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2 Chronicles 30:7-8
That the fierceness of His wrath may turn away.
Mercy turned to penalty
The fire that cheers, refines, and purifies, also bums and tortures. It all depends on our relation to the fire, whether it be our friend or foe. In Retsch’s illustration of Goethe’s “Faust,” there is one plate where angels are seen dropping roses upon the demons who are contending for the soul of Faust. But every rose falls like molten metal wherever it touches. God rains roses down, but our sinful hearts meeting Divine love with wilful disobedience turn His love into wrath. (Christian Age.)
The duty of yielding ourselves to the Lord
I. A blessed season of grace marked for all israel. Now were the doors of the house of the Lord opened (2 Chronicles 29:3).
II. Their duty in that blessed season of grace.
1. Negative. “Be not stiff-necked.” It is a metaphor taken from bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke, who make great difficulty and resistance about taking it on.
(1) Yielding themselves to the Lord. Hebrew, give ye the hand to the Lord.
(2) Entering into His sanctuary.
(3) Serving Him.
(a) In His ordinances.
(b) In their daily walk. (T. Boston, D.D.)
A season of grace
In a season of grace, in which God is offering to lay His yoke on sinners, they should beware of being stiff-necked, or refusing to take it on.
I. What is that yoke which the Lord is offering to lay on sinners. It is the Soft and easy yoke for the salvation and welfare of penitent sinners. “Take My yoke upon you, saith Jesus, and learn of Me: For My yoke is easy.” This is the yoke of kindly willing subjection to God in Christ.
1. The yoke of subjection to the will of His commandments.
2. The yoke of His providential will. He claims to dispose of you, as seems good to Him.
II. This obedience of the sinner to God is called a yoke, because--
1. Coming under it, we are in a state of subjection as those under a yoke.
2. It is laid on us for labour or work.
3. By it we are not only kept at work, but kept in order at our work. They who truly bear the yoke, are uniform and orderly in their obedience. “They have respect unto all God’s commandments.”
4. Of its uneasiness to the flesh.
5. It fixes subjection upon us. The bonds of obligation are sweet and agreeable to His willing people.
1. God is the party with whom we have to do.
2. There will be nothing gained by stiff-neckedness to the yoke of God.
3. God has waited long on you, but will not wait always (Proverbs 29:1). Now, while a season of grace is afforded to sinners, it is their duty to fall in with it speedily, to give the hand and yield themselves to the Lord. Here We shall--
I. Show how sinners have a season of grace afforded them
1. By their being continued in life.
2. By the call of the Gospel so directed to them. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.”
3. By solemn sacramental occasions afforded to a people. This is the case in the text. These make a precious “now” not to be slighted. At ordinary occasions of the gospel, the blessed bargain is offered; but now the seal of heaven is ready to confirm it.
4. By some inward motions felt within one’s own soul, pressing them to comply and yield at length.
II. Inquire what is supposed in this gracious call to sinners. It supposes--
1. That sinners are naturally in a state of rebellion against the Lord.
2. That though the Lord can break the sinner in pieces for his rebellion, yet He would rather that the sinner yield (Ezekiel 33:11).
3. That God’s hand is stretched out to receive the sinner yielding himself (Isaiah 65:2).
4. That forced work will not be acceptable here.
6. That the sinner willingly yielding shall be kindly received and accepted.
III. Show what it is to give the hand or yield ouselves to the Lord.
1. In general, it comprehends--
(1) The work of conviction.
(2) The work of illumination in the knowledge of Christ, in receiving the discovery of a Savour.
(3) The work of humiliation, in becoming pliable to the Divine propose in the Gospel; leading them to say, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” The iron sinew in the sinner’s neck is broken. The outer door of the mind, and the inner door of the will, are both cast open to the Lord Christ.
(4) The work of faith in the sinner’s believing on, and so closing with Christ, as his Saviour from sin and wrath, renouncing all others.
(6) The work of repentance from dead works, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (Colossians 2:11). Faith and repentance are inseparable. That faith which produceth not evangelical repentance, is but dead faith.
(6) The work of entire resignation.
2. In particular.
(1) Yielding the soul, or inner man--mind--conscience--will--to the Lord.
(2) Yielding the body or outward man to the Lord.
(3) Yielding up all lusts and idols to Him as traitors which you can no more harbour.
(4) Yielding all lawful enjoyments to Him, so as to be at His disposal, and never to break with Him for any of them.
(5) Yielding, your lot and your all to Him; saying,” “He shall choose our inheritance for us. Improvement
Use 1: Of conviction and humiliation, in respect of the sad bias which man’s nature has got.
Use 2: Of exhortation.
(1) You must yield yourselves to one or other, for you are not self-sufficient.
(2) The Lord hath the best right to you.
(3) Consider what the Lord has yielded for you (Romans 8:32; Romans 5:8).
(4) The Saviour is very desirous of your yielding.
(5) He is not seeking your yielding yourselves for nothing (Hosea 3:3).
(6) You must yield or die, bow or break.
(7) Yield and all your former rebellions shall be forgiven.
(8) Yield or the Lord Will have war with you for ever. How will you bear His coming? (2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). (T. Boston, D. D.)
The manner in which the soul should yield itself to the Lord
I. As in a marriage covenant (Hosea 2:19).
2. For ever.
II. As to a conqueror.
III. As to your king and sovereign Lord. At discretion and not by capitulation.
IV. As filial servants to a fatherly master (T. Boston, D. D.)
2 Chronicles 30:17-20
For them were many in the congregation that were not sanctified.
Unfitness for the Communion
I. There are seasons when we feel unfit for the sacred ordinance of the Lord’s house. Let us think of the ways in which the Israelites were rendered unfit for the Passover and see how far they tally with our unfitness for the Supper.
1. Some were kept away by defilement.
(1) The dead in sin lie all around us; contact with their ways and motives, unless we are continually cleansed by Divine grace, is defiling in many ways.
(2) The mass of sin within our own selves is a constant source of defilement.
2. When a man was on a journey he could not keep the Passover. The heart’s blood of the Eucharist, is nearness to God; and when we are afar off, it is a poor dead ceremony.
3. You may have been in an evil case from unknown causes. You feel it is not with you as in days past. Marring influences not mentioned in the Book of Numbers may have been preventing you from eating the spiritual Passover to your heart’s content. Among these causes are--
(1) Little faith.
(2) The absence of overflowing joy.
(3) Spiritual weakness at all points.
(4) A feeling of uselessness. Whatever your disqualifications, bring them and turn them into confessions of sin.
II. Though we feel and lament our want of preparation we may still come to the feast. Let us to some extent follow in the track of the men in Hezekiah’s time.
1. They forgot their differences.
2. They removed the idols.
3. They endeavoured to prepare their hearts.
4. They made open and explicit confession unto God.
5. Confession made, let prayer ascend to heaven.
III. In so coming we may expect a blessing. At the Passover in Hezekiah’s days there was--
1. Great gladness.
2. Great praise to God.
3. Great communion with God.
4. A great enthusiasm.
5. Great liberality.
6. Another great breaking of idols. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Personal sanctification requisite for acceptable worship
I. The principle which is essential to acceptable worship.
Sanctification (Hebrews 10:22). Sanctification of heart is necessary if you consider--
1. The character of God who is worshipped (Isaiah 6:1-5).
2. The nature of the worship required.
3. The design of all religious worship.
(1) To glorify God.
(2) To promote our increasing likeness to God.
II. The assertion that in many this principle was wanting. This charge is--
2. Tremendously awful.
Connect it with the declaration of the Saviour, “If I wash thee not thou hast no part with Me.” (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
The people’s state and condition
This text, though it speaketh of the celebration of the Passover, yet will well enough befit the solemnity of the Lord’s Supper.
I. The indisposition or unpreparedness of the people.” A multitude of the people had not cleansed themselves.”
1. In these times in which there is much care had about the right celebration of a sacrament, there are many yet that are unworthy.
(1) Because there is a great deal of laziness in people, and an unwillingness against such a soul-searching ordinance as the sacrament.
(2) There is a great deal of hypocrisy in many men, and it is possible that they may carry their naughtiness so secretly that they may hide it from the most discerning eye.
2. If when much care is taken about the ordinances, many are unworthy to come, it serveth,
(1) To show what need we in this land have to humble ourselves, as for other sins, so especially for our sacramental sins.
(2) For a double exhortation:
(a) To pastors, that they should use all diligent care to prevent this unworthiness, by instructing the people in the nature of the ordinances, and by admonishing them of the danger of their unprepared coming.
(b) To the people. To stir them up every one to look unto himself whether he be not one of the number. A gracious heart is apt to suspect itself (Matthew 26:22). The unprepared, unworthy receiver is he that doth not come with answerable meet affections, and so holy and reverent a frame of spirit as God requires we should bring into His presence. They are--All ignorant persons that cannot discern the Lord’s body. Those that do not judge and condemn themselves (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). A gracious prepared heart is a self-judging heart: a wicked heart is loth to come to trial. Those that come in uncharitableness and malice.
3. There is no cause why men should abstain from the use of ordinances, for fear of communicating with wicked and profane men.
II. Their practice notwithstanding. “Yet they did eat the Passover otherwise than was written.” Many rush on ordinances notwithstanding their unpreparedness. The reasons are--
1. The remissness, or abuse of the censures, of the Church, that do not restrain such persons from coming.
2. It proceedeth from ourselves, because--
(1) There is a great deal of ignorance and unbelief in the hearts of most men.
(2) Custom prevaileth with most rather than conscience. Custom usually eateth out the strength of any performance, and dissolves it into a mere formality.
III. The fault of their practice. They ate otherwise than was written. God’s service is a written service. We offend in our duties when we do otherwise than is written. We do this--
1. When we do too much.
1. The essentials of a sacrament are set down in the institution; there is the rule. If we seek to patch it up with some zealous additions and pieces of our own, we go beyond the rule.
2. In the outward part of duty, in corporal service, and in the pomp and solemnity of his worship, there we may do too much--more than we need to have done. It is easy to be too pompous in a sacrament, and to sin against the plainness of the ordinance. Duties are like your coats of arms, best when they are plainest, and not overcharged with too many fillings; or like wine, then most generous and sprightly, when it is pure and uncompounded. The sacraments were to feed men’s hearts, not to please their eyes, or tickle their ears. Ordinances nourish best when they come nearest their primitive institution. We may, then, do too much here. A sense-pleasing religion is dangerous, it is too much suitable to our natural inclinations; and that is the reason why country people are so much taken with these shows; they do not love the native beauty that is in duties half so well as they do the painting of them. It is a miserable thing when you will place religion in that for which you have no ground nor warrant. If you will find yourselves work, and not take that which is cut out for you, you know who must pay you your wages. Mark the question of the Saviour (Matthew 15:3).
2. When we do too little. When we come not up to the spiritual part of the commandment. Consider what is required about duty--
(1) Something about the heart before duty. Preparation (verse 19). We must come with faith and repentance and other qualifications; we must come with a desire to find the Lord (Psalms 93:1).
(2) Something about the heart in duty. Stirring it up. A duty done without life and efficacy is as a duty not done at all. We come short of the rule if we come not with holy life and activity, with a working waiting spirit that will warm our hearts within us, and make them burn under the ordinances. See what a qualification James requireth in prayer (James 5:16). There is an expression (Acts 27:7). “Instantly serving God day and night,” which means in the original, with the forcible putting to of all their might and strength, with their stretched-out strength. There can never be too much done in respect of the spiritual part of the commandment.
3. Something to be done after duty. Recollecting and running over all the carriage of the heart towards God in the duty, and the gracious intercourse that the soul had with God. (T. Manton, D. D.)
Hezekiah’s prayer for the Israelites
I. The irregularity which some of the people were guilty of.
II. Hezekiah’s prayer for them.
III. The success of this praying. Application:
1. Let this history engage us to seek the God of our fathers, by observing all His ordinances.
2. Let this subject make us solicitous to prepare our hearts for every religious solemnity.
3. Let this subject encourage those whose hearts are prepared to seek God.
4. Let this subject excite those who have the care of others to watch over them and pray for them. (J. Orton.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 30". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent