National Celebration of Passover

2 Chronicles 30:1-6

In our scripture reading for today, we will see that:

  • Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah (30:1)

  • They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan (30:5)

  • The couriers went throughout Israel and Judah (30:6)

Dan is Israel’s northernmost city, whilst Beersheba is the southernmost city. So, “from Dan to Beersheba” has always been a way to describe the whole land of the United Kingdom of Israel, prior to the divided monarchy. It’s similar to the Indonesian saying “from Sabang to Merauke.” After the divided monarchy, though, this term becomes equated to “all Israel and Judah.”

This emphasizes Hezekiah’s best efforts at inviting not only the Southern Kingdom of Judah– i.e. the people under his command and jurisdiction; but also the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ever since the days of Solomon, the United Kingdom of Israel had split into the northern kingdom, Israel and the southern, Judah and were never united again. But Hezekiah understood that God had intended for all of the Israelites to worship Him as one people, and make this festival pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times a year as commanded in the Law (Exodus 23:14-19; Exodus 34:23).

Hezekiah was able to see past the strife and conflicts between the north and south and initiated an act of national repentance. The people had been neglecting worship; and we see it in this description: “it (the Passover) had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written” (30:5b). Perhaps it is quite timely that we are reading so close to the time of Easter, which is really the same period as the celebration days of “Passover - Unleavened Bread - Firstfruits”. Many of the world’s so-called Christians have also been laxed at coming before God for public worship. Some come to church only twice a year, during Easter and Christmas. Others do not come at all. But the fact that the observances of these festivals are commanded by God in the Old Testament informs us how God intends for us to discipline ourselves for worship. Of course, such discipline must not be done legalistically, but rather willingly. But we should not think that avoiding legalism means forgoing discipline.

May we hear and heed the call to worship, and be glad while we do that. May we be able to say: “I rejoiced with those who said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD" (Psalms 122:1)