31 1After the Passover celebration, they all took off for the cities of Judah and smashed the phallic stone monuments, chopped down the sacred Asherah groves, and demolished the neighborhood sex–and–religion shrines and local god shops. They didn’t stop until they had been all through Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Then they all went back home and resumed their everyday lives. 2Hezekiah organized the groups of priests and Levites for their respective tasks, handing out job descriptions for conducting the services of worship: making the various offerings, and making sure that thanks and praise took place wherever and whenever God was worshiped. 3He also designated his personal contribution for the Whole–Burnt–Offerings for the morning and evening worship, for Sabbaths, for New Moon festivals, and for the special worship days set down in The Revelation of God. 4In addition, he asked the people who lived in Jerusalem to be responsible for providing for the priests and Levites so they, without distraction or concern, could give themselves totally to The Revelation of God. 5As soon as Hezekiah’s orders had gone out, the Israelites responded generously: firstfruits of the grain harvest, new wine, oil, honey—everything they grew. They didn’t hold back, turning over a tithe of everything. 6They also brought in a tithe of their cattle, sheep, and anything else they owned that had been dedicated to God. Everything was sorted and piled in mounds. 7They started doing this in the third month and didn’t finish until the seventh month. 8When Hezekiah and his leaders came and saw the extent of the mounds of gifts, they praised God and commended God’s people Israel. 9Hezekiah then consulted the priests and Levites on how to handle the abundance of offerings. 10Azariah, chief priest of the family of Zadok, answered, “From the moment of this huge outpouring of gifts to The Temple of God, there has been plenty to eat for everyone with food left over. God has blessed his people—just look at the evidence!” 11Hezekiah then ordered storerooms to be prepared in The Temple of God. When they were ready, 12they brought in all the offerings of tithes and sacred gifts. They put Conaniah the Levite in charge with his brother Shimei as assistant. 13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah were project managers under the direction of Conaniah and Shimei, carrying out the orders of King Hezekiah and Azariah the chief priest of The Temple of God. 14Kore son of Imnah the Levite, security guard of the East Gate, was in charge of the Freewill–Offerings of God and responsible for distributing the offerings and sacred gifts. 15Faithful support out in the priestly cities was provided by Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah. They were even–handed in their distributions to their coworkers (all males thirty years and older) in each of their respective divisions 16as they entered The Temple of God each day to do their assigned work (their work was all organized by divisions). 17The divisions comprised officially registered priests by family and Levites twenty years and older by job description. 18The official family tree included everyone in the entire congregation—their small children, wives, sons, and daughters. The ardent dedication they showed in bringing themselves and their gifts to worship was total—no one was left out. 19The Aaronites, the priests who lived out on the pastures that belonged to the priest–cities, had reputable men on hand to distribute regular rations to every priest—everyone listed in the official family tree of the Levites. 20Hezekiah carried out this work and kept it up everywhere in Judah. He was the very best—good, right, and true before his God. 21Everything he took up, whether it had to do with worship in God’s Temple or the carrying out of God’s Law and Commandments, he did well in a spirit of prayerful worship. He was a great success.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About