The day after the cleansing Hezekiah arises early (verse 2020Then King Hezekiah arose early and assembled the princes of the city and went up to the house of the LORD.). It will be a long day, full of activities. When the Levites and priests have done their work, it is the turn of “the princes of the city”. Hezekiah gathers them to go to the temple. They all willingly go along and bring sacrifices at the house of the LORD (verse 2121They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah. And he ordered the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer [them] on the altar of the LORD.). What is happening here is, as it were, a new dedication of the temple service, as it happened by Solomon (2Chr 5:66And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.), a temple service that has been so neglected since then.
Three times seven animals are offered as burnt offering, bulls, rams and lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering. The various kinds of burnt offerings speak of different aspects of the work of the Lord Jesus as a burnt offering (Lev 1:1-171Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying,2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock.3If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.4He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.5He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting.6He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces.7The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire.8Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head and the suet over the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar.9Its entrails, however, and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.10‘But if his offering is from the flock, of the sheep or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer it a male without defect.11He shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.12He shall then cut it into its pieces with its head and its suet, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar.13The entrails, however, and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it, and offer it up in smoke on the altar; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.14‘But if his offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering from the turtledoves or from young pigeons.15The priest shall bring it to the altar, and wring off its head and offer it up in smoke on the altar; and its blood is to be drained out on the side of the altar.16He shall also take away its crop with its feathers and cast it beside the altar eastward, to the place of the ashes.17Then he shall tear it by its wings, [but] shall not sever [it]. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the wood which is on the fire; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.), while the number seven speaks of the perfection of that work. The fact that it is three times seven indicates that the triune God is involved in this work: the Father has given the Son, the Son has given Himself and has done everything in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The sin offering of seven male goat is for the reconciliation of the king and the princes (“the kingdom”), the priests (“the sanctuary”) and the people (“Judah”). The number seven indicates perfection. The sins are many and the period in which they were committed is long. The sin offering is with a view to the past, the burnt offering is with a view to the future. They are sacrifices for the whole people, not just for the few who are present. The unity of the people may not have been visible to the people for two centuries, but for God and Hezekiah this unity does exist. Everything happens in the awareness of the unity of God’s people.
The blood of the bulls, rams and lambs is collected by the priests and sprinkled on the altar (verse 2222So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests took the blood and sprinkled it on the altar. They also slaughtered the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar; they slaughtered the lambs also and sprinkled the blood on the altar.). The chronicler emphasizes the blood of each of the animals by mentioning their blood separately. It speaks of God’s special appreciation of the blood. Blood covers the sins and works reconciliation. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22b22And according to the Law, [one may] almost [say], all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.).
What happens to the animals for the sin offering is described in even more detail and therefore more emphatically (verse 2323Then they brought the male goats of the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them.). The chronicler involves the reader in every handling. The reader watches as “they brought the male goats of the sin offering”. The eyes of both the king and the assembly are on the goats for the sin offering. Then the involvement becomes even greater, because both the king and the entire assembly lay their hands on the sin offering. By this act they make themselves one with the sin offering (Lev 4:4,15,24,294He shall bring the bull to the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull and slay the bull before the LORD.15Then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be slain before the LORD.24He shall lay his hand on the head of the male goat and slay it in the place where they slay the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering.29He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.; 16:2121Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send [it] away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who [stands] in readiness.), by which, so to speak, their sins switch over to the sin offering.
Then the priests come into action (verse 24a24The priests slaughtered them and purged the altar with their blood to atone for all Israel, for the king ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.). They alone are authorized to slaughter the male goats. For us, believers of the church, all of whom are priests, it means that we must have a priestly mind to be able to empathize with the death that Christ had to die for the sins of His people, the church. The blood of the sin offering is offered on the altar, as is the blood of the burnt offering. Blood is life and is therefore only for God (Lev 17:1111For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’).
The blood of sacrifice is for reconciliation, which is to cover the sins of the people, so that the people do not have to die, but can stay alive. The New Testament teaches that the blood not only covers the sins, but also takes away the sins, it cleanses from sins (1Jn 1:7b7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.). In the Old Testament the covering is done in view of the perfect sacrifice that would still be made, while in the New Testament the sacrifice is actually made (cf. Rom 3:25-2625whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. [This was] to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;26for the demonstration, [I say,] of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.).
Hezekiah has understood that atonement cannot be limited to a part of God’s people (verse 24b24The priests slaughtered them and purged the altar with their blood to atone for all Israel, for the king ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.). It is not only for Judah, but “for all Israel” as it says twice. In the next chapter we will see more details about this, where the celebration of the Passover is concerned. We too must remember that the work of Christ is not only for those with whom we come together, but that it is accomplished for all who belong to the church.
Now that the sacrifices have been brought and the relationship with the LORD has been restored on the right basis, there is room for expressions of joy (verse 2525He then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets.). Hezekiah also works here according to the commandment given “according to the command … from the LORD through His prophets” and which was executed by David. In verses 25-3025He then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets.26The Levites stood with the [musical] instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.27Then Hezekiah gave the order to offer the burnt offering on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD also began with the trumpets, [accompanied] by the instruments of David, king of Israel.28While the whole assembly worshiped, the singers also sang and the trumpets sounded; all this [continued] until the burnt offering was finished.29Now at the completion of the burnt offerings, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped.30Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with joy, and bowed down and worshiped. it says four times that Hezekiah does something in accordance with what David has done or said. This indicates that Hezekiah does not organize a new religion or an adapted religion. He acts according to what God has previously revealed to David. He goes back to what is from the beginning.
For the expressions of joy the Levites are stationed with instruments of David (verse 2626The Levites stood with the [musical] instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.). The priests are given trumpets. When they all stand in place and have the instruments ready, Hezekiah orders to offer the burnt offering on the altar. At the same time as the sacrifice is brought, the song for the LORD is started under the accompaniment of the instruments of David, the king of Israel (verse 2727Then Hezekiah gave the order to offer the burnt offering on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD also began with the trumpets, [accompanied] by the instruments of David, king of Israel.).
This gives a wonderful picture of the service we are allowed to perform as a holy priesthood. As soon as we occupy ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His work and tell God about it, it is inevitable that our hearts will spring up with joy. Communion with the Father and the Son gives complete joy (1Jn 1:3b-43what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.). Then there is worship, what we see in the people who worship (verse 2828While the whole assembly worshiped, the singers also sang and the trumpets sounded; all this [continued] until the burnt offering was finished.). This worship is not an emotion of the moment, but remains after the sacrifice is made (verse 2929Now at the completion of the burnt offerings, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped.).
Then Hezekiah and the officials order the Levites to make new expressions of joy (verse 3030Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with joy, and bowed down and worshiped.). These expressions are not newly invented, but old expressions that are experienced in a new way. In the same way we can regularly sing the same songs. Our feelings will, if all goes well, always be new, always fresh. The more we engage with Christ and His work, the more our worship will deepen. We will often use the same words to express our worship, but which reflect still deeper feelings.
After the necessary sacrifices come the voluntary sacrifices (verse 3131Then Hezekiah said, “Now [that] you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing [brought] burnt offerings.). They are a real representation of the state of the hearts. It is the climax of the revival, in which also sacrifices and thank offerings are brought. The thanksgiving is a peace offering, that is a meal offering in which is participated by God and the priest and every member of the people who is pure (Lev 3:11,1611Then the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar [as] food, an offering by fire to the LORD.16The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar [as] food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the LORD’s.; 7:11-12,19,3111‘Now this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which shall be presented to the LORD.12If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes [of well] stirred fine flour mixed with oil.19‘Also the flesh that touches anything unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be burned with fire. As for [other] flesh, anyone who is clean may eat [such] flesh.31The priest shall offer up the fat in smoke on the altar, but the breast shall belong to Aaron and his sons.). The joy that is enjoyed is expressed in the sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:1515Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.). In addition, there are, as it were automatically, voluntary burnt offerings, which express worship.
All sacrifices and consecrated things brought are counted (verses 32-3332The number of the burnt offerings which the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.33The consecrated things were 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep.). For God, every sacrifice counts. Compared to the sacrifices Solomon brought, Hezekiah brings little. But a revival is a return to the principles of God and not to the circumstances of the beginning. We should not compare the time of Hezekiah and what he does with the time of Solomon, but with the time of his father Ahaz.
Unfortunately, many priests do not show up (verse 3434But the priests were too few, so that they were unable to skin all the burnt offerings; therefore their brothers the Levites helped them until the work was completed and until the [other] priests had consecrated themselves. For the Levites were more conscientious to consecrate themselves than the priests.). In a revival not everyone participates. However, a revival does not depend on the number that participates. It is only a handful. Not the quantity, but the quality is characteristic for a revival.
Because there are too few priests, they are unable to skin all the burnt offerings. To skin means that the inner, the inward, becomes visible. In the burnt offering it speaks of the inner feelings of the Lord Jesus that are present with Him as He accomplishes the work to the glory of God. What He feels within, we can read in the book of Psalms.
There are not many Christians today who are able to “skin the burnt offering”. But fortunately there are Levites. They help the priests. They did so until the other priests had also cleansed themselves. In this way God provides for the shortage of priests. He makes sure that the priestly service can continue.
The Levites can be seen as a picture of the teachers the Lord Jesus gave to teach His church. Through their teaching the believers are helped to gain a better understanding of and insight into the Lord Jesus and His work and what the results are (Eph 4:11-1311And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.).
The burnt offerings also include the fat of the peace offerings (verse 3535There [were] also many burnt offerings with the fat of the peace offerings and with the libations for the burnt offerings. Thus the service of the house of the LORD was established [again].). Just like blood, fat is only for God. Fat speaks of energy, the best. In His life on earth Christ has used all His energy to glorify God. Everything He has is for His God. He does so with joy, of which the libation speaks. The libation is a sacrifice of wine that is poured over the main offering. Wine represents joy (Jdg 9:1313But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’).
With this, the service of the house of God is restored. Hezekiah and all the people rejoice over this (verse 3636Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly.). Their joy is especially for God, for what has happened has been brought about by Him. No one has been able to think of or process this. The situation is hopeless. The people are completely lost under the leadership of Ahaz. What has now happened under Hezekiah has been done by God, completely suddenly. To Him be the honor!