The hand of God to humble - 2 Chronicles 30-5-12.
A great example of how God works in men to obey his commandments is found in 2 Chronicles 30:5-12.
2 Chronicles 30:5-12 King James Bible.
5 “So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem: for they had not done it of a long time in such sort as it was written.
6 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, TURN AGAIN UNTO THE LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7 And BE NOT LIKE YOUR FATHERS, and like your brethren, WHICH TRESPASSED AGAINST THE LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.
8 Now BE YE NOT STIFFNECKED, as your fathers were, BUT YIELD YOURSELVES UNTO THE LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: AND SERVE THE LORD YOUR GOD, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
9 For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
10 So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: BUT THEY LAUGHED THEM TO SCORN, AND MOCKED THEM.
11 NEVERTHELESS DIVERS OF ASHER AND MANASSEH AND OF ZEBULUN HUMBLED THEMSELVES, AND CAME to Jerusalem.
12 ALSO IN JUDAH THE HAND OF GOD WAS TO GIVE THEM ONE HEART TO DO THE COMMANDMENT of the king and of the princes, BY THE WORD OF THE LORD.”
Notice that they were all commanded to return to the Lord and told not to be stiff-necked but to yield themselves to the Lord.
However, many of them laughed and mocked. But even among these same people of Manasseh and Zebulun some of them did humble themselves and came. Why? Who or what made the difference?
Notice that all important word in verse 12 - ALSO = in the same way or manner and for the same reasons - “ALSO IN JUDAH THE HAND OF GOD WAS TO GIVE THEM ONE HEART TO DO THE COMMANDMENT of the king and of the princes, BY THE WORD OF THE LORD.”
It was God Himself who worked in those who “humbled themselves and came” and “THE HAND OF GOD WAS TO GIVE THEM ONE HEART TO DO THE COMMANDMENT.”
Man can be commanded to humble himself, repent and not harden his heart toward God, but UNLESS God works in him to give him a heart to obey, he will be like the others who laugh and mock.
“For it is God which worketh in you BOTH to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
The Geneva Bible Study Notes -
Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one i heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the LORD.
(i) He shows the reason why some obey and some mock God's calling, that is, because his Spirit is with the one sort and moves in their heart, and the others are left to themselves.
John Gill - “Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart,.... To make them unanimous in this service, hearty and willing to it, to a man, which was owing to the power and efficacy of divine grace”
John Trapp - English Puritan - Ver. 12. Also in Judah the hand of God, i.e., The grace of God; whose alone it is to work the heart to good, and to give "repentance unto life." His grace is irresistible.
Matthew Henry - v. 12. They did it with one heart, were all of a mind in it, and the hand of God gave them that one heart; for it is in the day of power that Christ's subjects are made willing. It is God that works both to will and to do. When people, at any time, manifest an unexpected forwardness to do that which is good, we must acknowledge that hand of God in it.
Matthew Poole’s English Annotations - Verse 12 - God by the power of his grace inclined their hearts to a unanimous compliance with God’s and the king’s will. And this is mentioned as the reason of this wonderful change wrought in these men, who had lately been utterly averse from God’s worship, and wholly given up to idolatry; as was noted before on 2 Chronicles 29:36.
“As many as were of a free heart” - “that God had prepared the people.”
A similar thought is expressed in the previous chapter - 2 Chronicles 29:31-36.
After long neglect king Hezekiah found it in his heart to rededicate themselves to the Lord; to cleanse the house of the Lord, and to make an atonement for all Israel.
In 29:31 we read: “Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and AS MANY AS WERE OF A FREE HEART burnt offerings.”
And what exactly was the moving force behind this desire to consecrate themselves to the Lord and “of a free heart” to offer burnt offerings?
We are given the answer in 29:36 where we read: “And Hezekiah REJOICED, and all the people, THAT GOD HAD PREPARED THE PEOPLE: for the thing was done suddenly.”
“God had prepared the people” is the reading found in Young’s 1898, the NKJV 1982, Holman Standard 2009, Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, Modern English Version 2014, Christian Standard Bible 2017, Jubilee Bible 2020.
The Bishops’ Bible 1568, as well as The Great Bible 1540 and Matthew’s Bible1549, says: “that God had made the folk so ready.”
The Geneva Bible says: “Then Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that GOD HAD MADE THE PEOPLE SO READY: for the thing was done suddenly.”
It then comments: “He showeth that religion cannot proceed except God touch the heart of the people.”
Matthew Henry comments - “The hand of God was plainly in it: God had prepared the people by the secret influences of his grace, so that many of those who had in the last reign doted on the idolatrous altars were now as much in love with God's altar. This change, which God wrought on their minds, did very much expedite and facilitate the work. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous.”
Matthew Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible - “ It plainly appeared to be the work of the Almighty God changing their hearts by his Holy Spirit.”
John Gill - “that God had prepared the people; disposed and directed their hearts in such a manner as to yield such a cheerful obedience to the will of God, and show such a hearty regard to his worship and service, and the restoration of it.”
All of grace, believing the Book - the King James Bible.
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