by Larry Stockstill
Jesus spent His life bearing the insults of those who insulted God. King Hezekiah's messengers received much the same reaction in the tribes of Israel when they presented the invitation to return to the Lord and celebrate Passover (2 Chronicles 30:10).
To the backslidden Israelites, the archaic idea of a Passover in Jerusalem was absurd. The messengers sincerely tried to turn the Israelites' hearts back to God, but the results were the same in village after village: "But most of the people just laughed at the messengers and made fun of them" (v. 10). However, the Scripture records that "some . . . humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem" (v. 11).
If we just want to please ourselves, we will not venture out into the stream of evangelism where our feelings may get hurt. The burden of evangelism, however, belongs to God, and if we love Him, we will be willing to "bear the disgrace he bore" (Hebrews 13:13). We must realize that we are simply messengers delivering an invitation that others can either accept or reject. If Jesus was reproached, so must we be.
Rejoice if men ridicule you. You are bearing the insults of God!
30 King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel.2 The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual.
4 This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people.5 So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law.
6 At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said:
“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
9 “For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.”
10 The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.11 However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
12 At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the Lord.13 So a huge crowd assembled at Jerusalem in midspring
15 On the fourteenth day of the second month, one month later than usual,
17 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord.18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.”20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.
21 So the people of Israel who were present in Jerusalem joyously celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Each day the Levites and priests sang to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments.
23 The entire assembly then decided to continue the festival another seven days, so they celebrated joyfully for another week.24 King Hezekiah gave the people 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for offerings, and the officials donated 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. Meanwhile, many more priests purified themselves.
25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, including the priests, the Levites, all who came from the land of Israel, the foreigners who came to the festival, and all those who lived in Judah.26 There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son.27 Then the priests and Levites stood and blessed the people, and God heard their prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.
31 When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes.
2 Hezekiah then organized the priests and Levites into divisions to offer the burnt offerings and peace offerings, and to worship and give thanks and praise to the Lord at the gates of the Temple.3 The king also made a personal contribution of animals for the daily morning and evening burnt offerings, the weekly Sabbath festivals, the monthly new moon festivals, and the annual festivals as prescribed in the Law of the Lord.4 In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord.
5 When the people of Israel heard these requirements, they responded generously by bringing the first share of their grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity—a tithe of all they produced.6 The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them up in great heaps.7 They began piling them up in late spring, and the heaps continued to grow until early autumn.
9 “Where did all this come from?” Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites.
10 And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, “Since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed his people, and all this is left over.”
11 Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared in the Temple of the Lord. When this was done,12 the people faithfully brought all the tithes and gifts to the Temple. Conaniah the Levite was put in charge, assisted by his brother Shimei.13 The supervisors under them were Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. These appointments were made by King Hezekiah and Azariah, the chief official in the Temple of God.
14 Kore son of Imnah the Levite, who was the gatekeeper at the East Gate, was put in charge of distributing the voluntary offerings given to God, the gifts, and the things that had been dedicated to the Lord.15 His faithful assistants were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They distributed the gifts among the families of priests in their towns by their divisions, dividing the gifts fairly among old and young alike.16 They distributed the gifts to all males three years old or older, regardless of their place in the genealogical records. The distribution went to all who would come to the Lord’s Temple to perform their daily duties according to their divisions.17 They distributed gifts to the priests who were listed by their families in the genealogical records, and to the Levites twenty years old or older who were listed according to their jobs and their divisions.18 Food allotments were also given to the families of all those listed in the genealogical records, including their little babies, wives, sons, and daughters. For they had all been faithful in purifying themselves.
19 As for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who were living in the open villages around the towns, men were appointed by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to all the Levites listed in the genealogical records.
20 In this way, King Hezekiah handled the distribution throughout all Judah, doing what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God.21 In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful.
15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves.2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.6 Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.8 Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews
“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”
10 And in another place it is written,
“Rejoice with his people,
11 And yet again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”
12 And in another place Isaiah said,
“The heir to David’s throne
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”
13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
14 I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters,
20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,
“Those who have never been told about him will see,
and those who have never heard of him will understand.”
22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.
1 O Lord, I give my life to you.
2 I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
3 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
4 Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
5 Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.
8 The Lord is good and does what is right;
he shows the proper path to those who go astray.
9 He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them his way.
10 The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
11 For the honor of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
12 Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
13 They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
14 The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.
15 My eyes are always on the Lord,
for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
13 If you love sleep, you will end in poverty.
Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!
14 The buyer haggles over the price, saying, “It’s worthless,”
then brags about getting a bargain!
15 Wise words are more valuable
than much gold and many rubies.