2 Chronicles 30:17–20 (ESV) — 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the Lord. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
During this time of restoration in Judah (dare we call it a “revival”?) many came to celebrate the Passover in a conscious and public way that had been long abandoned through the neglect and rebellion of godless leaders.
And the larger narrative shows that some were not as excited or careful about it at first. They sort of went through the motions at the beginning, but then what was happening took hold in their hearts and they began to seek God more earnestly.
Then there were those who came from the northern Kingdom of Israel where the proscribed worship of God had long been perverted and then abandoned. And yet their hearts were moved. They wanted to join in and try to recapture what had been lost through their erring and rebellious leadership over the years. In a spiritually dry place, they were seeking the refreshing rains of spiritual renewal. But they came with faltering steps.
As our text shows, they were eager to join in but they had neglected to consecrate themselves in accordance with strict adherence to God’s law. Many had traveled many miles to gather in Jerusalem – which was the only place they could celebrate the Passover. With homes and farms and families to return to they could not remain in Jerusalem indefinitely. For each head of a household was supposed to kill his own Passover lamb. But if they had been in contact with idols, etc., they would have been ceremonially unclean to do so. So what was to be done?
Well, they ate the Passover anyway. Better to serve God as best one can given their circumstances, than not at all. And they did so in concert with Hezekiah’s prayer for them. He prayed that God would forgive their ceremonial uncleanness, since what WAS evident was their determination to follow God – even in their less than perfect condition. Thus vs. 20 records: “The Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” Or as the NET has it, “The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people.”
May we too be quick to bless those, who seek truly to honor the Lord, though perhaps in a less than precise manner. It is more important that God be truly sought, than that He be sought crossing every “t” and dotting every “i”. True, we ought not to leave such in that condition. Hezekiah did not ignore their condition – he went to God with it. He recognized things were out of order, but he also saw a priority on affirming their desire to seek the Lord.
We should – we MUST – take time to teach and instruct those who come this way in the ways of the Lord more thoroughly. But, we ought never to scorn them, or reject them out of hand.
May we have wise and compassionate hearts and responses to the faltering steps of those who are genuinely seeking the please the Lord, though they do so ever so imperfectly.
Indeed, I wonder just how much the Lord abides in regard to me, in this very vein? How merciful and generous He is.