After restoring the temple and reconsecrating it, King Hezekiah sent word out to his estranged brothers in Israel inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover with them.
Second Chronicles tell us that they had not been able to celebrate Passover in large numbers for a long time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. Hezekiah was not only leading his own people in Judah back to God, he was also taking a huge risk by inviting the people of Israel.
But we read that he felt it was the right thing to do, so he sent couriers throughout Israel and Judah with a proclamation which started:
“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he may return to you…..
Yes, some people in Israel ridiculed him.
But others came.
And we’re told that God gave Hezekiah’s people unity of mind so that they followed the word of the Lord and carried out the decree of the king – welcoming their brothers and celebrating Passover together as the people of God.
The first week of the celebration went so well, everyone decided to celebrate for another week. We are told that there was ‘great joy’ in Jerusalem for those who were assembled. All of the people were blessed by the priests before they went back to their homes.
We know the people were changed by this experience because we are told that, when they got home, they smashed their idols and the shrines. They cut down the Asherah poles and destroyed the high places.
Hezekiah had been obedient. He did what God asked him to do even though it was risky. As a result, he started widespread religious reforms not only in his own country but also in Israel.
Please help us follow Hezekiah’s example, dear Father, as we reach out in your name.