Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living Lessons from Dead Kings - 13 - Hezekiah’s Renovation and Reform - 2 Chronicles 29-31

Lesson 13  Hezekiah’s Renovation and Reform  2 Chronicles 29-31
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context:  Hezekiah’s life is recorded in 2 Kings, Isaiah, and 2 Chronicles 29-32.  This lesson will focus primarily on the Chronicles account of Hezekiah’s assumption of power and celebration of the Passover.
1.      ID:  (2 Kings 18:1-7a; 2 Chronicles 29:1-2; 31:20-21)  How does the narrator summarize Hezekiah’s accomplishments and general spiritual condition?  Who was Hezekiah compared to?   Why?
2.      ID:  (2 Chronicles 29)  What were some of the challenges to setting in order "the service of the house of the Lord” (v. 35)? 
3.      ID/CR: (2 Chronicles 29:20-24)  What was the purpose(s) of the burnt offerings and sin offerings mentioned in these verses?
4.      ID/CR:  (2 Chronicles 30)  What were the unusual or remarkable things about Hezekiah’s Passover celebration?  (Numbers 9:1-14)  What other king of Judah is specifically said to have celebrated the Passover? (2 Chronicles 35)
5.      ID/CR: (2 Chronicles 31:1)  Who does the word “Israel” refer to in this verse?   What was different about this destroying of the pillars, altars, etc. from previous times? (2 Chronicles 14:1-4; 17:3-4; 19:1-3)
6.      ID/WS: (2 Chronicles 31:2-6)  What three reforms are recorded in these verses?  What is the difference between firstfruits (re'shiyth) and tithes (ma`aser)?
7.      ID:  (2 Chronicles 31:21)  What in chapters 29-31 would you point to as indications that Hezekiah was seeking the Lord with all his heart?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.      In 2 Chronicles 29:10-11 Hezekiah wanted to make a covenant with the Lord so that His wrath would be turned away.  Is this a proper motivation for NT Christians?  If so, is it the best motivation?  Why?
2.      The covenant that Hezekiah and Judah made with God reminds us that each generation (and individual) must covenant to follow God?  (Joshua 24:15) Do you remember a time or times that you have done that?
3.      Does 2 Chronicles 30:9-11 remind you of a time you have shared the Gospel?  How can these verses encourage us today?
4.      What are some principles we can draw from the collection, handling and distribution of the firstfruits and tithes in 2 Chronicles 31:7-19?
5.      Chapter’s 29-31 lists over thirty people with little more than a function they performed.  Why do you think the Bible names people like this?  Is there a lesson for us there?
It is interesting to note that 2 Kings 18-20 and Isaiah 36-39 say nothing of Hezekiah restoring the temple or celebrating the Passover.

Answer: Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.
Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were to give 10 percent of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent, not the 10 percent which is generally considered the tithe amount today. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Answer: Firstfruits was a Jewish feast held in the early spring at the beginning of the grain harvest. It was observed on Nissan 16, which was the third day after Passover and the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Firstfruits was a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision.
Leviticus 23:9-14 institutes the firstfruits offering. The people were to bring a sheaf of grain to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord. A burnt offering, a meal offering, and a drink offering were also required at that time. Deuteronomy 26:1-10 gives even more detail on the procedure of firstfruits.
No grain was to be harvested at all until the firstfruits offering was brought to the Lord (Leviticus 23:14). The offering was made in remembrance of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, the Lord’s deliverance from slavery, and their possession of “a land that floweth with milk and honey.” The day of the firstfruits offering was also used to calculate the proper time of the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-16).
In the New Testament, the firstfruits offering is mentioned seven times, always symbolically. Paul calls Epaenetus and the household of Stephanas “the firstfruits of Achaia” (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:15). His meaning is that, just as the firstfruits offering was the first portion of a larger harvest, these individuals were the first of many converts in that region. James calls believers “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18). Just like the sheaf of grain was set apart for the Lord, so are believers set apart for God’s glory.
The firstfruits offering found its fulfillment in Jesus. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Jesus’ resurrection has paved the way for our resurrection. Significantly, if Jesus was killed at Passover, then His resurrection on the third day would have fallen on Nissan 16—the Feast of Firstfruits.
The firstfruits offering is never directly applied to Christian giving in the New Testament. However, Paul taught the Corinthian believers to set aside a collection “on the first day of the week” (1 Corinthians 16:2). And, just as the offering of firstfruits was an occasion of thanksgiving, so the Christian is to give with gladness.
In summary, firstfruits symbolizes God’s harvest of souls, it illustrates giving to God from a grateful heart, and it sets a pattern of giving back to Him the first (and the best) of what He has given us. Not being under the Old Testament Law, the Christian is under no further obligation than to give cheerfully and liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6-7

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