2 Chronicles 30:1
Then Hezekiah sent word throughout all Israel and Judah, and he also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to come to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem to keep the Passover of the LORD, the God of Israel.
Sermons
A Loving Call to ReunionAlexander Maclaren2 Chronicles 30:1
Letters to Ephraim: GenerosityW. Clarkson 2 Chronicles 30:1, 10, 11
Preparations for a Grand National PassoverT. Whitelaw 2 Chronicles 30:1-12
Hezekiah now took a very bold and decided course. There had been no direct dealings between the king or court of Judah and the people of Ephraim (Israel) since the kingdom of David was rent in twain. If we understand that this action was taken in the first year of his reign, while Hoshea was on the throne of Samaria, it certainly was bold even to audacity, and was calculated to rouse the resentment of that ruler. If, however, we hold (with Keil and others) that it was not until the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, when Shalmaneser had wrought his will with the sister kingdom, that the great Passover was held, the measure taken by the pious king is still one of considerable vigour and of no little generosity. We learn therefrom -

I. THAT A RIGHT COURSE WILL PROVE ONE OF SPIRITUAL ENLARGEMENT. Had not Hezekiah been a faithful servant of Jehovah, he would not have concerned himself about the moral and spiritual condition of Ephraim and Manasseh. He might have rejoiced in anything that would degrade and therefore enfeeble them. But as the servant of God, and therefore of the truth and of righteousness, he looked with sorrow upon the separation of those tribes of Israel from the God of their fathers, and it was "in his heart" (2 Chronicles 29:10) to take a step that might restore them to the faith they had abandoned and to the favour they had lost. His "heart was enlarged toward them" (2 Corinthians 6:11). There was nothing that was singular, but everything that was natural and usual in this. Let a man determine to take the right course, to set his whole life as well as rule his whole nature by principles which he believes to be Divine, and for him there will be a very blessed spiritual enlargement. He will come to see truths which had been quite out of sight, and to cherish feelings to which he had been a stranger, and to proceed upon lines high and far above the old levels. His life will be lifted up, himself will be enlarged and enriched abundantly.

II. THAT ADVANCES TOWARDS ESTRANGED RELATIVES ARE PECULIARLY HONOURABLE. It probably cost Hezekiah and his counsellors some considerable effort to make overtures to Israel. These tribes had revolted from the kingdom; they had lately inflicted a most severe and humiliating defeat upon Judah (2 Chronicles:6-8). It may be taken that there existed a strong, if not an intense, animosity between those so nearly related to and yet so distinctly divided from one another (see John 4:9; Luke 9:52, 53). Nevertheless, they were regarded and treated as brethren. It is here where we so often fail in the illustration of Christian principles. We can show magnanimity toward those who are afar off, who belong to a different nation, or to another Church, or to a separate family; but we find it hard, perhaps impossible, to make advances toward those of our own people, of our own community, of our own family, between whom and ourselves some estrangement has come. Truly said the wise man, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city." And wisely says our English poet that

"... to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain.

"They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder.


(Coleridge.) But there is one thing that can bring together the divided hearts and lives of brethren - the generous heart which takes its rule of life and which gains "the spirit of its mind" from Jesus Christ.

III. THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE DETERRED FROM THE NOBLER COURSE BY THE POSSIBILITY OR EVEN THE LIKELIHOOD OF REPULSE. Hezekiah and his council faced this probability, and they ventured, notwithstanding. Their messengers did meet with much scornful rejection (ver. 10); but on this they must have Counted, and by it they were not moved. In spite of all the mockery they encountered, they went through the land as they proposed. If we are careful to Count all the possible consequences to ourselves, we shall never do noble deeds. The soldier does not weigh the chances of his being wounded as he goes into the battle; he does not mind if he goes home with some sears upon his countenance. Nor will the good soldier of Jesus Christ.

IV. THAT WE SHALL NOT GO UNREWARDED IF WE TAKE THIS GENEROUS COURSE. "Nevertheless divers... humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem ' (ver. 11). The mission was not altogether a failure, even judged by its visible and calculable results. Any serious and generous attempt to heal old wounds and restore broken friendships, or to bring back to God those estranged from him, will not be unrewarded.

1. If it does not succeed wholly, it will in part. If it does not win affection and reopen fellowship, it may weaken resentment and make return easier another time. It may avail with one or two, if not with all. It may succeed in time, if not at once.

2. It will certainly result in some spiritual advancement on our own part. No true act of Christian love is ever lost to the agent himself.

3. It will win the smile and benediction of the magnanimous Saviour. - C.







And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty.
The author of the history of the Jewish Church uses these words concerning the temple of Solomon: "As in the Grecian tragedies we see always in the background the gate of Mycenae, so in the story of the people of Israel we have always in view the temple of Solomon. There is hardly any Jewish reign that is not in some way connected with its construction or its changes. In front of the great Church of the Escuriel in Spain — in the eyes of Spaniards itself a likeness of the temple — overlooking the court called by them the Court of the Kings are six colossal statues of the kings of Judah who bore the chief part in the temple of Jerusalem — David, the proposer; Solomon, the founder; Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Manasseh, the successive purifiers and restorers. The idea there so impressively graven in stone runs through all the subsequent history of the chosen people. Why was this temple built and what was the motive, especially of its enormous costliness and its unrivalled beauty? Solomon did not build and "garnish the house with precious stones and with gold of the gold of Parvaim" because he was ambitious as a king and a conqueror to outshine his neighbours or to immortalise himself, but because he was bidden to do so. The temple was not an exhibition of wealth or cleverness, or superiority on the part of man, its builder; it was man's education in cost and sacrifice and unsparing labour on the part of God, its designer. There is just one principle that runs through all the teaching of the two Testaments concerning what men do for their Maker, and that is that God does not want, and cannot otherwise than lightly esteem, that which costs us nothing, and that the value of any service or sacrifice which we render for His sake is that, whatever may be its intrinsic meanness or meagreness, it is as from us our very best. This will let us see the insufficiency of the average explanations that are given of the motives that prompt to the enriching and beautifying of our sanctuaries to-day, such as —

1. Such things are necessitated by the inevitable rivalries of the day. It would be said that this is a time, especially in England and on the continent of Europe, of restorations. And what one Church has done, another cannot afford to be behind in doing also. The spirit of the age is the spirit of competition, and competition which is the life of trade is the life of religion too. If this is a very pitiful motive to be alleged for any such work, it is not an altogether surprising one. That competitive temper has so much to do with explaining our personal and social expenditures that it is not unnatural to seek in it the clue to expenditures that are sacred. Think for a moment how much money is spent for dress, for the furnishing and decoration of houses. Now, then, what is it that is sad about all this? its cost? No, but what is too often and too plainly its motive. If our banquets were always the symbols of our eagerness to please, of our desire to give of our best to those whom we love and honour, then their cost and splendour would only so much the more ennoble them. But it is because, too often, our dress, our houses, our entertainments, our equipages, are only so many means by which we strive to outshine and eclipse our neighbour that such expenditure becomes so largely not only the wasteful, but the truly contemptible thing that it is. And yet it is no wonder that so long as we allow such motives to influence us in things secular, we should infer or impute them concerning things that are sacred.

2. When changes are made in our social customs, in our habits of expenditure, and even in our modes of worship, we are often told that they are necessitated because we must "keep up with the times," and those who are wedded by very sacred associations to things ancient, are often wounded in their tenderest feelings by being told that they must give up the old in order not to be behind the age. Well, the spirit of the nineteenth century, whatever else may be said of it, is not an infallible spirit, and in many respects it would be better if some of us were behind the age rather than so eagerly and unthinkingly in accord with it. But however this may be, the "spirit of the age" can never be the guide for the principles of worship or the law of sacrifice. Such cost and beauty is helpful to the instinct of worship and devotion. This motive is a perfectly valid and intelligible one. But the one sufficient motive for cost, and beauty, and even lavish outlay in the building and adornment of the house of God, is the consecrating to Him the best and costliest that human hands can bring. This is the very essence of the Cross of Christ. The power of the Cross over men lies in this, that it is the gift to men, by God, of His very best — "His well-beloved Son."

(Bp. H. C. Potter.).

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