Summary: A great scripture that shows God's people responding to the call to tithe.
Well that was edifying. We used that video a couple of years ago but thought we could drag it out again. This is week four of our Treasures of the Heart series. If you haven’t been with us during that time or if you are new to Cornerstone I will bring you up to speed.
I decided that instead of preaching about money when we were behind or there was a financial crunch or crisis in the church, which comes across as scolding or begging, that I would spend three or four weeks each year taking a biblical look at giving and stewardship, and this is the last Sunday of that series. Which for some of you is good news because that means that starting next Sunday you have 11 months of money free preaching. And really: Who could ask for anything more.
I do want to thank you for last Sunday’s offering, awesome job, close to 17,000.00 came in putting as in the black as we move into the new church year.
Did you catch the last line of that scripture that was read earlier? Let’s look at it again. 2 Kings 18:1-5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.
Most of you probably had never heard the name Hezekiah before this morning and now you discover that he was the greatest king to ever serve the Southern ? Kingdom.
Little history lesson here. This might just look like a line but it is in reality a “Time Line.” We will end it here at the birth of Christ and we will begin it here, where Joshua leads the people of God into the Promised Land and for the first four hundred years that they lived there they were ruled over by men and women called Judges. Around this point (1065) the people decided they wanted to be like all the other countries and have a king and so Samuel, the prophet of God appointed Saul to be King, started off well and then turned into a train wreck. Then David, you remember David, he was the shepherd boy who killed the giant goliath and the author of most of the Psalms. David became King (1043) and under David Israel flourished. When David died his son Solomon (984) assumed the throne, remember Solomon’s temple, yep same Solomon. Solomon wrote most of the proverbs and was reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived.
But it was after the death of Solomon that things took a turn for the worse. After a whole lot of infighting the Kingdom divides into the (950) Northern Kingdom, often called Israel and the Southern Kingdom referred to as Judah. This is what it looks like on a map. North, South. And each kingdom had its own King. Some were good but most were bad. Goes back to the old adage that first coined by Lord Acton, the British historian, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
And so for the most part the Kings of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms led their people far from God, either adopting the idolatrous practices of their neighbours or just fell into complete immorality. This is what History records about Hezekiah’s father Ahaz, 2 Kings 16:2-3 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD his God, as his ancestor David had done. Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
And so when Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah became King, at this point on the time line seven hundred years after the people of Israel entered into the promised land and seven Hundred years before Jesus was born, Hezekiah was committed to turning the nation back to God.
And that was the introduction to the message.
Hezekiah knew that if he was going to move the people back to worshipping God that it would begin with the Temple, our worship is very seldom a solitary exercise, it seems that God historically calls his people to come and worship him together. There is something about worshipping God as a collective. There is a synergy, energy and an accountability that comes with being with like-minded people. That is why we worship together as a church. Can people worship by themselves? Yep, but it’s hard and God knew that and so that is why the plan has been to join together.
And in 2 Chronicles chapter 31 we see the initial process of re-instituting the temple worship in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 31:2-4 Hezekiah then organized the priests and Levites into divisions to offer the burnt offerings and peace offerings, and to worship and give thanks and praise to the LORD at the gates of the Temple. The king also made a personal contribution of animals for the daily morning and evening burnt offerings, the weekly Sabbath festivals, the monthly new moon festivals, and the annual festivals as prescribed in the Law of the LORD. In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the LORD.