Throughout Israel’s history, we see neglect and return. Israel neglects the commands of God, repents, and returns to the ways of God. At times we catch ourselves judging Israel and thinking, how could a people who saw such great miracles so quickly turn from God? But in reality, we are no different; we often neglect to obey the Lord, we forget to repent of the “little sins,” and at times don’t even realize we have committed them.
Time and again, we see God extend grace and mercy to His chosen people. Countless Scriptures speak of God’s everlasting covenant and how He will not cast away His own.
In Second Chronicles chapter thirty, we see such a story. Israel had neglected the Passover for years but had returned to the ways of God and wanted to honor the Lord by celebrating His feast. The only problem was that it was the second month; Passover had already passed over; what was Israel to do?
2 Chronicles 30:1-5 LSB “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to Yahweh, the God of Israel.2 And the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to celebrate the Passover in the second month,3 since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not set themselves apart as holy in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem.4 Thus the thing was right in the eyes of the king and in the eyes of all the assembly.5 So they established a decree to make a proclamation pass throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to Yahweh, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was written.”
It goes on to say in verses eighteen through twenty, “For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than what was written. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May Yahweh, who is good, atone19 for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, Yahweh, the God of his fathers, though not according to the rules of cleansing of the sanctuary.”20 So Yahweh heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”
The time of the feast had passed, but the people wanted to honor the Lord, and He granted their request. That is the grace of God, and that is the love of God’s people. So before we are quick to judge Israel for their mistakes, let us examine ourselves. Even when the people were not fully prepared for the festival, God extended mercy and allowed them to celebrate.
Joy so overwhelmed the people of Israel that they decided to celebrate for seven more days. This is the joy that is found in serving God! Think about it, three times a year; God invites His people to a celebration, a feast of the Lord! This is the joy of our salvation, and this story displays the grace and mercy of God and His love of celebration.
Remember the words of Hebrews 4:14-16 LSB “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us take hold of our confession.15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things like we are, yet without sin.16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
That is our God, and that is our Lord and Savior! When we sin, we should run to Him, not from Him! There is grace and forgiveness for those who repent. There is correction and direction for those who seek the wisdom of God, and there is a celebration to be had at our Father’s table.