In 2 Chronicles 29-30 we see what is brought to God. In this chapter we see what is brought to His servants. Caring for the house of God also means caring for those who serve in it.
1 The Land Cleansed
1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the Asherim and pulled down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, as well as in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the sons of Israel returned to their cities, each to his possession.
After the cleansing of God’s house (2Chr 29:16-17) and God’s city (2Chr 30:14), the whole land, God’s land, is now cleansed and brought into conformity with the purity of God’s house (verse 1). In all the cities of Judah the idols are removed. There is a great cleansing. Then all the Israelites return to their homes and there can be real peace.
We learn here, so to speak, that Christ in the church is the same as Christ in the family and in daily life. Both in the church and in daily life there should be no room for idolatry, for things that capture our time and attention in a way that does not do justice to our devotion to the Lord. Revival is not only something for the meeting, but has to do with the life of every day.
Even in Ephraim and Manasseh is demolished, cut down and destroyed what has to do with idolatry. The zeal to remove what is to dishonor of the LORD extends to areas that do not fall under the direct responsibility of Hezekiah. Yet he does feel responsible for it.
So it is with us when we have to deal with children of God with whom we do not meet regularly as a church. They belong to the church of God. We will point out to them, out of love for the Lord Jesus and out of love for them, things that are not good and help them to bring their lives into conformity with God’s Word.
2 - 4 Hezekiah Appoints the Tasks
2 And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites by their divisions, each according to his service, [both] the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister and to give thanks and to praise in the gates of the camp of the LORD. 3 [He] also [appointed] the king’s portion of his goods for the burnt offerings, [namely], for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths and for the new moons and for the fixed festivals, as it is written in the law of the LORD. 4 Also he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the law of the LORD.
After the cleansing is completed, Hezekiah’s concern goes to the service of the priests and the Levites (verse 2). They must resume their usual services “by their divisions, each according to his service”. In the course of time great disorder will have come into it. Hezekiah appoints each to the task which suits him to accomplish it.
The service of the priests and the Levites is “for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister and to give thanks and to praise”. This is a wonderful service. We are priests and servants. This we are not for ourselves, but for God and His church. As priests we bring God the burnt offering, that is, we speak with Him about the Lord Jesus in His full devotion and surrender to Him. That’s the basis of all the blessings we have received. We also bring peace offerings, which means that we seek fellowship with God, with the Lord Jesus and with all the members of God’s people who are pure.
As Levites we are given by God as a gift to the priests (Num 18:6). Through the teaching of God’s Word we may know how to sacrifice as priests. We may also pass on that teaching and serve others by teaching them how best to perform their priestly service. That is, we share with others what we have discovered from the Lord Jesus in God’s Word. That will lead all to give thanks and praise the Lord.
It is about the service for the LORD “in the gates of the camp of the LORD”. That indicates that the service takes place in a closed environment, closed to hostile elements and directed at the LORD, in the consciousness of His presence. They are His camps.
King Hezekiah gives “of his goods” for the burnt offerings for all occasions “as it is written in the law of the LORD” (verse 3). God has prescribed daily, weekly, monthly, and annual burnt offerings. The Lord Jesus gives us out of His fullness what we need to worship God. No particular days or occasions have been set for our worship. God’s Word calls us to continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God (Heb 13:15). We may worship the Father at any time.
After Hezekiah himself has set a good example (cf. 2Thes 3:7,9), he can command that the inhabitants of Jerusalem also give their portion (verse 4). The portion that the people give is for the livelihood of the priests and the Levites. They can therefore fully “devote themselves to the law of the LORD” without the care for their livelihood (cf. 2Tim 2:4). To devote oneself to the law means that they master the law and then to teach what they have learned from it to the people. The Word of God must be studied and applied, first in one’s own life and then in that of others (cf. Ezra 7:10).
5 - 7 An Abundance of Sacred Gifts
5 As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all. 6 The sons of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of sacred gifts which were consecrated to the LORD their God, and placed [them] in heaps. 7 In the third month they began to make the heaps, and finished [them] by the seventh month.
The order of Hezekiah spreads (verse 5). Here we see the word at work (cf. 1Thes 2:13; Acts 6:7a). It ends up in the hearts of the Israelites, and that is where the willingness to give works. An abundance of “the first fruits” is provided, and they bring “in abundantly the tithe of all” (cf. Exo 35:21; 1Chr 29:9).
The contributions come from all the cities of Judah (verse 6). Nobody stays behind. Everything is first consecrated to the LORD their God, and then given to the priests and the Levites. God comes first. What we give to others will only be of service if we first give it to the Lord and get it from Him and then pass it on.
The tithes that are brought begin in the third month, at Pentecost, when the barley harvest is brought in (verse 7). In the seventh month, the month of the Feast of Booths, the feast of the collection of fruits (Exo 23:16b), they are ready. Everything that the field yields is brought in. The making of heaps of gifts means that the contributions are put in order. This prevents chaos and maintains the overview. It is like with the multiplication of the loaves by the Lord Jesus. He also brings order to the crowd by having them sit in groups of fifty and a hundred in the grass (Mk 6:39-40).
What is happening here gives us a picture of a revival with sight on the blessings of the land (Deu 8:8; 12:6). It speaks of the fact that we see our task and to show what those blessings are. This happens when the people of God have been busy collecting the fruits of the land, that is to say have been busy with the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. That is what the heart can be focused on in daily life. This benefits the priests and the Levites.
The priest in us, that is, our priesthood, can only function properly when we have knowledge of the blessings of the land and have enjoyed them. What we as ordinary members of God’s people are during the week is reflected in our priestly service in the meeting. It is the Israelite in us, as a picture of what we are in daily life, who, so to speak, sustains the priest and the Levite in us. This means that our priestly service and our Levite service, that is to bring sacrifices as priests and serve with our spiritual gifts as servants, cannot be higher than what we have seen in the daily life of the Lord and His blessings.
8 - 10 Praise and Abundance
8 When Hezekiah and the rulers came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD and His people Israel. 9 Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10 Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok said to him, “Since the contributions began to be brought into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat with plenty left over, for the LORD has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”
The effect of the voluntary gifts of the people is that Hezekiah and the leaders praise the LORD and His people of Israel (verse 8). The LORD and His people are mentioned here in one breath. This is because in the voluntary giving of the people God becomes visible as the voluntary Giver. Here the people answer to Whom He is. That is why the people can be praised together with the LORD.
After the spontaneous praise for the heaps he sees, Hezekiah questions concerning the heaps (verse 9). He wants to know where they come from. He does not remain by the impression of the sight, but asks for the origin. The high priest Azariah tells him about it (verse 10). It has to do with the contributions that the people began to bring into the house of the LORD. From the moment the people started to do so again, the priests had enough to eat. And not only that, there is also plenty left over.
God is a God of abundance (Phil 4:18-20). He blesses His people. We can only pass on what He has given (1Chr 29:14b). When that blessing is passed on, it produces even more blessing. So is God. He challenges us to test Him (Mal 3:10). If we accept that challenge, we will experience His abundance. He owes no one anything, for He is faithful to His Word.
For us it mainly concerns our spiritual gifts. These are enjoyed in abundance by us when we commit ourselves to God’s house, the church. Everything we invest in it will produce a lot of spiritual fruit. It is important that we pass on spiritual nourishment to our fellow believers. We don’t lose that, but it increases on the contrary.
11 - 14 Storerooms
11 Then Hezekiah commanded [them] to prepare rooms in the house of the LORD, and they prepared [them]. 12 They faithfully brought in the contributions and the tithes and the consecrated things; and Conaniah the Levite [was] the officer in charge of them and his brother Shimei [was] second. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath and Benaiah [were] overseers under the authority of Conaniah and Shimei his brother by the appointment of King Hezekiah, and Azariah [was] the [chief] officer of the house of God. 14 Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the keeper of the eastern gate, was over the freewill offerings of God, to apportion the contributions for the LORD and the most holy things.
When Hezekiah sees the abundance, he says that rooms must be prepared in which the abundance can be stored (verse 11). In those rooms are brought “the contributions and the tithes and the consecrated things” (verse 12a). That happens “faithfully”. In the service for the Lord – every believer has a service – faithfulness is the most important quality (1Cor 4:1-2). Some Levites mentioned by name are responsible for the supplies and they in turn can only act “by the appointment of King Hezekiah, and Azariah the [chief] officer of the house of God” (verses 12b-13).
We can apply this to local churches. Local churches should be storerooms where the truth is preserved and upheld (cf. 1Tim 3:15b). The supply can be served to God’s people to promote their spiritual growth. Serving with supplies is the task of the teachers given to the church by the Lord Jesus (Eph 4:11). Their service is aimed at teaching believers how to behave in the house of God (1Tim 3:15a).
There is also a Levite, Kore, the son of Imnah, whose place of service is mentioned (verse 14). Kore is “the keeper of the eastern gate”. As gatekeeper he keeps what is entrusted to his care (cf. 1Tim 6:20) to give it to the right persons. That he is keeper at the eastern gate, means in picture that he lives in the expectation of the rising of the Sun of righteousness, that is the coming of the Lord Jesus. Looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus is a great incentive to manage and distribute the spiritual goods entrusted to us.
15 - 19 The Priests and the Levites Get Their Portion
15 Under his authority [were] Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah in the cities of the priests, to distribute faithfully [their portions] to their brothers by divisions, whether great or small, 16 without regard to their genealogical enrollment, to the males from thirty years old and upward—everyone who entered the house of the LORD for his daily obligations—for their work in their duties according to their divisions; 17 as well as the priests who were enrolled genealogically according to their fathers’ households, and the Levites from twenty years old and upwards, by their duties [and] their divisions. 18 The genealogical enrollment [included] all their little children, their wives, their sons and their daughters, for the whole assembly, for they consecrated themselves faithfully in holiness. 19 Also for the sons of Aaron the priests [who were] in the pasture lands of their cities, or in each and every city, [there were] men who were designated by name to distribute portions to every male among the priests and to everyone genealogically enrolled among the Levites.
Kore has his own task, but does not perform it as a loner. There are others who are “under his authority … to distribute faithfully” (verse 15). Here again there is talk of ‘faithfully’ (verse 12). These men act as “the faithful and sensible” stewards (Lk 12:42). Whoever acts faithfully, will act before the Lord and without regard to persons. We see that with these helpers of Kore. They distribute to their brothers, both to the great and the small, or to the elderly and to the young.
The fact that there is no distinction between older people and young people when it comes to their portion of the gifts does not mean that there are no exceptions. All those who are in the cities of Judah get what they need to live from. However, priests in active service do not receive from them. They receive their portion while they do their service in the house of the LORD in Jerusalem (verse 16). Also the children of three [as it reads in Hebrew] years and older, who they have taken with them to Jerusalem and are with them for the time of their service, get what they need (cf. 1Sam 1:23).
It is important that in the distribution only the real priests get a portion. In order to determine this, the genealogical registers are consulted (verses 17-19). Someone could register as a priest in order to receive some of the collected gifts, without really being a priest. However, he will be discovered if his name does not appear in the genealogical register. Only those who are real priests are enrolled in the register and can receive a portion of the collected tithes.
In verse 17 we see another difference between the priests and the Levites with regard to their registration. The priests are registered “according to their fathers’ households” and the Levites “by their duties [and] their divisions”, while their age also plays a role. The service of the priests is directed to God, the service of the Levites to the people of God.
We can apply this to us as members of the church of God. In our relationship to God, we are all priests and may sacrifice Him, regardless of our age. In our service in the midst of God’s people, we all have different tasks, which require a certain spiritual maturity to perform.
The registers also contain “all their little children, their wives, their sons and their daughters, for the whole assembly” (verse 18). In these different distinguished groups we can see spiritual growth as a priest and Levite. It is like with the family of God, which consists of fathers, young men and little children (1Jn 2:12-18). There are stages in spiritual growth. But at whatever stage one is, he is a member of the family of God and shares in the blessings this brings.
The priests and Levites who do not live in the cities are not forgotten during the division (verse 19). Although they are not directly involved in the service in the house of God, they receive their portion if they are designated by name among the priests and genealogically enrolled among the Levites.
20 - 21 Hezekiah Acts With All His Heart
20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what [was] good, right and true before the LORD his God. 21 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.
Hezekiah is working “throughout all Judah” (verse 20). He has in mind the whole people of God for whom he has direct responsibility. He does not favor a certain class. He does so because he is not busy before the eye of men, but before the eye of the LORD. Therefore he does what is “good”, he only does good things; he does what is “right”, he does justice; he also acts “true” or truly, there is no hypocrisy with him, he does nothing secretly.
What Hezekiah does is only a beginning (verse 21). The atmosphere of his service is “the house of God”. He is committed to understanding “in law and in commandment”. He does that “seeking his God” which is to get to know His will. He knows God as “his God” and from this relationship he is concerned with what He has said.
This contains important indications for us. We can only know the will of God through His Word which He has given to His church. To get to know His will we need to have a personal relationship with Him and actually experience it. In everything Hezekiah does, he acts with all his heart. That is the only way, also for us, to do something and to have prosperity.