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Passover Party

Key References: 2 Chronicles 30; Prophets and Kings, chaps. 23, 28, pp. 288, 291, 335-339; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 5, pp. 133-136; Our Beliefs, nos. 22, 12, 14

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“And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you” (Deuteronomy 16:11).

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God calls us to worship Him joyfully with our church family.

Have you ever attended a weeklong camp meeting? Interesting speakers and meaningful meetings take place. You see old friends, learn new songs, and discover new things about God. Hezekiah invites his kingdom to a sort of camp meeting where a revival among his people takes place.

There’s a strange but interesting thing about humans: unless we involve more than one of our senses in remembering an event, we tend to forget it. Can you remember your fourth birthday without the help of pictures? You may remember some of it, but you need the help of pictures, your parents’ memories, and maybe even the actual gifts you received to remember it well.

That’s how it was with the people of King Hezekiah’s time. Their ancestors had all lived through slavery under the pharaoh. For a few years after the Passover angel had spared their firstborn sons’ lives and Moses had rescued them, the children of Israel had celebrated the Passover faithfully. But with the Temple having been shut down for many years and the worship of idols becoming so common, they had forgotten the exciting story of the Passover.

King Hezekiah wanted them to remember God’s rescue again. It had been a month since the Temple reopened, and everyone was invited to renew their love for God and remember Him; they would use more than one of their senses. They would hear the story, eat special food, light special candles, sing, and visit together during a special weeklong celebration that resembled a camp meeting.

Can you imagine what some of the people must have said when the messengers came to their town? Picture a main city street with people walking here and there in clusters, and donkeys and camels pushing their way through the crowd.

A lone trumpeter lifts his bronze instrument toward the sky and blows a short melody the people recognize as news from the king. Suddenly the crowds stop walking, and the street is hushed. The king’s messenger steps up beside the trumpeter and holds up a written parchment that displays the king’s seal. He reads from it about the coming Passover feast in Jerusalem. All are invited to worship God in the way their ancestors did.

Some people ask, “What is Passover?” Others say, “Now that you mention it, I do remember my great-grandmother telling me about how special the Passover celebration used to be. Her family celebrated it every year. Let’s respond to the king’s invitation and go to Jerusalem to see this for ourselves.”

On the appointed day a huge crowd of people entered Jerusalem for the Passover. They must have found places to stay in the inns and stables around town. Perhaps townspeople even opened up their homes to some of the guests. Some probably made the traditional roof of woven palm fronds and set up little booths. They all felt so happy to be worshipping God together, as their ancestors had done.

At the end of the week everyone was having such a good time that they didn’t want to go home. They extended the gathering for one more week and continued to celebrate God with great joy. In all, the sacrifices and feasts included 2,000 young bulls and 17,000 sheep and goats. The Bible says, “There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 30:26).

There’s a formula for meaningful worship in this story. Have you figured it out? When you worship God with all your heart, give Him your best, and spend time with others praising Him, God’s presence fills your heart with joy unspeakable.