Never Too Late | Hezekiah | PART 3
In this message, we continue our series learning together from the life of King Hezekiah and how it is never too late, especially when we pray for the lost.
Series: Never Too Late,
Speaker: Pastor Jim Groves,
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 29:1-5, 2 Chronicles 29:16-17, 2 Chronicles 29:21, 2 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 29:33-36, 2 Chronicles 30:1, 2 Chronicles 30:5, 2 Chronicles 30:6-9, 2 Chronicles 30:10, 2 Chronicles 30:11, 2 Chronicles 30:15-17, 2 Chronicles 30:18, 1 Samuel 15:22, 2 Chronicles 30:18-20, 2 Chronicles 30:26, Romans 3:22-24, Numbers 9:6-13,
Sermon page: https://www.avalonchurch.org/sermons/never-too-late-hezekiah-part-3/,
Sermon Notes: 2020-08-02_never-too-late-part-3_sermon-notes.pdf,
Discussion Questions: 2020-08-02_never-too-late-part-3_discussion-questions.pdf,
Never Too Late – Hezekiah | PART 3
Avalon Church 8/2/20
Maresea Blackwell – The grace of Jesus Christ and Maresea’s compassionate concern, persistent prayer, obedient outreach
Today we continue our series, Never Too Late (changes of heart in the book of Chronicles) as we learn together from the life of King Hezekiah.
- Please go ahead and find 2 Chronicles 29 in your Bible.
- As you are doing so, let me invite you to share your story at avalonchurch.org/stories
The division of the kingdom into Judah and Israel was an act of grace by God to all mankind – to you and me – to protect the dynasty of David -- the lineage from which Jesus would come – from the horrendous idolatry in Israel.
Hoshea was the last ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel, for in his day (722 BC), the Assyrians invaded the land, deported many of the citizens, and repopulated Israel with Gentile peoples, usually prisoners, from the lands Assyria had conquered.
- The kingdom of Israel became Samaria, named after the capital city, and it was a nation whose citizens were not pure Jews but a comingling of many ethnic strains.
We hear about “the ten lost tribes of Israel,” but the Bible never uses that phrase.
- But they definitely lost their identity as they were deported and dispersed or assimilated with the peoples brought into the land by the Assyrians to become the hated Samaritans of Jesus’ day.
Sadly, the manmade religion of Israel had infected Judah and it was only by the grace of God that a faithful remnant remained after their own exile to keep the bloodline to Jesus the Messiah intact. But that’s a different story.
Last Sunday, Don told us about Manasseh, whose gross sins likely led to the eventual invasion and exile of Judah.
- Manasseh’s grandfather was Ahaz who imitated the wicked kings of Israel and the pagan practices of Assyria.
- He, too, adopted the horrible worship practices of the pagans and sacrificed his sons to Baal.
Sandwiched in between these two is Hezekiah, a man glad to have made it past the sacrifice of his brothers.
- He was a teenager or young adult when the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom in 722.
- He witnessed many of the same practices in his father’s reign as were done in Israel.
- So, he was very familiar with all the wrong ways to lead a nation.
But Hezekiah was one of the good guys. When he became king, good and right things started happening right away. 29:1-5
The Levites consecrated themselves and set about to purify the temple. 29:16-17
Once done, they told King Hezekiah who gathers the city’s officials together and made some serious sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary and for Judah. 29:21
Who thinks of interceding for their rebellious, sinful, disrespectful “brother?”
- Hezekiah values the sinful Israelites of the north because they are still part of the nation (family)
- Once the temple is restored to service, he offers sacrifices on their behalf (even though they don’t know it and haven’t asked for it)
And then they humbly worshiped. 29:29
And then the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings – which almost overwhelmed them. 29:33-34
In the end “the service of the temple of the Lord was reestablished.” 29:35-36
Three times each year, the Jewish men were required to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles – and Hezekiah intended to celebrate Passover.
- Unfortunately, the prescribed time for Passover had occurred while the temple – and the priests, for that matter -- were still being cleansed.
- Neither the temple nor the priests and Levites had been ready in the first month.
- However, the Law of Moses, specifically Numbers 9:6-13, made provision for celebrating the Passover in the second month and Hezekiah took advantage of this provision.
Passover commemorated the release of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage, so it was a national celebration.
- For this reason, Hezekiah invites the Jews from both Judah and Israel (now Samaria) to come to Jerusalem for the feast. He goes out of his way to extend the invitation to come get right with God. 30:1, 5
Here is the proclamation. Hear the heart of Hezekiah as he appeals to remnant of Israel to come repent with Judah.
- He is obviously aware of their sin but tries to communicate that their sin is not bigger than God’s grace. Note the words about God’s grace. 30:6-9
Sadly, the remnant in bondage to Assyria were just as stiff-necked as their ancestors. 30:10
Here was an opportunity to make a new beginning and glorify the Lord by seeking and accepting his compassion, grace and mercy
- But most of the people outside of Judah rejected the invitation.
- They mocked and belittled Hezekiah and his messengers – but in so doing, they rejected the blessing the Lord had for them.
However, there were some people who had the courage to disagree with their families and friends – and the courage to face their own rebellion and sin – and go to Jerusalem for the feast. 30:11
So Passover happens – but not without some big problems. 30:15-17
But worse, the brave souls from the north were not purified – they had not been able to perform all the rituals required in the Law. 30:18a
This was one of the reasons for the exception in Numbers to delay the Passover to the second month if people were not purified in the first month.
However, Hezekiah accepts them as they are and intercedes for them to God about not being purified when they partook of the Passover
Hezekiah knew that God was concerned about the hearts of the worshipers and not the details of meeting ceremonial requirements. 1 Samuel 15:22
So Hezekiah prayed God would cleanse and accept them. 30:18b-20
This is grace.
What’s happening here is often compared in the Hebrew scripture to marriage
- God desired to relate to the nation of Israel, so much so that he “marries” her
- Israel has sex with the neighbor’s spouse on the wedding night
- God reaches down and relates to the nation of Israel
Grace is more than just leniency and unconditional acceptance; and much more than mere tolerance.
- Divine grace is God’s relentless and loving pursuit of His enemies, who are unthankful, unworthy, and unlovable.
- In this case it is His own people, both inside and outside of Jerusalem and Judah.
We might be tempted to focus on Hezekiah, a legitimately good king whose efforts resulted in a return to proper worship of God.
But let me share some insights from Dr Preston Sprinkle in his recent book, Charis:
We tend to read the Bible, especially the Hebrew scriptures, morally. That is, we look for human characters to emulate – perhaps Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Joseph or David – while others are examples of lifestyles and choices to avoid – maybe Cain, Judah, Samson, or Manasseh.
- However, an honest reading of scripture reveals that these people were all flawed, some horribly. And while there are moments of faith and obedience, for the most part, they are terribly disappointing, and we really don’t want to be anything like them.
“Grace is the spine that holds the whole thing together. Look at any story, any chapter, and you’ll find a story of God’s relentless pursuit of His rebellious children. Take grace out of the Old Testament, and, like pulling a thread from a sweater, the whole thing will come undone. Every character, every event, every single page from the Old Testament bleeds grace.”
This moment bleeds grace. And the assembled congregation knew it.
- They partied for seven days – and then seven days more – just like Solomon had when the temple had first been dedicated.
And there was great joy in Jerusalem. 30:26
- Apparently, none in the assembly were upset or offended that God had poured his grace on those who had offended them or were “horrible sinners.”
- No one – including those from Israel and other foreigners – were defined by the sin in their lives – even the past sin in their lives – but rather by the grace that forgave that sin and the God who extended that grace.
Let me bring this full circle this morning by reminding you of Maresea’s testimony.
- Maresea, our modern day Hezekiah
- She had herself experienced the grace of God through Jesus Christ
- She had a deep concern for those in her own family
- While personally aware of the depth of her grandfather’s and father’s sin, she diligently tried to communicate that their sin was not bigger than God’s grace.
The apostle Paul describes it like this:
Preston Sprinkle would add:
Divine grace is God’s relentless and loving pursuit of His enemies, who are unthankful, unworthy, and unlovable. Grace is not just God’s ability to save sinners, but God’s stubborn delight in His enemies. Grace means that despite our filth, despite the sewage running through our veins, despite our odd addiction to food, drink, sex, porn, pride, self, money, comfort, and success, God desires to transform us into real ingredients of divine happiness
Never Too Late is the theme of this series.
- We learned from Maresea that it is not too late at 96 years of age.
- We learned from Maresea that it is not too late even when your father says that Jesus could never forgive him “because what he had done was too bad and too hurtful for a lot of people”
- But there is a point when it is too late.
- When the Israelites ridiculed and rejected the invitation to come back to God, it was too late and they were absorbed into darkness.
- And for each of us and the ones we love tomorrow could be too late, for we are not promised tomorrow
Here is my two-fold challenge to you today:
God desires to relate to your grandfather, your mother, your brother, your friend.
Put the name of one person who needs to know Jesus on a 3x5 card taped to the bathroom mirror, or used as a bookmark in the book you’re reading, or a daily reminder on your phone that will prompt you to pray every day for that person’s salvation.
For some here or watching online today, your name is on someone’s prayer card.
- I prayed this morning for you – not by name but to a gracious God who knows your name and calls you from darkness and despair into a relationship with him through Jesus Christ.
- In the building, grab Don or Mike after service
- In the building or watching online, simply text “life” to 407-559-8210 and we’ll contact you