2 Chronicles 30
In this chapter we have an account of the solemn passover which
Hezekiah kept in the first year of his reign.
I. The consultation about it, and the resolution he and his people came
to for the observance of it,
2 Chronicles 30:2-5.
II. The invitation he sent to Judah and Israel to come and keep it,
2 Chronicles 30:1,6.
III. The joyful celebration of it,
2 Chronicles 30:13-27.
By this the reformation, set on foot in the foregoing chapter, was
greatly advanced and established, and that nail in God's holy place
|Preparations for the Passover.
||B. C. 726.|
1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters
also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house
of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God
2 For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the
congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second
3 For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests
had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the
people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem.
4 And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
5 So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout
all Israel, from Beer-sheba even to Dan, that they should come to
keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for
they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was
6 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his
princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the
commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn
again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he
will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the
hand of the kings of Assyria.
7 And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren,
which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who
therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.
8 Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield
yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he
hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the
fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
9 For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your
children shall find compassion before them that lead them
captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the
LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away
his face from you, if ye return unto him.
10 So the posts passed from city to city through the country of
Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to
scorn, and mocked them.
11 Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun
humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
12 Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to
do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of
I. A passover resolved upon. That annual feast was instituted as a
memorial of the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt. It
happened that the reviving of the temple service fell within the
appointed days of that feast, the seventeenth day of the first month:
this brought that forgotten solemnity to mind. "What shall we do," says
Hezekiah, "about the passover? It is a very comfortable ordinance, and
has been long neglected. How shall we revive it? The time has elapsed
for this year; we cannot go about it immediately; the congregation is
thin, the people have not notice, the priests are not prepared,
2 Chronicles 30:3.
Must we defer it till another year?" Many, it is likely, were for
deferring it; but Hezekiah considered that by that time twelve-month
the good affections of the people would cool, and it would be too long
to want the benefit of the ordinance; and therefore, finding a proviso
in the law of Moses that particular persons who were unclean in the
first month might keep the passover the fourteenth day of the second
month and be accepted
he doubted not but that it might be extended to the congregation.
Whereupon they resolved to keep the passover in the second
month. Let the circumstance give way to the substance, and let not
the thing itself be lost upon a nicety about the time. It is good
striking while the iron is hot, and taking people when they are in a
good mind. Delays are dangerous.
II. A proclamation issued out to give notice of this passover and to
summon the people to it.
1. An invitation was sent to the ten revolted tribes to stir them up to
come and attend this solemnity. Letters were written to Ephraim and
Manasseh to invite them to Jerusalem to keep this passover
(2 Chronicles 30:1),
not with any political design, to bring them back to the house of
David, but with a pious design to bring them back to the Lord God of
Israel. "Let them take whom they will for their king," says Hezekiah,
"so they will but take him for their God." The matters in difference
between Judah and Israel, either upon a civil or sacred account, shall
not hinder but that if the people of Israel will sincerely return to
the Lord their God Hezekiah will bid them as welcome to the passover as
any of his own subjects. Expresses are sent post throughout all the
tribes of Israel with memorials earnestly pressing the people to take
this opportunity of returning to the God from whom they had revolted.
Now here we have,
(1.) The contents of the circular letters that were despatched upon the
occasion, in which Hezekiah discovers a great concern both for the
honour of God and for the welfare of the neighbouring kingdom, the
prosperity of which he seems passionately desirous of, though he not
only received no toll, tribute, or custom, from it, but it had often,
and not long since, been vexatious to his kingdom. This is rendering
good for evil. Observe,
[1.] What it is which he presses them to
(2 Chronicles 30:8):
"Yield yourselves unto the Lord. Before you can come into
communion with him you must come into covenant with him." Give the
hand to the Lord (so the word is), that is, "Consent to take him
for your God." A bargain is confirmed by giving the hand. "Strike this
bargain. Join yourselves to him in an everlasting covenant.
Subscribe with the hand to be his,
Give him your hand, in token of giving him your heart. Lay your hand
to his plough. Devote yourselves to his service, to work for him.
Yield to him," that is, "Come up to his terms, come under his
government, stand it not out any longer against him." "Yield to
him, to be absolutely and universally at his command, at his
disposal, to be, and do, and have, and suffer, whatever he pleases. In
order to this, be not stiff-necked as your fathers were; let not
your corrupt and wicked wills rise up in resistance of and rebellion
against the will of God. Say not that you will do what you please, but
resolve to do what he pleases." There is in the carnal mind a
stiffness, an obstinacy, an unaptness to comply with God. We have it
from our fathers; it is bred in the bone with us. This must be
conquered; and the will that had in it a spirit of contradiction must
be melted into the will of God; and to his yoke the neck that was an
iron sinew must be bowed and fitted. In pursuance of this resignation
to God, he presses them to enter into his sanctuary, that is, to
attend upon him in that place which he had chosen, to put his name
there, and serve him in the ordinances which he had appointed. "The
doors of the sanctuary are now opened, and you have liberty to enter;
the temple service is now revived, and you are welcome to join in it."
The king says, Come; the princes and priests say, Come;
whosoever will, let him come. This he calls
(2 Chronicles 30:6)
turning to the Lord God; for they had forsaken him, and
worshipped other gods. Repent now, and be converted. Thus those
who through grace have turned to God themselves should do all they can
to bring others back to him.
[2.] What arguments he uses to persuade them to do this. First,
"You are children of Israel, and therefore stand related, stand
obliged, to the God of Israel, from whom you have revolted."
Secondly, "The God you are called to return to is the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a God in covenant with your first fathers,
who served him and yielded themselves to him; and it was their honour
and happiness that they did so." Thirdly, "Your late fathers
that forsook him and trespassed against him have been given up to
desolation; their apostasy and idolatry have been their ruin, as you
(2 Chronicles 30:7);
let their harms be your warnings." Fourthly, "You yourselves are
but a remnant narrowly escaped out of the hands of the kings
(2 Chronicles 30:6),
and therefore are concerned to put yourselves under the protection of
the God of your fathers, that you be not quite swallowed up."
Fifthly, "This is the only way of turning away the fierceness
of God's anger from you
(2 Chronicles 30:8),
which will certainly consume you if you continue stiff-necked."
Lastly, "If you return to God in a way of duty, he will return
to you in a way of mercy." This he begins with
(2 Chronicles 30:6)
and concludes with,
2 Chronicles 30:9.
In general, "You will find him gracious and merciful, and one
that will not turn away his face from you, if you seek him,
notwithstanding the provocations you have given him." Particularly,
"You may hope that he will turn again the captivity of your brethren
that are carried away, and bring them back to their own land." Could
any thing be expressed more pathetically, more movingly? Could there
be a better cause, or could it be better pleaded?
(2.) The entertainment which Hezekiah's messengers and message met
with. It does not appear that Hoshea, who was now king of Israel, took
any umbrage from, or gave any opposition to, the dispersing of these
proclamations through his kingdom, nor that he forbade his subjects to
accept the invitation. He seems to have left them entirely to their
liberty. They might go to Jerusalem to worship if they pleased; for,
though he did evil, yet not like the kings of Israel that were
2 Kings 17:2.
He saw ruin coming upon his kingdom, and, if any of his subjects would
try this expedient to prevent it, they had his full permission. But,
for the people,
[1.] The generality of them slighted the call and turned a deaf ear to
it. The messengers went from city to city, some to one and some to
another, and used pressing entreaties with the people to come up to
Jerusalem to keep the passover; but they were so far from complying
with the message that they abused those that brought it, laughed
them to scorn, and mocked them
(2 Chronicles 30:10),
not only refused, but refused with disdain. Tell them of the God of
Abraham! they knew him not, they had other gods to serve, Baal and
Ashtaroth. Tell them of the sanctuary! their high places were as good.
Tell them of God's mercy and wrath! they neither dreaded the one nor
desired the other. No marvel that the king's messengers were thus
despitefully used by this apostate race when God's messengers were so,
his servants the prophets, who produced credentials from him. The
destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes was now at hand. It was
but two or three years after this that the king of Assyria laid siege
to Samaria, which ended in the captivity of those tribes. Just before
this they had not only a king of their own that permitted them to
return to God's sanctuary, but a king of Judah that earnestly invited
them to do it. Had they generally accepted this invitation, it might
have prevented their ruin; but their contempt of it hastened and
aggravated it, and left them inexcusable.
[2.] Yet there were some few that accepted the invitation. The message,
though to some it was a savour of death unto death, was to
others a savour of life unto life,
2 Chronicles 30:11.
In the worst of times God has had a remnant; so he had here, many of
Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun (here is no mention of any out of Ephraim,
though some of that tribe are mentioned,
2 Chronicles 30:18),
humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem, that is, were sorry
for their sins and submitted to God. Pride keeps men from yielding
themselves to the Lord; when that is brought down, the work is
2. A command was given to the men of Judah to attend this solemnity;
and they universally obeyed it,
2 Chronicles 30:12.
They did it with one heart, were all of a mind in it, and the hand
of God gave them that one heart; for it is in the day of
power that Christ's subjects are made willing. It is God that works
both to will and to do. When people, at any time,
manifest an unexpected forwardness to do that which is good, we must
acknowledge that hand of God in it.
|The Celebration of the Passover.
||B. C. 726.|
13 And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the
feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great
14 And they arose and took away the altars that were in
Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and
cast them into the brook Kidron.
15 Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the
second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and
sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into
the house of the LORD.
16 And they stood in their place after their manner, according
to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the
blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites.
17 For there were many in the congregation that were not
sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing
of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify
them unto the LORD.
18 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and
Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet
did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But
Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one
19 That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his
fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the
purification of the sanctuary.
20 And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
The time appointed for the passover having arrived, a very great
congregation came together upon the occasion,
2 Chronicles 30:13.
Now here we have,
I. The preparation they made for the passover, and good preparation it
was: They took away all the idolatrous altars that
were found, not only in the temple, but in Jerusalem,
2 Chronicles 30:14.
Before they kept the feast, they cast out this old leaven. The best
preparation we can make for the gospel passover is to cast away our
iniquities, our spiritual idolatries.
II. The celebration of the passover. In this the people were so forward
and zealous that the priests and Levites blushed to see themselves
out-done by the commonalty, to see them more ready to bring sacrifices
than they were to offer them. This put them upon sanctifying themselves
(2 Chronicles 30:15),
that the work might not stand still for want of hands to carry it on.
The notice we take of the zeal of others should make us ashamed of our
own coldness, and quicken us not only to do our duty, but to do it
well, and to sanctify ourselves to it. They did according to the duty
of their place
(2 Chronicles 30:16),
sprinkling the blood upon the altar, which was a type of Christ
our passover sacrificed for us.
III. The irregularities they were guilty of in this solemnity. The
substance was well managed, and with a great deal of devotion; but,
besides that it was a month out of time,
1. The Levites killed the passover, which should have been done
by the priests only,
2 Chronicles 30:17.
They also assisted more than the law ordinarily allowed in offering the
other sacrifices, particularly those that were for the purifying of the
unclean, many of which there was now occasion for. Some think that it
was the offerers' work, not the priests', that the Levites had here the
charge of. Ordinarily every man killed his lamb, but now for those that
were under any ceremonial pollution the Levites killed it.
2. Many were permitted to eat the passover who were not purified
according to the strictness of the law,
2 Chronicles 30:18.
This was the second month, and there was not warrant to put them off
further to the third month, as, if it had been the first month, the law
would have permitted them to eat it the second. And they were loth to
forbid them communicating at all, lest they should discourage new
converts, and send those away complaining whom they desired to send
away rejoicing. Grotius observes from this that ritual institutions
must give way, not only to a public necessity, but to a public benefit
IV. Hezekiah's prayer to God for the forgiveness of this irregularity.
It was his zeal that had called them together in such haste, and he
would not that any should fare the worse for being straitened of time
in their preparation. He therefore thought himself concerned to be an
intercessor for those that ate the passover otherwise than it was
written, that there might not be wrath upon them from the Lord. His
1. A short prayer, but to the purpose: The good Lord pardon every
one in the congregation that has fixed, engaged, or prepared,
his heart to those services, though the ceremonial preparation be
(1.) The great thing required in our attendance upon God in solemn
ordinances is that we prepare our hearts to seek him, that we be
sincere and upright in all we do, that the inward man be engaged and
employed in it, and that we make heart-work of it; it is all nothing
without this. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward part.
Hezekiah does not pray that this might be dispensed with, nor that the
want of other things might be pardoned where there was not this. For
this is the one thing needful, that we seek God,
his favour, his honour, and that we set our hearts to do it.
(2.) Where this sincerity and fixedness of heart are there may still be
many defects and infirmities, both the frame of the spirit and the
performance of the service may be short of the purification of the
sanctuary. Corruptions may not be so fully conquered, thoughts not
so closely fixed, affections not so lively, faith not so operative, as
they should be. Here is a defect in sanctuary purification. There is
nothing perfect under the sun, nor a just man that doeth good, and
(3.) These defects need pardoning healing grace; for omissions in duty
are sins as well as omissions of duty. If God should deal with us in
strict justice according to the best of our performances, we should be
(4.) The way to obtain pardon for our deficiencies in duty, and all the
iniquities of our holy things, is to seek it of God by prayer; it is
not so a pardon of course but that it must be obtained by petition
through the blood of Christ.
(5.) In this prayer we must take encouragement from the goodness of
God: The good Lord pardon; for, when he proclaimed his goodness,
he insisted most upon this branch of it, forgiving iniquity,
transgression, and sin.
(6.) It is the duty of those that have the charge of others, not only
to look to themselves, but to those also that are under their charge,
to see wherein they are wanting, and to pray for them, as Hezekiah
2. A successful prayer: The Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, was well
pleased with his pious concern for the congregation, and, in answer to
his prayer, healed the people
(2 Chronicles 30:20),
not only did not lay their sin to their charge, but graciously accepted
their services notwithstanding; for healing denotes not only
but comfort and peace,
|The Feast of Unleavened Bread.
||B. C. 726.|
21 And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem
kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great
gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by
day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD.
22 And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that
taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat
throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and
making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.
23 And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven
days: and they kept other seven days with gladness.
24 For Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the congregation a
thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave
to the congregation a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep:
and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.
25 And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the
Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and
the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt
in Judah, rejoiced.
26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of
Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like
27 Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people:
and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy
dwelling place, even unto heaven.
After the passover followed the feast of unleavened bread, which
continued seven days. How that was observed we are here told, and every
thing in this account looks pleasant and lively.
1. Abundance of sacrifices were offered to God in peace-offerings, by
which they both acknowledged and implored the favour of God, and on
part of which the offerers feasted with their friends during these
(2 Chronicles 30:22),
in token of their communion with God and the comfort they took in his
favour and their reconciliation to him. To keep up this part of the
service, that God's altar might be abundantly regaled with the fat and
blood and his priests and people with the flesh of the peace-offerings,
Hezekiah gave out of his own stock 1000 bullocks and 7000 sheep, and
the princes, excited by his pious example, gave the same number of
bullocks and a greater number of sheep, and all for peace-offerings,
2 Chronicles 30:24.
By this God was honoured, the joy of the festival was kept up, and the
strangers were encouraged to come again to Jerusalem. It was generously
done of the king and the princes thus plentifully to entertain the
whole congregation; but what is a great estate good for but that it
puts men into a capacity of doing so much the more good? Christ
feasted those that followed him. I believe neither Hezekiah nor his
princes were the poorer at the year's end for this their pious
2. Many good prayers were put up to God with the peace-offerings,
2 Chronicles 30:22.
They made confession to the Lord God of their fathers, in which
the intent and meaning of the peace-offerings were directed and
explained. When the priests sprinkled the blood and burnt the fat they
made confession, so did the people when they feasted on their part.
They made a religious confession of their relation to God and
dependence upon him, a penitent confession of their sins and
infirmities, a thankful confession of God's mercies to them, and a
supplicatory confession of their wants and desires; and, in all these,
they had an eye to God as the God of their fathers, a God in
covenant with them.
3. There was a great deal of good preaching. The Levites (whose office
taught the people the good knowledge of the Lord, read and
opened the scriptures, and instructed the congregation concerning God
and their duty to him; and great need there was of this, after so long
a famine of the word as there had been in the last reign. Hezekiah did
not himself preach, but he spoke comfortably to the Levites that
did, attended their preaching, commended their diligence, and assured
them of his protection and countenance. Hereby he encouraged them to
study hard and take pains, and put a reputation upon them, that the
people might respect and regard them the more. Princes and magistrates,
by owning and encouraging faithful and laborious preachers, greatly
serve the interest of God's kingdom among men.
4. They sang psalms every day
(2 Chronicles 30:21):
The Levites and priests praised the Lord day by day, both with
songs and musical instruments, thus expressing their own and exciting
one another's joy in God and thankfulness to him. Praising God should
be much of our work in our religious assemblies.
5. Having kept the seven days of the feast in this religious manner,
they had so much comfort in the service that they kept other seven
2 Chronicles 30:23.
They did not institute any new modes of worship, but repeated and
continued the old. The case was extraordinary: they had been long
without the ordinance; guilt had been contracted by the neglect of it;
they had now got a very great congregation together, and were in a
devout serious frame; they knew not when they might have such another
opportunity, and therefore could not now find in their hearts to
separate till they had doubled the time. Many of them were a great way
from home, and had business in the country to look after, for, this
being the second month, they were in the midst of their harvest; yet
they were in no haste to return: the zeal of God's house made them
forget their secular affairs. How unlike those who snuffed at God's
service, and said, What a weariness is it! Or those who asked,
When will the sabbath be gone? The servants of God should abound
in his work.
6. All this they did with gladness
(2 Chronicles 30:23);
they all rejoiced, and particularly the strangers,
2 Chronicles 30:25.
So there was great joy in Jerusalem,
2 Chronicles 30:26.
Never was the like since the dedication of the temple in Solomon's
time. Note, Holy duties should be performed with holy gladness; we
should be forward to them, and take pleasure in them, relish the
sweetness of communion with God, and look upon it as matter of
unspeakable joy and comfort that we are thus favoured and have such
earnests of everlasting joy.
7. The congregation was at length dismissed with a solemn blessing,
2 Chronicles 30:27.
(1.) The priests pronounced it; for it was part of their office to
bless the people
in which they were both the people's mouth to God by way of prayer and
God's mouth to the people by way of promise; for their blessing
included both. In it they testified both their desire of the people's
welfare and their dependence upon God and that word of his grace to
which they commended them. What a comfort is it to a congregation to be
sent home thus crowned!
(2.) God said Amen to it. The voice of the priests, when they
blessed the people, was heard in heaven and came up to the
habitation of God's holiness. When they pronounced the blessing
God commanded it, and perhaps gave some sensible token of the
ratification of it. The prayer that comes up to heaven in a cloud of
incense will come down again to this earth in showers of blessings.