King Hezekiah 29 1Hezekiah 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. 2In God’s opinion he was a good king; he kept to the standards of his ancestor David. 3In 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. 4He assembled the priests and Levites in the court on the east side 5and said, “Levites, listen! Consecrate yourselves and consecrate The Temple of God—give this much–defiled place a good housecleaning. 6Our ancestors went wrong and lived badly before God—they discarded him, turned away from this house where we meet with God, and walked off. 7They boarded up the doors, turned out the lights, and canceled all the acts of worship of the God of Israel in the holy Temple. 8And 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! 9This is why our ancestors were killed, and this is why our wives and sons and daughters were taken prisoner and made slaves. 10“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. 11Children, 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.” 12The 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; 13Shimri and Jeiel sons of Elizaphan; Zechariah and Mattaniah sons of Asaph; 14Jehiel and Shimei of the family of Heman; Shemaiah and Uzziel of the family of Jeduthun. 15They 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! 16The 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. 17They 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. 18Then 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. 19We 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. 20Then Hezekiah the king went to work: He got all the leaders of the city together and marched to The Temple of God. 21They 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. 22The priests butchered the bulls and then took the blood and sprinkled it on the Altar, and then the same with the rams and lambs. 23Finally they brought the goats up; the king and congregation laid their hands upon them. 24The 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. 25The 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. 26The Levites formed the orchestra of David, while the priests took up the trumpets. 27Then 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 28while the entire congregation worshiped. The singers sang and the trumpeters played all during the sacrifice of the Whole–Burnt–Offering. 29When the offering of the sacrifice was completed, the king and everyone there knelt to the ground and worshiped. 30Then 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. 31Hezekiah 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, 32a generosity expressed in seventy bulls, a hundred rams, and two hundred lambs—all for Whole–Burnt–Offerings for God! 33The total number of animals consecrated for sacrifice that day amounted to six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep. 34They 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. 35Besides 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! 36Hezekiah and the congregation celebrated: God had established a firm foundation for the lives of the people—and so quickly!
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