2 Chronicles 30-31
Hezekiah Observes the Passover
30 Hezekiah sent messages throughout Israel and Judah; he even wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, summoning them to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and observe a Passover celebration for the Lord God of Israel. 2 The king, his officials, and the entire assembly in Jerusalem decided to observe the Passover in the second month. 3 They were unable to observe it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 4 The proposal seemed appropriate to the king and the entire assembly. 5 So they sent an edict throughout Israel from Beer Sheba to Dan, summoning the people to come and observe a Passover for the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they had not observed it on a nationwide scale as prescribed in the law. 6 Messengers delivered the letters from the king and his officials throughout Israel and Judah.
This royal edict read: “O Israelites, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so he may return to you who have been spared from the kings of Assyria. 7 Don’t be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their ancestors, provoking him to destroy them, as you can see. 8 Now, don’t be stubborn like your fathers! Submit to the Lord and come to his sanctuary which he has permanently consecrated. Serve the Lord your God so that he might relent from his raging anger. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and sons will be shown mercy by their captors and return to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate; he will not reject you if you return to him.”
10 The messengers journeyed from city to city through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun, but people mocked and ridiculed them. 11 But some men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 In Judah God moved the people to unite and carry out the edict the king and the officers had issued at the Lord’s command. 13 A huge crowd assembled in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. 14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and Levites were ashamed, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt sacrifices to the Lord’s temple. 16 They stood at their posts according to the regulations outlined in the law of Moses, the man of God. The priests were splashing the blood as the Levites handed it to them. 17 Because many in the assembly had not consecrated themselves, the Levites slaughtered the Passover lambs of all who were ceremonially unclean and could not consecrate their sacrifice to the Lord. 18 The majority of the many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: “May the Lord, who is good, forgive 19 everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple.” 20 The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people.
21 The Israelites who were in Jerusalem observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests were praising the Lord every day with all their might. 22 Hezekiah expressed his appreciation to all the Levites, who demonstrated great skill in serving the Lord. They feasted for the seven days of the festival, and were making peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord God of their ancestors.
23 The entire assembly then decided to celebrate for seven more days; so they joyfully celebrated for seven more days. 24 King Hezekiah of Judah supplied 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for the assembly, while the officials supplied them with 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. Many priests consecrated themselves. 25 The celebration included the entire assembly of Judah, the priests, the Levites, the entire assembly of those who came from Israel, the resident foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and the residents of Judah. 26 There was a great celebration in Jerusalem, unlike anything that had occurred in Jerusalem since the time of King Solomon son of David of Israel. 27 The priests and Levites got up and pronounced blessings on the people. The Lord responded favorably to them as their prayers reached his holy dwelling place in heaven.
31 When all this was over, the Israelites who were in the cities of Judah went out and smashed the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and demolished all the high places and altars throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Then all the Israelites returned to their own homes in their cities.
The People Contribute to the Temple
2 Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and Levites to do their assigned tasks—to offer burnt sacrifices and present offerings and to serve, give thanks, and offer praise in the gates of the Lord’s sanctuary.
3 The king contributed some of what he owned for burnt sacrifices, including the morning and evening burnt sacrifices and the burnt sacrifices made on Sabbaths, new moon festivals, and at other appointed times prescribed in the law of the Lord. 4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to contribute the portion prescribed for the priests and Levites so they might be obedient to the law of the Lord. 5 When the edict was issued, the Israelites freely contributed the initial portion of their grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a tenth of everything, which added up to a huge amount. 6 The Israelites and people of Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also contributed a tenth of their cattle and sheep, as well as a tenth of the holy items consecrated to the Lord their God. They brought them and placed them in many heaps. 7 In the third month they began piling their contributions in heaps and finished in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the Lord and pronounced blessings on his people Israel.
9 When Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps, 10 Azariah, the head priest from the family of Zadok, said to him, “Since the contributions began arriving in the Lord’s temple, we have had plenty to eat and have a large quantity left over. For the Lord has blessed his people, and this large amount remains.” 11 Hezekiah ordered that storerooms be prepared in the Lord’s temple. When this was done, 12 they brought in the contributions, tithes, and consecrated items that had been offered. Konaniah, a Levite, was in charge of all this, assisted by his brother Shimei. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath, and Benaiah worked under the supervision of Konaniah and his brother Shimei, as directed by King Hezekiah and Azariah, the supervisor of God’s temple.
14 Kore son of Imnah, a Levite and the guard on the east side, was in charge of the voluntary offerings made to God and disbursed the contributions made to the Lord and the consecrated items. 15 In the cities of the priests, Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah faithfully assisted him in making disbursements to their fellow priests according to their divisions, regardless of age. 16 They made disbursements to all the males three years old and up who were listed in the genealogical records—to all who would enter the Lord’s temple to serve on a daily basis and fulfill their duties as assigned to their divisions. 17 They made disbursements to the priests listed in the genealogical records by their families, and to the Levites twenty years old and up, according to their duties as assigned to their divisions, 18 and to all the infants, wives, sons, and daughters of the entire assembly listed in the genealogical records, for they faithfully consecrated themselves. 19 As for the descendants of Aaron, the priests who lived in the outskirts of all their cities, men were assigned to disburse portions to every male among the priests and to every Levite listed in the genealogical records.
20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah. He did what the Lord his God considered good and right and faithful. 21 He wholeheartedly and successfully reinstituted service in God’s temple and obedience to the law, in order to follow his God.
Exhortation for the Strong to Help the Weak
15 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. 5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Exhortation to Mutual Acceptance
7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.” 10 And again it says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s Motivation for Writing the Letter
14 But I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15 But I have written more boldly to you on some points so as to remind you, because of the grace given to me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I serve the gospel of God like a priest, so that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
17 So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, 21 but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”
Paul’s Intention of Visiting the Romans
22 This is the reason I was often hindered from coming to you.
1 O Lord, I come before you in prayer.
2 My God, I trust in you.
Please do not let me be humiliated;
do not let my enemies triumphantly rejoice over me!
3 Certainly none who rely on you will be humiliated.
Those who deal in treachery will be thwarted and humiliated.
4 Make me understand your ways, O Lord!
Teach me your paths!
5 Guide me into your truth and teach me.
For you are the God who delivers me;
on you I rely all day long.
6 Remember your compassionate and faithful deeds, O Lord,
for you have always acted in this manner.
7 Do not hold against me the sins of my youth or my rebellious acts!
Because you are faithful to me, extend to me your favor, O Lord!
8 The Lord is both kind and fair;
that is why he teaches sinners the right way to live.
9 May he show the humble what is right!
May he teach the humble his way!
10 The Lord always proves faithful and reliable
to those who follow the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your reputation, O Lord,
forgive my sin, because it is great.
12 The Lord shows his faithful followers
the way they should live.
13 They experience his favor;
their descendants inherit the land.
14 The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance,
and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.
15 I continually look to the Lord for help,
for he will free my feet from the enemy’s net.
13 Do not love sleep, lest you become impoverished;
open your eyes so that you might be satisfied with food.
14 “It’s worthless! It’s worthless!” says the buyer,
but when he goes on his way, he boasts.
15 There is gold, and an abundance of rubies,
but words of knowledge are like a precious jewel.