Summary: All of the things that Hezekiah did were to help his people return to God. Part of what he reinstated and restored was the giving of tithes. It was the final piece of the picture he was trying to restore.
INTRODUCTION... 3 Sermons (http://elbourne.org/sermons/index.mv?illustration+1136)
One sunny Sunday morning a shrewd minister who desperately needed funds for his struggling church stood up in the pulpit and announced: ‘Brothers and sisters, I have before me this morning three sermons: a one-thousand dollar sermon that lasts five minutes, a five-hundred dollar sermon that lasts an hour, and a two-hundred dollar sermon that lasts two hours. We shall now take up an offering and the amount received will determine the sermon preached. Needless to say, the church is no longer struggling.
READ 2 CHRONICLES 31:5-10
To understand this passage and Hezekiah’s heaps (verse 8), we must answer two basic questions about this passage. The questions involve ‘what’ he was doing exactly and ‘why’ was he doing it.
I. WHAT WAS HEZEKIAH DOING?
The answer to this first question can be found in chapters 29 and 30 of 2 Chronicles. Actually, the answers has its beginnings in 28:1! The answer is not a complicated one, but it is an answer that spans several chapters in this book. 2 Chronicles 28:1 says, "Ahaz was twenty-years old when he became king and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord." Ahaz chose to make idols for worshiping other gods (28:2) and offer sacrifices to those false gods (28:3-4). Ahaz even took things from the temple of God and shut the doors so that no one could worship there (28:24). Ahaz led the people of Judah to worship other gods and this angered the Lord (28:25). Ahaz was a king who led the people away from God and away from all that Israel should have been.
You might be asking, what does this have to do with Hezekiah and the answer to what Hezekiah was doing? Who is this Ahaz, I thought we were talking about Hezekiah? 2 Chronicles 29 begins with the reign of the new king after Ahaz. His name was Hezekiah and he was the son of Ahaz. 29:2 tells us all we need to know about Hezekiah, "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done." Immediately we see the huge difference between King Ahaz the father and King Hezekiah the son. Notice the difference between 28:1 and 29:2. Hezekiah was committed to God and not to idols and false gods.
What was facing Hezekiah? The temple was closed and the Levites were gone. The furnishings in the temple were also gone. There were altars on every street corner of Jerusalem to every type of god imaginable. There were high places in all the towns to worship idols. There were idols all around. The unfaithfulness of his father (29:19) spread to every person and to every town that Hezekiah ruled. It was time for Hezekiah to clean house both literally and figuratively.
* He opened the doors of the temple and repaired them (29:3)
* He gathered the Levites (29:4-16)
* He took out all unclean things from the temple and restored it (29:17-19)
* He offered sacrifices to God (29:20-35)
* He reinstituted all temple practices (29:35-36)
* He celebrated the Passover (30:1-27)
* He sent people into the towns to destroy idols (30:26-31:4)
That leads us to the verses that we read in chapter 31. What was Hezekiah doing? Let’s reread these few verses.
REREAD 2 CHRONICLES 31:5-10
Hezekiah, in addition to all that he was doing with the temple and destroying idols, was also reinstating the tithe. Hezekiah assigned the Levites to their duties in verse 2 and then all was set. All was restored. Verse 3 tells us that the king gave from his possession according to the Law. Hezekiah wanted all the other people to do the same. Hezekiah wanted all the people to tithe from what they had.
Verse 5 tells us that the order went out and all of the Israelites gave generously. The Israelites, having now refamiliarized themselves with their God, knew that He loved generous gifts. Deuteronomy 15:10 says, "Give generously to Him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Psalm 37 tells us that righteous people give generously and lend freely (verses 21, 26). Even in the New Testament, giving generously is encouraged. 2 Corinthians 9:6 states, "Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." The people brought fruit and grain and honey and all that their fields produced. They brought so much that there were huge piles and all the tithes were in heaps (verse 6).
I want you to notice the reaction of Hezekiah and his officials when they came upon the heaps of offerings. Verse 8 tells us that they praise the Lord and blessed the people of Israel. They were elated at the outpouring of generosity of the people. The chief priest almost quotes Deuteronomy 15:10. He says that the Lord had blessed the people and the priests and everyone was provided for.