A Decree Worth Following

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A Decree Worth Following

A Decree Worth Following

II Chronicles 30:4  And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
5  So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.
6  So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7  And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.
8  Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
9  For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
10  So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.
11  Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
12  Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD.

Hezekiah was an interesting king. The Bible tells us:

Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I Corinthians 10:11  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12  Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

In Hezekiah we can see how often those of us who are saved will falter in our walk with the Lord. Hezekiah did not have a good upbringing. His father was an idolater. He defied the living God and led Judah further into paganism. Hezekiah was 25 years old when he began to reign as king. He chose not to follow the same path as his father. However, he did follow some of the ways of his father. He is one we could say had good intentions, but lacked the spiritual convictions to be able to follow through with his intentions. He did not have that purpose of heart that men like Daniel and his three friends had.
We cannot sit back and judge him as though we are so much better than he was. We can look at his life and see the weakness that we are all capable of, and we can humbly avoid some of that as we submit to God’s Word.
God never gave us anything to use as an excuse for sin. He gave us many examples to help us to see how easy it is for us to fall as saved individuals. He shows us how important it is to not only say we will do something, but how necessary it is to also do what is right. Good intentions do not go far enough. Right actions are necessary.
In our text God highlighted one of the good and right actions of king Hezekiah. He realized that Judah had not kept the Passover as God had commanded the nation to do. Keep in mind that God commanded the nation that when they would have a king, he should right himself a copy of the law and meditate in that law day and night. The king would never be so busy that he could not take time to write out God’s Word and to read it and to meditate on it. Biblical meditation is not like yoga or many of the martial arts. In those ungodly activities, a person sits and thinks about whatever. They certainly do not think about God’s Word.
In Biblical meditation, the person has already read God’s Word and then goes about their duties and while doing that, they can think about what they read from God’s Word and they can consider how they need to apply that to their current situation. When a true child of God meditates on God’s Word, he or she allows God’s Word to influence their thinking. God’s Word is our authority, and as such it is also our “governor”.
King Hezekiah understood, from God’s law, that his father and others before him had not kept the Passover as they should have. He chose to implement this feast according to God’s Word. We read that he sent out “posts” (runners or messengers) who were sent out to all parts of Judah, and even to parts of Israel and proclaim the instructions for keeping the Passover properly.
God had assigned the tribe of Levi to be the teachers of the law. The priests were to teach the law and to perform the sacrifices that God had given them in the law. Obviously, the priesthood was greatly defiled in the days of king Ahaz. Urijah, the priest, had foolishly followed the command of king Ahaz and built a pagan altar and put it in the place of the brazen altar that God said was to be the altar upon which the nation was to sacrifice unto the Lord.
Hezekiah had his work cut out for him as the new king. He also needed to gain the trust of the people, because he was certainly much different than his father. We see that the posts had no problem obeying him. They went out and proclaimed the instructions given to them.
Many of the people followed the king’s command. We know that following God is a matter of the heart. Every person has a religion of some sort. The definition of “religion” is simply a form of belief. Whatever you believe is your religion. Every person develops their religion based on what they hear and what they observe.
In our text, Hezekiah gave instructions regarding the Passover, based on what God’s law said. He did not mix that with the paganism of his father. That was a good thing.
We see as well that he gave commandment to send these instructions into parts of Israel. Israel, the northern 10 tribes, were already under foreign rule by this time. The LORD had sent the Assyrians into that land to capture it and to scatter the Jews that once lived there. The Assyrians left some Jews in the land and also put their own people in that land. Israel, the 10 northern tribes, never had a good king. Jeroboam set them on the path of idolatry, and all the kings they had, followed his evil path. The priesthood of the north was also corrupted. God was longsuffering and sent them a few good prophets but the people rejected what the true prophets had to say. Thus God punished them by sending the Assyrians to capture and take over the land.
Hezekiah sent his message into Ephraim, Manasseh, Asher and Zebulun. Hezekiah’s men did not keep this important message within the boundaries of Judah. They went beyond them. This is what God’s design was for His people in Old Testament times. It is still His design for His people in New Testament times. God sent Elijah and Elisha into the northern 10 tribes to remind them of the truth. He also sent a true prophet in the early days of king Jeroboam. Jonah was sent into Nineveh to proclaim the Word of God to a pagan nation.
We cannot secretly keep the good news to ourselves. If we are truly saved, the Holy Spirit indwelling us will motivate us to proclaim the truth both by word as well as by actions.
In verse 10 of our text we see that not everybody was on board with the message being sent out by Hezekiah’s men. There were people in Ephraim, Manasseh and Zebulun who laughed them to scorn and mocked them. Anyone who has been faithful in serving the Lord will find this to be true. There are people who hate God and they take that hatred out on God’s people. Canada currently has a P.M. who hates God and attacks God’s people. Some of his laws are directly intended to mock God and those who believe in Him. We witnessed a direct attack on God and the truth over the past three years. The government tried hard to shut down any church activity. They could not tell the truth from the lie, but they just painted all churches with the same brush. A few churches said no, we are not going to lay down and play dead. A few understood the necessity of continuing to proclaim the Word of God and they actively did so. Some faced fines and some of those fines are still open.
In verse 11 we see that there were those in Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun who humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. A few people from these outlying areas, became obedient to the LORD and they did what God said they should do. You notice they did not take the route of compromise and suggest they would keep the Passover in their own region or their own homes. They made the effort to go where God told them to go.
One of the things we must learn is that God is in charge and His Word is not optional. He does not give us an outline and tell us to fill in the blanks as we see fit. He gives us the details and tells us His way is the way of blessing.
That still holds true today. If we want God’s blessing we need to know Him and we need to follow Him. Let us humble ourselves and do that today and each day.
Pastor Bartel

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