2 Chronicles 29
We are here entering upon a pleasant scene, the good and glorious reign
of Hezekiah, in which we shall find more of God and religion than
perhaps in any of the good reigns we have yet met with; for he was a
very zealous, devout, good man, none like him. In this chapter we have
an account of the work of reformation which he set about with vigour
immediately after his accession to the crown. Here is,
I. His exhortation to the priests and Levites, when he put them in
possession of the house of God again,
2 Chronicles 29:1-11.
II. The care and pains which the Levites took to cleanse the temple,
and put things in order there,
2 Chronicles 29:12-19.
III. A solemn revival of God's ordinances that had been neglected, in
which atonement was made for the sins of the last reign, and the wheels
were set a-going again, to the great satisfaction of king and people,
2 Chronicles 29:20-36.
|Hezekiah's Good Reign.
||B. C. 726.|
1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years
old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his
mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD,
according to all that David his father had done.
3 He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened
the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.
4 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered
them together into the east street,
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons
and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
10 Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the LORD
God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.
11 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.
I. Hezekiah's age when he came to the crown. He was twenty-five
years old. Joash, who came to the crown after two bad reigns, was
but seven years old; Josiah, who came after two bad reigns, was but
eight, which occasioned the delay of the reformation; but Hezekiah had
come to years, and so applied himself immediately to it. We may well
think with what a sorrowful heart he beheld his father's idolatry and
profaneness, how it troubled him to see the doors of the temple shut,
though, while his father lived, he durst not open them. His soul no
doubt wept in secret for it, and he vowed that when he should receive
the congregation he would redress these grievances, which made him do
it with more readiness and resolution.
II. His general character. He did that which was right like
2 Chronicles 29:2.
Of several of his predecessors it had been said that they did that
which was right, but not like David, not with David's integrity
and zeal. But here was one that had as hearty an affection for the ark
and law of God as ever David had.
III. His speedy application to the great work of restoring religion.
The first thing he did was to open the doors of the house of the
2 Chronicles 29:3.
We are willing to hope his father had not quite suppressed the temple
service; for then the holy fire on the altar must have gone out, and we
do not read of the re-kindling of it; but he had hindered the people
from attending it, and the priests, except such of them as were of his
2 Kings 16:5.
But Hezekiah immediately threw the church doors open, and brought in
the priests and Levites. 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 its good posture again. Those that
begin with God begin at the right end of their work, and it will
IV. His speech to the priests and Levites. It was well known, no doubt,
that he had a real kindness for religion and was disaffected to the
corruptions of the last reign; yet we do not find the priests and
Levites making application to him for the restoration of the temple
service but he calls upon them, which, I doubt, bespeaks their coldness
as much as his zeal; and perhaps, if they had done their part with
vigour, things would not have been brought into so very bad a posture
as Hezekiah found them in. Hezekiah's exhortation to the Levites is
1. He laid before them the desolations of religion and the deplorable
state to which it was brought among them
(2 Chronicles 29:6,7):
Our fathers have trespassed. He said 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. Urijah the priest had
joined with Ahaz in setting up an idolatrous altar. He complained,
(1.) That the house of God had been deserted: They have forsaken
God, and turned their backs upon his habitation. Note, Those that
turn their backs upon God's ordinances may truly be said to forsake God
(2.) That the instituted worship of God there had been let fall. The
lamps were not lighted, and incense was not burnt. There are still such
neglects as these, and they are no less culpable, when the word is not
duly read and opened (for that was signified by the lighting of the
lamps) and when prayers and praises are not duly offered up, for
that was signified by the burning of incense.
2. He showed the sad consequences of the neglect and decay of religion
2 Chronicles 29:8,9.
This was the cause of all the calamities they had lain under. God had
in anger delivered them to trouble, to the sword, and to captivity.
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 the
controversy he has with us may not be traced to this neglect.
3. He declared his own full purpose and resolution to revive religion
and make it his business to promote it
(2 Chronicles 29:10):
"It is in my heart (that is, I am fully resolved) to make a
covenant with the Lord God of Israel (that is, to worship him only,
and in that way which he has appointed); for I am sure that, otherwise,
his fierce anger will not turn away from us." This covenant he would
not only make himself, but bring his people into the bond of.
4. He engaged and excited the Levites and priests to do their duty on
this occasion. This he begins with
(2 Chronicles 29:5);
this he ends with,
2 Chronicles 29:11.
He called them Levites to remind them of their obligation to
God, called them his sons to remind them of the relation to
himself, that he expected that, as a son with the father, they
should serve with him in the reformation of the land.
(1.) he told them what was their duty, to sanctify themselves
first (by repenting of their neglects, reforming their own hearts and
lives, and renewing their covenants with God to do their duty better
for the time to come), and then to sanctify the house of God, as
his servants, to make it clean from every thing that was disagreeable,
either through the disuse or the profanation of it, and to set it up
for the purposes for which it was made.
(2.) He stirred them up to do it
(2 Chronicles 29:11):
"Be not now negligent, or remiss, in your duty. Let not this
good work be retarded through your carelessness." Be not
deceived, so the margin. Note, Those that by their
negligence in the service of God think to mock God, and put a cheat
upon him, do but deceive themselves, and put a damning cheat upon their
own souls. Be not secure (so some), as if there were no urgent
call to do it or no danger in not doing it. Note, Men's negligence in
religion is owing to their carnal security. The consideration he
quickens them with is derived from their office. God had herein put
honour upon them: He has chosen you to stand before him. God
therefore expected work from them. They were not chosen to be idle, to
enjoy the dignity and leave the duty to be done by others, but to serve
him and to minister to him. They must therefore be ashamed of their
late remissness, and, now that the doors of the temple were opened
again, must set about their work with double diligence.
|The Temple Cleansed.
||B. C. 726.|
12 Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Amasai, and Joel
the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites: and of the
sons of Merari, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azariah the son of
Jehalelel: and of the Gershonites; Joah the son of Zimmah, and
Eden the son of Joah:
13 And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the
sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:
14 And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the
sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.
15 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.
16 And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the
LORD, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that
they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house
of the LORD. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad
into the brook Kidron.
17 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
18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have
cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt
offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the showbread table,
with all the vessels thereof.
19 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.
We have here busy work, good work, and needful work, the cleansing of
the house of the Lord.
I. The persons employed in this work were the priests and Levites, who
should have kept the temple clean, but, not having done that, were
concerned to make it clean. Several of the Levites are here named, two
of each of the three principal houses, Kohath, Gershon, and Merari
(2 Chronicles 29:12),
and two of each of the three families of singers, Asaph, Heman, and
2 Chronicles 29:13,14.
We cannot think these are named merely because they were chief in place
(for then surely the high priest, or some of the heads of the courses
of the priests, would have been mentioned), but because they were more
zealous and active than the rest. When God has work to do he will raise
up leading men to preside in it. And it is not always that the first in
place and rank are most fit for service or most forward to it. These
Levites not only bestirred themselves, but gathered their
brethren, and quickened them to do according to the commandment
of the king by the word of the Lord. Observe, They did according to
the king's command, but with an eye to God's word. The king commanded
them what was already their duty by the word of God, and, in doing it,
they regarded God's word as a rule to them and the king's commandment
as a spur to them.
II. The work was cleansing the house of God,
1. From the common dirt it had contracted while it was shut up-dust,
and cobwebs, and the rust of the vessels.
2. From the idols and idolatrous altars that were set up in it, which,
though kept ever so neat, were a greater pollution to it than if it had
been made the common sewer of the city. The priests were none of them
mentioned as leading men in this work, yet none but they durst go
into the inner part of the house, no, not to cleanse it, which
they did, and perhaps the high priest into the holy of holies, to
cleanse that. And, though the Levites had the honour to be the leaders
in the work, they did not disdain to be servitors to the priests
according to their office; for what filth the priests brought into the
court the Levites carried to the brook Kidron. Let not men's
usefulness, be it ever so eminent, make them forget their place.
III. The expedition with which they did this work was very remarkable.
They began on the first day of the first month, a happy beginning of
the new-year, and one that promised a good year. Thus should every year
begin with the reformation of what is amiss, and the purging away, by
true repentance, of all the defilements contracted the foregoing year.
In eight days they cleared and cleansed the temple, and in eight days
more the courts of the temple,
2 Chronicles 29:17.
Let those that do good work learn to rid work and get it done. Let what
is amiss be amended quickly.
IV. The report they made of it to Hezekiah was very agreeable,
2 Chronicles 29:18,19.
They gave him an account of what they had done, because it was he that
set them on work, boasted not of their own care and pains, nor did they
come to him to be paid, but to let him know that all things that had
been profaned were now sanctified according to law, and were ready to
be used again whenever he pleased. They knew the good king had set his
heart upon God's altar, and longed to be attending that, and therefore
they insisted most upon the readiness they had put that into--that the
vessels for the altar were scoured and brightened. Those vessels which
Ahaz, in his transgression, had cast away as vessels in which
there was no pleasure, they gathered together, sanctified them, and
laid them in their place before the altar. Though 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 people shall be
suffered to fail for ever.
||B. C. 726.|
20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers
of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
21 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
22 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the
blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had
killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they
killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the
23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering
before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands
24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation
with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all
Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the
sin offering should be made for all Israel.
25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with
cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the
commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the
prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his
26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the
priests with the trumpets.
27 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.
28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang,
and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the
burnt offering was finished.
29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all
that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the
Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and
of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they
bowed their heads and worshipped.
31 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.
32 And the number of the burnt offerings, which the
congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, a hundred
rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt
offering to the LORD.
33 And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three
34 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.
35 And also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the
fat of the peace offerings, and the drink offerings for every
burnt offering. So the service of the house of the LORD was set
36 And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had
prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.
The temple being cleansed, we have here an account of the good use that
was immediately made of it. A solemn assembly was called to meet the
king at the temple, the very next day
(2 Chronicles 29:20);
and very glad, no doubt, all the good people in Jerusalem were, when it
was said, Let us go up to the house of the Lord,
As soon as Hezekiah heard that the temple was ready for him he lost no
time, but made it appear that he was ready for it. He rose early to go
up to the house of the Lord, earlier on that day than on other days, to
show that his heart was upon his work there. Now this day's work was to
look two ways:--
I. Atonement must be made for the sins of the last reign. They thought
it not enough to lament and forsake those sins, but they brought a
sin-offering. Even our repentance and reformation will not obtain
pardon but in and through Christ, who was made sin (that is, a
sin-offering) for us. No peace but through his blood, no, not for
1. The sin-offering was for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and
(2 Chronicles 29:21),
that is, to make atonement for the sins of princes, priests, and
people, for they had all corrupted their way. The law of Moses
appointed sacrifices to make atonement for the sins of the whole
that the national judgments which their national sins deserved might be
turned away. For this purpose we must now have an eye to Christ the
great propitiation, as well as for the remission and salvation of
2. The law appointed only one goat for a sin-offering, as on the day of
and on such extraordinary occasions as this,
But they here offered seven
(2 Chronicles 29:21),
because the sins of the congregation had been very great and long
continued in. Seven is a number of perfection. Our great sin-offering
is but one, yet that one perfects for ever those that are
3. The king and the congregation (that is, the representatives
of the congregation) laid their hands on the heads of the goats
that were for the sin-offering
(2 Chronicles 29:23),
thereby owning themselves guilty before God and expressing their desire
that the guilt of the sinner might be transferred to the sacrifice. By
faith we lay our hands on the Lord Jesus, and so receive the
4. Burnt-offerings were offered with the sin-offerings, seven
bullocks, seven rams, and seven lambs. The intention of the
burnt-offerings was to give glory to the God of Israel, whom they owned
as the only true God, which it was proper to do at the same time that
they were by the sin-offering making atonement for their offences. The
blood of those, as well as of the sin-offering, was sprinkled upon
(2 Chronicles 29:22),
to make reconciliation for all Israel
(2 Chronicles 29:24),
and not for Judah only. Christ is a propitiation, not for the sins of
Israel only, but of the whole world,
1 John 2:1,22.
5. While the offerings were burning upon the altar the Levites
sang the song of the Lord
(2 Chronicles 29:27),
the Psalms composed by David and Asaph
(2 Chronicles 29:30),
accompanied by the musical instruments which God by his prophets had
commanded the use of
(2 Chronicles 29:25),
and which had been long neglected. Even sorrow for sin must not put us
out of tune for praising God. By faith we must rejoice in Christ Jesus
as our righteousness; and our prayers and praises must ascend with his
offering, to be accepted only in virtue of it.
6. The king and all the congregation testified their consent to and
concurrence in all that was done, by bowing their heads and
worshipping, expressing an awful veneration of the divine
Majesty, by postures of adoration. This is taken notice of,
2 Chronicles 29:28-30.
It is not enough for us to be where God is worshipped, if we do not
ourselves worship him, and that not with bodily exercise only, which
profits little, but with the heart.
II. The solemnities of this day did likewise look forward. The temple
service was to be set up again, that it might be continually kept up;
and this Hezekiah calls them to,
2 Chronicles 29:31.
"Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord--have both
made an atonement and made a covenant by sacrifice, are solemnly
reconciled and engaged to him--now come near, and bring
sacrifices." Note, Our covenant with God must be pursued and
improved in communion with him. Having consecrated ourselves, in the
first place, to the Lord, we must bring the sacrifices of prayer, and
praise, and alms, to his house. Now, in this work, it was found.
1. That the people were free. Being called to it by the king, they
brought in their offerings, though not in such abundance as in the
glorious days of Solomon (for Judah was now diminished, impoverished,
and brought low), but according to what they had, and as much as one
could expect considering their poverty and the great decay of piety
(1.) Some were so generous as to bring burnt-offerings, which were
wholly consumed to the honour of God, and of which the offerer had no
part. Of this sort there were seventy bullocks, 100 rams, and 200
2 Chronicles 29:32.
(2.) Others brought peace-offerings and thank-offerings, the fat of
which was burnt upon the altar, and the flesh divided between the
priests and the offerers,
2 Chronicles 29:35.
Of this sort there were 600 oxen and 3000 sheep,
2 Chronicles 29:33.
Perhaps the remembrance of their sin in sacrificing on the high places
made them more willing to bring their sacrifices now to God's
2. That the priests were few, too few for the service,
2 Chronicles 29:34.
Many of them, it is likely, were suspended and laid aside as polluted
and uncanonical, for having sacrificed to idols in the last reign, and
the rest had not the zeal that one might have expected upon such an
occasion. They thought that the king needed not to be so forward, that
there was no necessity for such haste in opening the doors of the
temple, and therefore they took no care to sanctify themselves, and
being unsanctified, and so unqualified, they made that their excuse for
being absent from the service; as if their offence would be their
defence. It is recorded here, to the perpetual shame of the priests,
that, though they were so well provided for out of the offerings of the
Lord made by fire, yet they did not mind their business. Here was work
to do, and there wanted proper hands to do it.
3. That the Levites were forward. They had been more upright in
heart to sanctify themselves than the priests
(2 Chronicles 29:34),
were better affected to the work and better prepared and qualified for
it. This was their praise, and, in recompence for it, they had the
honour to be employed in that which was the priests' work: they
helped them to flay the offerings. This was not according to the
but the irregularity was dispensed with in cases of necessity, and thus
encouragement was given to the faithful zealous Levites and a just
disgrace put upon the careless priests. What the Levites wanted in the
ceremonial advantages of their birth and consecration was abundantly
made up in their eminent qualifications of skill and will to do the
4. That all were pleased. The king and all the people rejoiced in this
blessed turn of affairs and the new face of religion which the kingdom
had put on,
2 Chronicles 29:36.
Two things in this matter pleased them:--
(1.) That it was soon brought about: The thing was done
suddenly, in a little time, with a great deal of ease, and without
any opposition. Those that go about the work of God in faith and with
resolution will find that there is not that difficulty in it which they
sometimes imagine, but it will be a pleasing surprise to them to see
how soon it is done.
(2.) That the hand of God was plainly in it: God had prepared the
people by the secret influences of his grace, so that many of those
who had in the last reign doted on the idolatrous altars were now as
much in love with God's altar. This change, which God wrought on their
minds, did very much expedite and facilitate the work. Let magistrates
and ministers do their part towards the reforming of a land, and
ascribe to him the glory of what is done, especially when it is done
suddenly and is a pleasing surprise. This is the Lord's doing, and
it is marvellous.