Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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.Sacrifice and Song
2 Chronicles 29:27
Hezekiah was an excellent monarch although he had a very vicious father. We have a proverb which says 'like father, like son,' but that is far from being always true. Eli, a good and pious man, had sons who were a byword for profanity; and Ahaz, who was a rebel against God, had Godfearing Hezekiah for his child. In the first month of the first year of his reign Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple. He recognized that social prosperity runs its roots down into religion. Then there followed these memorable scenes, of which our chapter gives a vivid summary, and in which the recreant and fickle multitude were brought into new fellowship with God. First there were the offerings for sin, for the people were defiled and needed cleansing. It was a scene of blood around the altars, dimly foreshadowing the Blood of Jesus. Then, following these offerings for sin, burntofferings were laid upon the altar, and when the burntoffering began, the song of the Lord began also.
Now in that ancient and dramatic scene have we not a parable of living truths? I think that always when the burntoffering begins, the song of the Lord begins also. Wherever there is devotion, there is gladness. Where there is consecration, there is music. Let a man be ignorant of self-surrender, and under the fairest sky he will be miserable. But let him devote himself, with heart and soul, to his duty, to his calling, to his God, and voices that were silent yesterday will break forth into singing as he moves.
I. We see that, for instance, in the case of work—in the case of the daily task that we are called to. There is always a lack of gladness in our work when we set about it in a grumbling way. It is one of the commonest complaints today that men are not in earnest with their work. Their one ambition is to get it done, and done as cheaply and easily as possible. That is a very bad thing for the work; but I think it is a worse thing for the man, for to go to our work in a half-hearted way is a certain recipe to miss the music. It is not by doing less that joy will come: nor necessarily will it come by doing more. It is by throwing ourselves on our task with all our might, whether our task be little or be great. That is the spirit which makes labour glad, and wakens the song that sleeps on the breast of drudgery, and brings that light into the eyes of toil, which is brighter than the sunniest morn of May.
II. I think, too, that this is very true in regard to the great matter of our cross-bearing. It is not till the burntoffering begins that we ever hear a single strain of music. Every human life has got its shadow, and every human life has got its cross. It is well to distinguish the shadow from the cross, lest by confusing them we go astray. For the shadow is something into which we enter, and out of which we shall pass in God's good time. But the cross is something that we must take up, or stumble over into the mouth of hell. Now one of the deepest questions in life is, 'In what way do you regard your crosses?' Do you hate them? Do you rebel against them? Would you give anything to fling them from you? Along that road there is no voice of song. Along that road there is the hardening heart. Along that road there is a growing bitterness, the foretaste of the bitterness of death. But take up your cross as Jesus bids you do—take it up as a mother takes her child. Lay it against your heart and cherish it—say 'this, too, like the summer roses, is from God'. And so shall your poor life become a harmony—and what is harmony but perfect music—and when the burntoffering begins, the song of the Lord will begin also.
III. But once again, is not our text illuminative in regard to our social relationships? To be selfish there is not to miss the worry. To be selfish is to miss the song.
IV. Does not our text hold true of what is especially the Christian life? To be half-hearted towards Jesus Christ is the most tragical of all conditions. Other masters might be content with that. Christ will have none of it—He scorns it. It must be first or nowhere, all or nothing—King or nobody, with Jesus Christ. And the strange thing is, when we take Him at His word, and give ourselves up to Him in glad devotion, then when the burntoffering begins, the song of the Lord begins also.
—G. H. Morrison, The Return of the Angels, p. 298.
References.—XXIX. 27.—S. K. Hocking, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. 1893, p. 6. R. H. Lloyd, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxxiv. 1908, p. 376. W. D. Ross, The Sword Bathed in Heaven, p. 34. XXIX. 36.—W. C. E. Newbolt, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. 1897, p. 362. XXX. 1-13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 238. XXX. 17-20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxvi. No. 2131. XXX. 18, 19.—H. W. Burrows, Plain Instructive Sermons on the Holy Communion, p. 78. XXXI. 1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 238. XXXI. 9, 10, 13, 14, 16.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 147. XXXI. 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii. No. 433. F. Hastings, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 404. XXXII. 1.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— 2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 243. XXXII. 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2250. XXXII. 33.—C. Jerdan, Pastures of Tender Grass, p. 261. XXXIII. 2, 12, 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2378. XXXIII. 9.—W. L. Watkinson, Noon Day Addresses, p. 119. XXXIII. 9-16.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 251. XXXIII. 10, 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xl. No. 2385. XXXIII. 12, 13.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 124. XXXIII. 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 105. XXXIV. 1-3.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 161. XXXIV. 1-13.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 257. XXXIV. 14, 20, 21.—A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 187. XXXIV. 14-28.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 262. XXXIV. 15.—R. Scott, Oxford University Sermons, p. 325. XXXIV. 27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiii. No. 748. XXXV. 2.—Ibid. vol. xxvi. No. 1513. XXXV. 18.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 13. XXXVI. 11-21.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—2 Kings, Chronicles, etc., p. 269, XXXVI. 22, 23.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, part iv. p. 231. A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book for All Ages, p. 295.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done.
He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.
And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street,
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.
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.
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.
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.
For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this.
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.
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.
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:
And of the sons of Elizaphan; Shimri, and Jeiel: and of the sons of Asaph; Zechariah, and Mattaniah:
And of the sons of Heman; Jehiel, and Shimei: and of the sons of Jeduthun; Shemaiah, and Uzziel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
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.
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.
And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:
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.
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.
And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
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.
And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
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.
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.
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.
And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.
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.
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.
And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly.