Hezekiah’s Passover2 Chronicles 29-30 Can this passage be applied to the teaching of baptism today?
Background • Hezekiah’s reforms lead to the Levites sanctified, the temple cleansed, and the sin-sacrifices restored (2 Chron. 29) • All Israel and Judah are summoned to keep the Passover (2 Chron. 30) • The invitation to come is offered (vv. 1-9) • Some refuse, but others come (vv. 10-12) • Some are still ceremonially unclean (vv. 13-22) • There is great joy (vv. 23-27)
Two Issues in 2 Chronicles 30 • This passover is observed in the “second month” (v. 2) • This was allowed by law (Num. 9:11) • There were some who observed the passover without being cleansed (vv. 17-19) • This was not allowed by law (Lev. 15)
Can this be applied to baptism? • John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor, in their book Down in the River to Pray (Leafwood, 2004), attempt to apply it to baptism (pages 186-188) • These men teach if a person is not baptized at all, or baptized, but in a wrong way (wrong mode or wrong purpose), God will still accept that one if they “seek” God with a right “heart” • According to Hicks and Taylor, “God values a seeker’s heart and benevolent mercy more than ritual” (page 185)
Can this be applied to other doctrines? • What other doctrines can this principle applied to? Where do you stop? (Lord’s supper, music, etc.) • Where does it lead? Fellowship with anyone who “seeks” God with a right “heart” (Muslim, Mormon, etc.) • What happens when the details of God’s rituals are devalued? First, the unbaptized are called “Christians.” Second, denominationalism is exonerated (1 Cor. 1:10).
Be Careful About Commentaries • “upright seeking of the Lord … is to be more highly estimated than strict observance of the letter of the law…” (K&D, 3:464) • “Due to the special circumstances of this Passover, some of the ceremonial requirements were relaxed” (Black, BST, 426) • “…prayer can overcome any formal deficiency in religious practice” (Selman, TOTC, 499)
Be Careful About Commentaries • “Mere ritualism is not the goal of Temple worship…” (Sailhamer, EBC, 108). • “There is a sensible compromise with the requirements of legalistic ritual in allowing those ceremonially unclean to participate. Although Uzzah earlier died because of a ritual lapse (1 Chron. 13:10), ritual strictness is here attenuated, perhaps as a result of circumstances and sincere prayer” (Bowling, ECB, 290).
Be Careful About Commentaries • “so Hezekiah preferred that the people should break the letter of the Law and eat without being sanctified than that they should be debarred from such an important festival and so be unfaithful to the spirit of the divine legislation” (CHB, 266) • “the Israelites were exempted from certain ritual prescriptions” (BBCOT, 453) • “…this exception was allowed in answer to Hezekiah’s prayer” (JFB, 331)
Be Careful About Commentaries • “Hezekiah’s prayer of intercession made it possible for them to share to this extent in the Passover. For if they were true in heart (v.19), they could on this first occasion be pardoned (“healed,” v.20) for a failure in outward conformity” (WBC, 414) • “From this and many similar passages we learn that even under the Mosaic dispensation, when outward, rites were made so prominent, God regarded more the state and dispositions of the heart than the external purity of the worshipper: Psa. 51:16-17” (C.H. Irwin, 140)
Be Careful About Commentaries • “In case of necessity, ritual could be set aside in favor of the worship of the broken and contrite heart’ (J.M. Myers). This is an important point, for the Chronicler is often portrayed as a thoroughgoing ritualist but here he shows quite clearly that he abides by the prophetic concept that the true worship of God is not necessarily associated with ritual but with the correct attitude of heart and mind” (J.K. Howard, IBC, 481)