New International Reader's Version

2 Chronicles 29

Hezekiah Purifies the Temple

1Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother’s name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as King David had done.

In the first month of Hezekiah’s first year as king, he opened the doors of the Lord’s temple. He repaired them. He brought the priests and Levites in. He gathered them together in the open area on the east side of the temple. He said, “Levites, listen to me! Set yourselves apart to the Lord. Set apart the temple of the Lord. He’s the God of your people who lived long ago. Remove anything ‘unclean’ from the temple. Our people weren’t faithful. They did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God. They deserted him. They turned their faces away from the place where he lives. They turned their backs on him. They also shut the doors of the temple porch. They put the lamps out. They didn’t burn incense at the temple. They didn’t sacrifice burnt offerings there to the God of Israel. So the Lord has become angry with Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them look so bad that everyone is shocked when they see them. They laugh at them. You can see it with your own eyes. That’s why our fathers have been killed by swords. That’s why our sons and daughters and wives have become prisoners. 10 So I’m planning to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel. Then he’ll stop being angry with us. 11 My sons, don’t fail to obey the Lord. He has chosen you to stand in front of him and work for him. He wants you to serve him and burn incense to him.”

12 Here are the Levites who went to work.

Mahath and Joel were from the family line of Kohath.

Mahath was the son of Amasai. Joel was the son of Azariah.

Kish and Azariah were from the family line of Merari.

Kish was the son of Abdi. Azariah was the son of Jehallelel.

Joah and Eden were from the family line of Gershon.

Joah was the son of Zimmah. Eden was the son of Joah.

13 Shimri and Jeiel were from the family line of Elizaphan.

Zechariah and Mattaniah were from the family line of Asaph.

14 Jehiel and Shimei were from the family line of Heman.

Shemaiah and Uzziel were from the family line of Jeduthun.

15 All these Levites gathered the other Levites together. They set themselves apart to the Lord. Then they went in to purify the Lord’s temple. That’s what the king had ordered them to do. They did what the Lord told them to. 16 The priests went into the Lord’s temple to make it pure. They brought out to the temple courtyard everything that was “unclean.” They had found “unclean” things in the Lord’s temple. The Levites took them and carried them out to the Kidron Valley. 17 On the first day of the first month they began to set everything in the temple apart to the Lord. By the eighth day of the month they reached the Lord’s porch. For eight more days they set the Lord’s temple itself apart to him. They finished on the 16th day of the first month.

18 Then they went to King Hezekiah. They reported, “We’ve purified the whole temple of the Lord. That includes the altar for burnt offerings and all its tools. It also includes the table for the holy bread and all its objects. 19 We’ve prepared all the things King Ahaz had removed. We’ve set them apart to the Lord. Ahaz had removed them while he was king. He wasn’t faithful to the Lord. Those things are now in front of the Lord’s altar.”

20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered together the city officials. They all went up to the Lord’s temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs and seven male goats with them. They sacrificed the animals as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the temple and for Judah. The king commanded the priests to offer them on the Lord’s altar. The priests were from the family line of Aaron. 22 They killed the bulls. Then they splashed the blood against the altar. Next they killed the rams and splashed the blood against the altar. Then they killed the lambs and splashed the blood against the altar. 23 The goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the whole community. They placed their hands on them. 24 Then the priests killed the goats. They put the blood on the altar as a sin offering. It paid for the sin of the whole nation of Israel. The king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for the whole nation.

25 Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the Lord’s temple. They had cymbals, harps and lyres. They did everything in the way King David, his prophet Gad, and Nathan the prophet had required. The Lord had given commands about all these things through his prophets. 26 So the Levites stood ready with David’s musical instruments. And the priests had their trumpets ready.

27 Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. The offering began. Singing to the Lord also began. The singing was accompanied by the trumpets and by the instruments of David. He had been king of Israel. 28 The whole community bowed down. They worshiped the Lord. At the same time the musicians played their musical instruments. The priests blew their trumpets. All of that continued until the burnt offering had been sacrificed.

29 So the offerings were finished. King Hezekiah got down on his knees. He worshiped the Lord. So did everyone who was with him. 30 The king and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord. They used the words of David and Asaph the prophet. They sang praises with joy. They bowed down and worshiped the Lord.

31 Then Hezekiah said, “You have set yourselves apart to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to his temple.” So the whole community brought sacrifices and thank offerings. Everyone who wanted to brought burnt offerings.

32 The whole community brought 70 bulls, 100 rams and 200 male lambs. They brought all of them as burnt offerings to the Lord. 33 The total number of animals set apart as sacrifices to the Lord was 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep and goats. 34 But there weren’t enough priests to skin all the burnt offerings. So their relatives, the Levites, helped them. They worked until the task was finished. By that time other priests had been set apart to the Lord. The Levites had been more careful than the priests when they set themselves apart. 35 There were large numbers of burnt offerings, along with the drink offerings and the fat from the friendship offerings. They were offered along with the burnt offerings.

So the service of the Lord’s temple was started up again. 36 Hezekiah and all the people were filled with joy. That’s because everything had been done so quickly. God had provided for his people in a wonderful way.

The Message

2 Chronicles 29

King Hezekiah

11-2 Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old and was king in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. In God’s opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David.

3-9 In the first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah, having first repaired the doors of The Temple of God, threw them open to the public. He assembled the priests and Levites in the court on the east side and said, “Levites, listen! Consecrate yourselves and consecrate The Temple of God—give this much-defiled place a good housecleaning. Our ancestors went wrong and lived badly before God—they discarded him, turned away from this house where we meet with God, and walked off. They boarded up the doors, turned out the lights, and canceled all the acts of worship of the God of Israel in the holy Temple. And because of that, God’s anger flared up and he turned those people into a public exhibit of disaster, a moral history lesson—look and read! This is why our ancestors were killed, and this is why our wives and sons and daughters were taken prisoner and made slaves.

10-11 “I have decided to make a covenant with the God of Israel and turn history around so that God will no longer be angry with us. Children, don’t drag your feet in this! God has chosen you to take your place before him to serve in conducting and leading worship—this is your life work; make sure you do it and do it well.”

12-17 The Levites stood at attention: Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah from the Kohathites; Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel from the Merarites; Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah from the Gershonites; Shimri and Jeiel sons of Elizaphan; Zechariah and Mattaniah sons of Asaph; Jehiel and Shimei of the family of Heman; Shemaiah and Uzziel of the family of Jeduthun. They presented themselves and their brothers, consecrated themselves, and set to work cleaning up The Temple of God as the king had directed—as God directed! The priests started from the inside and worked out; they emptied the place of the accumulation of defiling junk—pagan rubbish that had no business in that holy place—and the Levites hauled it off to the Kidron Valley. They began the Temple cleaning on the first day of the first month and by the eighth day they had worked their way out to the porch—eight days it took them to clean and consecrate The Temple itself, and in eight more days they had finished with the entire Temple complex.

18-19 Then they reported to Hezekiah the king, “We have cleaned up the entire Temple of God, including the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering and the Table of the Bread of the Presence with their furnishings. We have also cleaned up and consecrated all the vessels which King Ahaz had gotten rid of during his misrule. Take a look; we have repaired them. They’re all there in front of the Altar of God.”

20-24 Then Hezekiah the king went to work: He got all the leaders of the city together and marched to The Temple of God. They brought with them seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven he-goats to sacrifice as an Absolution-Offering for the royal family, for the Sanctuary, and for Judah as a whole; he directed the Aaronite priests to sacrifice them on the Altar of God. The priests butchered the bulls and then took the blood and sprinkled it on the Altar, and then the same with the rams and lambs. Finally they brought the goats up; the king and congregation laid their hands upon them. The priests butchered them and made an Absolution-Offering with their blood at the Altar to atone for the sin of all Israel—the king had ordered that the Whole-Burnt-Offering and the Absolution-Offering be for all Israel.

25-26 The king ordered the Levites to take their places in The Temple of God with their musical instruments—cymbals, harps, zithers—following the original instructions of David, Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet; this was God’s command conveyed by his prophets. The Levites formed the orchestra of David, while the priests took up the trumpets.

27-30 Then Hezekiah gave the signal to begin: The Whole-Burnt-Offering was offered on the Altar; at the same time the sacred choir began singing, backed up by the trumpets and the David orchestra while the entire congregation worshiped. The singers sang and the trumpeters played all during the sacrifice of the Whole-Burnt-Offering. When the offering of the sacrifice was completed, the king and everyone there knelt to the ground and worshiped. Then Hezekiah the king and the leaders told the Levites to finish things off with anthems of praise to God using lyrics by David and Asaph the seer. They sang their praises with joy and reverence, kneeling in worship.

31-35 Hezekiah then made this response: “The dedication is complete—you’re consecrated to God. Now you’re ready: Come forward and bring your sacrifices and Thank-Offerings to The Temple of God.”

And come they did. Everyone in the congregation brought sacrifices and Thank-Offerings and some, overflowing with generosity, even brought Whole-Burnt-Offerings, a generosity expressed in seventy bulls, a hundred rams, and two hundred lambs—all for Whole-Burnt-Offerings for God! The total number of animals consecrated for sacrifice that day amounted to six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep. They ran out of priests qualified to slaughter all the Whole-Burnt-Offerings so their brother Levites stepped in and helped out while other priests consecrated themselves for the work. It turned out that the Levites had been more responsible in making sure they were properly consecrated than the priests had been. Besides the overflow of Whole-Burnt-Offerings there were also choice pieces for the Peace-Offerings and lavish libations that went with the Whole-Burnt-Offerings. The worship in The Temple of God was on a firm footing again!

36 Hezekiah and the congregation celebrated: God had established a firm foundation for the lives of the people—and so quickly!