These four chapters recount the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. That’s one more chapter than Kings spends on Hezekiah. However, that is not the only difference between Chronicles and Kings at this point. The Chronicler spends three chapters talking about Hezekiah’s restoration of the Temple and its worship, something that Kings does not mention at all.
You may remember from yesterday’s reading and blog that Ahaz closed the doors of the Temple. Now, according to the Chronicler, Hezekiah opened the doors of the Temple in the first year of his reign. In other words, this was the first thing on Hezekiah’s agenda, just like a new president of the United States trying to push through his agenda in the first 100 days of his presidency.
After opening the doors to the Temple, Hezekiah had them repaired. Then he called on all the priests and Levites to sanctify themselves, to cleanse and restore proper worship within the Temple. The result of this process was great joy because of what God accomplished among his people so suddenly (2 Chronicles 29:36).
The next thing on Hezekiah’s agenda, once the priests, Levites, and Temple were prepared, was the celebration of Passover. Chapter 30 tells us that many people came together in Jerusalem for this. The priests and Levites were ashamed, apparently because they were not properly prepared. Furthermore, there were many in the assembly from the northern kingdom who were not properly sanctified. Yet, they ate the Passover anyway, and rather than condemn them, Hezekiah prayed for them that the Lord would pardon them. The Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people. What signs of grace!
Again, the result of all this was: great joy in Jerusalem and among all the people who came to the festival. Furthermore, the people went out from that Passover celebration to destroy all the paraphernalia of worship of other gods that existed throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. (The Book of Kings says that Hezekiah did this, but the Chronicler presents this as a spontaneous reaction of the people to the experience of renewed worship of Yahweh.)
Chapter 31 focuses on the offerings required to support the ministry of the priests and Levites in the Temple. Hezekiah set a good example by giving of his own possessions for the offerings of the Temple to be continued. Furthermore, he commanded the people in Jerusalem to give their due. The people gave in such abundance that storerooms had to be prepared in the Temple. Can you imagine churches today having more resources than they know what to do with, all because of people in the church giving joyfully?
Chapter 32 talks about King Sennacherib of Assyria invading Judah, something that Kings spends much more time discussing because the Assyrians were the ones who took down the northern kingdom and that is what the author of Kings is most interested in. Hezekiah does what is necessary to fortify Jerusalem and to prevent Sennacherib’s troops from having the water supply they need. Hezekiah also encourages his people with words similar to what we read in the Book of Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed…” (2 Chronicles 32:7). Hezekiah prays for God’s help and direction, and the Chronicler specifically mentions that the king prays with the great prophet Isaiah (2 Chronicles 32:20), something that Kings does not mention. Because of this prayer, the Lord delivers Judah from the hand of Sennacherib.
Another thing the Chronicler mentions, that is not in the Book of Kings, is that after the Lord healed Hezekiah of sickness, Hezekiah became proud and that wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of this. However, Hezekiah and his people then humbled themselves and so the Lord withheld disaster in the days of Hezekiah.
One final note that is in Chronicles but not in Kings: the Chronicler mentions that when the envoys of Babylon came to spy out the land of Judah, God left Hezekiah to himself (whatever that means) in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart (2 Chronicles 32:31). This suggests that perhaps Hezekiah did not always have the right intentions. But who does?