March 24th, 2013 – Palm Sunday
2 Chronicles 32:24-33
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. — 1 Peter 1:18-19
Background information for 2 Chronicles 32:24-33:
- (v. 24) “In those days,’ 15 years before his actual death (2 Kgs 20:6), or in 712, Hezekiah, while seriously ill, prayed (contrast 16:12 and 2 Kgs 20:2-3); “and the prayer of faith shall save the sick” (Jas 5:15 KJV; cf. 2 Chr 16:12). “The LORD…answered him,” promising him recovery (2 Kgs 20:4-6), “and gave him a miraculous sign,” of the shadow that moved backward (2 Kgs 20:8-11). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 542)
- (v. 30) To insure a permanent water supply within his capital’s walls, “Hezekiah…channeled” the flow of “the Gihon spring” through a 1,700 foot tunnel cut into the rock beneath Jerusalem. Archaeological confirmation of this engineering feat came in 1880, with the discovery, at its lower portal, of the Siloam Inscription, written in old Hebrew by the very workers who accomplished it. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 542)
- (v. 31) According to the Chronicler the Babylonian officials came to Jerusalem to study “the sign that was done in the land,” that is, the token of the sundial (2 Kgs 20:9-11). The Babylonians had developed astrological interests long before this time. (Jacob M. Myers, The Anchor Bible, 2 Chr, 193)
Background information for Palm Sunday – Passover lamb selection day:
- Jesus is the Lamb of God. The Gospel depends on His atonement, His shed blood, His work of justification. (see: Isa 53; Jn 1:29, 36; Rom 3:21-26; 5:1, 8-15; 1 Cor 6:11; Gal 2:15-20; 3:24; Phil 3:7-10; Eph 2:13; 1 Pt 2:21-24; Rev 1:5; 5:6-14)
- Palm Sunday was lamb selection day or the 10th of Nisan (Ex 12:1-7)
- Jesus the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (The OT Passover lamb is what Jesus is offering himself to be when He rides into Jerusalem. (Isa 53; Mt 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:28-44; Jn 1:29, 35-36; 11:50-52; 12:12-19; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:18-19; 2:22).
The questions to be answered are . . . What can we glean from the Chronicler’s telling us that “God left Hezekiah to test him”? What were Hezekiah’s tests? What does all this have to do with Palm Sunday?
Answers: God tested Hezekiah to prove to Hezekiah and to us that Hezekiah’s faith was not strong enough to save him. The tests reveal that he had major pride and selfishness issues. Thus, Hezekiah, like us, needs a Savior. Palm Sunday was Lamb selection day for the upcoming Passover. Jesus is pleading with the people of 1st century Israel, as well as us, to select Him as the Lamb of God that will take away the sins of the world and be your Savior.
The Word for the Day is . . . test
Life brings sorrows and joys alike. It is what a man does with them–not what they do to him–that is the true test of his mettle. (James Austin Wills, The Letters and Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, 55)
“A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.”— David Clardie
What does 2 Chronicles 32:23-33 reveal to us about God’s testing?:
I. Hezekiah failed his faith test when he was sick (2 Chr 32:24-26)
God allows you to go through a hard times so that God might bring you to the end of yourself. (Steve Brown; “Beloved Pagan: Keeping the Church Honest; Pt 3, The Gift of Powerlessness” 2 Chronicles 20)
The trial of faith is also a test of its character; it is the furnace that tries the ore, of what kind it is: it may be brass, or iron, or clay, or perhaps precious gold; but the crucible will test it. There is much that passes for real faith, which is no faith; there is much spurious, counterfeit metal; it is the trial that brings out its real character. (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 87)
A good man’s goodness does not lift him out of the ordinary associations and contingencies and laws of life. If he has inherited a diseased constitution, his devotion will not make him a healthy man. If he has little common sense, his godliness will not make him prosper in worldly affairs. If he is tied to unfortunate connections, he will have to suffer. If he happens to be in a decaying branch of business, his prayers will not make him prosperous. If he falls in the way of poisonous gas from a sewer, his godliness will not exempt him from an attack of fever. So all round the horizon we see this: that the godly man is involved like any other man in the ordinary contingencies and possible evils of life. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 245)
II. Hezekiah failed his faith test when he was victorious (2 Chr 32:27-31; 2 Kgs 20:12-19; Isa 39:1-8 see also: Gn 18:14; 1 Cor 10:13)
The purpose of the test was to establish Hezekiah’s devotion to Yahweh, demonstrated in part by his prayer (v 24) but rendered uncertain by his subsequent pride (v 25). He had indeed repented after experiencing the divine displeasure but this test was to show if his devotion was now wholehearted. (Jacob M. Myers, The Anchor Bible, 2 Chr, 193)
We are hounded by our sinful flesh and harassed by the unbelieving world. We must constantly be on guard against either the devil’s enticements to sin or his accusations of guilt. If we or our enemy should ever fail to take the Lord’s power into account, we would be trapped like a bird in a cage (a proud boast Sennacherib once made regarding Hezekiah). But Christ has trampled our enemy underfoot, carried everything that condemns us to the cross, and overcome all the world’s fierce enmity. By depending on his strength, we win the victory over everything that threatens. (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 373)
There are large tracts of Scripture which have no meaning, no blessedness to us until they have been interpreted to us by losses and sorrows. We never know the worth of the lighthouse until the November darkness and the howling winds come down upon us, and then we appreciate its preciousness.
So, dear friends! The upshot of the whole is just that old teaching, that if we realized what life is for, we should wonder less at the sorrows that are in it. For life is meant to make us partakers of His holiness, not to make us happy. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 249)
These verses must manifestly be interpreted in the light of the story of the visit of the representatives of Merodach-baladan (2 Kgs 20:12-19; Isa 39:1-8) during which Hezekiah proudly displayed his treasures. His pride was bound to lead to disaster, as the prophet Isaiah declared. Though only the royal house stood under judgment, the Chronicler brings Judah and Jerusalem into the picture because he was aware of the wider consequences of such action–the deeds of leaders always involve those they lead. (Jacob M. Myers, The Anchor Bible, 2 Chr, 192)
Unlike the account in Kings, however, the Chronicler uses the sign of miraculous healing to establish a cause-and-effect relationship with the visit of Babylonian envoys (cf. 2 Chr 32:31). The emphasis in the opening paragraph (32:24-26) is on Hezekiah’s prayer and his repentance of the sin of pride in the aftermath of his remarkable cure. These “acts of devotion” (32:32) are no doubt offered to the Chronicler’s audience as a model of virtuous behavior to be emulated. (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 596)
On a number of occasions, the Chronicler noted that apostasy occurred after a time of blessing. Infidelity followed blessings during the reigns of Rehoboam (2 Chr 12:1-4), Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 18:1), Amaziah (2 Chr 25:14-15), Uzziah (2 Chr 26:16), Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:24-25) and Josiah (2 Chr 35:20-24). His repeated focus on this scenario warned his post-exilic readers against following a similar pattern in their day. (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 81)
God can never entrust His kingdom to anyone who has not been broken of pride, for pride is the armor of darkness itself. (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 17)
III. Hezekiah’s repentance and faith in Emmanuel demonstrated that God is more than enough for any test (2 Chr 32:24-26; 2 Kgs 20:1-11; Isa 38:1-22 see also: Num 11:23; 1 Sm 2:6-8; Ps 121:2; Isa ch 40; 46:9-10; Jer 32:17-19; Lk 1:37)
Our evils can never be so great to oppress us, as his power is great to deliver us. The same power that brought a world out of a chaos, and constituted, and hath hitherto preserved, the regular motion of the stars, can bring order out of our confusions, and light out of our darkness. (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, 99)
Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat. Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent from the darkness that is within us. If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God. Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.” Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (Jas 4:7). (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)
CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?:
A- We have all been tested and been found wanting. All have sinned. (Isa 53:6; Rom 3:23)
To be “under sin” is to be under the dominion of sin, and the pervasiveness of the resulting perversity is demonstrated by the manifold ways in which it is manifested. The apostle has selected a series of indictments drawn from the OT and covering the wide range of human character and activity to show that, from whatever aspect men may be viewed, the verdict of Scripture is one of universal and total depravity. (John Murray, The New International Commentary on the NT: Romans, 102)
If you are saying that God made the promise to Abraham on condition that he observed or kept the Law, that immediately and automatically means that the promise never could have been and never can be fulfilled. Why is that? Because, as Paul has already proved, nobody has ever been found who is capable of keeping the Law. So if God had said to Abraham, ‘I am going to make a great promise to you, but it is on condition that you keep the Law’, He might as well not have made the promise. No one can keep the Law. ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’ ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ The Law means failure. Therefore, if the promise had been made through the medium of the Law, what God was giving, as it were, with His right hand, He would have been taking back with His left hand. There would have been no promise at all; it would have had no value whatsoever. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, 194)
We repeat, therefore, that the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation were given with the primary purpose of revealing Jesus Christ, the son of God and the Son of man. Every part of the revelation has some bearing on His person, character and mission. Even those passages in the Bible which record the atrocities, the slaughters of men, the immorality and the violence of men and nations, are recorded to show the need of salvation and the hopeless depravity of the natural human heart. (M. R. DeHaan, Portraits of Christ in Genesis, 89)
That sin has become part of the very life and being of fallen humanity is clearly and forcefully stated in Gn 6:5; Jer 17:9; Pr 6:14.
The truth of the universality of sin, of the solidarity for the race in sin, is worked out most systematically in the NT, especially in Romans. Rom 1:18-3:19 is devoted to the shutting up of all–Jews as well as Gentiles–in sin. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23; cf. Isa 53:6). Carnal humanity cannot please God (Rom 8:5-8). Sin is a bondage to which all are subject (Chs 67f.). By the trespass of one, sin has entered into the world, and with it condemnation and death (5:12-14). Quite apart from the guilt of individual sins, there is a universal guilt and condemnation in Adam out of which none can contract and from which there can be no pardon or deliverance except in Christ, the second and righteous Adam. (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, 519)
B- Jesus came on Palm Sunday as the Passover Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world . . . but we must choose Him and make Jesus the object of our faith (Josh 24:15b; Isa 53;Mt 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:26-44; Jn 1:29, 36; Acts 4:12; 8:32; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Tm 2:5; 1 Pt 1:18-19; 2:22)
There, on the edge of the garden of Eden, it was one lamb for one man. Centuries later, in Egypt, God told Moses to have each family kill the Passover lamb and sprinkle its blood upon the lintel and doorposts of the house. There was to be one lamb for one house, a gracious picture of the household promises so precious to us. Still later, the Lord told Moses to kill one lamb for the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, foreshadowing that time when God would restore Israel to the land and rule the world through that nation. But there was an even wider circle; John the Baptist pointed to Jesus Christ and announced, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Thus we have the progression: one lamb for one man; one lamb for one family; one lamb for the nation; and one Lamb for the world. (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Glory, 65-66)
Passover began as a celebration of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and became the commemoration of Christ’s deliverance of all believers from the bondage of sin. To the early Christians Christ was the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) who did for them what God had done in Egypt for the Israelites through the blood of the Passover lamb. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 32)
Possibly Jesus wanted His last Passover Supper with His disciples to be eaten without the lamb to impress upon them the fact that He was their Paschal Lamb. Therefore, He could have planned that they celebrate Passover not by eating the flesh of a lamb and pouring out its blood at the Temple’s altar, but by partaking symbolically of His own flesh and blood, their true Paschal Lamb. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 66)
By choosing instead the bread and wine (nonsacrificial elements of the Passover meal) as the emblems of His atoning death, Jesus detached the new Passover from the sacrificial system and transformed it into a fitting memorial of His redemption. This radical transformation can be seen also, for example, in the cup of blessing of the paschal meal which becomes the cup of salvation. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). By these few words, Paul shows that though some of the elements of the Jewish Passover survive, their meanings have changed. The sacrifice of Jesus is the new reality commemorated by the remaining ancient signs. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 68)
Through the vicarious death of sacrificial animals, the Israelite accepted the provision of forgiveness and salvation. Similarly, through the vicarious death of Christ, the Christian accepts the provision of His redemption. As the blood of the Passover lamb kept God from killing the firstborn of the Hebrews, so the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross keeps God from punishing with death the penitent sinner. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 69-70)
The connection with the Passover at this meal also suggests the image of a substitutionary sacrifice, imagery Paul makes use of. The Passover was a time when judgment came to the Egyptians in the death of their firstborn, but Israel’s firstborn were “passed over” and spared the judgment because blood of a lamb was placed on the lintel of the door at their homes. Jesus now becomes the symbol of such protection. (Darrell L. Bock, The NIV Application Commentary: Luke, 552)
In Jn 1:29 John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (cf. Also v. 36). Scholars debate over whether John had the idea of a Passover sacrifice in mind or whether he was thinking of Isa 53:7, and perhaps he had both in mind. He may have also been thinking of the ordinary sacrifices of lambs (cf. Lv 4:32; 5:6). (For the idea that Jesus’ death is understood from the background of Isa 53, see Acts 8:32-35; 1 Pt 2:21-25). In any case John is thinking of Jesus’ death in sacrificial terms since His death is atoning. The universal significance of Christ’s death is also a Johannine theme; the sacrifice of the lamb removed the sins of the entire world. Also the death of Jesus is the propitiation (hilasmόs) “for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2). The implication of these texts for our subject is clear. If Jesus’ death atones for the sins of the entire world, then the OT sacrifices are now redundant and therefore superfluous. John never says this explicitly, but his very lack of interest in the sacrificial system makes it evident. Clearly Jesus’ death is the true sacrifice because His blood “cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). Revelation also refers quite often to the slaying of the lamb (Rv 5:6, 12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8), and the redemptive result of Christ’s blood (Rv 1:5; 5:9; 7;14; 12:11). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 276)
In every home in Egypt–of Jews and Egyptians alike–someone would die under the wrath of justice. The only way for your family to escape was to put your faith in God’s sacrificial provision; namely, you had to slay a lamb and put the blood on the doors as a sign of your faith in God. In every home that night there would be either a dead child or a dead lamb. When justice came down, either it fell on your family or you took shelter under the substitute, under the blood of the lamb. If you did accept this shelter, then death passed over you and you were saved; that’s why it was called Passover. You were saved only on the basis of faith in a substitutionary sacrifice. (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 163-64)
C- Repentance for sins, and faith in the work of Christ on the cross, is far superior to any restoration Hezekiah may have enjoyed.
And three days after that, he was explaining to two disciples on the road to Emmaus that the redemption of Israel which they were hoping for had indeed been accomplished through his resurrection on the third day. A messianic king, a new temple, a new covenant, a new Passover, a redeemed Israel; and all in the space of a week between Palm Sunday and Easter Day! (Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the OT, 164)
If Jesus viewed Passover as being completely fulfilled with His death, He would not have spoken of its future fulfillment in the kingdom of God. Leon Morris points out: “The reference to fulfillment in the kingdom of God indicates that the Passover had typological significance. It commemorated a deliverance indeed, but it pointed forward to a greater deliverance, which would be seen in the kingdom of God.” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 59)
Spiritual Challenge: Pick Jesus to be the One Who can bring your salvation and in Whom you can place your trust. There is no other. Don’t fail your test of faith.
Worship point: God sent His Lamb to bring liberation from sin and guilt, salvation from all that robs us of God’s shalom, deliverance from the power of evil as well as the reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These benefits give us many reasons to worship.
Choose this day who you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. — Joshua 24:15b
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:12
Christ: The Lamb of God
Tested and Approved