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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 15, 2017 under 2017 |

Preached Sunday, December 10, 2017: Hezekiah—Ruler in The Revival; 2 Chronicles 30:1-12

Theme: The work of revival is a work of reconciliation.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

One of the things that I love about being the pastor of a small church like ours is that we often have people come to be with us who have not been in church for a while. Being a small church, you can’t miss them; and I always love seeing them. But there’s a joking way they often speak of their visit. They’ll look around a little embarrassed and say, “Sure hope the rafters of the church building hold up.” What they mean by that, as I understand it, is that they feel guilty for having neglected pursuing God or coming to church. They may even feel a tad ashamed; and their joking way of putting it suggest that the building might somehow fall down on them for coming in after having been away so long.

I get the joke, of course. And I always try to respond with a joke—assuring them that we have had structural engineers look the building over, and that the rafters are safe, and so we’re glad they’re here. But their joking comment makes me a little sad; because it communicates a misunderstanding of the heart of God toward people. It may even be a misunderstanding that we, as Christians, have wrongfully projected to others. It’s the idea that God holds a grudge toward people who wander away; and that He won’t welcome them back if they seek to return to Him.

But the opposite is the truth. The fact is that our gracious God never judges or punishes someone for moving toward Him—no matter how tiny their steps back toward Him may be; or for sincerely seeking to return to a relationship with Him—even if it’s after having wandered away long ago; or for coming back His house after a long absence. He not only welcomes those who genuinely seek to come back to Him, but earnestly desires for them to do so—and has even done all that is necessary for it to happen.

I believe that this speaks of His gracious work of something called reconciliation. Reconciliation is something that God not only purposes to make happen toward those who are alienated from Him, but is a work of His that He calls us—as the followers of His Son—to be part of.

* * * * * * * * * *

We’re going to be looking this morning at a story from the Old Testament—in 2 Chronicles 30—that tells us about God’s work of reconciliation. But before we do so, please let me first draw your attention to a passage from the New Testament that shows God’s desire for reconciliation. You’ll find it in the later half of 2 Corinthians 5.

That passage starts off by the apostle Paul telling us this his own sense of motivation for ministry—and that of his co-workers in the gospel:

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Paul had confidence, you see, that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross was sufficient to pay for the sins of all who believe on Him; and that faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for us is all that it takes for any life to be completely transformed and restored to the Father. As far as Paul was concerned, Jesus’ death for all means that all have as good as ‘died’; so that they can now start over and live a completely new life. No one is prevented from coming who truly wants to come to God for salvation and complete renewal. And it was in the confidence of that life-transforming potential of the grace of God through Jesus that Paul viewed every person he ever met;

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (vv. 16-17).

Paul no longer viewed people according to mere, superficial, outward matters. His only question was whether or not someone was ‘in Christ’. That was the only thing that mattered. And as for those who were in Christ, he considered that they are completely new creations. Therefore, his great aim in life and ministry was to invite all people everywhere to enter into a relationship with God as new creations by being ‘in Christ’.

And that’s when Paul begins to speak of this thing called reconciliation. Reconciliation is the work of God by which He brings those who are His enemies—that is, who had rebelled against Him, and who had turned from Him, and who are in a state of alienation from Him because of sin—back into a relationship of peace with Himself. It involves two important things. First, it involves taking out of the way that thing that created the enmity in the first place—that is, the guilt of sin. So long as we are guilty of sin, God—who is holy—cannot have fellowship with us. And so, He takes the guilt of our sin away from us by having placed it on His own sinless Son Jesus; who Himself paid for our sins on the cross. And second, with the guilt of sin taken out of the way, God then lovingly invites the person who is in enmity back to Himself—assuring them that the cause of the division between them has been removed and that there is now, in Christ, no longer any hostility between them.

Our gracious God is a God of reconciliation. And so, with that in mind, Paul goes on to write about the part that we all—as followers of Jesus—play in His work of reconciliation:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (vv. 18-21).

When you think rightly about it, evangelism—that is, the work of sharing the good news of Jesus with unbelieving people and inviting them to receive what He did on the cross for them—is nothing but another name for ‘the ministry of reconciliation’. What a privilege it is to be a part of that great work of God! What a privilege to be a beneficiary of His gracious work of reconciliation!

* * * * * * * * * *

And that, dear brothers and sisters, brings us to our passage in the Old Testament—to 2 Chronicles 30.

We have been studying together the story of King Hezekiah of Judah. It was during his reign that God brought about a great revival in the city of Jerusalem. As soon as Hezekiah became king, he ordered that the temple be cleansed and that the priestly ministry of offering sacrifices for the atonement for sin be restored. Great numbers of people in Jerusalem were responding; and they were coming back to a relationship with God in obedience to His commandments.

And it was after this—as this great movement of spiritual revival was well underway—that we read of how King Hezekiah and the leaders of the people in Jerusalem reached out to the surrounding regions, and invited the Jewish people of Judah and the northern tribes of Israel to accept God’s provision for the atonement for their sins and to come back—to be reconciled to God and to their brethren in Jerusalem.

I suggest that the fact that this was happening in a time of revival is very significant. We are all praying, more and more, for revival in our time; aren’t we? And this passage helps us to put those prayers in perspective. It teaches us that—ultimately—the work of revival is a work of reconciliation on a grand and glorious and Spirit-empowered scale.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Let’s look carefully at the story as it’s told to us in 2 Chronicles 30. As we do, the first thing we discover is …


We find this in the first few verses of Chapter 30. We’re told;

And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel (2 Chronicles 30:1).

If you compare this verse with other passages in the Old Testament that tell us King Hezekiah’s story (specifically 2 Kings 18:9-10), you find that this must have somewhere happened between six to seven years after he had become king and had ordered the temple to be cleansed. A very important and tragic event had happened just prior to that time. The dreaded Assyrian army had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel—the northern tribes; often summarized under the names of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh—and had carried the Jewish people of those tribes away. This had happened in the year 722 B.C.

You sometimes read in the Bible about the Babylonian captivity. This was something that happened to the southern kingdom of Judah; and in time, God permitted the people of Judah to return to their land. But in the case of the event that had occurred in Hezekiah’s time, people of the northern kingdom never returned to their homeland. They were all carried away to foreign lands because of their terrible idolatry and immorality and rebellion against God. You can read the sad story in 2 Kings 17. Some of the Jewish people in the north escaped the destruction of the Assyrian attack; but most of the land was repopulated with a mixed foreign people who brought with them the worship of false and foreign gods.

But the smoke had barely cleared from that horrible attack when God had graciously placed it on the heart of good King Hezekiah and upon the heart of his leaders—in the midst of the revival that his own people were experiencing—to reach out to their needy brethren in the north. And the occasion of this outreach was the Jewish Passover feast.

For the king and his leaders and all the assembly in Jerusalem had agreed to keep the Passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem (vv. 2-3).

The situation of the people of Israel and Judah didn’t allow them to observe the Passover on the date that God had commanded. They had neglected the Passover for years; and the priests of God throughout the land had not yet fully severed themselves from their former idolatry nor offered the required sacrifices for their cleansing. And so, the king and the leaders crafted a plan. They thought how they could make use of the provision that God had made in His law—found in the ninth chapter of the Book of Numbers—to observe a special Passover celebration in the second month of the year rather than the first month. God made this provision for those who wanted to observe the Passover but who were ceremonially unclean on the day that it came. The king and his leaders decided to made use of this provision from God so that all the people who wished to return to God would have time to prepare themselves and make the trip to Jerusalem.

And the matter pleased the king and all the assembly. So they resolved to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem, since they had not done it for a long time in the prescribed manner (vv. 4-5).

I wonder, by the way, if you can see in this the grace of God. He longs for people to come to Him; and He not only makes it possible, but also provides ways for them to take Him up on the offer. Like it says in 1 Samuel 14:14; “He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.”

That’s the heart of God toward people that need to be reconciled to Him. May it be our heart as well.

* * * * * * * * * *

So; that was the resolve of King Hezekiah and his leaders in this great time of revival—to follow the heart of God and seek for His banished ones to be reconciled to Him. And that leads us to what we find next …


It’s not enough to just have a heart for reconciliation. A true ministry of reconciliation means that we act as faithful ambassadors, and open our mouths, and implore others, “Be reconciled to God!” And that’s what King Hezekiah did. We’re told;

Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: “Children of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria” (v. 6).

What good news this was that was being broadcast to the people of Israel! If they would return to God, God would return to them. He is ready to be reconciled! The appeal was made to come back to the temple, where the provision for atonement had been provided; and to come in obedience to God’s word and celebrate the Passover as God had instructed them. It took work to deliver this message. Runners had to be sent throughout the land quickly, with letters in hand, so that people could come to the Passover in time.

And look at what Hezekiah urged in these letters. He told the people,

“And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see” (v. 8).

The people in the northern tribes and in Judah could look around them and see what terrible loss they had suffered by being hard-hearted toward God. It was time to cease being hard-hearted; and to be reconciled to Him. What’s more, Hezekiah wrote;

“Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you” (v. 9).

The sanctuary had been cleansed, and the work of the priesthood had been restored, and full atonement was provided. They only had to come and take what God had made available to them. And do you notice what Hezekiah said to them?—that He was “the Lord your God”? They may not have thought so. They may have thought that they had gone too far and that God would no longer have them. But He was still their God.

He went on to close his appeal with an affirmation of God’s amazing grace:

“For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him” (v. 10).

Proverbs 16:7 says; When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” King Hezekiah was assuring them that if they would make the effort and take God up on His offer of reconciliation, God Himself would come far more than half-way for them. He would give them favor in the sight of their enemies.

I see in this a reflection of the deep appeal that Paul made in the passage we looked at earlier; that God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation … and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” We—like Hezekiah—are now ambassadors for Christ; and as thought God were pleading through us: we implore the lost people around us—who are afraid that God would never take them back—“Be reconciled to God!”

This is true all the time. But how much more is it true in the context of revival! May God give us revival—and bless us in the ministry of ‘reconciliation’ to a great and glorious degree!

* * * * * * * * * *

So; the invitation of reconciliation was offered. It was sent out eagerly and quickly, and with great effort and great earnestness. And that leads us finally to consider …


Verse 10 tells us;

So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun … (v. 10a).

Verse 5 told us that they went from Beersheba to Dan; which, if you look on a Bible map, tells you that they went from south to north. They went as far and as fast as they could with this wonderful offer. And sadly, not all received it. We’re told in verse 10;

but they laughed at them and mocked them (v. 10b).

How horrible! But we have to face the same reality even in our time. The offer to be reconciled to God—and the promise that He has made every provision possible for it to happen—is still greeted by some with mocking and laughter today. People love their sin too much to leave it. Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing …”

But he also added that “to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And so, we read of how some responded to the call from King Hezekiah to be reconciled to God;

Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the Lord (vv. 11-12).

What a great encouragement this must have been to the people of God in Jerusalem! The work of revival was indeed spreading! And it was proving to be a work of reconciliation.

* * * * * * * * * *

So; people whose hearts had been touched by God were coming from everywhere to make their way back to celebrate Passover. They had disobeyed God for a long time, and had neglected much. But the ceiling of the temple didn’t fall down on them when they came back in. The rafters of God’s pardoning love were strong. The God of grace wanted them and welcomed them and was fully reconciled to them.

And they all had one of the greatest Passover celebrations ever. Look ahead to the end of the chapter—at verses 26-27—and you’ll see what we’re told:

So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 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, to heaven (vv. 26-27).

Sinners were reconciled to God. The people of God were reconciled to one another. That’s what genuine revival looks like.

Dear brothers and sisters; let’s ask God to give us a heart like His own on this matter. Let’s pray that we will become people who have a heart for those who feel lost and unworthy. Let’s go out to them and tell them about how God has taken the sin barrier away through the cross of Jesus; and that He now invites all to be reconciled to Him.

And if you have not yet personally placed your faith in Christ—if you have held back because you feel as if you have been too sinful and are unworthy to come near to God—if you long to be clean inside, and to have a relationship with God, and to become ‘a new creation’ in Christ—then we implore you;

be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

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