“Right Restoration” – 2 Chronicles 29

February 24th, 2013

2 Chronicles 29  (2 Kings 18:1-6)

“Right Restoration”

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Background Information:

  • King Hezekiah receives more attention in the Chronicler’s retelling of Israel’s history than any other kings except David and Solomon.  The account of his reign in Chronicles is almost entirely independent of the parallel in 2 Kgs 18-20.  For example, the Kings narrative devotes but a single verse to Hezekiah’s religious reforms whereas Chronicles spends three chapters elaborating on the cleansing and rededication of the temple and the restoration of the Passover festival (2 Chr 29-31).  Hezekiah’s reign is usually dated from about 715 to 687 B.C.

The Chronicler’s theological review of Hezekiah is almost entirely a favorable one–save a bout of pride from which he repents (2 Chr 32:24-26).  His reordering of the reports in 2 Kings and his inversion of the political and religious emphases is designed to portray Hezekiah as a “second” Solomon.  Thus, even as Solomon erected the temple for Yahweh and established proper worship in Jerusalem (2 Chr 3-7), so Hezekiah is unswerving in his restoration of proper worship in the Jerusalem temple (chs 29-31).  Likewise, just as God blessed Solomon with peace, prosperity, and military success as a result of his religious initiatives, so too Hezekiah’s prosperity and military success follow upon his religious reforms.  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 578-79)

  • While Kings spends only one verse (18:4) on his reform (dwelling more on that of Josiah), Chr devotes three chapters to it (29-31).  The story begins in chapter 29 with Hezekiah’s appeal to the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves for the momentous task ahead of them (vv 4-11), their cleansing of the Temple (vv 12-19) and a service of rededication and atonement (vv 20-36).  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 230-31)
  • (v.1) Let us cling to the belief, too, that, however vast the moral inequalities of human lives may be, no life is allowed by the Creator to be altogether destitute of gracious influences.  In Hezekiah’s case, at least, we can have no doubt that such influences were present.  It is not unnatural to believe that his mother, presumably the daughter of Zechariah, the faithful prophet of King Uzziah’s day, was a woman of devout character.  To the loving nurture of a mother was added the faithful counsel of godly men.  Moral giants lived in those days.  Micah was prophesying, Nahum was about to begin his work.  During the entire lifetime of Hezekiah, Isaiah was fulfilling his office in Jerusalem.  Tradition says that he was Hezekiah’s tutor; there can be no doubt that he was his faithful counselor.  Repulsed by the father, he would naturally turn with greater earnestness to the son.  But all this touches only the outer circle of the gracious influences by which Hezekiah was encompassed.  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 130)
  • (v. 2) Read chapters 29 to 32 alongside chapters 7 to 9, and you will find a remarkable number of parallels between the achievements, both religious and secular, of Hezekiah’s reign, and those of the reign of his ancestor Solomon.  Note also that he is the first of the twelve kings since the kingdom split in two of whom it is said that he did “according to all that David his father had done” (29:2).  Jotham had followed “all that his father Uzziah had done” (27:2); Uzziah, “all that his father Amaziah had done” (26:4); but Hezekiah went right back to David and Solomon, to the roots of his kingdom’s life and worship, seeing clearly that the crisis which threatened him with being “hanged in a fortnight” at the same time provided him with the opportunity to give his people a new lease of life.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 245)
  • (v. 3) To say that the gates are opened is to say that the Lord is at home, and accessible.  Similarly, in Rv 3:8, the faithful Philadelphian church is told by the victorious Christ, “I have set before you an open door,” while the faithless Laodiceans are separated from Christ by a closed door, at which the Lord stands, knocking (Rv 3:20).  Ahaz had closed the doors of the temple, and so closed his heart to God’s presence and purpose.  But Hezekiah, in contrast, has opened the doors, and declares his intention to seek and serve the Lord.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 212)
  • (v. 3) He then “opened the doors of the temple,” which had been shut up by the apostate Ahaz (v 7; 28:24), “and repaired them,” a project that included overlaying them with gold (2 Kgs 18:16).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 534)
  • (v. 8) Judah had become an object of dread and horror and scorn.  Usually, these terms depict the tragedy of exile (see Dt 28:25, 41; Jer 15:4; 19:8; 25:9, 18; 34:17; Ez 23:46).  Hezekiah explained that the judgment of God had caused ‘our fathers to die by the sword’…and had led ‘our sons and daughters and our wives in captivity’ (29:9).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 423)
  • (vss 12-14) Fourteen Levites are listed as responding prominently to Hezekiah’s command.  They fall into two groups.  The first eight are made up of two from each of the great Levitical families, the Kohathies, of Merari, the Gershonites, and of Elizaphan.  . . . The second group is made up of two each from the three families of Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun.  This too is a familiar form of listing in Chronicles, see the introduction to 1 Chr 15-16 (Gese’s groups IIIA), and 25:1 (primary layer, and hence to be attributed to the Chronicler), etc.  It is thus clear that this somewhat stylized presentation is intended to show that all the main branches of the Levitical family responded with equal enthusiasm.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 354)
  • (v. 15) The list of Levites participating in Hezekiah’s restoration is only representative; their brothers joined them in the work as well (29:15).  Yet, the breadth of this list points out that all the families of Levi participated.  In this manner, the Chronicler drew another connection between Hezekiah and the ideal reigns of David and Solomon.  All three kings set all the Levitical families in order (see 1 Chr 15:4-24; 23:1-32; 24:20-26:32; 2 Chr 5:4-5, 12-14.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 425)
  • (v. 16) The Levites then “carried it out to the Kidron Valley,” east of the temple.  This was the same place where Asa had burned his queen-grandmother’s repulsive Asherah object over a century and a half before (cf. 15:16).  (Frank E. G belein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 535)
  • (v. 34) The only response that seemed halfhearted in any way was that of the priests.  We are not told why; we are only told, “The priests, however, were too few…The Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been (v 34).  We can only suppose that Ahaz’ corruption of the priesthood (see 2 Kgs 16:10-16) still had lingering effects on the morale and general character of the priestly sons of Aaron.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 342-43)


The question to be answered is . . . What can we (as well as the post-exilic Jews) learn from this stark contrast between the devastation of Judah under Ahaz in comparison to the shalom of Judah under Hezekiah?


Answer: Whereas it appeared as though Ahaz was trying to do all he could to tick God off, Hezekiah is attempting to do all he can to please God.  And the contrast is stunning.  Ahaz brought about a wrong restoration, whereas Hezekiah is able to usher in a right restoration.  The Chronicler is attempting to get all believers to catch the vision of what life could be like if we would endeavor to please Almighty God like Hezekiah.


How we view God will determine our idea of how we can please God. And how a person decides to try to please God is the most fateful decision a person can ever make.

What if you discovered (like the Pharisees did), that you had devoted your whole life to trying to please God, but all the while had been doing things that in God’s sight were abominations (Lk 16:14-15)?  Someone may say, “I don’t think that’s possible; God wouldn’t reject a person who has been trying to please him.” But do you see what this questioner has done?  He has based his conviction about what would please God on his idea of what God is like.  That is precisely why we must begin with the character of God. That is why we had to begin with the pleasures of God in himself. (John Piper; The Pleasures of God, 215 – red, bold emphasis Pastor Keith)


The Word for the Day is . . . Shalom


What can 2 Chronicles 29 teach us about returning to our former glory (post-exilic as well as today)?:    

I.  A right restoration has as its aim the pleasing of Almighty God. (1 Chr 29; see also: Ps 19:14; Isa 1:11; Mal 1:6-13; Rom 8:8; 12:1-2; 14:18; 2 Cor 5:9)


Hezekiah is sandwiched between his father, Ahaz, who was Judah’s worst king up to that point, and his son, Manasseh, who also followed evil ways.  Yet clearly God is the focus of Hezekiah’s life.  Isaiah the prophet influences his life in a positive manner (Isa 36-39).  Hezekiah wastes no time in bringing forth spiritual reform to the nation, beginning with the reopening of the house of worship, the temple.  He begins immediately to cleanse, repair, and restore it to usher in an era of spiritual revival (2 Chr 29:3).  Under his father, the temple had become a place to store junk–an appropriate metaphor for the clutter in the hearts of the people.  Hezekiah is ready to de-clutter (29:4-5).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 95-96)


Hezekiah led his people back to the Lord in repentance and in a full-scale renewal of the covenant that encompassed all Israel (see 29:24; 30:14).  It was to begin at the temple, since God’s house had been defiled and desecrated under Ahaz.  In this work Hezekiah showed himself to be a true son of David, the temple-planner, and of Solomon, the temple-builder.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 329)


A clear view of how to cope with the crisis meant that he must look first, not to the threat, nor to the threatened, but to the God who was over both.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 245)


–    In Worship

None of our orders of worship can lay similar claim to being directly inspired by God.  We can’t say, for example, “This rite came to us by the hands of Luther, the prophet of God.”  But we can say that God still takes a dim view of self-chosen worship.  And we can say that all believers ought to be certain in their hearts that they are worshiping God according to his command and in keeping with his Word.  When we go to a worship service, there are definite markers we should be looking for to assure ourselves that we are worshiping in the assembly of God’s people.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 341)


No worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in me displeasing to God. (A. W. Tozer; Whatever Happened to Worship?, 125)


“You cannot please God if you do not come to Him for reward!” (John Piper; Desiring God, the Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 90)


It takes 16 days to clean the temple proper and to restore the house of God to a place of worship.  Imagine the amount of garbage that needed to be hauled out.  This is a major project of restoration (29:18-19).  The ceremony of restoring the temple consists of three crucial parts: atonement sacrifices brought by the leaders, arrangement of music, and sacrifices of thanksgiving from the people.  Hezekiah orders sacrifices to be offered together with the refugees from the northern tribes.  The entire process–propelled by God’s Spirit and blessing–takes less than 3 weeks (29:20-36).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 96)


At the beginning and conclusion of the dedicatory portion of the ceremony, the whole assembly bows in reverence to God–a formal act of worship (29:28-29; cf. Ps 95).  It is clear to all that Yahweh is King in Israel, not Hezekiah, for he too bows before the Lord with the assembly (2 Chr 29:29).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 583)


. . . the great Baptist preacher Geoffrey Thomas has said that in true worship men have little thought of the means of worship because their thoughts are on God; true worship is characterized by self-effacement without self-consciousness.  That is, in biblical worship we so focus upon God himself and are so intent to acknowledge his inherent and unique worthiness that we are transfixed by him, and thus worship is not about what we want or like (nor do his appointed means divert our eyes from him), but rather it is about meeting with God and delighting in his delights.  Praise decentralizes self.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 64)


Our worship should, in the literal meaning of the word, be characterized by enthusiasm–which signifies not simply human exuberance but the divine indwelling (en-theos).

Lifeless, meaningless worship will inevitably put off the newcomer who is not yet a believer.  But in the heartfelt worship of a people surrendered to him, God is pleased to dwell in the praises of his people. (Eddie Gibbs; Church Next, 182-83)


–    Through Obedience

For us moderns this may make for a dull read, but for a child of the Old Covenant, this was by no means a vain repetition.  The Chronicler was familiar with the many rites and ceremonies of temple worship, and he knew that they all were instituted by God, with God’s promise attached.  The formal quality of the writer’s style, therefore, served to assure these children of God that Hezekiah had done everything just as it should have been done and that all was in perfect harmony with God’s Word.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 335)


Hezekiah had them stand in the places “prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the LORD through his prophets” (v 25).  The Chronicler could not have been more clear in declaring this to be more than a merely human arrangement, more than something that fit in with worldly ideas of beauty or order.  True beauty in worship is on display when people are carrying out God’s commands.  This entire service had God’s stamp of approval upon it.  You could see it even in the way that the Levites were standing.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 341)


–    In Our Holiness/Righteousness/Purity

The whole chapter is, of course, suffused with the need for purity and meticulousness in the handling of the things of God.  The word “filth” (v 5) denotes ritual uncleanness in a general way, and refers here, no doubt, to the deposit and trappings of years of false worship.  It is as if the whole Temple has to undergo again those initial acts of dedication which had set it apart once and for all from the sphere of the profane.  (Cf. Ex 25-30, which legislates for the making and consecrating of the tabernacle.  By virtue of this as well as its first consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests, 28-29, and its provision for a Day of Atonement, 30:10, the Exodus chapters underlie the present chapter in an important way.  The parallel shows how much Hezekiah’s actions are conceived as a new beginning.)  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 231)


The sin offering was traditional for services of dedication and ordination (see Ex 29).  In that context it served to express the fact that every priest was a sinner who needed to have his own sin removed before he was fit for God’s service.  The use of the sin offering with objects like the altar was a reminder to Israel that every gift of God had also been tainted by sin and its curse.  There was simply nothing that sin left untouched.  Before any object could be used in the worship of the holy God, sin’s pollution had to be removed.

Sin destroys the relationship between God and man in a most fundamental way.  It causes a deep chasm to exist between us and the Source of Life.  It must be atoned for, or as the Hebrew puts it, “covered.”  Blood must be spilled.  The wages of sin is death, so a life must be offered to remove it.  Hezekiah offered the blood of bulls and goats, through priests who were themselves sinners.  How much better then does Jesus “[meet] our need,” as the writer to the Hebrews says (Heb 7:26).  “He does not need to offer sacrifices…first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.  He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Heb 7:27).   (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 338-39)


God’s purpose in our creation, as in our new creation, is that we should be holy.  Therefore, moral casualness and unconcerned as to whether or not we please God is in itself supremely evil.  No expressions of creativity, heroism, or nice-guy behavior can cancel God’s displeasure at being disregarded in this way.  (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 135)


–    Through Our Devotion/Conviction/Consecration  

It is in my heart; cf. 1 Chr 22:7; 28:2; 2 Chr 6:7.  Language used elsewhere of the preparations for the initial building is here taken up again at its rededication.  To make a covenant with the Lord:  the expression used here reflects ‘a late and irregular usage’; M. Weinfeld, TDOT 2, 259.  Comparison with the similar idiom at Ezr 10:3-5 suggests that with is not the best translation; rather, Hezekiah is expressing his intention of taking a solemn oath before God to put right what is wrong; cf. Japhet, Ideology, 101-03.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 353-54)


The temple had a sacramental value in the life of God’s people.  It was the touchstone of their reverence for Him, as the place where God’s honor was most evidently demonstrated.  A right regard for Him was no abstraction for God’s people, but was grounded in pure and regular worship at the temple.  Hezekiah at the beginning of his reign found the temple in a shocking state of neglect and misuse.  It was a mirror of the people’s condition before God.  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 370)


The utensils of worship were a special concern to the early post-exilic community.  The utensils of Solomon’s temple (see 4:19-22; 1 Chr 28:14-17) were taken to Babylon and brought back in the early days of restoration (see 36:18; 2 Kgs 25:13-15; Ezr 1:7-11; Dan 5:2-3).  This particular focus of the Levitical report to Hezekiah spoke clearly to the post-exilic community.  Apparently, the Chronicler thought it was important to stress that restoration of the temple included attention to the purification and restoration of the instruments of worship brought back by those returning from Babylon.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 426)


Given the distance between Creator and creature (a point of emphasis in Calvin, the Scholastics, Westminster, Van Til, and even Barth!), given the undeniable biblical reality that God’s ways and thoughts are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Is 55:8-9), what makes us think we can possibly fathom what would please God, apart from his telling us what to do in his word?  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 54)


II.  The by-product of a right restoration is shalom. (1 Chr 29: 30, 36; see also: Ps 2:12; 35:27; 41:11; Prv 15:26; 16:7; Isa 26:3; 42:21; Ez 18:32; Rom 5:1-5; Eph 1:5; 1 Tm 2:1-3)


Shalom = the absence of strife  (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archeer, Jr, and Bruce K. Walke; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: Vol II, 931)


“The general meaning behind the root sh-l-m is of completion and fulfillment—of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship.  (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr, and Bruce K. Walke; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: Vol II, 930)


It can also mean . . .“The payment of a vow (ps 50:14) completes an agreement so that both parties are in a state of shalom.”  (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr, and Bruce K. Walke; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: Vol II, 931)


In nearly two-thirds of its occurrences, shalom describes the result of God’s presence.  This is specifically indicated in those references to the “covenant of peace”. (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr, and Bruce K. Walke; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: Vol II, 931)


In sum, shalom is God’s design for creation and redemption; sin is blamable human vandalism of these great realities and therefore an affront to their architect and builder.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 16)


In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight–a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights.  Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 10)


God hates sin not just because it violates his law but, more substantively, because it violates shalom, because it breaks the peace, because it interferes with the way things are supposed to be.  (Indeed, that is why God has laws against a good deal of sin.)  God is for shalom and therefore against sin.  In fact, we may safely describe evil as any spoiling of shalom, whether physically (e.g., by disease), morally, spiritually, or otherwise.  (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 14)


It is useless trying to mend a nation’s fortunes unless you mend its morals and religion.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 227)


The Lord’s anger fell upon his people, and they experienced the just penalty of those who break the covenant.  “[God]…made them an object of dread and horror and scorn” (v 8; see also Dt 28:25, 27; Jer 24:9; 29:18; 34:17).  Nor was God’s anger something hypothetical, a threat of words only and not deeds.  They had experienced his wrath themselves, seeing with their own eyes the death and captivity caused by war (v 9).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 330-31)


The joy on that day, however, was too great to be overshadowed by a less than conscientious priesthood.  Joy could be seen in the eager way Hezekiah got up to greet the day (v 20).  It could be heard in the glad praises of the Levites (v 30).  It was demonstrated in the way the king, his nobles, the Levites, and the entire assembly bowed low to the ground before the Lord their Savior (vv 28-30).  And it was visible in the tremendous outpouring of gifts and sacrifices that the people made at their king’s invitation (vv 31-33, 35).  All this had taken place without months and months of careful preparation.  In just over two weeks’ time–two weeks from the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign, two weeks from the end of the reign of the worst king Judah had ever had–“the service of the temple of the LORD was reestablished” (v 35).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 343)


The Chronicler has gone out of his way to present Hezekiah as a second Solomon.  That this should be said of the first king following the fall of the northern monarchy is no accident.  As already noted, and as Hezekiah’s own words reaffirm (29:5-11; 30:6-9), the situation in the two countries at the end of the reign of Ahaz was closely comparable, while the major barriers which had hitherto divided them were now crumbling.  Thus in Hezekiah’s recapitulation of Solomon’s achievements it is as though the Chronicler is taking us back prior to the point of division where the one Israel is united around a single temple under the authority of the Davidic king.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 350-51)


One of the reasons for the Chronicler’s interest in worship music comes to the foreground again.  The music of worship brought gladness to the hearts of the worshipers (29:30).  This snippet of insight into the emotional quality of the event served as a positive incentive for the Chronicler’s post-exilic readers.  The way to celebrative gladness in their day was through the proper arrangement of temple worship.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 428)


The enthusiasm of Hezekiah’s assembly reflected the kind of enthusiasm the Chronicler hoped his own audience would have for the temple in their day.  As they remembered that the temple held the possibility of atonement for their sins, they too would delight in its services with voluntary offerings.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 429)


The result of Hezekiah’s accomplishment was also important for the Chronicler’s purposes.  Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced (29:36).  In this and many other passages, the Chronicler connected joy for Israel with the proper functioning of the king and the temple.  His repeated focus on this connection spoke directly to the needs of his readers.  They too desired the happiness and rejoicing.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 430)


When is the husband or wife so supremely happy as when by some deed of self-sacrifice he or she has made the other glad?  When does the father’s heart sing for joy?  Not when he has bent the stubborn will of the child, but when, by the sacrifice of some luxury he had made the little soul glad on its birthday.  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 136)


Salvation from crisis was the primary theme of the Kings narrative, in a context of political threat and military invasion.  This is indeed a theme dear to the Chronicler, and he does find room for it.  Crisis, however, is only one of life’s many experiences, and his account goes beyond such emergency conditions.  It is set within a wider framework of spiritual restoration, united worship, religious reformation, and in conclusion, divine blessing in response to royal obedience.  It is made plain that a respect for God’s will dominated the king’s rule and dictated his direction of national life.  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 365)


The depth of Judah’s apostasy under Ahaz is underscored in the fivefold emphasis on their wicked deeds: faithlessness, doing evil, forsaking God, turning their faces away from the temple, and turning their backs on Yahweh (29:6).  It is for this reason that Yahweh’s wrath fell on Judah, resulting in costly losses in battle and the exile of many citizens of Judah (29:9; cf. 28:5-8).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 580)


. . . when a soul finds no pleasure or consolation in the things of God, it also fails to find it in any thing created; for, as God sets the soul in this dark night to the end that He may quench and purge its sensual desire, He allows it not to find attraction or sweetness in anything whatsoever.  (St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, 64)


“Let us pray that our own country may never be without men in high places who have grace to think right, and courage to act up to their own knowledge, without truckling to the opinion of men.  Those who fear God more than man, and care for pleasing God more than man, are the best rulers of a nation, and in the long run of years are always most respected.”  (J. C. Ryle , Expositionary Thoughts on John: Volume 3, 301)


III.  Faith is necessary to purse a right relationship and is the impetus that results in  shalom.  (1 Chr 29-31; see also: 1 Kgs 18:37; Ps 10:4; 22:26; 24:1-6; 34:10; 51:16; 119:2; Prv 15:8; Lam 3:25; Amos 5:4-6, 14; Hab 2:4; Mt 6:33; Lk 10:21; 12:31-32; Rom 1:17; 5:1-2; 1 Cor 10:5; Heb 11:6)


The covenant of Sinai, the covenant of law, they had surely broken.  No escape from God’s wrath could be hoped for there.  As a people they could not lay claim to any excellence of deeds or any fervor of love that might recommend them to the Almighty.  They could not ask God for what they deserved, because they deserved only his wrath and punishment.

They could, however, take comfort in the covenant of grace the Lord had made with Abraham; they could find rest in the sure mercies of David (see 1 Chr 17; 2 Chr 7:42; Isa 55:3).  This was the covenant that, in the final reckoning, made the LORD “the God of Israel” (v 7).  This covenant was founded purely on God’s gracious choice and on his promise to send the world a savior through the temple.  This was where he had placed his Name and where Hezekiah must have remembered, the words Solomon once prayed at the dedication of the temple: “When your people Israel…have sinned against you and when they turn back and confess your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel” (6:24, 25).  Such broken and contrite hearts the Lord would not despise.  On such a basis, Hezekiah could be absolutely certain that God would turn away his fierce anger (v 10).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 331)


There may be times in the lives of believers when they become guilty of great sin.  There is no hope then to be found in running hither and yon, or in trying to make it up to God by being especially good.  No one will ever find comfort in that way because no deed of ours is ever good enough to atone for even one sin.  At best we can say of the good we do, “we have only done our duty!”  (See Lk 17:10).  We have not erased the penalty for what we have done wrong.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 331-32)


Young in years but old in wisdom, Hezekiah terms the Levites My sons, speaking not as a master giving orders (v 11).  So at last the moment came (v 30), when from a temple purified by men of right spirit the sound of instruments and psalms, the words of David and of Asaph the seer, could rise acceptably to God.  We are told that the feelings of the people were roused to enthusiasm, and that they then brought multitudes of sacrifices (vv 31-33, 35).  That is ever the way: men with souls to conceive better things must toil patiently in hope that general response will in the end be evoked.  If they prepare with all diligence, response may be forthcoming, and the rejoicings be really great.  Day to day progress often is invisible; when attainment comes, we are startled by its suddenness (v 36).  (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 3, 521-23)


To highlight the splendor of this event, the Chronicler summarized the numbers of sacrifices and offerings (29:32-35).  He focused on large numbers of sacrifices in a number of passages (see 1:6; 5:6; 7:4-5; 24:14; 29:32-35; 35:8-9).  In each case, his intention was to convey the enthusiasm for the temple and its services.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 429)


Let there be no sacrifice and there will be no song, no self-denial and there will ere long be no joy.  That is a law written broadly over human nature, attested by the widest experience, and recognized by Prv 9:24, 25.  It explains some of what seem to be the hardest sayings and most difficult demands of our Lord, as, e.g., Mt 16:24, 25; Jn 12:24; and His question put to the two ambitious disciples (Mk 10:37, 38).  The lesson is clear.  We all want happiness–that our joy may be full.  But we cannot have it by aiming at it directly.  Begin to sacrifice, to give to God what you really value; say, “I will not offer unto the Lord my God that which doth cost me nothing.”  Give your money, interest, time, effort.  Copy the example of Him who “went about doing good,” and “pleased not Himself.”  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 136)


Where God has not revealed himself, there can be no faithful response to his revelation, by virtue of the very nature of faith.  Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb 11:6) and since “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23), God cannot be pleased by worship that is not an obedient response to his revelation, because it is by definition “un-faith-full” worship.  Hence, once again we see that worship must be positively based upon the word of God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 56)


CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: Five questions we need to ask concerning Christ and this message:

A-  What is there about 2 Chronicles 29 that points to Christ? (Mt 3:17; 5:17; 17:5; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22; 24:13-49; Jn 5:30, 39-40; 8:29; Heb chps 8-10)


You don’t have to work to please God.  He is already pleased by Christ.  So be IN CHRIST!  — Steve Brown


We note how the principle of substitution–life for life–is reinforced by the king and people laying their hands on the goats for the sin offering (v 23).  No Christian who hears this can forget how the Lord laid on his own Son “the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6) or how the blood of Jesus “purifies us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7).  Before there can be any renewal in our lives, sin has to be dealt with.  And God did deal with it by offering Jesus in our place.

Besides the sin offerings on that day, the king commanded that burnt offerings be made “for all Israel” (v 24).  For a festival of rededication, this type of sacrifice would follow quite naturally after the sin offering, since it was the kind of sacrifice that expressed the believers’ desire and  commitment to offer their whole lives in service to the God who graciously pardons sins.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 339-40)


The early church lived and thought in a period when religious sacrifice still was common, not least in a Jewish context, as a means of dealing with sinfulness.  Although such ritual is absent from modern culture, the theology of the church cannot dispense with this dynamic concept, whose roots delve deep into the OT.  The regular description of the death of Jesus in terms of “blood” labels it as sacrificial.  The atoning value of the burnt offering is echoed in a number of important NT passages, even though the actual term is not used.  In Mk 10:45 it underlies the explanation that Jesus came “to give His life a ransom for many.”  The definition of the devoted love of Christ in Eph 5:2 makes use of it: He “has…given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  In 1 Pt 1:18-19 Christians are similarly described as “ransomed (RSV)…with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

The sense of propitiation which is implied in 2 Chr 29 is unconsciously echoed in the letter to the Romans.  Just as atoning sacrifices were the God-given answer to the dark shadow of divine wrath which covered His people, so “God set forth” Jesus “as a propitiation by His blood,” as God’s own solution to the wrath which barred humanity from His presence (Rom 1:18; 2:5; 3:25).  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 376-77)


Christian readers of this chapter cannot but think of another cleansing of the Lord’s temple, a time when zeal for the Lord’s house would consume another son of David (Jn 2:17; Ps 69:9).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 237)


For the assembly to lay their hands on the goats of the sin offering was to designate these as substitutes for their own lives and to transfer their sins to the animal victims (Mn 27:18-21; cf. 8:18-19).  The goats thus served as types of Christ’s death in the sinner’s stead (2 Cor 5:21).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 535)


Ultimately what saved the Israelites was their anticipation of Christ’s death on the cross, who bore the wrath of God that had been incurred by all men as sinners (Mk 10:45; Rom 3:25).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 535)


One of the charges of heresy against English Reformer William Tyndale was that he taught: “If we look externally, there is a difference betwixt the washing of dishes and preaching the Word of God; but as touching to please God, in relation to His call, none at all.”  Such teachings freed people to do what they did best for God’s glory, and a new breed of workers was born.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 315-16)


When my sons do what I tell them to do–and do it with a spirit of gladness and trust in my wisdom and care–I do not call their obedience “filthy rags,” even if it is not perfect.  Neither does God.  All the more because he himself is “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight” (Heb 13:21).  He does not call his own, Spirit-wrought fruit “rags.”  But if my boys had cleaned their room–angry and pouting and slamming doors–I might call that “filthy rags.”  And so does God.  External conformity without internal change brings down some of Jesus’ harshest words (“whitewashed tombs,” Mt 23:27).  This difference should be a great encouragement that our Father in heaven is not impossible to please.  In fact, like every person with a very big heart and very high standards, he is easy to please and hard to satisfy.  We would not want it otherwise.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 152)


Have you not learned that lesson of despair yet?  Is it necessary for the Holy Spirit to make you despair again? Why not have one good despair and get it all over?  Why despair every few days?  Only because you are still hunting round for something somewhere, some rage of goodness in yourself that you can present to God that will please Him, satisfy Him and answer to His requirements.  You will never find it.  Settle it that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.  Our righteousness, all that trying to be so righteous, the Lord says of it all, “Filthy rags!”  Let us settle this once for all.  If you are looking ahead of what I am saying, you will see what it is leading to.  It is leading to the most glorious position.  It is leading to that glorious issue mentioned by the Lord Jesus in this way, in those days before things became inward: “Learn of me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  That is the end.  But we shall never find rest unto our souls until we have first of all learned the utter difference between Christ and ourselves, and then the utter impossibility of our ever being like Him by anything that we can find in ourselves, produce or do.  It is not in us, in ourselves, in that way.  ( T. Austin-Sparks; The School of Christ, 14)


The best reason to be good is to want to be good.  Internal change requires relationship.  It requires love.  “Who can be good, if not made so by loving?” asked Augustine.  When Augustine made the famous statement, “If you but love God you may do as you incline,” he was perfectly serious.  A person who truly loves God will be inclined to please God, which is why Jesus and Paul both summed up the entire law in the simple command, “Love God.”

If we truly grasped the wonder of God’s love for us, the devious question that prompted Romans 6 and 7—What can I get away with?—would never even occur to us.  We would spend our days trying to fathom, not exploit, God’s grace. (Philip Yancey ; What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 191)


“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  That voice, uttered then, meant: “Go on Thy present way, self-devoted to death, and shrinking not from the cross.  I am pleased with Thee, because Thou pleasest not Thyself.  Pleased with Thee at all times, I am most emphatically delighted with Thee when, in a signal manner, as lately in the announcement made to Thy disciples, Thou dost show it to be Thy fixed purpose to save others, and not to save Thyself.” (A. B. Bruce; The Training of the Twelve, 194)


B-  What is the aim of your life?  (Mt 6:33; Rom 12:1-2; 14:18;  2 Cor 5:9; Eph 5:10; Col 1:10; Heb 13:16; 1 Jn 3:22)


The Epicureans adopted a more refined variety of hedonism.  They did so because they learned early the problem with Cyrenaic hedonism, the problem of excess.  This problem has been referred to as the “hedonistic paradox”: if the hedonist fails to achieve the measure of pleasure he seeks, he experiences frustration.  Frustration is painful.  If we fail to find the pleasure we are seeking. The result is frustration and pain.  The more we seek pleasure and the more we fail to achieve it, the more pain we introduce into our lives.  On the other hand, if we achieve all the pleasure we seek we become sated and bored.  Boredom is the counterpart of frustration; it is also painful to the pleasure seeker.  Again, the paradox: If we achieve what we want, we lose; if we don’t achieve what we are searching for, we lose.  The result of hedonism is the exact opposite of its goal.  Its only fruit is ultimate pain.  (R.C. Sproul; Lifeviews, 131)


It is significant that the Tree of Knowledge is found in the center of the garden (see Gn 3:3).  Self-centeredness is the chief malady with which it afflicts us.  After Adam and Eve ate its fruit, their first response was self-inspection.  Before eating they had not even noticed their nakedness; their attention was on the Lord and the purposes for which He had created them.  After eating, the good and evil which they now understood forced them to measure themselves by it.  There is no easier way to keep us from the Tree of Life than to have us focus our attention upon ourselves.  This is what the Law accomplishes.  Because of this Paul called it “the ministry of death” and the “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor 3:7, 9).  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 10)


When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have opportunity to wonder, Am I doing this right? or Did I serve enough this week?  When you are running toward Christ, you are freed up to serve, love, and give thanks without guilt, worry, or fear.  As long as you are running, you are safe.  But running is exhausting – if, that is, we are running from sin or guilt, out of fear.  (Or if we haven’t run in a while.)  However, if we train ourselves to run toward our Refuge, toward Love, we are free – just as we are called to be.  As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving Him and others becomes more natural.  As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him.  It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment.   (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 104)


Stop looking at your faith, and rivet your attention on Christ.  Faith is sustained by looking at Christ, crucified and risen, not by turning from Christ to analyze your faith.  Let me help you look to Christ.  Let’s read Luke 22-24 together.  Paradoxically, if we would experience the joy of faith, we must not focus much on it.  We must focus on the greatness of our Savior.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 218)


Christianity does not direct us to focus on finding the right person; it calls us to become the right person.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 236)


Focusing on sin, either by committing it or by being consumed with fighting it, keeps us from practicing God’s presence.  God forbid that we should ever define ourselves or our days solely by what we didn’t do.  Let us instead be people who define ourselves by practicing God’s presence.  Let us use temptation to remind us to think of Him, our soul’s true delight.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 70)


Henceforth my desire is not to keep the law but to please my Father.  We know something about that by nature.  Filial love, filial reverence, filial fear is so different from that old servile fear.  It is based upon the desire to please our father, and the moment we grasp that we lose the spirit of bondage.  Our Christian living is not a matter or rules and regulations any longer, but rather our desire to show Him our gratitude for all He has ever done for us.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 172)


A Pharisee who does nothing but focus on avoiding sin is still concentrating on sin, which makes him or her little different from the person who voraciously lives in sin.  Both are consumed by sin–one to avoid it, the other to live in it.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 78)


“Spiritual caressing,” if left unabated, would eventually cause us to lose focus.  Thus we could begin to enjoy the fruits of worshiping God (our feelings) more than we enjoyed the God we worship.  Augustine wrote, “Whosoever seeketh of God anything besides God, doth not love God purely.  If a wife loved her husband, because he is rich, she is not pure, for she loveth not her husband, but the gold of her husband.”  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 185)


God save us also from self-righteous judgmentalism…There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline.  Legalism says, “I will do this thing to gain merit with God,” while discipline says, “I will do this because I love God and want to please him.”  Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered. (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 114)


“Love is the overflow of joy in God that meets the needs of others.  The overflow is experienced consciously as the pursuit of our joy in the joy of another.   We double our delights in God as we expand it in the lives of others.   If our ultimate goal were anything less than joy in God, we would be idolaters and would be no eternal help to anyone.  Therefore, the pursuit of pleasure is an essential motive for every good deed.   And if you aim to abandon the pursuit of full and lasting pleasure, you cannot love people or please God.” (John Piper; Desiring God, 121)


We need another Wesley or General Booth; men whose whole ambition was to be well-pleasing to God, who feared not the face of man, and whose price was so tremendously high that they could not be bought over.    (John D. Drysdale; The Price of Revival, 32)


C-  What can you learn from non-shalomesk contingencies in your life that can encourage you to pursue Christ more steadfastly (Koon)?  (2 Chr 27:6; Eph 4; Col ; Rom ; Jas 1:2-4; 2:5, 14-26; 1 Pt 1:3-9; 5:9; 1 Jn 5:4)


The irony is that Assyria, for all her power and sophistication, simply cannot see the relevance of it.  As John Hercus suggests, it will rate an inch or two in the Nineveh Morning Advertiser, and be good for a passing laugh in “a culture where Aggressiveness, Pride and Greed are the Holy Trinity”.  The world expects everyone to react to a crisis in terms of that crisis.  And the church, if it is sufficiently infected with worldliness, will readily oblige.  When there is a financial crisis, the first thing we think about is money.  When there is a communications crisis, our prime concern is to learn how to talk the language of the modern generation.  When there is a church attendance crisis, we make it our chief aim to get numbers up.  If Hezekiah had responded to a military threat in a military way, the Assyrians would have understood that.  Army would have been matched against army, with dire consequences for Judah.  But instead he first looked up to God.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 247)


He that enters into the holy place, especially if his errand be to cleanse it, must have ‘clean hands, and a pure heart.’  The hands that wielded the whip of small cords, and drove out the money-changers, were stainless, and therefore strong.  Some of us are very fond of trying to set churches to rights.  Let us begin with ourselves, lest, like careless servants, we leave dirty finger-marks where we have been ‘cleaning.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 228)


The historical truth of the picture is confirmed by the close of the previous chapter, and its vividness shows how deeply Hezekiah had felt the shame and sin of Ahaz.  It is not easy to keep clear of the influence of prevailing corruptions of religion.  Familiarity weakens abhorrence, and the stained embodiments of the ideal hide its purity from most eyes.  But no man will be God’s instrument to make society, the church, or the home, better, unless he feels keenly the existing evils.  We do not need to cherish a censorious spirit, but we do need to guard against an unthinking acquiescence in the present state of things, and a self-complacent reluctance to admit their departure from the divine purpose for the church.  There is need today for a like profound consciousness of evil, and like efforts after new purity.  It we individually lived nearer God, we should be less acclimatized to the Church’s imperfections.  No doubt Hezekiah’s clear sight of the sinfulness of the idolatry so universal round him was largely owing to Isaiah’s influence.  Eyes which have caught sight of the true King of Israel, and of the pure light of His kingdom, will be purged to discern the sore need for purifying the Lord’s house.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 228-29)


In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives.  In them, God finds His own reward for creating man.  They are His worshipers.  They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased.

The Lord takes them farther and through more pain and conflicts than other men.  Outwardly, they often seem “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Is 53:4).  Yet to God, they are His beloved.  When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender.  They are the Lord’s purpose for creation.

One would think that God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred.  Instead, they are marred more than others.  Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief.  For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect.  And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God become all-consuming.

Would that all Christ’s servants were so perfectly surrendered.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 93-94)


Do with me whatever it shall please thee.  For it can not be anything but good, whatever thou shalt do with me.  If it be thy will I should be in darkness, be thou blessed; and if it be thy will I should be in light, be thou again blessed.  If thou grant me comfort, be thou blessed; and if thou will have me afflicted, be thou still equally blessed.  My son, such as this ought to be thy state, if thou desire to walk with Me.  Thou must be as ready to suffer as to rejoice.  Thou must cheerfully be as destitute and poor, as full and rich.  (Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, III:17:1-2)


Mother Teresa has been one of the most influential people on the earth because she has served perhaps more than anyone.  Tony Campolo describes Mother Teresa’s appearance at a Harvard University chapel service.  She didn’t pull any punches.  At one point she said, “I understand there are lots of you students in this school who are doing things that displease God.  You are harming yourselves and offending God.  Some of you are drinking alcohol and taking drugs.  Others of you are engaged in sexual sin of many sorts.  I have a message for you from God: Repent, turn away from what you are doing.”

The result of Mother Teresa’s exhortation was amazing.  The entire auditorium full of people rose to their feet and applauded thunderously for several minutes.  They gave this simple woman a standing ovation for calling them to repentance!  Her credibility as a servant gave her authority as a speaker.  (Steve Sjogren, Conspiracy of Kindness, 114)


Another sign of those with an “elder brother” spirit is joyless, fear-based compliance.  The older son boasts of his obedience to his father, but lets his underlying motivation and attitude slip out when he says, “All these years I’ve been slaving for you.”  To be sure, being faithful to any commitment involves a certain amount of dutifulness.  Often we don’t feel like doing what we ought to do, but we do it anyway, for the sake of integrity.  But the elder brother shows that his obedience to his father is nothing but duty all the way down.  There is no joy or love, no reward in just seeing his father pleased.  (Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, 57-58)


“To see God’s providential hand with true certainty it is necessary first to know God Himself, to know Him in the outworking of His revealing and reconciling purpose in Jesus Christ, to know Him at the focus and center in the light of which His ways in providence may be discerned.  The ‘smiling face’ of God is in the first instance the face unveiled at the cross and the empty tomb, where the God who seems to have averted His face from the sin-bearing Savior is the very God who is well pleased with the Son (Mt 3:17), who is well pleased with us in Him (Eph 1:5f.), and who has here worked out, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, the good pleasure of His grace.  This God is also the God who preserves and overrules all creation with a view to the fulfillment of His gracious purpose.  Hence we may be confident that even if providence is frowning, behind it is the smiling face of God.” (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Vol. Three, 1025)


D-  What can we do to encourage or strengthen our faith in Christ as the object of our faith?  (Mt 6:30; 8:10, 26; 17:20; 21:21;  Lk 8:25, 48; 17:1-19; Acts 3:16;  Rom 10:17; 1 Cor 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 5:7; Gal 3:22-27; 5:5-6; Eph 2:8-9; 1 Thes 3:2, 10; 5:8; 2 Tm 3:15; Ti 1:1-2; Heb ch 11; 12:2; 1 Pt 1:21; 2 Pt 1:1)


Lk 17:1-19 = The Disciples tell Jesus to “increase our faith”.  Whereas Jesus is suggesting to them it is not how much faith you have to muster up on your own but it is the object of what little faith that you have that makes all the difference in the world.  It is not our efforts but it is in trusting in God that makes our faith what it is and is meaningful to God.  — Pastor Keith


Jesus acclaims faith which does not need signs.  To the nobleman who wanted his son healed, Jesus said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (Jn 4:48).  The very act of seeking a sign contradicts that which pleases God–which is faith.  He said, “this is an evil generation: they seek a sign” (Lk 11:29).  Jesus never reduced Himself to the level of a magician by performing a miracle to satisfy curiosity.  (Leslie B. Flynn, 19 Gifts of the Spirit, 186)


E-  Have you caught the vision and bought into Christ’s restoration gospel that will return us to our former glory and one day make all things new because we are “in Christ”?  (Mt 19:28; 2 Cor 5:17;  Rev 21:5)


We know that in Christ, every aspect of our entire life is now the sphere of the holy.  God’s name has been placed on us in Baptism; our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).  Our whole lives have been turned into living sacrifices of praise for our Savior’s mercy (Rom 12:1).  Everything we do in them is consecrated by the Word of God and prayer, and everything we use is pure.  This is so because Christ has made us pure (1 Tm 4:4, 5; Ti 1:15).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 336-37)


C.S. Lewis preached in 1941:  If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased. (John Piper; Desiring God, 88)


Think about your own righteousness and presenting it to God.  What a joke!   You have nothing to offer the God of the Universe.  Even your most pure righteous deeds fall far short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23, Isa 64:6).   The only thing that can please God is God.  Therefore the only thing you can offer the God of the Universe is Himself reflected in you by the work of the Holy Spirit in you.  That is what brings glory to God.  That is what pleases God.  That is what brings merit to us before God.  It is God and God alone.  — Pastor Keith (after listening to Steve Brown and reading John Piper)


You may recall the movie Chariots of Fire, which tells the story of two Olympic runners: Eric Liddell and Charles Abrams.  Abrams runs because he is driven; he runs in order to prove something.  He is a cheerless man whose whole life is motivated by ought, by duty, by the law.  Liddell runs because he can’t help it.  “When I run,” he says, “I feel God’s pleasure.”  He knows a freedom of heart that Abrams can only watch from a distance.  Abrams uses discipline to subdue and kill his heart.  Liddell is so freed by grace that when he runs, Abrams says, “He runs like a wild animal–he unnerves me.”  “Where,” Liddell asks, “does the power come from to see the race to its end?  It comes from within.”  It comes from desire. (Curtis and Eldredge; The Sacred Romance, 199)


Irenaeus, a disciple of the apostle John, becomes our guide in his five-volume work Against the Heresy of Gnosticism.  The oft-quoted first clause of one compound sentence reads, “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.”  But the less-quoted second clause reads, “and the life of the human consists in beholding God.”  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 48)


Hope is one of the Theological virtues.  This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.  It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.  If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.  It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters.  Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you.  You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more–food, games, work, fun, open air.  In the same way, we shall never save civilization as long as civilization is our main object.  We must learn to want something else even more.  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 118-19)


Worship point:  Think of your present life.  Imagine the life God wants you to live in shalom.  Then please God by worshiping the One who makes and keeps such a promise and provides the grace, forgiveness, patience and love to sinners such as you and I so we might return to our former glory and enjoy such an eternal future.


Spiritual Challenge:  Employ the means of grace to allow your faith to grow.  Employ your imagination to speculate on the life of shalom that God desires for every believer to one day enjoy.  Do what you can to cultivate God’s will here on earth as it is in heaven; especially in your own heart and mind.



Quotes to Note:

No man can understand what God’s will is and what pleases Him, but in His Word.  (Martin Luther; Galatians, 255-256)


It is worth remembering at this point that the end of Chr is not so much an end as an arrival.  It is the end of the long preamble to the treatment of Judah under Persia in Ezra-Nehemiah.  Empire as represented by Assyria in the present chapters cannot but speak to the Chronicler’s readers of empire in the form of Persia in their own day.  It makes for an effective climax that two such exemplary kings as Hezekiah and Josiah should stand so close to the narrative which sets the scene for the Chronicler’s time.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 230)


The point which can be generalized here is that it is not enough in Christian service merely to be qualified or equipped, however impressive one’s qualifications may be.  Qualification only becomes meaningful when allied with discipline and determination.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 232)


Normally Chr limits the effects of sin or obedience within each reign to that reign itself.  Here we are made to feel that the oscillation between sin and repentance is not the only possible pattern in the life of God’s people, but that there is also a radical kind of newness which is of a different sort.  It is a newness which is prompted by a recognition that inherited patterns–so conventional as to be unquestioned–have been gravely wrong.  It is a penitence which can go beyond the knowledge of personal sin to a burden for that of the whole Church.  For Hezekiah it meant a special act of atonement for all of Israel.  In our day it means that self-examination can never be a merely personal thing, but that Christians have a responsibility to scrutinize critically, on the broadest canvas, the life and work of the whole Church, and, while resisting the temptation to write off inherited structures–on the inadequate grounds that they are structures and that they are imperfect, since structure and imperfection are inevitably with us till eternity–recognize that the Church must always reform itself.  .  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 232-33)


Hezekiah is probably the best king since the time of David.  He brings spiritual reform to the nation, and he is also able to remove the idols that had crept into the people’s practice of worship, including the bronze serpent that Moses had used to challenge the people to stop grumbling in the desert following their deliverance from captivity in Egypt (Nm 21:4-8; 2 Kgs 18:1-4).  It’s been about 800 years since their ancestors wandered in the wilderness, and the people are now worshiping this bronze serpent on a pole (2 Kgs 18:4).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 95)


Their whole problem was a spiritual one, the king was saying.  It had its roots in God’s people irrationally turning away from living in the Lord’s presence and from seeking the Lord in his earthly dwelling place.  They showed their contempt for God’s grace, preferring darkness to light.  It was not surprising, then, that hearts weary of grace gave birth to deeds deserving death.  We learn here that King Ahaz’ shutting of the temple doors included a complete cessation of normal worship.  No lamps had been lit, no incense had been burned, no sacrifices had been offered.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 330)


The lower-ranked Levites, somewhat surprisingly (cf. 24:5; Ezek 48:11), now showed themselves “more conscientious…than the priests” (but cf. 30:3 and the lack of principle evinced by the high priest Uriah only nine years before this, 2 Kgs 16:10-11).  For the truest faith is often found among the humble; and throughout history “professional” religious leaders have too often been among those least willing to submit to Christ and to the Word (cf. Jn 7:48).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 536)





The Right


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