Since there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves, the Levites were in charge of slaughtering the Passover lambs for every unclean person to consecrate the lambs to the LORD.
I. THAT SUBSTITUTION AND INTERCESSION HAVE THEIR PLACE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The Levites were permitted to take the parents' place on this occasion, and Hezekiah's prayer for the pardon of the irregularity was granted. We may do some things for our fellow-men, and we do well to pray God for their enlightenment and restoration. But it is not far that either of these two principles can be permitted. "Every man must bear his own Burden" of responsibility before God; must repent of his own sin; must approach his Maker in the spirit of self-surrender; must enter by himself the kingdom of Christ. The work we can do for others, though not without its value, is narrow in its range. To every human soul it belongs to realize his position, to hearken when Heaven is speaking, to make his final and decisive choice, to take his place among the friends or among the foes of Jesus Christ. We may not build on a brother's help, nor presume even on a mother's prayers.
II. THAT PRIVATION OF PRIVILEGE IS TAKEN INTO THE DIVINE CONSIDERATION. The principal if not the only defaulters here were the men of "Ephraim and Manasseh," etc. (ver. 18); i.e. those who had been living in the idolatrous kingdom of Israel, those who had been far from the temple of Jerusalem, and had lived with little (if any) instruction in the Divine Law. Much leniency might justly be accorded to these; and much allowance was made for them. God requireth of us "not according to that we have not, but according to that we have." From those to whom but little privilege and opportunity are given, the slighter service will be demanded. Our God is just, considerate, gracious.
III. THAT SIN IS A VERY DISABLING THING. "The Lord healed the people." By their offence against the Law they had lest their wholeness, their health, and needed to "be healed." Sin is a moral sickness; it is the disorder of the spirit; it is that which weakens, which disables, which makes the sinner unable to be and to do what he was created to be and to do. But the main lesson is this -
IV. THAT THE ESSENTIAL THING IS SPIRITUAL INTEGRITY. These transgressors were forgiven partly in virtue of Hezekiah's prayer. But may we not say principally because the righteous Lord discerned in them the spirit of obedience t They had come up to Jerusalem that they might return upon Jehovah their God. It was in their heart to cast off their old and evil practices, and to begin a new life of uprightness before God: was their ceremonial irregularity to outweigh, in the estimate of the Just One, the integrity of their heart before him? The purpose of their soul was toward God and toward his service: was not that to be accepted, in spite of a legal impropriety or negligence? Certainly it was; and these men went down to their homes in Israel justified before the Lord. It is the spirit of obedience which our God demands of us, for which he looks in us. If that be absent, nothing else of any kind or magnitude will suffice. If that be present, we may be defaulters in many small particulars, but neither we nor our offering will be refused. To have a pure, deep, fixed desire to seek and to serve the Lord Christ - that is the one essential thing. - C.
For them were many in the congregation that were not sanctified.I. THERE ARE SEASONS WHEN WE FEEL UNFIT FOR THE SACRED ORDINANCE OF THE LORD'S HOUSE. Let us think of the ways in which the Israelites were rendered unfit for the Passover and see how far they tally with our unfitness for the Supper.
1. Some were kept away by defilement.(1) The dead in sin lie all around us; contact with their ways and motives, unless we are continually cleansed by Divine grace, is defiling in many ways.(2) The mass of sin within our own selves is a constant source of defilement.
2. When a man was on a journey he could not keep the Passover. The heart's blood of the Eucharist, is nearness to God; and when we are afar off, it is a poor dead ceremony.
3. You may have been in an evil case from unknown causes. You feel it is not with you as in days past. Marring influences not mentioned in the Book of Numbers may have been preventing you from eating the spiritual Passover to your heart's content. Among these causes are —(1) Little faith.(2) The absence of overflowing joy.(3) Spiritual weakness at all points.(4) A feeling of uselessness. Whatever your disqualifications, bring them and turn them into confessions of sin.
II. THOUGH WE FEEL AND LAMENT OUR WANT OF PREPARATION WE MAY STILL COME TO THE FEAST. Let us to some extent follow in the track of the men in Hezekiah's time.
1. They forgot their differences.
2. They removed the idols.
3. They endeavoured to prepare their hearts.
4. They made open and explicit. confession unto God.
5. Confession made, let prayer ascend to heaven.
III. IN SO COMING WE MAY EXPECT A BLESSING. At the Passover in Hezekiah's days there was —
1. Great gladness.
2. Great praise to God.
3. Great communion with God.
4. A great enthusiasm.
5. Great liberality.
6. Another great breaking of idols.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Essex Congregational Remembrancer.I. THE PRINCIPLE WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP. — Sanctification (Hebrews 10:22). Sanctification of heart is necessary if you consider —
1. The character of God who is worshipped (Isaiah 6:1-5).
2. The nature of the worship required.
3. The design of all religious worship.
(1) (2) II. THE ASSERTION THAT IN MANY THIS PRINCIPLE WAS WANTING. This charge is — 1. Comprehensive. 2. Tremendously awful.Connect it with the declaration of the Saviour, "If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me." (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
(2) II. THE ASSERTION THAT IN MANY THIS PRINCIPLE WAS WANTING. This charge is — 1. Comprehensive. 2. Tremendously awful.Connect it with the declaration of the Saviour, "If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me." (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
II. THE ASSERTION THAT IN MANY THIS PRINCIPLE WAS WANTING. This charge is —
2. Tremendously awful.Connect it with the declaration of the Saviour, "If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me."
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
I. THE INDISPOSITION OR UNPREPAREDNESS OF THE PEOPLE." A multitude of the people had not cleansed themselves."
1. In these times in which there is much care had about the right celebration of a sacrament, there are many yet that are unworthy.(1) Because there is a great deal of laziness in people, and an unwillingness against such a soul-searching ordinance as the sacrament.(2) There is a great deal of hypocrisy in many men, and it is possible that they may carry their naughtiness so secretly that they may hide it from the most discerning eye.
2. If when much care is taken about the ordinances, many are unworthy to come, it serveth,(1) To show what need we in this land have to humble ourselves, as for other sins, so especially for our sacramental sins.(2) For a double exhortation:(a) To pastors, that they should use all diligent care to prevent this unworthiness, by instructing the people in the nature of the ordinances, and by admonishing them of the danger of their unprepared coming.(b) To the people. To stir them up every one to look unto himself whether he be not one of the number. A gracious heart is apt to suspect itself (Matthew 26:22). The unprepared, unworthy receiver is he that doth not come with answerable meet affections, and so holy and reverent a frame of spirit as God requires we should bring into His presence. They are — All ignorant persons that cannot discern the Lord's body. Those that do not judge and condemn themselves (1 Corinthians 11:31, 32). A gracious prepared heart is a self-judging heart: a wicked heart is loth to come to trial. Those that come in uncharitableness and malice.
3. There is no cause why men should abstain from the use of ordinances, for fear of communicating with wicked and profane men.
II. THEIR PRACTICE NOTWITHSTANDING. "Yet they did eat the Passover otherwise than was written." Many rush on ordinances notwithstanding their unpreparedness. The reasons are —
1. The remissness, or abuse of the censures, of the Church, that do not restrain such persons from coming.
2. It proceedeth from ourselves, because —(1) There is a great deal of ignorance and unbelief in the hearts of most men.(2) Custom prevaileth with most rather than conscience. Custom usually eateth out the strength of any performance, and dissolves it into a mere formality.
III. THE FAULT OF THEIR PRACTICE. They ate otherwise than was written. God's service is a written service. We offend in our duties when we do otherwise than is written. We do this —
1. When we do too much.
1. The essentials of a sacrament are set down in the institution; there is the rule. If we seek to patch it up with some zealous additions and pieces of our own, we go beyond the rule.
2. In the outward part of duty, in corporal service, and in the pomp and solemnity of his worship, there we may do too much — more than we need to have done. It is easy to be too pompous in a sacrament, and to sin against the plainness of the ordinance. Duties are like your coats of arms, best when they are plainest, and not overcharged with too many fillings; or like wine, then most generous and sprightly, when it is pure and uncompounded. The sacraments were to feed men's hearts, not to please their eyes, or tickle their ears. Ordinances nourish best when they come nearest their primitive institution. We may, then, do too much here. A sense-pleasing religion is dangerous, it is too much suitable to our natural inclinations; and that is the reason why country people are so much taken with these shows; they do not love the native beauty that is in duties half so well as they do the painting of them. It is a miserable thing when you will place religion in that for which you have no ground nor warrant. If you will find yourselves work, and not take that which is cut out for you, you know who must pay you your wages. Mark the question of the Saviour (Matthew 15:3).
2. When we do too little. When we come not up to the spiritual part of the commandment. Consider what is required about duty —(1) Something about the heart before duty. Preparation (ver. 19). We must come with faith and repentance and other qualifications; we must come with a desire to find the Lord (Psalm 93:1).(2) Something about the heart in duty. Stirring it up. A duty done without life and efficacy is as a duty not done at all. We come short of the rule if we come not with holy life and activity, with a working waiting spirit that will warm our hearts within us, and make them burn under the ordinances. See what a qualification James requireth in prayer (James 5:16). There is an expression (Acts 27:7). "Instantly serving God day and night," which means in the original, with the forcible putting to of all their might and strength, with their stretched-out strength. There can never be too much done in respect of the spiritual part of the commandment.
3. Something to be done after duty. Recollecting and running over all the carriage of the heart towards God in the duty, and the gracious intercourse that the soul had with God.
( T. Manton, D. D..)
II. HEZEKIAH'S PRAYER FOR THEM.
III. THE SUCCESS OF THIS PRAYING. Application:
1. Let this history engage us to seek the God of our fathers, by observing all His ordinances.
2. Let this subject make us solicitous to prepare our hearts for every religious solemnity.
3. Let this subject encourage those whose hearts are prepared to seek God.
4. Let this subject excite those who have the care of others to watch over them and pray for them.
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