SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Chronicles 29:1-32:33
29:1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what the Lord approved, just as his ancestor David had done.
3 In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and Levites and assembled them in the square on the east side. 5 He said to them: “Listen to me, you Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, so you can consecrate the temple of the Lord God of your ancestors. Remove from the sanctuary what is ceremonially unclean. 6 For our fathers were unfaithful; they did what is evil in the sight of the Lord our God and abandoned him. They turned away from the Lord’s dwelling place and rejected him. 7 They closed the doors of the temple porch and put out the lamps; they did not offer incense or burnt sacrifices in the sanctuary of the God of Israel. 8 The Lord was angry at Judah and Jerusalem and made them an appalling object of horror at which people hiss out their scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 Look, our fathers died violently, and our sons, daughters, and wives were carried off because of this. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, so that he may relent from his raging anger. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, to be his ministers, and offer sacrifices.”
12 The following Levites prepared to carry out the king’s orders:
From the Kohathites: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah;
from the Merarites: Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel;
from the Gershonites: Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah;
13 from the descendants of Elizaphan: Shimri and Jeiel;
from the descendants of Asaph: Zechariah and Mattaniah;
14 from the descendants of Heman: Jehiel and Shimei;
from the descendants of Jeduthun: Shemaiah and Uzziel.
15 They assembled their brothers and consecrated themselves. Then they went in to purify the Lord’s temple, just as the king had ordered, in accordance with the word of the Lord. 16 The priests then entered the Lord’s temple to purify it; they brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple every ceremonially unclean thing they discovered inside. The Levites took them out to the Kidron Valley. 17 On the first day of the first month they began consecrating; by the eighth day of the month they reached the porch of the Lord’s temple. For eight more days they consecrated the Lord’s temple. On the sixteenth day of the first month they were finished. 18 They went to King Hezekiah and said: “We have purified the entire temple of the Lord, including the altar of burnt sacrifice and all its equipment, and the table for the Bread of the Presence and all its equipment. 19 We have prepared and consecrated all the items that King Ahaz removed during his reign when he acted unfaithfully. They are in front of the altar of the Lord.”
20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah assembled the city officials and went up to the Lord’s temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. The king told the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer burnt sacrifices on the altar of the Lord. 22 They slaughtered the bulls, and the priests took the blood and splashed it on the altar. Then they slaughtered the rams and splashed the blood on the altar; next they slaughtered the lambs and splashed the blood on the altar. 23 Finally they brought the goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they placed their hands on them. 24 Then the priests slaughtered them. They offered their blood as a sin offering on the altar to make atonement for all Israel because the king had decreed that the burnt sacrifice and sin offering were for all Israel.
25 Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the Lord’s temple with cymbals and stringed instruments just as David, Gad the king’s prophet, and Nathan the prophet had ordered. (The Lord had actually given these orders through his prophets.) 26 The Levites had David’s musical instruments and the priests had trumpets. 27 Hezekiah ordered the burnt sacrifice to be offered on the altar. As they began to offer the sacrifice, they also began to sing to the Lord, accompanied by the trumpets and the musical instruments of King David of Israel. 28 The entire assembly worshiped, as the singers sang and the trumpeters played. They continued until the burnt sacrifice was completed.
29 When the sacrifices were completed, the king and all who were with him bowed down and worshiped. 30 King Hezekiah and the officials told the Levites to praise the Lord, using the psalms of David and Asaph the prophet. So they joyfully offered praise and bowed down and worshiped. 31 Hezekiah said, “Now you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the Lord’s temple.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and whoever desired to do so brought burnt sacrifices.
32 The assembly brought a total of 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs as burnt sacrifices to the Lord, 33 and 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep were consecrated. 34 But there were not enough priests to skin all the animals, so their brothers, the Levites, helped them until the work was finished and the priests could consecrate themselves. (The Levites had been more conscientious about consecrating themselves than the priests.) 35 There was a large number of burnt sacrifices, as well as fat from the peace offerings and drink offerings that accompanied the burnt sacrifices. So the service of the Lord’s temple was reinstituted. 36 Hezekiah and all the people were happy about what God had done for them, for it had been done quickly.
30:1 Hezekiah sent messages throughout Israel and Judah; he even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, summoning them to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and observe a Passover celebration for the Lord God of Israel. 2 The king, his officials, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover in the second month. 3 They were unable to observe it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 4 The proposal seemed appropriate to the king and the entire assembly. 5 So they sent an edict throughout Israel from Beer Sheba to Dan, summoning the people to come and observe a Passover for the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they had not observed it on a nationwide scale as prescribed in the law. 6 Messengers delivered the letters from the king and his officials throughout Israel and Judah.
This royal edict read: “O Israelites, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so he may return to you who have been spared from the kings of Assyria. 7 Don’t be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their ancestors, provoking him to destroy them, as you can see. 8 Now, don’t be stubborn like your fathers. Submit to the Lord and come to his sanctuary which he has permanently consecrated. Serve the Lord your God so that he might relent from his raging anger. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and sons will be shown mercy by their captors and return to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate; he will not reject you if you return to him.”
10 The messengers journeyed from city to city through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but people mocked and ridiculed them. 11 But some men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 In Judah God moved the people to unite and carry out the edict of the king and the officers in keeping with the Lord’s message. 13 A huge crowd assembled in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. 14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt sacrifices to the Lord’s temple. 16 They stood at their posts according to the regulations outlined in the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests were splashing the blood as the Levites handed it to them. 17 Because many in the assembly had not consecrated themselves, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs of all who were ceremonially unclean and could not consecrate their sacrifice to the Lord. 18 The majority of the many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: “May the Lord, who is good, forgive 19 everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple.” 20 The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people.
21 The Israelites who were in Jerusalem observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests were praising the Lord every day with all their might. 22 Hezekiah expressed his appreciation to all the Levites, who demonstrated great skill in serving the Lord. They feasted for the seven days of the festival and were making peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord God of their ancestors.
23 The entire assembly then decided to celebrate for seven more days; so they joyfully celebrated for seven more days. 24 King Hezekiah of Judah supplied 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the assembly, while the officials supplied them with 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. Many priests consecrated themselves. 25 The celebration included the entire assembly of Judah, the priests, the Levites, the entire assembly of those who came from Israel, the resident foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and those who were residents of Judah. 26 There was a great celebration in Jerusalem, unlike anything that had occurred in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon son of David of Israel. 27 The priests and Levites got up and pronounced blessings on the people. The Lord responded favorably to them as their prayers reached his holy dwelling place in heaven.
31:1 When all this was over, the Israelites who were in the cities of Judah went out and smashed the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and demolished all the high places and altars throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Then all the Israelites returned to their own homes in their cities.
2 Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and Levites to do their assigned tasks—to offer burnt sacrifices and present offerings and to serve, give thanks, and offer praise in the gates of the Lord’s sanctuary.
3 The king contributed some of what he owned for burnt sacrifices, including the morning and evening burnt sacrifices and the burnt sacrifices made on Sabbaths, new moon festivals, and at other appointed times prescribed in the law of the Lord. 4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to contribute the portion prescribed for the priests and Levites so they might be obedient to the law of the Lord. 5 When the edict was issued, the Israelites freely contributed the initial portion of their grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a tenth of everything, which added up to a huge amount. 6 The Israelites and people of Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also contributed a tenth of their cattle and sheep, as well as a tenth of the holy items consecrated to the Lord their God. They brought them and placed them in many heaps. 7 In the third month they began piling their contributions in heaps and finished in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the Lord and pronounced blessings on his people Israel.
9 When Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps, 10 Azariah, the head priest from the family of Zadok, said to him, “Since the contributions began arriving in the Lord’s temple, we have had plenty to eat and have a large quantity left over. For the Lord has blessed his people, and this large amount remains.” 11 Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared in the Lord’s temple. When this was done, 12 they brought in the contributions, tithes, and consecrated items that had been offered. Konaniah, a Levite, was in charge of all this, assisted by his brother Shimei. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah worked under the supervision of Konaniah and his brother Shimei, as directed by King Hezekiah and Azariah, the supervisor of God’s temple.
14 Kore son of Imnah, a Levite and the guard on the east side, was in charge of the voluntary offerings made to God and disbursed the contributions made to the Lord and the consecrated items. 15 In the cities of the priests, Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah faithfully assisted him in making disbursements to their fellow priests according to their divisions, regardless of age. 16 They made disbursements to all the males three years old and up who were listed in the genealogical records—to all who would enter the Lord’s temple to serve on a daily basis and fulfill their duties as assigned to their divisions. 17 They made disbursements to the priests listed in the genealogical records by their families, and to the Levites twenty years old and up, according to their duties as assigned to their divisions, 18 and to all the infants, wives, sons, and daughters of the entire assembly listed in the genealogical records, for they faithfully consecrated themselves. 19 As for the descendants of Aaron, the priests who lived in the outskirts of all their cities, men were assigned to disburse portions to every male among the priests and to every Levite listed in the genealogical records.
20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah. He did what the Lord his God considered good and right and faithful. 21 He wholeheartedly and successfully reinstituted service in God’s temple and obedience to the law, in order to follow his God.
32:1 After these faithful deeds were accomplished, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He besieged the fortified cities, intending to seize them. 2 When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had invaded and intended to attack Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his advisers and military officers about stopping up the springs outside the city, and they supported him. 4 A large number of people gathered together and stopped up all the springs and the stream that flowed through the district. They reasoned, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” 5 Hezekiah energetically rebuilt every broken wall. He erected towers and an outer wall and fortified the terrace of the City of David. He made many weapons and shields.
6 He appointed military officers over the army and assembled them in the square at the city gate. He encouraged them, saying, 7 “Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of the king of Assyria and this huge army that is with him. We have with us one who is stronger than those who are with him. 8 He has with him mere human strength, but the Lord our God is with us to help us and fight our battles!” The army was encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.
9 Afterward King Sennacherib of Assyria, while attacking Lachish with all his military might, sent his messengers to Jerusalem. The message was for King Hezekiah of Judah and all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem. It read: 10 “This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: ‘Why are you so confident that you remain in Jerusalem while it is under siege? 11 Hezekiah says, “The Lord our God will rescue us from the power of the king of Assyria.” But he is misleading you, and you will die of hunger and thirst! 12 Hezekiah is the one who eliminated the Lord’s high places and altars and then told Judah and Jerusalem, “At one altar you must worship and offer sacrifices.” 13 Are you not aware of what I and my predecessors have done to all the nations of the surrounding lands? Have the gods of the surrounding lands actually been able to rescue their lands from my power? 14 Who among all the gods of these nations whom my predecessors annihilated was able to rescue his people from my power that your God would be able to rescue you from my power? 15 Now don’t let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like this. Don’t believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to rescue his people from my power or the power of my predecessors. So how can your gods rescue you from my power?’”
16 Sennacherib’s servants further insulted the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah. 17 He wrote letters mocking the Lord God of Israel and insulting him with these words: “The gods of the surrounding nations could not rescue their people from my power. Neither can Hezekiah’s god rescue his people from my power.” 18 They called out loudly in the Judahite dialect to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, trying to scare and terrify them so they could seize the city. 19 They talked about the God of Jerusalem as if he were one of the man-made gods of the nations of the earth.
20 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz prayed about this and cried out to heaven. 21 The Lord sent a messenger and he wiped out all the soldiers, princes, and officers in the army of the king of Assyria. So Sennacherib returned home humiliated. When he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons struck him down with the sword. 22 The Lord delivered Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem from the power of King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the other nations. He made them secure on every side. 23 Many were bringing presents to the Lord in Jerusalem and precious gifts to King Hezekiah of Judah. From that time on he was respected by all the nations.
24 In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a sign confirming that he would be healed. 25 But Hezekiah was ungrateful; he had a proud attitude, provoking God to be angry at him, as well as Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem humbled themselves and abandoned their pride, and the Lord was not angry with them for the rest of Hezekiah’s reign.
27 Hezekiah was very wealthy and greatly respected. He made storehouses for his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and all his other valuable possessions. 28 He made storerooms for the harvest of grain, wine, and olive oil, and stalls for all his various kinds of livestock and his flocks. 29 He built royal cities and owned a large number of sheep and cattle, for God gave him a huge amount of possessions.
30 Hezekiah dammed up the source of the waters of the Upper Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the City of David. Hezekiah succeeded in all that he did. 31 So when the envoys arrived from the Babylonian officials to visit him and inquire about the sign that occurred in the land, God left him alone to test him in order to know his true motives.
32 The rest of the events of Hezekiah’s reign, including his faithful deeds, are recorded in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, included in the Scroll of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 Hezekiah passed away and was buried on the ascent of the tombs of the descendants of David. All the people of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem buried him with great honor. His son Manasseh replaced him as king.