Hezekiah’s Passover Plan: Reach Out to Friends and Enemies
Passover is a wondrous time of the year to celebrate Yeshua and His sacrifice to redeem us. And it’s also an excellent opportunity for all believers in Messiah to invite a Jewish friend to discover the Lamb of God. Using Passover for outreach is not a new idea, though. Hezekiah, the good king of Judah, did so over 2700 years ago. That’s what we read in 2 Chron. 30:1-5:
“Now 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 celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel…they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed.
The couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters…saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria…So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as Zebulon, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulon humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.”
Hezekiah was quite concerned that the Passover feast be celebrated “as it was prescribed” (2 Chron. 30:5). The feast “had not been celebrated in large numbers,” because, among other things, it had not been celebrated as a unified kingdom since the time of Solomon. So, they celebrated Passover a month later (2 Chron. 30:2,3). This delayed the cleansing of the Temple and preparation of the priests. Rather than an unprepared Passover at the right time, Hezekiah wanted a properly prepared Passover a month later. He saw his own people of Judah and realized that God was worthy of the praise of many, certainly more than his own group. There could be no celebration without preparation.
Hezekiah’s Outreach Program
Hezekiah wanted to reach all Jews everywhere. In 2 Chron. 29:24, he previously had sacrifices made for all Israel, anticipating a revival among the Jews to the north. His desire anticipated Paul’s hope as well, that “All Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). This has always been the heart of God and still is. So, Hezekiah sent messengers out “from Beersheba to Dan.” This is a colloquial way to say he reached out to everyone everywhere (as some might say, “from sea to shining sea”).
This also meant that Hezekiah would be reaching out to his sworn enemies in the northern kingdom of Israel! Why did he reach out? Because Passover had to be celebrated “in a prescribed way.” Deut. 16:16 prescribes that all Jews everywhere were to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (as well as Pentecost and Tabernacles). Since the division after King Solomon’s reign it was only the southern kingdom of Judah that met in Jerusalem for Passover worship. Even then, many in the kingdom of Judah had neglected it, or at least had not kept it as Scripture required.
It’s Not Just Me; It’s You
One might think that Hezekiah didn’t need to encourage others to come and celebrate; that as long as he was personally celebrating and worshiping God, it was good enough. But, it was not “good enough” for Hezekiah.
He also understood that the meaning of Passover was not only to redeem Israel, but to reach out to others to be redeemed as well (Ex. 12:4). Israel, therefore, reached out to their Egyptian neighbors and ultimately, there was a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt (Ex. 12:38). Because the Lamb of redemption is always greater than your needs, you can share and reach out with the same grace you have received. Even then, redemption was to the Jew first, but not to the Jew only!
Seeing the Bigger Picture
King Hezekiah saw that Scripture teaches that all believers should encourage others to follow the Lord. This spiritual insight became a biblical mandate in the New Covenant, Matt. 28:18-20, “Go ye into all the world.” We see pictured here the kind of service we all need to be living out. The Passover redemption is a yearly reminder to be reaching out to others with an invitation to come to the Lord, celebrate redemption and rejoice in the Lamb of God. Those that reach out share in the heart of God who desires “all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). For believers that do not reach out, they will eventually dry up spiritually. A hidden faith is not a fruitful faith. The truth is, with faith, the more you give it away, the more you have!
In one year’s time a congregation can grow to twice its size. How? Each one reach one! If each believer brought just one person to be a part of his/her congregation, the congregation’s attendance would soon double. Growth like this is important not merely so things will get bigger. Rather, just as in Hezekiah’s day, the Lord is always worthy of the praise of many!
The response to Hezekiah’s gracious invitation had mixed reviews. It is true that many unbelieving mocked and laughed at such an invitation (2 Chron. 30:10), but on the other hand, it states that the humble repented and found salvation in the Lamb (2 Chron. 30:11). The repentant of Judah found unity “by the hand of God…and great joy” (2 Chron. 30:12, 21)!
Don’t let the nay-sayers keep you from the “great joy” the Lord has for you; reach out instead! For Scripture assures us that there is at present time a remnant of Jewish people prepared, even now, to humble themselves and come to the Lamb of God (Rom. 11:5-6). During Passover season, and all year-round, let’s invite our Jewish friends and all people to hear the Good News of Yeshua!