Morning Light – January 1st, 2016

MLToday: [2 Chronicles Thirty-One] Hezekiah Continues the Revival. In this chapter Hezekiah makes provision for the reforms and revival instituted in his reign to continue and spread throughout Judah and the northern kingdom as well. Temple sacrifice and service were provided for out of Hezekiah’s own resources. He invites the people to give and participate in supporting the Levites. The idols and groves are torn down not just in the high places but through Judah and Israel. Reforms continue and the heart of the people follow the example set by Hezekiah – and they prospered.
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[2Ch 31:1-21 KJV] 1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities. 2 And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD. 3 [He appointed] also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, [to wit], for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as [it is] written in the law of the LORD. 4 Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD. 5 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all [things] brought they in abundantly. 6 And [concerning] the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid [them] by heaps.
In chapter 29 Hezekiah repaired the temple of God whose door had been sealed off by his father Ahaz. In chapter thirty after reconstituting the sacrifices he invited the whole of the 12 tribes of Israel to come and celebrate the Passover. In this chapter after great rejoicing in the city of Jerusalem and a powerful visitation of God Hezekiah sets in motion what is intended to promotion the continuation of the reforms and celebration and worship of God as established by Moses in the book of the law centuries ago. Up to this point Hezekiah has gone further in reform and accountability to the word of God than any of his predecessors since Solomon.
Hezekiah no doubt instinctively understood that God was not just after seasons of reform or revival. The purpose of God is not for us to ride a roller coaster of spiritual ups and downs. He doesn’t want us to experience life in Christ as a series of sinning and being forgiven. God wants more than to visit us in outpouring once in a while. The heart of God is to come into our lives in abiding habitation. He didn’t come into the earth to establish religious culture or infrastructure. The heart of God is to find His abiding place inside the yielded human heart. That is why the repeated declaration of the New Testament is that we in our persons are the temple of God and there He not only visits but chooses to abide.
At the end of an extended season of celebrating Passover Hezekiah sends the people home to continue and to implement in their personal lives the reforms he had initiated in Jerusalem. They returned to the cities of Judah and Ephraim and Manasseh and Benjamin. They destroy the idols and pulled down the altars to Baal. Now noticed they utterly destroyed the idols in Ephraim and Manasseh but in the previous chapter you will remember that Ephraim and Manasseh scorned Hezekiah’s invitation to come to Jerusalem. This would be equivalent to you going home from church and walking into your neighbor’s house and saying “there’s going to be some changes around here…” There was no record that these tribes as stubborn as they were that they resisted or even complained. When God is doing something as conspicuous as what took place in Jerusalem even those who declined to participate will be silenced and subdued.
In order to foster continuation of the worship of Jehovah the king apportions out of his own substance daily sacrifice and offering. He also provides for the daily maintenance of the needs of the Levites. After setting the example of giving and supporting the work of the Lord Hezekiah sends out command to the people to follow in his example that the Levites might “be encouraged in the law of the Lord…” What is the purpose of giving? It is more than just making sure the lights are on at the church or the church mortgage is paid. It is about encouraging the men and women who serve in the ministry of God. There is a school of thought today that we shouldn’t have full time ministers. Many suggest that if a minister works full time at his ministry and is paid for doing so that somehow that is a compromise or a wrong thing. This is contradiction by the examples given us in the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament Paul spoke of this:
[1Ti 5:17 KJV] 17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
What this tells us that those who lead the church were paid for doing so. The “honor” spoken of what in the context of discussing remuneration of elders. The interesting thing is that apparently elders who worked at what we would call secular employ were paid for ministry duties carried out and those who labored at what we would call full time ministry were paid double of what others were paid. How much should your pastor be paid then? What is the appropriate pay for a pastor? Take the average income per capita in your church and double it and that is what Paul tells Timothy that the full time elders should be paid. This is to encourage them as in Hezekiah’s day and keep them from serving in their order without distraction.
When Hezekiah gave the command the people responded. They weren’t doing so grudgingly and there was no mention of tithe until later. In other words they started giving and blessing the Levites with corn and wine and oil and then only later in verse 6 was tithe mentioned. Even under the law when the people were in love with God they were far more interested in giving than just the 10 percent solution. Giving is to be from the heart. People who complain about giving to ministry do not have their hearts invested in the things of God. Find a church or ministry or anointing that inspires you to give and get under it and support it joyfully and sacrificially. Do not allow a small minded heart to rob you and hold you captive to the spirit of poverty that stalks all those who have a negative attitude about giving.
7 In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished [them] in the seventh month. 8 And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel. 9 Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10 And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since [the people] began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left [is] this great store. 11 Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared [them],
In Hezekiah’s day the people gave so much that the substance was not in small receptacles that were whisked out of site but the secretaries. They gave until there were massive heaps of substance so much so that they had to build and rearrange just to physically deal with the abundance of that which was coming in. The builders came in the third month and began to build and it took 4 months to renovate and enlarge and build storage and receptacles large enough to accommodate the massive amounts being given to the temple and the Levites. Can you image having a building program in your church that would take 4 months just to come up with a physical containment for the massive dimensions of the offerings and given that was taking place? God wants us to be givers. He wants us to be willing to bless and benefit not just the infrastructure needed for our worship but for our ministers and leaders as well so that they serve without distraction or impediment. Where do you give? Where is your accountability? Who is feeding you? Whoever feeds you the word of God and provides context and foundation for your testimony as a believer that is where your giving should be. That may be very different from just dumping 10 percent in the plate. That may be regularly handing your mentor (whether a recognized minister or not) a gift card to the big box store or a restaurant. They may mean you don’t go out to dinner unless you are taking your elder and his family along to enjoy a dinner out as well. That may mean carving out large portions of your family budget to give away from yourself to the financial benefit and blessing of those who labor in the word over your life. We ignore these questions to our own hurt yet you are the only one who can answer the call to give. It isn’t about manipulation or guilt or fear mongering. Give willingly. Give liberally. Give expansively until the money in your life begins to move by the Spirit and you have enough to meet your own need and plenty left over to sacrificially give into the work of God. We cannot say we believe the bible and trust in God if we are not giving and giving liberally without complaint into the kingdom.
12 And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated [things] faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite [was] ruler, and Shimei his brother [was] the next. 13 And Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah, [were] overseers under the hand of Cononiah and Shimei his brother, at the commandment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of the house of God. 14 And Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter toward the east, [was] over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the oblations of the LORD, and the most holy things. 15 And next him [were] Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in [their] set office, to give to their brethren by courses, as well to the great as to the small: 16 Beside their genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, [even] unto every one that entereth into the house of the LORD, his daily portion for their service in their charges according to their courses; 17 Both to the genealogy of the priests by the house of their fathers, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their charges by their courses; 18 And to the genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their set office they sanctified themselves in holiness: 19 Also of the sons of Aaron the priests, [which were] in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every several city, the men that were expressed by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all that were reckoned by genealogies among the Levites. 20 And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought [that which was] good and right and truth before the LORD his God. 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did [it] with all his heart, and prospered.
After the giving commenced and was accommodated for there were 19 men appointed to manage the resources. Can you imaging needing not just one but 19 treasurers in your church just to handle the magnitude of what was coming in? Most churches barely manage to have a full time pastor and maybe a part time secretary.
Hezekiah set all this process in motion not for the purpose of just bringing in money but for the purpose of provoking the continuation of the visitation of God that had been rained down upon the people in Jerusalem and the surrounding tribal lands. His testimony what that he did right and that which was good and true before the Lord his God. He started the work and brought it to completion. He implemented the law of Moses and restored honor for the commandments of God. He sought the Lord and did so with all his heart and his testimony was that he prospered.
God is no respecter of persons. He didn’t love Hezekiah more than He loves you. He did bless Hezekiah in the Old Testament and yet refuse to bless you in the New Covenant. God is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith. If we do with our faith what Hezekiah did with his we will see the same results.

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