2 Chronicles 30:15-20
15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the LORD.
16 They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites.
17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the LORD.
18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone
19 “who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.
This is God’s mercy at its finest, a prime example that our salvation is not the result of anything WE do but of what GOD does. God’s lovingkindness is gracious and good, extended by His own will to those whom He chooses or those who earnestly seek Him. We can do all kinds of great and small works for God’s kingdom, but in the end, it is the work of Christ Jesus that truly does what we ourselves–we who are unsanctified, we who need the blood of the Lamb–could not do. And it is not simply repentance and redemption that we need, but also the healing of our souls which only God can provide.
The people of Israel and Judah had not kept the Passover feast in over three generations. Ever since the sins of King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-23), the people of Judah had continued to turn to foreign gods, and during the reign of Hezekiah’s father Ahaz, the temple had been ransacked and closed up altogether. (2 Chronicles 28:22-25) Although King Hezekiah tried to get the temple and the priests and Levites ready in time, they were not yet ready on the proper day to celebrate the Passover–the feast commemorating God’s mercy and salvation. Nonetheless, Hezekiah knew that it was important for everyone to come to Jerusalem and to make atonement for their sins and to give thanks for their redemption. What better time than when so many from Israel were in bondage in Assyria? What better time than when the altars of foreign gods still littered the high places outside Jerusalem? What better time than during a general call to repentance and revival?
However, even though many responded to King Hezekiah’s call to celebrate Passover, still they did not have enough priests who had sanctified themselves–literally, set themselves aside–for the work of the Lord God. Even as the people began to make sacrifices and to bring the blood offerings and burnt offerings to the temple, the priests needed help from the Levites to get it all done.
But the feast itself was troublesome, because there were still some people who had not sanctified themselves, who had not made the appropriate sacrifices, who had not repented of their past sins of pagan idolatry and stiff-necked rebellion against the Lord.
1 Corinthians 11:26-29
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
If the people didn’t make atonement for their sins and yet ate and drank the Passover meal, Hezekiah knew that many would face the Lord’s discipline and wrath. So Hezekiah–who was a king and not a priest–stepped in and asked for God Himself to provide atonement for all who came with the right heart seeking the God of their fathers.
And God listened.
God listened as the Israelites cried out in bondage in Egypt. God listened to the prayers of David and Solomon and Elijah and Elisha. God listened to repentant kings like Hezekiah and Josiah. God listened to the whole world as it cried out for redemption from Satan and sin. God listened, and in His sovereign grace and mercy, out of the abounding depths of His love, He provided the precious Lamb of God, His own Son Christ Jesus, to be the atonement for our sins. God listened and healed the people who came to Him with the right heart and the right desire. God listened.
God is still listening, still seeking believers who will approach the throne of grace with humility and heartfelt desire for Him. God is still listening to prayers, still providing miracles and wonders, still lifting up those in bondage to sin and oppression, still covering us all with the blood of the Lamb.
There are “a multitude of people” who come every Sunday to worship God with the wrong attitude, people who have not repented, not truly believed in the gospel, people who have not sincerely sought the healing that God wants to provide. But Christ Jesus Himself, having provided one sacrifice for the atonement of us all, is in heaven acting as our high priest and seeking mercy on our behalf. (Hebrews 7:25-27) Like Hezekiah, we must step up and pray to Jesus for the salvation and healing of those who come to God with the wrong attitude. We must intervene on behalf of the lost, on behalf of a generation wallowing in pride and selfishness, on behalf of a people who have lost their faith.
“And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.” What beautiful words! What a glorious reflection of the gospel of Christ!
13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
The Lord is listening today, seeking those whose hearts seek Him. Jesus is listening, ready to lift up our prayers before the Father, ready to intercede for us. Let us be the Hezekiahs of our generation. Let us be the ones who recognize and seek redemption for the unsaved and the unrepentant. Let us pray to the Lord our God for the atonement only He can provide–the atonement for our sins provided by Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. Let us all therefore be a royal priesthood celebrating the Passover feast in our hearts, appealing to God for salvation not only for ourselves but for all who seek God’s mercy and grace.
Almighty God and Father, we humble ourselves before You today, setting ourselves aside from the world and seeking Your mercy on the lost of this world. Precious Lord Jesus, we beseech You to make supplication on behalf of all who seek the Father with the right heart. Hear our prayers, Lord God, and save this generation from itself and from Satan. Pour out Your Spirit upon us all, that the new covenant in the blood of Your Son might be seen by all and bring You glory, honor, and praise. Amen.