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Hezekiah: Faith And Weakness

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CHAPTER 31 Nov.2 
Generous Response and Distribution of the Tithes
Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, and broke in pieces the pillars, and cut down the Asherim, and broke down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned each man to his possession, into their own cities. 2Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites after their divisions, each man according to his service, both the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to praise in the gates of the camp of Yahweh. 3He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of Yahweh. 4Moreover he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to the law of Yahweh. 5As soon as the commandment was published, the children of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. 6The children of Israel and Judah, who lived in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of dedicated things which were consecrated to Yahweh their God, and laid them by heaps. 7In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed Yahweh and His people Israel. 9Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10Azariah the chief priest, of the house of Zadok, answered him and said, Since people began to bring the offerings into the house of Yahweh, we have eaten and had enough, and have left plenty; for Yahweh has blessed His people. That which is left is this great store. 11Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of Yahweh; and they prepared them. 12They brought in the offerings, the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully. Conaniah the Levite was ruler over them, and Shimei his brother was second. 13Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath and Benaiah were overseers under the hand of Conaniah and Shimei his brother, by the appointment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of God’s house. 14Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter at the east gate, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the offerings of Yahweh and the most holy things. 15Under him were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their office of trust, to give to their brothers by divisions, both to the great and small. 16Also under him were those who were reckoned by genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even each one who entered into the house of Yahweh, as the duty of every day required, for their service in their offices according to their divisions; 17and those who were reckoned by genealogy of the priests by their fathers’ houses; and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their offices by their divisions; 18and those who were reckoned by genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, their sons and their daughters, through all the congregation. In their office of trust they sanctified themselves in holiness. 19Also for the sons of Aaron the priests, who were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every city, there were men who were mentioned by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all who were reckoned by genealogy among the Levites. 20Hezekiah did so throughout all Judah; and he worked that which was good and right and faithful before Yahweh his God. 21In every work that he began in the service of God’s house, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.


31:3 The king’s portion of his substance- Hezekiah led this reformation by his personal example- absolutely vital in any leadership role within God’s people.
31:7 There are many ‘small’ details in the Biblical record which indicate that we are reading real history, inspired by God and infallible. The third month was at the end of the grain harvest, the time of the feast of Pentecost. The seventh month was at the end of the fruit and wine harvest, the time of the feast of tabernacles. 
31:8 The Hebrew idea of ‘blessing’ carries more weight than a casual ‘Bless you!’ or ‘Well done!’. It was loaded with the solemn belief that something actual would happen as a result of the blessing being pronounced (the same is true of the idea of ‘cursing’). Passages like Ez. 44:30; Hag. 2:19 and Mal. 3:10,11 state that there would be material blessing in the homes of those who gave the tithe, and Hezekiah surely had this in mind. Our giving to God is responded to by Him; maybe not in cash terms (otherwise the concepts of giving and generosity lose their significance), but we can be assured that there will be a real blessing in response. 
31:10 Several times in the record of Israel’s history we have this feature- of response to a call for donations far over what was required (e.g. 24:10). And yet the prophets emphasize that Israel never really quit idol worship and were constantly rebellious against Yahweh. We observe from this that there was a conscience toward God amongst them, and people love and need to be given some concrete way of serving God; generally, people lack initiative and need to have a structure given to them within which they can serve God. But we also see that it’s far easier to give material things at one point in time than to give our hearts to God for a lifetime.