The Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been destroyed and the population severely depleted by Assyrian invasions and deportations (725-722 B.C.). When Hezekiah began to reign in 715 B.C. he encouraged to all Israel (including the Southern Kingdom of Judah) to repent and return to the Lord by celebrating the Passover in the newly reconstructed Temple at Jerusalem. The Passover feast had been delayed due to their dire circumstances. However, Hezekiah’s hope was that God would end the captivity of those who remained in Assyria and restore His favor to Israel if they repented and turned from their wickedness.
After addressing the priests and Levites (29:5-11), who were to take the lead in the Passover by first consecrating themselves and repairing the temple, Hezekiah sent out letters of invitation to all Israel and Judah. Although they were late in celebrating the Passover, for it was delayed until the second month, and they had insufficient numbers to properly execute all the requirements, Hezekiah was determined to demonstrate his commitment to the the Law. More than an invitation, this letter represented Hezekiah’s summons to repentance.
Hezekiah was confident in God’s words to his predecessor, Solomon, that He would extend mercy to His people following their faithful repentance and humble prayer (7:14). Thus, Hezekiah sent couriers throughout Israel and Judah, calling for humility and repentance. While most people mocked the king’s summons and laughed the couriers to scorn, the hand of God was with those who humbly obeyed Hezekiah’s call (v.12).
The theme of mercy following repentance in this episode in Israel’s history looks forward to the mercy Jesus promised in His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (cf. Luke 18:9-14). In it Jesus says of the tax collector following his humility and prayer: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b).
Often circumstances are dreary and the prospect of victory is so grim that we are tempted to laugh to the point of scorning those who propose faithful action against all odds. Even when deadlines have expired God is still faithful to those who seek Him. And He will extend grace and favor to the humble based on His word. Remember that God’s strength is manifested perfectly in human weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). And God still grants grace to humble, but He brings the proud to nothing (cf. Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). He is especially dedicated to those who remain dedicated to His word just as Hezekiah and Solomon. You can rely on God who ultimately demonstrated a heart of dedication by sending His Son (cf. John 3:16). How will you demonstrate faith, humility and repentance to God? Are you totally dedicated to Him?