“Righteous Inertia” – 2 Chronicles 31

March 10th, 2013

2 Chronicles 31

“Righteous Inertia”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.                                                                                                                                                                                — 2 Chronicles 16:9a

 

Background Information:

  • The key words to remember about this section of Scripture are orderliness and faithfulness.  The lack of either one can cause God’s abundance to be wasted by people.  The lack of either one can also sow seeds of suspicion and envy among even the most peaceful group.  After he saw the offerings piled up in the temple courts, the king knew that he had to do something about preserving it, so he “gave orders to prepare storerooms in the temple of the LORD” (v 11).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 363-64)
  • (v.3) Just as Solomon had done (2 Chr 2:4), “the king contributed” the regular “burnt offerings” for the temple.  Specifications in this regard had, indeed, been set forth by Moses (Nm 28-29).  Concerning “the morning and evening burnt offerings,” and those for the “appointed feasts,” (1 Chr 23:29-31).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 538)
  • (v. 4) Remunerations for “the priests” were derived primarily from certain designated parts of the sacrifices (cf. Lv 6-7) and from “the best of the firstfruits of your soil” (Ex 23:19; cf. Nm 18:12), while that for the “Levites” came from tithes that were contributed by the other tribes (Lv 27:30-33; Nm 18:21-24; cf. V 5).  They “could devote themselves” to God’s work, unhindered by secular pursuits, only if they received these portions regularly (cf. Neh 13:10).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 538)
  • (v. 11) The expression “to prepare” does not specify whether new buildings were erected or existing structures were simply renovated.  In all events, these storerooms were part of the outer structure of the temple and were used to store foods, equipment and weapons, and to house temple personnel (see 2 Kgs 20:13; 1 Chr 9:26; 23:28; 26:22; 28:12; 2 Chr 31:11, 14).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 444)
  • (v. 12)The office of the Levite “Conaniah” dated back to David, who had first organized some of the temple gatekeepers so as to have charge of the dedicated gifts (see 1 Chr 26:20, 26).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 539)
  • (v. 14) The gatekeeper “Kore” (cf. 1 Chr 9:19) was then responsible for “distributing the contributions”–whether of the “consecrated gifts” (cf. v 4) or of the additional “freewill offerings”–to their legitimate priestly recipients (Lv 7:14; cf. 6:29).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 539)
  • The surplus of contributions brought by the people of Israel was certainly exemplary for the Chronicler’s readers.  They were not to be satisfied with merely meeting the minimal needs of the temple personnel.  In imitation of Hezekiah’s day, they too were expected to supply the temple in abundance.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 444)

 

The questions to be answered are . . . How could Hezekiah turn the nation of Judah around so quickly and completely in just a matter of weeks?   What can we learn from this that might allow our nation, our communities, our churches and our families to return to the glory God has planned for us?

 

Answers: It is really simple . . . “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered.   Hezekiah was the quintessential servant leader who was driven by the vision of what Judah could be if she would turn her heart towards the Lord.  Hezekiah’s faith in God and vision for Judah compelled him to give himself wholeheartedly to this endeavor.  And yet, the righteous inertia Hezekiah created is nothing compared to Christ’s.

 

We carry our religion as if it were a headache.  There is neither joy nor power nor inspiration in it, none of the grandeur of the unsearchable riches of Christ about it, none of the passion of hilarious confidence in God.” —  Oswald Chambers

 

When Church gurus look at great spiritual leadership they tend to focus on Nehemiah because he was so brilliant in the way that he orchestrated the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall about the same time that the Chronicler is writing.  But, somehow Hezekiah seems to slip through the cracks of garnering attention when it comes to recognizing great spiritual leadership.  And I think part of the reason is because it is so hard to pin down in 1, 2, 3, bullet points what makes his leadership so dynamic and powerful.  In fact, the only concrete point that I can make, based on what the Chronicler himself has to say about Hezekiah, and without a boatload of speculation on Hezekiah’s success is that . . . “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered.”          — Pastor Keith

 

As the leaders go, so go the people. Camelot is the responsibility of the king. (Stu Weber; Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart, 68)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Vision

 

What does 2 Chronicles 29 reveal to us about the source of Hezekiah’s success?:

I.  God prospered Hezekiah because of his faith and wholehearted devotion (2 Chr 31:21; see also: Dt 4:40; 5:33; 6:24;  12:28; 28:1-14; 29:9; 1 Kgs 2:1-3; 11:38; Prv 3:9-10; 16:3; Jer 29:11)

 

The practical question, which has been asked before in Chronicles, is how one may know that a real spiritual work is going on in the hearts of God’s people; and as before, the practical answer is the thoroughly earthy one of the pocket, the purse, and the checkbook.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 250)

 

 

The fundamental requirement of the Christian leader is not a knowledge of where the stream of popular opinion is flowing but a knowledge of where the stream of God’s truth lies.  There can be no leadership without vision of both what the Church has become and what, under God, it should be. (David Wells; No Place for Truth, 215)

 

While it is true that leaders have motives, spiritual leaders are directed by the Holy Spirit, not by their own agendas.   Their leadership is not always in the face of conflict or competition but sometimes simply in the midst of powers of spiritual inertia.   At times, embracing the status quo is the greatest enemy to advancing in Christian maturity, and it is the leader’s task to keep people from becoming complacent.”  (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership, 18)

 

Hezekiah’s fidelity was perhaps the most important feature of the Chronicler’s initial assessment.  The theme of fidelity appears again in 32:1.  To be faithful was to be one who did not forsake or prove disloyal to God of his Law.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 446)

 

This piling up of positive descriptions indicated the Chronicler’s enthusiasm for Hezekiah.  He added these chapters on Hezekiah’s re-establishment of the temple because they exemplified the kind of obedience he highly admired.

In line with his outlook on divine judgment and blessing, the Chronicler closed this material with the notice that Hezekiah prospered because of his wholehearted obedience (31:21).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 446)

 

 

In any discussion of international change it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of discontent. Without discontent with the present situation there can be no planned, internally motivated and directed intentional change.” And this is the job of the change agent: to “rub raw the sores of discontent.” (Aubrey Malphurs; Pouring New Wine into Old Wineskins, 129)

 

 

The definitive measure of leaders’ success is whether they moved their people from where they were to where God wanted them to be.  (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership; Moving People on to God’s Agenda, 111)

 

 

Some wise elders advised a young king with these words: “If you love this people and serve them, they will love you and follow you forever. (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus Ceo, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 253) (see 2 Chr 10:6-7)

 

Roosevelt was convinced that leadership could not exist in isolation.  Leadership had to be modeled after some tangible, practical, and realizable ideal.  Thus, all great leaders were, in truth, simply students of men of unimpeachable character, unreproachable courage, and unswerving vision.  Leaders had mentors.  They were disciples.  Rather than striking out as lonely pioneers, they were willing to stand on the shoulders of those who had gone before.  They were men who comprehended the sober notion of legacy.  (George Grant, Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt, 96)

 

II.  Hezekiah’s passion to serve the Lord and Judah faithfully and wholeheartedly created vision and a righteous inertia that spilt over to nearly everyone (2 Chr 31; see also: 2 Chr 16:9Josh 1:6-9; Eccl 9:10; Mt 6:24; Eph 6:7; Col 3:23)

 

 

Example is not the main thing in persuading others; it’s the only thing. (Albert Schweitzer quoted by Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 122)

 

One of the most impressive qualities of a Christian visionary is his or her total abandonment of self in favor of complete subjugation to the purposes of God.  This goes far beyond the commitment to Christ for salvation and reflects the absolute surrender to the will of God.  Only then is the person truly usable by Him. (George Barna; Turning Vision into Action, 36)

 

“We teach what we know, but reproduce what we are.” (John Maxwell quoted by Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 100)

 

Let him that would move the world first move himself.  —Socrates

 

The Chronicler is fond of showing that faithful and generous kings prompt similar generosity in the population (31:5-10; 24:8-14; 1 Chr 29:6-9).

The king was apparently responsible to provide the regular offerings as specified in 31:3 (cf. 2:4, 8:12-13; 1 Chr 16:37-40; Ez 45:17, 22; 46:2); at the very least the Chronicler describes the actions of Hezekiah in accord with the prescriptions of Ezekiel.  In the Chronicler’s own time the Persian kings showed similar largess (Ezr 6:9; 7:21-23).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 249-50)

 

In everything that Hezekiah undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” (vv 20, 21).  The Chronicler gives no other ruler after Solomon such a positive evaluation, not even good King Josiah.  Certainly he is not unaware of Hezekiah’s faults (see 32:24-26).  But these are not in focus here, since the Chronicler wants to lift up his readers’ hearts once again with a foreshadowing of the Ideal King.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 366)

 

In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” (Max DuPree;  Leadership Is an Art, 100)

 

If you want to be culture leaders and have a huge influence in the world in which you live. . . bear more pain than you inflict.  — Richard Mouw

 

History repeatedly has shown that people hunger for something larger than themselves.  Leaders who offer that will have no shortage of followers.  In fact, higher purpose is such a vital ingredient to the human psyche that a Scripture says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus CEO, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 179)

 

The Chronicler emphasized the tremendous enthusiasm of the people for at least three reasons.  First, he drew another connection between Hezekiah and David.  The people contributed generously in David’s day as well (see 1 Chr 29:6-9).  Second, he encouraged all of the population of post-exilic Israel to give generously to the temple.  Just as all the people contributed in Hezekiah’s reign, they should do so again after the exile.  Third, the Chronicler’s portrait encouraged his Jerusalem readers.  In Hezekiah’s day, the example of the citizens of Jerusalem encouraged others to give.  The response of post-exilic Jerusalem could serve as encouragement to the entire nation once again.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 443)

 

 

If you want to capture the heart of a man—especially a younger man—you have to offer him a shot at greatness.   Men will not invest themselves wholeheartedly in any endeavor that does not offer this possibility.  (David Murrow, Why Men Hate Church,  99)

 

Moral authority is the credibility you earn by walking your talk.  It is the relationship other people see between what you say and what you do, between what you claim to be and what you are.  A person with moral authority is beyond reproach.  That is, when you look for a discrepancy between what he says he believes and what he does, you come up empty.  There is alignment between conviction and action, belief and behavior.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 179)

 

If you reflect on the most well-remembered political leaders in American history, you’ll find men who were able to grip the hearts of the people: Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan.  It’s not about partisanship.  It’s about the ability to cast a vision, to empathize, to spark hope, to speak to the heart.  It’s not that these leaders didn’t use logic; they just traveled beyond logic, to win the hearts of their audience.  (John C. Maxwell, The Power of Leadership, 97)

 

Hezekiah’s passion and dedication created:

 

iia-  Religious & worship reforms (2 Chr 31:1-2)

 

After the great Passover celebration (ch 30) there is a further flurry of measures against the places of idolatrous worship (v 1, following Dt 12:2f.).  Again it is made plain that the arena of the activity is “greater Israel” –i.e. not Judah alone–and the people are called “the people of Israel.”  The euphoria of the celebrations, therefore, continues after they have ended, in a determination to build upon the gains made.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 239)

 

Hezekiah’s reform proceeded in concentric circles from the temple (29:3-36), through the city (30:13-14), and into the surrounding territory, including portions of the North (31:1).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 249)

 

Hezekiah restores the system of offerings used for the maintenance of the priests and Levites (31:4; Lv 6:14-7:36; Nm 18:8-32; Dt 14:27-29; 18:1-8; 26:1-15) which had presumably been interrupted during the apostasy of Ahaz.  These offerings were readily neglected by the people (Mal 3:8-12; Neh 13:10-13) and occasionally abused by the priests (1 Sm 2:12-16).  Rather than describing these offerings as freeing the priests and Levites for devotion to the service of the temple, the Chronicler describes them as freeing the cultic personnel for devotion to the “law of Yahweh”; though both ways of describing the intended effect of the offerings may refer to temple duties, the Chronicler’s phraseology could reflect the growing importance of the study of the law in the post-exilic period (Williamson, 374).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 250)

 

For those who have taken part in Hezekiah’s Passover, nothing could ever be the same again.  They are no longer a divided people, north against south,.  Worshiping together, they have become once more one Israel, untied by one faith and one purpose.  Plainly, right worship and right action are inseparably joined in Hezekiah’s reform.  Indeed, it is right worship that empowers and inspires right action.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 222)

 

iib.  Generosity to the things of God (2 Chr 31:3, 10)

 

When people’s hearts are touched by God, they willfully and joyfully give.  For four months, the people keep bringing gifts to help support the priests and their families, so much so that it is in heaps.  The priests and Levites are blessed beyond measure–they have more than they need (31:5-15; Eph 3:20).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 97)

 

The OT speaks without reticence about the clergy’s income.  The present passage shares the concern with writings that pertain to other periods, e.g. Nm 18.  There was no thought that it was “unspiritual” to talk about the clergy’s income.  Provision for them was seen as the means by which they might enjoy the fruits of the land which were their due as “brothers” in Israel (Dt 18:2).  Their resultant liberation to “give themselves to the law of the Lord” (v 4) shows that there was nothing incompatible between such enjoyment and the duty to give spiritual leadership.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 239-40)

 

The reader cannot but be struck by the amount of offerings which the people brought on behalf of the clergy.  In doing so they were doing no more than the law required (Dt 14:22ff.; 26:2; Lv 27:32).  This is not to be disparaging, for there were times–indeed it was probably typical–when offerings either were neglected or became a mockery (Mal 3:8-12).  On the other hand, legalistic misinterpretations of the laws could result in a burden upon the giver which must have been well-nigh intolerable.  The Book of Tobit (a Jewish Apocryphal writing) contains information which shows that the various tithe-laws (mainly Nm 18:20-24; Dt 14:22-29) were sometimes understood to require the giving of three different tithes (Tobit 1:7-8)!  The logical conclusion of this failure to grasp the spirit of the OT’s legislation is the absurd legalism condemned by Jesus in Mt 23:23.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 240)

 

Having led them by his own example, the king now ordered “the people living in Jerusalem” to begin making regular offerings again for the support of the priests and Levites (v 4).  Firstfruits properly belonged to the priests (v 5; Nm 18:12).  The Levites, in their turn, were to receive their support from the tithes that the people gave yearly of all they possessed (v 5; Nm 18:24).  God wanted his servants to be free from earthly care so that they could “devote themselves to the Law of the LORD” (v 4).  We take this last expression in its broadest sense to include the studying and teaching of God’s Word (see 15:3; 17:7-9), the judging of disputes according to the Word (see 19:5-11), and the carrying out of all the temple duties prescribed by the Word.

Both Old and New Testaments view the earthly support of God’s servants as the full-time workers’ right and as the people’s obligation (Nm 18; Lk 10:7; 1 Cor 9:3-12; Gal 6:6).  What makes the people in Hezekiah’s day remarkable is that they also counted it as a privilege and a joy.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 360-61)

 

They began with the offering of the firstfruits in the third month at the Feast of Pentecost and concluded it in the seventh month with the Feast of Gathering (v 7).  Besides this, we see that the sheer abundance of the offering is emphasized over and over again, inspiring thanks and praise from king, official, and priest alike (vv 5, 6, 8, 10).  The power to give in such quantities could only have come from God.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 361)

 

Literally verse 10 reads, “From the beginning of the contributions’ coming in to the house of the LORD, there was eating, satiety, and remainder up to an abundance, because the LORD has blessed his people; and what is left over–this huge amount!”  It is hard not to think here of the evangelist’s similar sense of amazement as he recorded the aftermath of our Lord’s feeding of the five thousand: “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Mt 14:20).

Where God’s King rules, the Lord will bless his people, and God will provide for his servants abundantly.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 361-62)

 

We know from other biblical books that those who returned from exile were not always so eager to bring in their offerings (Mal 3:8-10).  There were even times when the Levites were forced back into farming to support themselves (Neh 13:10-14).  With this historical account, the Chronicler was reinforcing the promise God had also given to his people through Malachi, “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Mal 3:10).

In a similar way, the Lord Jesus promises us, “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Lk 6:38).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 362)

 

Hezekiah arranges for the proper collection and storage of the tithes and other contributions of the people on which the priests and Levites were dependent for their livelihood if they were to be able to devote themselves full-time to their duties.  There is good evidence that this was a recurring problem in the post-exilic period (cf. Neh 10:35-9; 12:47; 13:10-13; Mal 3:8-10), so that the Chronicler may well have hoped to challenge his readers in this regard by his description of the people’s enthusiastic response.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 374)

 

The Chronicler’s axiom, in Paul’s words, was that “those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar” (1 Cor 9:13).  From this axiom the apostle deduced the comparable tenet for the Christian era that “those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel,” grounding it in a command of Jesus Himself (1 Cor 9:14; cf. Lk 10:7; 1 Tm 5:18).  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 395-96)

 

The copious contributions call forth from Hezekiah and the leaders two exclamations which used different formulas of blessing (v 8), first “Blessed be God who…” (Cf. Ru 4:14) and secondly “May you be blessed by the Lord for…” (Cf. Ru 2:20).  In fact, before Hezekiah called on God in this latter prayerful wish, He had already answered, providing such a bumper harvest that the people lost nothing by their gifts (v 10).  Paul advanced a similar argument as an incentive for giving, that God is generous to the generous: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor 9:8; cf. Phil 4:19).  Obviously the argument is intended not to provide a selfish motivation for giving, but as an assurance that God is no man’s debtor but blesses the disinterested giver.  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 396-97)

 

Hezekiah reinstates the system of tithes and offerings designed to both worship God and financially underwrite the ministry of the priests and Levites (30:2-3; cf. Lv 6:14-7:36; Nm 18:8-32; Dt 14:27-29).  These reforms are necessary because presumably the priestly orders devoted to the sacrificial liturgy and the Levitical divisions assigned to various ministries were abolished when Ahaz closed Yahweh’s temple (2 Chr 29:24).  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 589)

 

Your vision has not truly captured your heart until it captures your wallet.  For this reason, at some point along the way, God is going to call upon you to make a financial sacrifice for the thing he has put in your heart to do.  He knows that when you commit your treasure to the vision, your heart will follow.  When you take those first sacrificial steps to act on your vision, your heart moves with you and attaches itself to the vision.

When we loosen our hands from around our treasure, he loosens the world’s death grip from our hearts.  When you apply your hands to a divinely ordered vision, God begins a reordering of your heart as well.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 138)

 

iic.  Radical obedience to God’s Law (2 Chr 31:4-7, 11-13, 18)

 

When people sense they are a part of something God is doing, there is no limit to what they will be willing to do in response.   (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership, 77)

 

The response to the king’s command to bring the firstfruits of the produce of the field and tithe of the herds and flocks is overwhelming (31:5-8).  No doubt, the Chronicler understands these actions as signifying the genuineness of the people’s repentance.  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 590)

 

Hezekiah was deeply concerned that after the apostasy of Ahaz’s reign the temple personnel should learn the ways of the Law once again.  The priests and Levites could support themselves by working the lands devoted to them among the tribes.  Yet, to do so would distract them from the more important task of studying and applying the Law.  For this reason, Hezekiah hoped that the people of Jerusalem would relieve the temple personnel from all responsibilities except temple service and the Law.

Hezekiah’s command to the citizens of Jerusalem touched on a subject that would certainly have been problematic for the post-exilic community.  They lived after a period in which the temple personnel needed to learn the Law of Moses once again (see Ezr 7:6).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 442)

 

iid.  Recognition that all good gifts are from God (2 Chr 31:9-10; see also Jas 1:17)

 

The temple was a complex organization, and efficiency was necessary if it was to be run properly.  There is a type of spirituality which seems to place a premium on muddling along and rejects businesslike methods as carnal.  The Chronicler would have scorned such thinking.  As he was to record in conclusion, Hezekiah’s organizational acumen was one fine way in which he endeavored “to seek his God” (v 21).  The Chronicler’s use of his characteristic language of spirituality shows how he was able to invest the most mundane of religious tasks with an aura of devotion.  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 394)

 

The requirements for prosperity are made very clear in Chronicles.  David tells his son Solomon that he will prosper if he observes the Torah (1 Chr 22:13).  Correspondingly, the prophet Zechariah asks King Joash, “Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper?”  (2 Chr 24:20).  The Chronicler says of only two kings that they prospered:  Solomon (1 Chr 29:23) and Hezekiah.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 225)

 

iie.  Enthusiastic joy in God (2 Chr 31:1, 5)

 

All men seek happiness.  This is without exception.  Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end.  The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views.  They will never take the least step but to this object.  This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

Jonathan Edwards tied it to the Word of Christ: “Jesus knew that all mankind were in the pursuit of happiness.  He has directed them in the true way to it, and He tells them what they must become in order to be blessed and happy.”

Edward Carnell generalizes the point: “The Christian ethic, let us remember, is premised on the self’s love for the self.  Nothing motivates us unless it appeals to our interests.” (John Piper; Desiring God, 177)

 

When true revival breaks out, God often gives new songs, as happens, here.  Studying the Word of God also becomes a focus again.  The energy is so amazing that they extend their celebration, and Hezekiah gives out of his own possessions unto the Lord (30:21-24).

When your eyes are focused on the Lord, you can’t help but rejoice.  You have the right perspective on life (30:25-27).  (Dr. Tremper Longman, Quicknotes, 1 Chr Thru Job, 97)

 

Three times in this part of the chapter we find the word “faithful” or “faithfully,” which speaks of the diligence and perseverance of people who know how easily the first impulse can be lost.  But the fact remains that the structures of 31:11-19 would have been a lifeless skeleton if Hezekiah had not seen, when he looked into the hearts of his people in 31:4-10, a true love for God, which God himself had put there.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 251)

 

The principle that God shows generosity to the generous is found throughout Scripture.  Malachi challenged his own parsimonious community in the Lord’s name: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing” (Mal 3:10).  So, Jesus urged his followers to “give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:38; see also 2 Cor 9:6).  It is important, however, that this principle not be misunderstood: it is no mystical get-rich-quick scheme!  To be sure, those who practice lifestyles of giving will tell you that God has blessed them with happiness and fulfillment.  But, as Paul observes, we are given the blessings we receive in order that we might be able to give even more (2 Cor 9:8).  After all, the universe is the Lord’s; our giving is in truth only a giving back (see 1 Chr 29:14).  In Chronicles, as the people give generously, they find themselves generously blessed, so that they may in turn give all the more.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 224)

 

There may also, however, be an allusion to the increasing importance of study of the law for its own sake in the post-exilic period; cf. Ps 1 and 119; Mal 2:6-7, etc.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 374)

 

Seeking God is not our natural inclination as fallen people in a fallen world (cf. Ps 14:2; Rom 3:11).  Yet, as a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, Hezekiah knows the importance of seeking God while he may be found (Isa 55:6).  He also knows that there are great benefits attached to this quest for God, including spiritual life and those good things God provides for sustaining physical life (cf. Ps 34:10; 69:32).  What better quest can the Chronicler offer his audience than to seek God with all their heart (119:2)?  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 600)

 

iif.  Devoted imitation throughout Israel (2 Chr 31:1, 5-15)

 

A leader who is not passionately committed to the cause will not draw much commitment from others. (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus Ceo, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 51)

 

 

“A man with a burning purpose draws others to himself who help him to fulfill it.” (Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley; The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, 50)

 

The Chronicler picks up the theme of faithfulness again in vv 15 and 18.  Kore’s men were faithful in the way they distributed the contributions among the priests.  Faithful as well were the Levites in preparing themselves for the Lord’s service.  Of all the virtues, faithfulness is the least remarkable, since by its nature it so seldom calls attention to itself.  It just does what it does, day in and day out, with no great trumpeting to announce its presence.  Only when it is lacking do people take notice.  And of all the virtues necessary for putting his gifts to their proper use, do we have to guess which one the Lord considers to be the most important?  Faithfulness!  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 364)

 

For the Chronicler it was a lesson from history that needed to be heard in his own day, for it remained the pathway to success and blessing (31:21).  Providing for the servants of God to free them for more important matters (31:4) is likewise a concern of the NT (Phil 2:25-30; 4:13-19; 2 Cor 8:10-9:15; Acts 6:1-4; 20:32-35).  (Raymond B. Dillard, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 251)

 

The scene is one of unhindered, speedy accomplishment.   No one raised objections or made the project difficult.  No doubt the Chronicler presented these actions to guide his readers.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 444)

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?:

A-  Christ, even more so than Hezekiah, was able to cast a powerful vision of what life could be if we would give our lives wholeheartedly to the Lord. (Mt 5-7; 20:28; Mk 2:15-22; 10:29-30; Lk 22:29-30; 23:43; Jn 5:25-29)

 

Dwight L. Moody, who said, “Give me a man who says ‘This one thing I do, not these fifty I dabble in.’” “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”  (Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley; The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, 72)

 

A beautiful lily laid in your hand would show you nothing of the mud and slime of the river bed from which it sprung.  Like such a lily is Hezekiah, the flower of kings.  Some natures seem to grow strong in virtue, by contact with its opposite.  Joseph, Moses, and Daniel ripened in strange gardens, and Hezekiah must have sucked honey out of thistles.  (Joseph S. Exell, The Biblical Illustrator, 2 Chronicles, 142)

 

Leadership is not wielding authority–it’s empowering people.                                                                                                                                — Becky Brodin

 

“People prefer to follow those who help them, not those who intimidate them.” (C. Gene Wilkes as quoted by Dr. Lynn Anderson; They Smell Like Sheep, 58)

 

 

“What good is all our knowledge if it does not affect the lives of the people among whom God has  placed us?”   And in reverse, and yet similar in nature is the popular phrase, “people don’t care how much you know until they know  how much you care”.  (Schultz; Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church, 32)

 

 

The key to spiritual leadership, then, is to encourage followers to grow in their relationship with their Lord.  This cannot be done by talking about God.  It cannot be accomplished by exhorting people to love God.  It can only be achieved when leaders bring their people face to face with God and God convinces them that he is a God of love who can be trusted.  (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership; Moving People on to God’s Agenda, 76)

 

 

The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive.  —Joe Batten

 

No person can lead other people except by showing them a future.  A leader is a merchant of hope.  — Napoleon Bonaparte

 

Such dissatisfaction with the world as it is is preparation for traveling in the way of Christian discipleship.  The dissatisfaction, coupled with a longing for peace and truth, can set us on a pilgrim path of wholeness in God.

A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.  As long as we think that the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith.  A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace. (Eugene H. Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 23)

 

For all its flaws the church at times has, fitfully and imperfectly to be sure, dispensed Jesus’ message of grace to the world. It was Christianity, and only Christianity, that brought an end to slavery, and Christianity that inspired the first hospitals and hospices to treat the sick.  The same energy drove the early labor movement, women’s suffrage, prohibition, human rights campaigns, and civil rights. (Philip Yancey; What’s so Amazing About Grace?,  247)

 

If Jesus provides the model for spiritual leadership, then the key is not for leaders to develop visions and to set the direction for their organizations.  The key is to obey and to preserve everything the Father reveals to them of his will.  Ultimately, the Father is the leader.  God has the vision of what He wants to do.  God does not ask leaders to dream big dreams for him or to solve the problems that confront them.  He asks leaders to walk with him so intimately that, when he reveals what is on his agenda, they will immediately adjust their lives to his will and the results will bring glory to God.  This is not the model many religious leaders, let alone business leaders, follow today, but it encompasses what biblical leadership is all about.  (Henry & Richard Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership, 29)

 

The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”  (E. M. Bounds quoted by David Well; God in the Wasteland, 60)

 

THE THREE KEY QUESTIONS: Do you want to motivate someone to take action right now?  Rob Gilbert, editor of our sister publications Bits & Pieces, says you can get people to take action by getting them to seriously consider three key questions.

They are: (1) What’s the best thing that could happen to me, my family, or my company this year?  (2) What’s the worst thing that could happen? (3) What can I do right now to make sure that the best thing happens and the worst thing doesn’t?  (Bits and Pieces for Salespeople, 23)

 

A1-  Sons of God/co-heirs with Christ (Jn 1:12-13;  Rom 8:13-17; Gal 3:26-4:7)

 

A2-  Partakers of the divine nature (2 Pt 1:4)/Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)

 

A3-  The abundant life of no fear or worry in the midst of pain, sorrow, loss and powerlessness (Jn 10:10; Rom 5:1-5; Jas 1:2-4)

 

A4-  Peace with God (Rom 5:1)

 

A5-  Victory over the world and its degeneracy (Rom 8:37; 1 Cor 15:57; 1 Jn 4:4; 5:4;)

 

A6-  Immanuel/Possession of the Spirit of God (Mt 1:23; Jn 14:15-27; 16:5-15; Acts 2:1-13; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-25)

 

While it is true that leaders have motives, spiritual leaders are directed by the Holy Spirit, not by their own agendas.  Their leadership is not always in the face of conflict or competition but sometimes simply in the midst of the powers of spiritual inertia.  At times, embracing the status quo is the greatest enemy to advancing in Christian maturity, and it is the leader’s task to keep people from becoming complacent.  Finally, spiritual leaders do not try to satisfy the goals and ambitions of the people they lead but those of the God they serve.  Spiritual leaders must be spiritual statesmen and not merely spiritual politicians. (Henry & Richard Blackaby; Spiritual Leadership, 18)

 

A7- Shalom (Lk 19:42; Jn 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:36; Rom 5:1; 8:6; 14:17; 15:13; 16:20; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 5:22; Eph 2:14-18; Phil 4:7; Col 3:15)

 

B-  Has the life and death of Christ changed you?

 

Gipsy Smith told of a man who said he had received no inspiration from the Bible although he had “gone through it several times.” “Let it go through you once,” replied Smith, “then you will tell a different story!”  — Gipsy Smith.

 

Motivation has a lot to do with the level of commitment” —Curtis Turner, 6/8/11

 

One of the best ways to understand how God can change a man’s character and actions is to look at what Aristotle said about finding the “mean” or the middle of  life. (Book of Virtues, 101)  We can try to conform our actions, but if we lack desire or heart to make the effort, then we will always be a slave to our desires and to the vices of our life.

But if we accept Christ into our lives, we have a new desire, a new motivation which will give us the courage, desire, and heart to seek and control our actions towards the “mean” or the middle or that which is morally correct and  honorable.

Without Christ, without the change of the heart, it is a fruitless effort  that  only leads to frustration and ultimately despair.

 

God says through Jeremiah, “This is what I have against you—that you have not troubled yourself on my behalf.”

In a recent essay in U.S. News & World Report, John Leo states that today many people treat God as a hobby.

…I believe that God yearns to have an intense and even romantic relationship with each one of us.

…God was said to have loved King David so much because David loved God back totally, intensely, and passionately.

…If we have become a people of mediocrity, it is because we have stopped troubling ourselves on God’s behalf. (Lauire Beth Jones; Jesus Ceo, Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, 146-48)

 

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who only have an interest.  -John Stuart Mill (George Barna; Turning Vision into Action, 69)

 

Worship point: When the reality of God’s amazing grace, forgiveness, patience and love begins to penetrate our deceitfully wicked hearts and minds; our worship and righteous inertia will begin to be as powerful and compelling as was Hezekiah’s.

 

 

Once the word spreads that your church stands for something, that it is wholeheartedly committed to something special and that people can be a part of it, those with whom the vision resonates will come running. (George Barna; Turning Vision into Action, 151)

 

If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying— Tim Keller

 

Spiritual Challenge: I challenge you to honestly and carefully identify what consumes your heart and mind.   What is the object of your affections and dreams?  Allow the reality of your spiritual failures, in light of God’s grace, patience and love; compel you to exhibit affections that would allow you to create a righteous inertia like Hezekiah’s.  Never forget: God loves to bless those who diligently seek Him.  

 

Quotes to Note:

The sacrificial animals for the regular liturgy are provided by Hezekiah himself (31:3).  Solomon too had provided for the day-to-day liturgy of the temple (8:12-13).  Apparently, this is a reflection of Persian-period practice, in the Chronicler’s own time.  In an Aramaic document preserved in Ezr 6:6-12, the Perisan ruler Darius issues a proclamation which makes the state’s support for the Jerusalem temple explicit.  First, he directs that the costs for rebuilding the temple be paid from the royal treasury: in particular, from the tribute of the province of Abar-Naharah, in which Jerusalem was located (Ezr 6:8).  Then, Darius further stipulates that whatever might be required for the temple service is to be provided daily by the province, so that sacrifices can be offered and prayers made “for the life of the king and his children” (Ez 6:9-10).  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 222-23)

 

Men don’t follow programs; they follow men.  A woman may choose a church because of the programs it offers, but a man is looking for another man he can follow.  Throughout their lives, men are transformed through encounters with inspiring men.  Every successful man will tell you of a father, an uncle, a teacher, a coach, or a sergeant who made the difference in his life.  The movies men love often feature an inspirational coach, commander, or teacher.  Men are dying for a leader.  Every man, regardless of his age, needs another man to look up to and say in his heart, I want to be like him.  (David Murrow;  Why Men Hate Church, 59)

 

 

Christ:

The Source of

Righteous Inertia

 

 

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