2 Chronicles, 28
Ahaz rules Judah
1: Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father: 2: For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. 3: Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. 4: He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. 5: Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. 6: For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. 7: And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king's son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king. 8: And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. 9: But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, and said unto them, Behold, because the LORD God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven. 10: And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the LORD your God? 11: Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you. 12: Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war, 13: And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel. 14: So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation. 15: And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren: then they returned to Samaria. 16: At that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him. 17: For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives. 18: The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Beth-shemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there. 19: For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD. 20: And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. 21: For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not. 22: And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. 23: For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. 24: And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. 25: And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers. 26: Now the rest of his acts and of all his ways, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27: And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles, 29
Hezekiah rules Judah
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.
Hezekiah’s Temple reforms
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. 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 an end. 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 shewbread 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. 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 LORD. 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 altar. 23: And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them: 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 prophets. 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, an 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 thousand sheep. 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 in order. 36: And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.
2 Chronicles, 30
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 of Israel. 2: For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. 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 written. 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 the LORD. 13: And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. 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. 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 in Jerusalem. 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.
In Chapters 28-30 we have the record of the lives of King Ahaz and King Hezekiah, both Kings of Judah. The first was a bad king but the second a good king. Ahaz was just 20 when he began his reign and he reigned for only 16 years in Jerusalem. He did not follow in his father David’s example but he was like the kings of Israel who worshipped Baalim. He sacrificed his own children to his god, burning them in the fire like the heathen nations that were driven out of the Land before Israel. He sacrificed in the hills and groves and under every green tree. It seems that trees were a place of worship for the cult of Baalim. The Lord gave him up to the Syrians and they beat him in battle and took away the people in great numbers captive and took them to Damascus. There was a great slaughter of his army. 120,000 died in one day alone. They were all strong fighters but they had forsaken the LORD their God. 200,000 people were taken captive both men, women and children. And they took away a great deal of the wealth of Judah. The prophet Oded confronted the people of Samaria and said, you have destroyed Judah and carried away the people to make them slaves. But are there not among you those who sin against the LORD? Send all the captives home because the fierce wrath of the LORD is on you and so all the captives were set free. In those days the Edomites fought against Judah so Ahaz sent a message to Assyria asking for help. The Philistines also invaded from the south west. The LORD humbled Judah because of the unrighteousness of the king. The king of Assyria Tiglath-pileser came to Judah and invaded the land. Ahaz tried to pay them off. Yet in this time of distress he did not seek the LORD his God. He sacrificed to the gods of Damascus because he thought they are helping the Syrians so l might as well sacrifice to them – perhaps they will help me. But this brought complete ruin on all Israel. So he destroyed the temple and cut into bits the holy vessels and sealed the doors of the Temple. And he erected altars all over Jerusalem. He went mad in his devotion to the gods but this increased the Lords displeasure. He died and was buried in a place but not with the kings. His son Hezekiah reigned in his place. Hezekiah was 25 when he began to reign and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. He was a good king like his father David. When he began to reign he opened the doors of the Temple and repaired them. He gathered the priests and Levites and addressed them saying,
Sanctify yourselves and sanctify this house of the LORD God of your fathers and carry out all of the filth and rubbish out of this Holy Place. Because our fathers have trespassed against the LORD and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God. They forsook the Lord and turned away their faces from this place. They turned their backs on him. (The LORD ordained that worship was to be toward the west but they turned toward the east turning their backs on the Lord) They shut the doors and put out the lights. And they did not burn incense to the Lord or offer burnt offerings. Therefore the wrath of the LORD was on Judah and Jerusalem and he delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing (The expression of disgust and sharp intake of breath through the teeth) you can see all this with your eyes. Our fathers were killed in battle and some of our sons, daughters and wives are in captivity because of this. Today it is in my mind to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, so that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. So, my sons be diligent because the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve and minister to him burning incense.
Then the Levites responded, Mahath, Joel, Kish, Azariah, Joah, Eden, Zechariah, Mattaniah, Jehiel, Shimei, Shemaiah, Uzziel and they gathered their brothers and washed themselves setting themselves apart to the Lord. And they came to clean up the house of the LORD. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to clean it and they brought out all the filthiness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. Then the Levites took the rubbish and carried it out the the brook Kidron.
This began on the first day on the year. It took them 8 days to clear it up. On the 16th day everything was finished. Then the Levites went to tell Hezekiah saying, we have cleansed all the house of the LORD and the altar of burnt offering with all the vessels and the table of shewbread. All of the vessels which Ahaz destroyed have been repaired. Then Hezekiah went up early to the House of the LORD. And the Levites brought seven bullocks, rams, lambs, goats for a sin offering. It was a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary and for Judah. And when the offerings were begun the Children of Israel sang praises to the Lord and worshipped the LORD. The music joined in, with the trumpeters. Hezekiah told the singers to sing the Psalms of David. Then the people gathered to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving. There was so much given that the Levites had to assist the priests. This was nothing short of Revival. It happened suddenly and was a complete restoration of the spiritual life of Judah. After the hearts of all the people were put right Hezekiah sent letters to all Israel and Judah that they should come to the temple to worship the Lord. Because it was his intension to celebrate the Passover once again. The celebration of the Passover was the litmus test of Israel when ever they forsook the Lord they ceased the Passover but whenever they returned to the LORD their God the Passover was reinstituted. The letter read…
You children of Israel turn again to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and he will return to the remnant of you who escaped from the kings of Assyria. And do not be like your fathers and brothers who sinned against the LORD God of their fathers, who gave you up to desolation. So now do not be rebellious like your fathers were but yield yourselves to the LORD and enter to his sanctuary and serve the LORD your God, so that the fierceness of his wrath may be turned away from you. Because if you turn again to the LORD your brothers and your children will find compassion in the eyes of their captors. And they will return to this land because the Lord is full of grace and mercy and he will not turn away his face from you.
This letter past from city to city throughout the land. And there were some that humbled themselves before the Lord. But others laughed and mocked them. The people of Judah responded well to the message of the Lord sent by the King. In Jerusalem a great number of the people assembled to the feast of unleavened bread. They rose up in one body to destroy the idolatrous altars in the land. They kept the Passover but some of the people were unclean so Hezekiah prayed that the Lord would forgive them saying may the Good Lord pardon everyone who prepared himself to seek the Lord and the Lord healed them. (Why did they need healing? Because the judgment of God was going out to the unclean who celebrated the Passover in an unclean state) there was great rejoicing before the Lord and the LORD filled their hearts with joy. There had never been such great joy since David’s and Solomon’s time. The priests blessed the people and their prayers went up into heaven itself.