He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord . – 2Chr. 31:4 NIV
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King Hezekiah, after consulting with his council members had just led the people in the celebration of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, also known as the Feast of the Passover, and they all had great fun before the Lord. This was after the temple doors had been re-opened, the entire temple cleaned up and sanctified with all its articles returned to their position. The people were also encouraged by their king to return to the Lord and made to go through the process of penitence with the Priests and the Levites presiding. The Prophets were to later testify to the acceptance of the prayers of the king and his people by Jehovah.
The people had so much fun during the celebration, such that a celebration that should normally be done for seven days was held for fourteen days, with the king and his officials seemingly footing the entire bill for the celebration. He had donated a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats and his officials on their part had donated a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats towards the celebration – 2Chr. 20:23-26. It was real celebration galore with much to eat and drink by all including the Priests and the Levites who with joy in their hearts blessed the people and their prayers was heard in heaven – 2Chr. 20:27.
With that aspect of their attempt to consolidate their re-union done with, there was the need to ensure that regular services in the house of the Lord was assured and to this end, the king arranged for Priests and Levites to ensure that officiating at those services was in order with the Will of Jehovah, after all they were the recognised group saddled with the responsibility of over-seeing the various offerings, ministering at the Altar, giving thanks and singing praises to Jehovah. However, to ensure that materials needed for all these services was not lacking, the king from his own possession contributed the requirements for morning, evening, Sabbath, New Moon and all the other offerings and he ordered the people in Jerusalem to supply the portion due to the Priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord – 2Chr. 31:2-4. The Israelites in Judah and Israel heeded the directives of the king as they donated generously towards this cause. Within a five month period, many brought gifts ranging from the first fruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced, to a tithe of everything including their herds and flocks and of the holy things dedicated to the Lord their God, which they piled in heaps in the temple – Chr. 31:5-7. The result of their actions got the king and his officials very happy and they praised the Lord and blessed the people accordingly – 2Chr. 31:8. It was indeed a testimony of the level of cooperation between the king, his officials and the people.
The Priests and Levites were obviously very happy, going by the response of the Chief Priest to King Hezekiah when he confirmed that they have been having a lot to eat and much to spare since the people started heeding the advise of their king. In addition to that was the revelation that the people have actually witnessed greater blessings since they started heeding the advise of the king and his officials – 2Chr. 31:9-10. For proper administration of these gifts and offerings, the king and his officials set up two committees made up of Levites, the first to handle gifts related to contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts and the second to handle the distribution of the freewill offerings giving to God and the consecrated gifts of the people – 2Chr. 31:11-19. Though the role of distributing the gifts was limited to the Priests and Levites alone, they were diligent sufficiently to ensure that all who were entitled received their share of the gifts. The minimum age for Priests who were entitled was three to four years (2Chr. 31:15-17a), whilst the minimum age for the Levites was twenty years – 2Chr. 31:17b-18. All these arrangements by Hezekiah was what made him stand out amongst not just the kings of Israel and Judah, but even amongst those whom the bible rated as doing right in the eyes of the Lord. He was deemed to have been good, right and faithful to Jehovah, and because he was very obedient to His laws and commandments, sought Him at all times and worked wholeheartedly, he also prospered – 2Chr. 31:20-21.
Christians and their leaders have a lot to learn from the life of King Hezekiah, his officials and his people if indeed they want to benefit from their relationship with Jehovah. Those whom He has designated to officiate on His behalf must be made happy by the people if they are to enhance their chances of receiving His favour. Though the king was directing and funding all their activities right from the time of the re-opening of the temple doors, he operated with the awareness of his limits with regards to the need for the people to bring burnt offerings towards the forgiveness of their sins and the provision of sacrificial lambs for the Feast of the Passover. Funding that aspect of the people’s return to Jehovah would have negated all such intentions as that was what each person had to do on a personal level or at best, at a family unit level but must be directly by the individual or family that intend to benefit from the exercise, just as it happens during the feast of the Passover. Anything else would have led to a failed effort.
The king could also have funded the aspect that had to do with making the Priests and Levites happy on behalf of his people, after all he was in a position to do so but felt the need for the people to also be blessed hence his advise that they bring gifts to them. Had they refused to heed his advise, the Priests and Levites would not have become hungry as it is very likely that the king and his officials were well capable of taking care of them, but the heeding of that advise brought unusual prosperity to the people. The more they gave, the more they had.
Worthy of note also was the effort of the king to ensure proper and efficient distribution of the gifts. Not only was the distribution limited to those who rightfully should benefit but he ensured that no one was left out. Christians need to realize that the quantity of what they give should not be of concern to them as in reality, it is simply a fraction of all that Jehovah gave them, since He is the one that gave them the power to make the wealth – Deut. 8:18. They must therefore take their eyes off what the Priests and Levites have, as they will be blessed according to how much their God desires to prosper the Priests and Levites.
Lastly and equally worthy of noted is the absence of greed amongst the Priests and the Levites who took what they should take and left the extra to be kept in a store, to be shared amongst other Priests and Levites. That way the source of prayers and wishes of blessing that came to the people became wider.
Conclusively, every one has a role to play in ensuring peaceful and prosperous relationship in Christendom. The king and his officials played their role, just as the people also played theirs and the Priests and Levites also played their roles. That should be the template for any Christian group today that desires to enjoy the peace and prosperity of Jehovah in this realm and in the life after life. May God grant us the wisdom to operate in such a manner, so that we can have a Christian congregation worthy of being associated with Him in Jesus name. Amen.