogle.)
Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord.
The reign of Hezekiah was like the spasmodic brightness of a candle about to go out for ever. The root principle in consecrating anything is the recognition of God’s exclusive ownership.
I. A real consecration is an act of free will.
II. Consecration means a giving to God Himself.
III. Nor will such consecration be complete without a personal consecration. (Bishop Charles E. Cheney.)
Worship and thank-offerings
I. The occasion referred to: it was the opening of the house of God.
1. This house was a sacred edifice, consecrated to God and typical of the body of Christ.
2. In the house they opened for God, they recognised a place of meeting between God and souls.
3. In the house that was opened for the worship of God, there was an inner court. Into this inner court we have now “access by the Spirit unto the Father.”
II. The nature of their worship. By sacrifice. There is no acceptable worship of God without sacrifice.
III. The expressions of thankfulness among the people. They were happy--
1. In the knowledge of their acceptance with God.
2. In the extension of the life of God in their souls.
3. In the revival of the worship of God among them publicly.
4. In the expression of their ardent concern to rival one another in the service of God--for they all brought their thankofferings. (Joseph Irons.)
For the thing was done suddenly.
I. That God very often appears to work with a suddenness that is startling.
1. In the realm of nature.
2. In the realm of providence.
3. In the realm of grace.
II. The fact that although god’s works may appear to be marvellously sudden, yet at the same time, they have been preceded by a preparation that has perhaps lasted for years. It was so in this particular case. Hezekiah thanked God for having prepared the people. Do you ask me how they were prepared? I think I could venture to answer that question by saying they were prepared by the very openness of the sin of the previous monarch. Ahaz had gone to such a tremendous length in iniquity that his very excesses of crime had awoke a counter-feeling amongst the people. So is it in everything. First in the realm of nature. The storm that comes with racehorse speed across the sky might doubtless be traced back to atmospheric agencies far, far remote. The storm is only a climax. As in the realm of nature, so in the realm of providence. The deliverance at the Red Sea--it appeared sudden--it was not. It was only one link in a long chain. From the very beginning God had determined how He would deliver His people. Is not it specially so in the realm of grace? Look at Manasseh, whom we have used as an example of sudden conversion. It at your leisure you refer to his history, you will find in the thirty-third chapter, eleventh and twelfth verses, the account of God’s preparation. “And Manasseh was caught in the thorns, and was taken a captive to Babylon; and in his distress he sought the Lord.” Take the case of Pentecost. If you read the second chapter of the Acts attentively, you will see that God had brought together at Jerusalem at one time an immense number of people out of every country, and I read they were “devout men”; that is, they were inquirers after the truth. God had heaped together prepared fuel, then He made Peter strike the spark which resulted in the grand Pentecostal blaze. So is it in revivals. A revival appears sudden, and yet it is only the result of previous preparation. You are revived and you say that you are revived suddenly. Let me ask you a question or two, and I think you will see there has been prior working. Did you have any troubles in your business? Did you lose a child? Were you sick? What an encouraging thought it is to every worker for God that mighty things can thus be accomplished in a moment. (A. G. Brown.)
Observe the conjunction of words: “prepared--suddenly.” That is the true order of progress--preparation as to process, suddenness as to revelation. As the volcano, it is always gathering its heat, the moment of explosion is sudden; it always comes unexpectedly; it is like death itself, for though we have reckoned about the time death will come, when he does come his white ghastliness makes us forget our preparation and say, It was so sudden at the last! Have some of us not had preparation enough? Is it not time now for enthusiasm? We have heard thousands of discourses; we have attended thousands of religious services; we have even gone so far as to criticise the services we have attended. Has there not been preparation enough? Is it not time for a little suddenness, outburst, genuine enthusiasm? “The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple.” “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host”; and yet all the ages had been preparing for that one moment. Eternity had been waiting for that crisis, and yet even then it was said, “And suddenly.” “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, a sound as of a rushing, mighty wind.” . . . Yet, though apparently so unexpected, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” (J. Parker, D.D.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》