Editor’s note: This series is taken from a talk given by a Chinese theological teacher and trainer at a conference in Hong Kong in 2014. It has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk. Make sure you check out yesterday’s post and next week for the whole series!
Let us look at 2 Chronicles 30.
This passage talks about how King Hezekiah led the Israelites. Israel's southern and northern kingdoms came together to the temple to observe Passover. This story is a great example of unity.
Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the Passover in the second month for they could not keep it at that time because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient number, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem and the plan seemed right to the king and all the assembly. (2 Chronicles 30:1-4)
Did you notice that truth and unity are embodied in these four verses? Where you see truth here? It is when Israel and Judah come together to observe the Passover they must observe, guarding the truth. Now where do you see unity? The Passover was originally observed in the first month of the Jewish calendar. Historically, all the Israelites hoped to return to Jerusalem for it. The hope is not only for Judah, but also for Israel. Their discussion about what to do dragged on for one month. So we notice that the leader and his people all think the plan seemed right – truth and unity is not in conflict here.
Back in chapter 29, we find some background. Hezekiah ascended the throne at the age of twenty five, and bravely, he started to repair the temple. He used the whole month to restore the temple, alter, and worship. In roughly the same year, he discussed returning to the laws of Moses and observing Passover with the leaders. This is a really important point. According to Hezekiah, all of Israel, the whole people group, must return to Jerusalem since the Old Testament requires that in one year everyone must go to Jerusalem three times for worship. Passover was one of these festivals for remembering the Exodus from Egypt.
Hezekiah first worked for a revival starting with the alter. If you know the Old Testament, according to the book of Kings, there is no account of this. In Kings, it is recorded that Hezekiah was a righteous and good king, there was no king like him. The revival was not recorded there. This is an important detail to notice. Why? The background of the return is recorded in Chronicles to talk about the unity of Israel. Israel was conquered, and eventually Judah was also conquered, and during their return, they hoped for future revival – a revival for all the descendants of Judah, Ephraim, and the descendants of Israel to gather together. They were expecting the Messiah to come, and lead to the end times, bringing the permanent king and great high priest's kingdom down to earth. This was their hope. Of course, we know that this hope had not yet occurred.
But today, when we are thinking about truth and unity, we have one thing that is different from the Israelites, which is that we believe that the Messiah has already come. The Messiah is among us. He brought his perfect self as an offering, to be our sacrificial lamb for Passover. Only by his blood can our sins be covered and God redeem us. Only his precious blood can clean the temple. Only his own body can become the temple, where God and the people can commune.
Elder Yang has reminded me that when God calls the remnant to return to Jerusalem, and we are heading toward the new Jerusalem, it is not an easy path to take. It is a pilgrim's road. Not only do we think of Israel’s difficulties when they heard the call to assemble, but we also experience difficulties as we come together from all the nations, including Asia and China. God is calling his sons and daughters to gather around the foot of his future throne, and to form heaven and earth's greatest temple, which is Jesus Christ's body, the church. This unity is important. We want to experience the effects of truth and unity together, [despite the difficult road,] so that the hope of the gospel and of future revival will come upon us.