Our reading today begins with Hezekiah’s reign (29:1). He was a righteous king who followed YHWH (v. 2). While we are told much about him in 2 Kings, the chronicler focuses in on Hezekiah’s reestablishment of proper worship. He begins by physically repairing the Temple (v. 3). He then laments the failure of previous generations to worship YHWH as He has commanded (vv. 6-7) and notes that the nation has been punished by God for their disobedience (vv. 8-9). He calls for Judah to reaffirm the covenant with God (v. 10) and calls the priests and Levites to resume their duties in the Temple (v. 11). After being separated according to clan (vv. 12-14) and consecrated for their sacred duties (v 15), the Levites took out of the Temple everything that did not belong (v. 16) and consecrated the Temple (v. 17) and readied it for worship (vv. 18-19).
Hezekiah then has the priests make offerings for sin for the nation (v. 24). The chronicler is careful to describe the sacrifices as being prepared according tot he commandment of Moses (vv. 22-23). Hezekiah then has the ministers of music play their worship as the offerings were burnt on the altar (vv. 26-27), and all the people worshiped (v. 28), while the King sang Psalms (v. 30). Hezekiah then invites all of Judah to bring forth their offerings to YHWH (v. 31). Note that their were so many offerings that the Levites had to help prepare them for the priests (v. 34). In verse 36, we see that the restoration of worship “came about suddenly,” as in, it happened very quickly. The chronicler is encouraging the returning remnant to restore proper worship.
Chapter 30 records the celebration of the Passover. In 30:1, Hezekiah invites the Northern Kingdom to take part. In verses 2-3, we see that Passover was being celebrated in the second month because the priests were not consecrated in time to observe it in the first month. The chronicler is showing the remnant that the heart condition of the worshiper is far more important than the letter of the Law in worship. We also see that the nation had not been keeping the Passover (v. 5).
So invitations go out through both kingdoms. Note that those of Israel being invited are literally the remnant of those saved from the Assyrian captivity (v. 6). Hezekiah is inviting them back into the assembly of God’s people! They should learn from the punishment God meted out to them (v. 7), and they should not allow physical borders to keep them from worshiping YHWH (v. 9). And we see that among the physical remnant of Israel was a spiritual remnant (vv. 10-11).
In verse 14, we see that idol worship was universally rejected in Judah. In verse 16 the chronicler again points out that the sacrifices were done according to the Law of Moses. In verse 19, we again see that the heart is what counts in worship. And God’s salvation was among the people (v. 20). So much so, that the Passover lasted an extra week (v. 23)! In verse 25, we see that all – Judah, Israel, foreigners – all rejoiced and worshiped God together. And because of their heart-felt worship, God heard their prayers (v. 20, 27).
Chapter 31 begins with Israel and Judah together rejecting idolatry (31:1). Hezekiah then establishes that Temple worship is to resume as it used to (v. 2), and that the people are to contribute according to the Law (v. 4). Hezekiah led by example, contributing greatly himself (v. 3). And the people responded with faith (vv. 5-6). And God responded with blessing (v. 10). In verses 11-19, the chronicler describes the division of the Levites. This is according to David’s establishments in 1 Chronicles 23-26. The chronicler concludes the chapter emphasizing that obedience to God brings blessing from God (v. 21).
Chapter 32 records the Assyrian invasion of Judah. We see in 32:3-8 that even though Hezekiah relied on God for protection, he still took practical measures to build up the defenses of Judah. We get fewer details of the invasion and the exchange between the Assyrians and the Judahites here than in 2 Kings 18-19 or Isaiah 36-37. We do see, however, that after YHWH’s deliverance for Judah, many gave the credit to Hezekiah (v. 23). This led to sinful pride in Hezekiah (v. 25).
We see in verse 26 that Hezekiah eventually repents for his sin of pride. But God allowed the situation with the Babylonian envoys (see 2 Kings 20:12-19) in order to test Hezekiah (v. 31). The chronicler does not record the event, but his readers would have known (and we know) that Hezekiah’s pride got the better of him. The chronicler even points us to 2 Kings and the book of Isaiah to find this out for ourselves (v. 32). The chronicler is pointing out that for all the good Hezekiah did and for all of his obedience, he was not perfect, and he was not the Greater Son of David that Judah was waiting for. The remnant still had that hope.