There is absolutely no doubt that Hezekiahʼs great Passover was extraordinarily outstanding in its effectiveness. It was a memorial service of singular distinction. Though not recorded in the book of Kings, the Spirit saw benefit in sharing the highlights of that event with those fresh from exile for whom Chronicles was initially written. No Passover, before or since, engendered such a transformation in the lives of Godʼs children. They were certainly exciting times. Not for over 230 years had the nation witnessed so comprehensive a gathering of the tribes of Israel at the annual Passover feast.

The euphoria of those remarkable days is captured for the contemplation of subsequent generations in 2 Chronicles 30:26: “So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem”.

As wonderful and as significant an occasion as it was in the lives of those attending, it was clearly more than mere joy that brought about the dramatic outcomes of 2 Chronicles 31:1. We read: “Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and break the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all”. Here was faith moved to obedience. Here were people so stimulated by their participation in this memorial Passover that, having examined themselves, without delay they set about removing from their lives the things which had ensnared them. What might have been a mere ritual exercise became for them a framework, within which were real opportunities for very tangible spiritual advancement.

Each of us has been humbled by our all too frequent failure to follow through the ʻpricksʼ of many a word of exhortation. We are such creatures of habit that we find it very challenging to implement even some small change in our lives. Perhaps therefore there is profit in looking more closely at this incident in Israelʼs history to discover the factors at work, so that we might become more responsive to the influence of the Word, as week by week we remember Christ our Passover.

Lessons from Hezekiahʼs Passover

It should be noted from the outset that Hezekiahʼs Passover was not an exercise in unity at all costs. When the messengers went out to the northern kingdom, Hezekiahʼs invitation made the basis of involvement abundantly clear: “Turn again unto Yahweh…be not like your fathers…be ye not stiffnecked…yield yourselves unto Yahweh…enter into his sanctuary…serve Yahweh your God…if ye turn again…if ye return unto him” (2 Chron 30:6–9).

The record of 2 Chronicles reveals seven hallmarks of Hezekiahʼs Passover which contributed to the spiritual development of those attending.

  • They humbled themselves (30:11)
  • They found forgiveness through preparing their hearts to seek Yahweh (30:19)
  • They were reliant on grace beyond the law, rather than the works of mere ritual (30:19,20)
  • Joy, gladness and praise were notable features of their coming together (30:21,23,25,26)
  • The good knowledge of Yahweh was spoken to menʼs hearts (30:22)
  • They joined in appreciative fellowship with the Almighty (30:2)
  • They made their confession to Yahweh (30:22).

It is instructive to note that some of these features occurred prior to the Passover, while others became evident during the feast. We are here shown the importance of preparation for the memorial meeting; of the need to be consciously aware of humbling or bending ourselves to meet in remembrance of Godʼs great saving work in Christ and of the need to prepare or consciously make firm our heartfelt resolve to seek, follow and worship our Father in heaven.

With some prior mental preparation along the lines of those in Hezekiahʼs day, the whole spiritual atmosphere of the exercise of our memorial meetings can be enhanced. We can become more acutely aware of our need of attending. We can become keener to participate more meaningfully and with richer appreciation in each of the aspects of our coming together. We can become more fully prepared to take to ourselves the spiritual wisdom which the opportunity provides. Hezekiahʼs mediatorship (2 Chron 30:18,19) teaches that pardon or covering rests upon the due preparation of the heart to seek God. This clearly raises the issue of preparation to a very high plane. Such a heart will be more ready to extend forgiveness to others. It will seek to more consciously walk worthy of our calling.

Those who came to Hezekiahʼs Passover came, reassured in the knowledge that Yahweh is gracious and merciful to those who turn unto him (2 Chron 30:11). Even those who were not cleansed according to the Law were able to find grace (2 Chron 30:18). How wonderfully consoling this example is to us. The issue of our acceptance before our loving Father in heaven rests not in the ritual of what we do, even in ecclesial settings, but in the confidence of faith that we too can be “healed”. It is the realm of our mind that is so significant in our worship. Ecclesial life provides a framework within which each brother and sister must seek to develop his/her own spiritual walk with the living God.

Hezekiahʼs Passover was marked also for its joy and gladness. What of our assemblies? Does this not encourage us to be more enthusiastic in our praise and in the positive association of one with one another? Let us be on our guard lest that in the frequency of our gatherings we lose the freshness of our joy, our gladness and our praise that springs from a confident awareness of the goodness of our God toward us.

Hezekiah well understood the need and value of the Word in the development of the spiritual lives of Godʼs children. He saw to it that the ecclesia was well provided for. 2 Chronicles 30:22 shows us how he influenced and encouraged the Levites in their role as teachers. The margin reveals that he spoke to their heart. He impressed them with the responsibility of their teaching work. He communicated to them the importance and the seriousness of expounding Godʼs Word. They were to teach—that is they were to make the hearers intelligent in the Scriptures. They were to give the hearers skill in the Word. Note how the record describes the Word of God as “the good knowledge of Yahweh”. The original word used for “good” in this place contains the ideas of precious, beautiful and bountiful. Such exposition of the Scriptures today too, will assuredly promote the spiritual development of those who have ears which desire to hear.

We further observe in this verse that Israel offered peace offerings which speak of fellowship and thanksgiving. The fellowship was with God and the thanksgiving was unto God. God was the centre of their worship. The verse also reveals that Israel made confession to Yahweh. It would appear that the more the privileges of fellowship with God came home to them in the course of the spiritual exercises of their Passover celebrations, the more the people became aware of their previous folly and vanity and hence they were moved to confess their sin with a view to reformation. It wasnʼt therefore their belonging to the nation that commended them to God, or for that matter being in attendance at the ecclesial gathering that ensured their acceptance before God. What God has always desired is that the hearts and minds of His children are harmonised with Him. Thus the Passover gathering in the days of Hezekiah provided a framework within which the spiritual development of individuals could prosper.

Hezekiah Organises a Framework for Individual Spiritual Development

It is one thing to rid oneʼs life of idolatry as did those of Hezekiahʼs day. It is another vital thing to follow this up by filling it with spiritual opportunities. Following the completion of the Passover, Hezekiah set in order the operation of the priesthood. 2 Chronicles 31:2–4 shows us the details. He established once again the God-designed framework which allowed for individual spiritual growth and expression of worship. He re-established the courses of the priests and their roles of facilitating dedication, worship and praise in verse two. He went beyond the law and set an example of generosity in the support of the work of the Truth in verse three. In verse four he called upon the nation to support the Levites through the payment of tithes. This would allow them to concentrate on the work of understanding and expounding the law for the benefit of the people.

Hezekiah understood that the ecclesia functions in a reciprocal supportive manner. If the nation supported the priests and Levites then they would in turn provide meat in due season for the nation. In 2 Chronicles 31:4 we read: “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of Yahweh”.

Hezekiahʼs example prompts us to ask ourselves what we might be able to give to encourage our brothers and sisters in the law of Yahweh. How thoughtful are we in showing our encouraging appreciation of the labours of both brothers and sisters in ecclesial work? Many aspects of ecclesial life take place away from the limelight. If we are aware of these, do we think to encourage the brother or sister in their good work? Do we encourage the speaking brother by engaging him in discussion or in sharing kind words of appreciation? Do we encourage others in the law of Yahweh by our support of the meetings, by stepping forward as volunteers, by sharing highlights of studies with others, by encouraging the arranging brethren, by carefully listening to the troubled among us? And what of encouraging our wife, our husband, our families? Then there is the work of encouragement in the mission fields and in visiting the sick. There are just so many ways in which Hezekiahʼs comprehension of ecclesial life can be of practical benefit to us today. He teaches us the importance of developing a spirit of encouragement as a significant element in ecclesial team building.

In 2 Chronicles 31:8 Hezekiah and the princes met to review the administration of the tithes provided abundantly by the people. So appreciative were the king and his princes when they witnessed the level of support that “they blessed Yahweh and his people”. Today, ecclesial business meetings provide a forum for the review of ecclesial business. Can we take a lesson here as to the spirit in which to conduct such meetings? Is it not possible to raise the significance of our business meetings so that they become special times of thanksgiving to our God and times of thankful appreciation to those who hold office in His service?

The example of Hezekiah in establishing appropriate committees to manage and administer ecclesial affairs is clearly a sound one (2 Chron 31:12–15). Too numerous in the more recent history of the brotherhood have been the occasions where alternative methods have been found sadly wanting. There is surely wisdom in following this God-given model.

We should note finally that ecclesial organisation need not stultify individual spiritual growth and faithfulness. Serving on ecclesial committees ought to be seen as providing opportunities for development. In all of the structure of Hezekiahʼs organisation there remained the need for individuals to personally exercise and develop Godliness. Specific note is made in 2 Chronicles 31:12 that the appointed overseers of the tithes acted faithfully. This same basic word rendered “faithfully” in verse 12 is rendered “set office” in verses 15 and 18 (notice the marginal alternative “trust”). Thus we see that these brethren were men who showed integrity or trust in the outworking of their office. They were fair in their dealings—“as well to the great as to the small”. They were not respecters of persons. In their committee work they sought the welfare of all members of the ecclesial family—“their little ones, their wives, their sons and their daughters throughout all the congregation”. They were men who “sanctified themselves in holiness”. They were Godly brethren whose ecclesial service became for them an opportunity for their own spiritual development.

Let us truly value each and every one of the elements which make up ecclesial life. They combine to provide us with a framework within which are God-given opportunities for our spiritual development.