2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29; 2 Chronicles 30; 2 Chronicles 31; Psalm 48

1 Hezekiah began to rule as king over Judah. It was in the third year that Hoshea was king of Israel. He was the son of Elah. Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz. 2 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother's name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 3 Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as King David had done. 4 Hezekiah removed the high places. He smashed the sacred stones. He cut down the poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made. Up to that time the people of Israel had been burning incense to it. They called it Nehushtan. 5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all of the kings of Judah. There was no king like him either before him or after him. 6 Hezekiah remained true to the Lord. He didn't stop following him. He obeyed the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 The LORD was with Hezekiah. He was successful in everything he did. He refused to remain under the control of the king of Assyria. He didn't serve him. 8 He won the war against the Philistines. He won battles at their lookout towers. He won battles at their cities that had high walls around them. He won battles against the Philistines all the way to Gaza and its territory.
1 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother's name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 2 Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as King David had done. 3 In the first month of Hezekiah's first year as king, he opened the doors of the LORD's temple. He repaired them. 4 He brought the priests and Levites in. He gathered them together in the open area on the east side of the temple. 5 He said, "Levites, listen to me! Set yourselves apart to the Lord. Set apart the temple of the Lord. He's the God of your people. Remove anything that is 'unclean' from the temple. 6 Our people weren't faithful. They did what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God. They deserted him. They turned their faces away from the place where he lives. They turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the temple porch. They put the lamps out. They didn't burn incense at the temple. They didn't sacrifice burnt offerings to the God of Israel there. 8 "So the LORD has become angry with Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them look so bad that everyone is shocked when they see them. They laugh at them. You can see it with your own eyes. 9 That's why our people have been killed with swords. That's why our sons and daughters and wives have become prisoners. 10 "So I'm planning to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel. Then he'll turn his burning anger away from us. 11 "My sons, don't fail to obey the Lord. He has chosen you to stand in front of him and work for him. He wants you to serve him and burn incense to him." 12 Here are the Levites who went to work. Mahath and Joel were from the family line of Kohath. Mahath was the son of Amasai. Joel was the son of Azariah. Kish and Azariah were from the family line of Merari. Kish was the son of Abdi. Azariah was the son of Jehallelel. Joah and Eden were from the family line of Gershon. Joah was the son of Zimmah. Eden was the son of Joah. 13 Shimri and Jeiel were from the family line of Elizaphan. Zechariah and Mattaniah were from the family line of Asaph. 14 Jehiel and Shimei were from the family line of Heman. Shemaiah and Uzziel were from the family line of Jeduthun. 15 All of those Levites gathered the other Levites together. They set themselves apart to the Lord. Then they went in to purify the LORD's temple. That's what the king had ordered them to do. They did what the LORD told them to. 16 The priests went into the LORD's temple to make it pure. They brought out to the temple courtyard everything that was "unclean." They had found "unclean" things in the LORD's temple. The Levites took them and carried them out to the Kidron Valley. 17 On the first day of the first month they began to set everything in the temple apart to the Lord. By the eighth day of the month they reached the LORD's porch. For eight more days they set the LORD's temple itself apart to him. They finished on the 16th day of the first month. 18 Then they went to King Hezekiah. They reported, "We've purified the whole temple of the Lord. That includes the altar for burnt offerings and all of its tools. It also includes the table for the holy bread and all of its articles. 19 We've prepared all of the articles King Ahaz had removed. We've set them apart to the Lord. Ahaz had removed them while he was king. He wasn't faithful to the Lord. The articles are now in front of the LORD's altar." 20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together. They went up to the LORD's temple. 21 They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs and seven male goats with them. They sacrificed the animals as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the temple and for Judah. The king commanded the priests to offer them on the LORD's altar. The priests were from the family line of Aaron. 22 They killed the bulls. Then they sprinkled the blood on the altar. Next they killed the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar. Then they killed the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar. 23 The goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the whole community. They placed their hands on them. 24 Then the priests killed the goats. They put the blood on the altar as a sin offering. It paid for the sin of the whole nation of Israel. The king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for the whole nation. 25 He stationed the Levites in the LORD's temple. They had cymbals, harps and lyres. They did everything in the way King David, his prophet Gad, and the prophet Nathan had required. The LORD had given commands about all of those things through his prophets. 26 So the Levites stood ready with David's musical instruments. And the priests had their trumpets ready. 27 Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. The offering began. Singing to the LORD also began. The singing was accompanied by the trumpets and by the instruments of David. He had been king of Israel. 28 The whole community bowed down. They worshiped the Lord. At the same time the singers sang. The priests blew their trumpets. All of that continued until the burnt offering had been sacrificed. 29 So the offerings were finished. King Hezekiah got down on his knees. He worshiped the Lord. So did everyone who was with him. 30 The king and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord. They used the words of David and the prophet Asaph. They sang praises with joy. They bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord. 31 Then Hezekiah said, "You have set yourselves apart to the Lord. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to his temple." So the whole community brought sacrifices and thank offerings. Everyone who wanted to brought burnt offerings. 32 The whole community brought 70 bulls, 100 rams and 200 male lambs. They brought all of them as burnt offerings to the Lord. 33 The total number of animals that were set apart as sacrifices to the LORD was 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep and goats. 34 But there weren't enough priests to skin all of the burnt offerings. So their brother Levites helped them. They worked until the task was finished. By that time other priests had been set apart to the Lord. The Levites had been more careful than the priests when they set themselves apart. 35 There were large numbers of burnt offerings, along with the drink offerings and the fat from the friendship offerings. They were offered along with the burnt offerings. So the service of the LORD's temple was started up again. 36 Hezekiah and all of the people were filled with joy. That's because everything had been done so quickly. God had provided for his people in a wonderful way.
1 Hezekiah sent a message to all of the people of Israel and Judah. He also wrote letters to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. He invited everyone to come to the LORD's temple in Jerusalem. He wanted them to celebrate the Passover Feast in honor of the Lord. He is the God of Israel. 2 The king, his officials and the whole community in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. 3 They hadn't been able to celebrate it at the regular time. That's because there weren't enough priests who had set themselves apart to the Lord. Also, the people hadn't gathered together in Jerusalem. 4 The plan seemed good to the king and the whole community. 5 They decided to send a message all through Israel. It was sent out from Beersheba all the way to Dan. The message invited the people to come to Jerusalem. It invited them to celebrate the Passover in honor of the Lord, the God of Israel. The Passover hadn't been celebrated by large numbers of people for a long time. It hadn't been done in keeping with what was written in the law. 6 Messengers went all through Israel and Judah. They carried letters from the king and his officials. The king had ordered them to do that. The letters said, "People of Israel, return to the Lord. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Return to him. Then he will return to you who are left in the land. You have escaped from the power of the kings of Assyria. 7 "Don't be like the rest of your people and relatives. They weren't faithful to the Lord, the God of their people. That's why he punished them. He made them look so bad that everyone was shocked when they saw them. You can see it for yourselves. 8 "Don't be stubborn. Don't be as your people were. Obey the Lord. Come to the temple. He has set it apart to himself forever. Serve the LORD your God. Then he'll turn his burning anger away from you. 9 "Suppose you return to the Lord. Then those who captured your relatives and children will be kind to them. In fact, your relatives and children will come back to this land. The LORD your God is kind and tender. He won't turn away from you if you return to him." 10 The messengers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh. They went all the way to Zebulun. But the people made fun of them. They laughed at them. 11 In spite of that, some men from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun made themselves low in the LORD's sight. They went to Jerusalem. 12 God's powerful hand helped the people of Judah. He helped them agree with one another. So they did what the king and his officials had ordered. They did what the LORD told them to do. 13 A very large crowd of people gathered together in Jerusalem. They went there to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It took place in the second month. 14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem. They cleared away the altars for burning incense. They threw all of the altars into the Kidron Valley. 15 They killed the Passover lamb on the 14th day of the second month. The priests and Levites were filled with shame. They set themselves apart to the Lord. They brought burnt offerings to his temple. 16 Then they went to their regular positions. They did it just as the Law of Moses, the man of God, required. The Levites gave the blood of the animals to the priests. The priests sprinkled it on the altar. 17 Many people in the crowd hadn't set themselves apart to the Lord. They weren't "clean." They couldn't set their lambs apart to him. So the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all of them. 18 Many people came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun. Most of them hadn't made themselves pure and clean. But they still ate the Passover meal. That was against what was written in the law. But Hezekiah prayed for them. He said, "The LORD is good. May he forgive everyone 19 who wants to worship God with all his heart. God is the Lord, the God of their people. May he forgive them even if they aren't 'clean' in keeping with the rules of the temple." 20 The LORD answered Hezekiah's prayer. He healed the people. 21 The people of Israel who were in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They celebrated for seven days with great joy. The Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day. Their singing was accompanied by musical instruments. The instruments were used to praise the Lord. 22 Hezekiah spoke words that gave hope to all of the Levites. They understood how to serve the LORD well. For the seven days of the Feast they ate the share that was given to them. They also sacrificed friendship offerings. They praised the Lord, the God of their people. 23 Then the whole community agreed to celebrate the Feast for seven more days. So for another seven days they celebrated with joy. 24 Hezekiah, the king of Judah, provided 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats for the community. The officials provided 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats for them. A large number of priests set themselves apart to the Lord. 25 The entire community of Judah was filled with joy. So were the priests and Levites. And so were all of the people who had gathered together from Israel. That included the outsiders who had come from Israel. It also included those who lived in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem. There hadn't been anything like it in Israel since the days of Solomon, the son of David. Solomon had been king of Israel. 27 The priests and Levites gave their blessing to the people. God heard them. Their prayer reached all the way to heaven. It's the holy place where he lives.
1 The Feast came to an end. The people of Israel who were in Jerusalem went out to the towns of Judah. They smashed the sacred stones. They cut down the poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. They destroyed the high places and the altars. They did those things all through Judah and Benjamin. They also did them in Ephraim and Manasseh. They destroyed all of the objects that were used to worship other gods. Then the people returned to their own towns and property. 2 Hezekiah put the priests and Levites in groups based on their duties. The priests sacrificed burnt offerings and friendship offerings. The Levites served the LORD by giving thanks and singing praises at the gates of his house. 3 The king gave some of his own possessions to the temple. He gave them for the morning and evening burnt offerings. He gave them for the burnt offerings for every Sabbath day. He gave them for the burnt offerings for every New Moon feast. And he gave them for the burnt offerings for every yearly appointed feast. He did it in keeping with what is written in the Law of the Lord. 4 Hezekiah gave an order to the people who were living in Jerusalem. He commanded them to give to the priests and Levites the share they owed them. Then the priests and Levites could give their full attention to the Law of the Lord. 5 The order went out. Right away the people of Israel began to give freely. They gave the first share of the harvest of their grain, fresh wine, olive oil and honey. They also gave the first share of everything else their fields produced. They brought a large amount. It was a tenth of everything. 6 The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah brought a tenth of their herds and flocks. They also brought a tenth of the holy things they had set apart to the LORD their God. They put them in piles. 7 They began doing it in the third month. They finished in the seventh month. 8 Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the piles. When they did, they praised the Lord. And they blessed his people Israel. 9 Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the piles. 10 The chief priest Azariah answered him. He said, "The people have been bringing their gifts to the LORD's temple. Ever since they began to bring them, we've had enough to eat. We have even had plenty to spare. That's because the LORD has blessed his people. So we have a large amount left over." Azariah was from the family line of Zadok. 11 Hezekiah gave orders to prepare storerooms in the LORD's temple. And it was done. 12 The people were faithful. They brought in their offerings, a tenth of everything they produced, and the gifts they had set apart to the Lord. The Levite Conaniah was in charge of those things. His brother Shimei was next in command after him. 13 Conaniah and his brother Shimei had directors who worked under them. Their names were Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath and Benaiah. King Hezekiah and Azariah had appointed them. Azariah was the official who was in charge of God's temple. 14 The Levite Kore guarded the East Gate. He was in charge of the offerings people chose to give to God. He handed out the offerings that were made to the Lord. He also handed out the gifts that had been set apart to the Lord. Kore was the son of Imnah. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shecaniah helped Kore. They were faithful in helping him in the towns of the priests. They handed out gifts to their brother priests, group by group. They gave the gifts to young men and old men alike. 16 In addition to that, they handed out gifts to the males who were three years old or more. The names of those males were listed in their family history. All of them would enter the LORD's temple. They would carry out their duties each day. Each group did all of the different things it was supposed to do. 17 Kore and his Levite companions also handed out gifts to the priests. The priests were listed by their families in their family history. Those Levites also handed out gifts to the Levites who were 20 years old or more. Each group did all of the different things it was supposed to do. 18 Those groups included all of the little ones, the wives, and the sons and daughters of the whole community. All of them were listed in their family history. They were faithful in setting themselves apart to serve the Lord. 19 Some of the priests, who were from the family line of Aaron, lived in other towns or on farms around their towns. Men were chosen by name to hand out shares to those priests. They gave a share to every male among them. They also gave a share to everyone whose name was written down in the family history of the Levites. 20 That's what Hezekiah did all through Judah. He did what was good and right. He was faithful to the LORD his God. 21 He looked to his God. He worked for him with all his heart. That's the way he worked in everything he did to serve God's temple. He obeyed the law. He followed the LORD's commands. So he had success.
1 The LORD is great. He is really worthy of praise. Praise him in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 Mount Zion is high and beautiful. It brings joy to everyone on earth. Mount Zion is like the highest parts of Mount Zaphon. It is the city of the Great King. 3 God is there to keep it safe. He has shown himself to be like a fort to the city. 4 Many kings joined forces. They entered Israel together. 5 But when they saw Mount Zion, they were amazed. They ran away in terror. 6 Trembling took hold of them. They felt pain like a woman giving birth to a baby. 7 Lord, you destroyed them like ships of Tarshish that were torn apart by an east wind. 8 What we heard we have also seen. We have seen it in the city of the LORD who rules over all. We have seen it in the city of our God. We have heard and seen that God makes her secure forever. "Selah" 9 God, inside your temple we think about your faithful love. 10 God, your fame reaches from one end of the earth to the other. In the same way, people praise you from one end of the earth to the other. You use your power to do what is right. 11 Mount Zion is filled with joy. The villages of Judah are glad. That's because you judge fairly. 12 Walk around Zion. Go all around it. Count its towers. 13 Think carefully about its outer walls. Just look at how safe it is! Then you can tell its people that God keeps them safe. 14 This God is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide to the very end.
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