2 Chronicles 29:3-19
He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.…
I. THE GATHERING OF THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES. (Ver. 4.)
1. When? In the first year of the king's reign, in the first month (vers. 3, 17), but whether of that reign (Caspari) or of the ecclesiastical year (Bertheau, Keil, Jamieson, Ochler in Herzog) cannot be determined. In either case it was not long after his accession. The acts evinced
(1) piety, the king giving his first thoughts to religion (Matthew 6:33); and
(2) prudence, since a good work never can be too soon begun, and reformations may be wrought at the beginning of a reign that cannot be so easily effected afterwards. "As the spring-time of nature or of the year is the most suitable season for purging natural bodies, so is the spring-time of a reign the best time for purging the body politic" (Bacon).
2. Where? In "the broad place on the east;" either the inner court of the temple (Bertheau), or the open space in front of the temple towards the east (Keil), which will depend upon whether the doors of the temple had been opened prior to the assembling of the priests.
3. Why? To invite their co-operation in the work of cleansing the sanctuary Ahaz had shut up (2 Chronicles 28:24), and of re-establishing the worship Ahaz had abolished. For these purposes and as a preliminary thereto, according to one view, the king had already opened the temple doors; according to another, he only did so when the work of cleansing commenced.
II. THE WORDS ADDRESSED TO THEM BY THE KING. (Vers. 5-11.) Hezekiah regarding them without distinction as Levites - not speaking to the Levites as distinguished from the priests, as if these were not present, though they certainly (ver. 34) "hung back from the revolution which swept away the neglect which the head of their order, Urijah, must in some measure have countenanced" (Stanley, 'Lectures on the Jewish Church,' vol. it. p. 465), and, exhorting them with fatherly affection (ver. 11), set before them three things.
1. The work which required to be done.
(1) The sanctification of themselves, without which they could not enter on such service as that to which he was about to invite them (Exodus 19:10-12; Leviticus 11:44). This sanctification was doubtless carried out formally by the offering of sacrifice, by washing and putting on clean garments, and perhaps by anointing with oil (Leviticus 8:1-7, 30); inwardly by acts of spiritual heart devotion and dedication to the work about to be performed, and to him whose work it was.
(2) The sanctification of the house of the Lord; or, the carrying forth of the filthiness that had accumulated therein since the day when its doors were closed, the burnishing of all the utensils that had been left to rust through disuse, and the replacing of all the sacred vessels which had been cast away. Without this the true national Jehovah-worship could not be reinstituted. In this everything must proceed according to the pattern prescribed by the Law.
(3) The two things symbolized what is needful to constitute true worship under the better dispensation of the gospel - in the worshipper, faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, renewal of heart and mind in the laver of regeneration, personal separation from all known sin; in the worship, purity, beauty, completeness.
2. The reasons why it needed to be done.
(1) Because, through the wickedness of their fathers in forsaking God, the temple had fallen into disrepair; its doors had been closed, its lamps put out, its altars left without offerings (vers. 6, 7). What their fathers then had done it became them to undo. Unless they would be sharers in their fathers' guilt, they must separate themselves from their fathers' sin. Their fathers' trespass would not condemn them if they disowned it by acting differently.
(2) Because on account of this wickedness the wrath of God had fallen upon the nation, "upon Judah and Jerusalem," upon the inhabitants of the cities and of the metropolis; their troops had been slaughtered in the field (2 Chronicles 28:6), their sons and wives and daughters carried into captivity (2 Chronicles 28:5, 8), their country delivered to trouble, to astonishment, to hissing.
(3) Because it was the king's intention, in restoring the ancient worship of Jehovah, to renew the covenant between himself with his people and Jehovah (ver. 10), as had formerly been done by Joash and his subjects (2 Chronicles 23:16), and earlier by Ass and his warriors (2 Chronicles 15:12) - being moved to this by the consideration that not otherwise could they escape the fierce wrath their national apostasy had kindled against them.
3. The argument why they should do the work. The Lord had selected them to be his temple ministers - the Levites and priests together to stand before ]aim and serve him, the priests to burn incense upon his altar. (N.B. - This is an indirect proof that "Levites" in ver. 5 includes the "priests.") Hence
(1) faithfulness should lead them to do the work specially assigned them, and
(2) honour impel them, seeing Jehovah had chosen them, rather than others, to be his ministers.
III. THE RESPONSE GIVEN BY THE PRIESTS AND LEVITES TO THE KING. (Vers. 12-16.)
1. The absent members of the order were collected. Fourteen Levites had heard the king's speech - two from each of the great families of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari; two of the sons of Elizaphan, the son of Uzziel, the son of Kohath (Exodus 6:18), and in Moses' time the head of the family of Kohath (Numbers 3:30); two of the sons of Asaph, who belonged to the family of Gershon; and two of the sons of Heman, who again proceeded from the family of Kohath; and two of the sons of Jeduthun, an offshoot from the family of Merari (on these names see Exposition). Responding with alacrity and gladness to the king's summons, they went forth and mustered the whole body of their brethren in Jerusalem. The work to which they had been called should be done by a united body, all hands and one heart - a good model for the Christian Church.
2. The duty of personal sanetification was scrupulously attended to. God's work must be done in God's way; always with fear and trembling, never with irreverent presumption; always in the beauty of holiness, never in the uncleanness of sin.
3. The work was divided between the Levites and the priests. To each was assigned that for which he was qualified and had been appointed; the cleansing of the temple proper to the priests, since these alone could enter the holy place; the removal of that which the priests brought from the interior of the sanctuary into the porch to the Levites, who bore it thence to the brook Kidron, which flowed through the valley of Jehoshaphat, on the east of the temple hill. So should all in the Christian work be content to do the work to which they are called, and for which they are qualified. As all have not the same gifts, so all are not intended for the same spheres of Christian activity.
4. The work was carried on until it was completed. It began with the purification of the buildings exterior to the temple, which occupied eight days. In eight days more they had finished the temple proper, both the porch and the sanctuary. On the sixteenth day they made an end. How much good work is begun by Christian people without being ended! ]tow many become weary in well-doing before they have half completed what they have put their hands to!
5. A report of the work done was carried to the king. The whole house of the Lord had been cleansed, all its furniture and utensils purified, the vessels found wanting replaced. Learn:
1. That God can be worshipped only in the beauty of holiness.
2. That as God calls none of his servants to uncleanness, he can be served only by the clean.
3. That God's house - whether heart or church - should be studiously guarded against defilement.
4. That God's people, like God himself, should be unwearied in doing good.
5. That God's servants must one day render to him an account of their works. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.