2 Chronicles 30:17-20
For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified…
A very interesting and instructive incident occurred in the celebration of this great Passover. Many who presented themselves and brought their lamb had not gone through the prescribed purifications before engaging in an act of sacrifice, and they were disqualified to slay the lamb. So the Levites, under the peculiar circumstances, took this part for them. It was a formal irregularity; it was not according to the letter of the Law; there had been a breach of the enactment. But Hezekiah prayed God on behalf of those who had transgressed, and his prayer was heard, and the Lord "healed the people" who had so done. There is one lesson which stands out from the others; but before we learn that, we may gather on our way the truths -
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD.