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2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21; Romans 15:1-22; Psalms 25:1-15; Proverbs 20:13-15 (Contemporary English Version)

2 Chronicles 30-31

Hezekiah Prepares To Celebrate Passover

30 1-4 Passover wasn’t celebrated in the first month,[a] which was the usual time, because many of the priests were still unclean and unacceptable to serve, and because not everyone in Judah had come to Jerusalem for the festival. So Hezekiah, his officials, and the people agreed to celebrate Passover in the second month.[b]

Hezekiah sent a message to everyone in Israel and Judah, including those in the territories of Ephraim and West Manasseh, inviting them to the temple in Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover in honor of the Lord God of Israel. Everyone from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north was invited. This was the largest crowd of people that had ever celebrated Passover, according to the official records.

Hezekiah’s messengers went everywhere in Israel and Judah with the following letter:

People of Israel, now that you have survived the invasion of the Assyrian kings,[c] it’s time for you to turn back to the Lord God our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshiped. If you do this, he will stop being angry. Don’t follow the example of your ancestors and your Israelite relatives in the north. They were unfaithful to the Lord, and he punished them horribly. Don’t be stubborn like your ancestors. Decide now to obey the Lord our God! Come to Jerusalem and worship him in the temple that will belong to him forever. Then he will stop being angry, and the enemies that have captured your families will show pity and send them back home. The Lord God is kind and merciful, and if you turn back to him, he will no longer turn his back on you.

10 The messengers went to every town in Ephraim and West Manasseh as far north as the territory of Zebulun, but everyone laughed and insulted them. 11 Only a few people from the tribes of Asher, West Manasseh, and Zebulun were humble and went to Jerusalem. 12 God also made everyone in Judah eager to do what Hezekiah and his officials had commanded.

Passover Is Celebrated

13 In the second month,[d] a large crowd of people gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Thin Bread.[e] 14 They took all the foreign altars and incense altars in Jerusalem and threw them into Kidron Valley.

15-17 Then, on the fourteenth day of that same month, the Levites began killing the lambs for Passover, because many of the worshipers were unclean and were not allowed to kill their own lambs. Meanwhile, some of the priests and Levites felt ashamed because they had not gone through the ceremony to make themselves clean. They immediately went through that ceremony and went to the temple, where they offered sacrifices to please the Lord.[f] Then the priests and Levites took their positions, according to the Law of Moses, the servant of God.

As the Levites killed the lambs, they handed some of the blood to the priests, who splattered it on the altar.

18-19 Most of the people that came from Ephraim, West Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not made themselves clean, but they ignored God’s Law and ate the Passover lambs anyway. Hezekiah found out what they had done and prayed, “Lord God, these people are unclean according to the laws of holiness. But they are worshiping you, just as their ancestors did. So, please be kind and forgive them.” 20 The Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer and did not punish them.

21 The worshipers in Jerusalem were very happy and celebrated the Festival for seven days. The Levites and priests sang praises to the Lord every day and played their instruments. 22 Hezekiah thanked the Levites for doing such a good job, leading the celebration.

The worshipers celebrated for seven days by offering sacrifices, by eating the sacred meals, and by praising the Lord God of their ancestors. 23 Everyone was so excited that they agreed to celebrate seven more days.

24 So Hezekiah gave the people one thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep to be offered as sacrifices and to be used as food for the sacred meals. His officials gave one thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep, and many more priests agreed to go through the ceremony to make themselves clean. 25 Everyone was very happy, including those from Judah and Israel, the priests and Levites, and the foreigners living in Judah and Israel. 26 It was the biggest celebration in Jerusalem since the days of King Solomon, the son of David. 27 The priests and Levites asked God to bless the people, and from his home in heaven, he did.

The People Destroy the Local Shrines

31 After the Festival, the people went to every town in Judah and smashed the stone images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred poles[g] for worshiping the goddess Asherah. They destroyed all the local shrines[h] and foreign altars in Judah, as well as those in the territories of Benjamin, Ephraim, and West Manasseh. Then everyone went home.

Offerings for the Priests and Levites

Hezekiah divided the priests and Levites into groups, according to their duties. Then he assigned them the responsibilities of offering sacrifices to please the Lord[i] and sacrifices to ask his blessing.[j] He also appointed people to serve at the temple and to sing praises at the temple gates. Hezekiah provided animals from his own herds and flocks to use for the morning and evening sacrifices, as well as for the sacrifices during the Sabbath celebrations, the New Moon Festivals, and the other religious feasts required by the Law of the Lord.

He told the people of Jerusalem to bring the offerings that were to be given to the priests and Levites, so that they would have time to serve the Lord with their work. As soon as the people heard what the king wanted, they brought a tenth of everything they owned, including their best grain, wine, olive oil, honey, and other crops. The people from the other towns of Judah brought a tenth of their herds and flocks, as well as a tenth of anything they had dedicated to the Lord. The people started bringing their offerings to Jerusalem in the third month,[k] and the last ones arrived four months later. When Hezekiah and his officials saw these offerings, they thanked the Lord and the people.

Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the large amount of offerings. 10 The high priest at the time was Azariah, a descendant of Zadok, and he replied, “Ever since the people have been bringing us their offerings, we have had more than enough food and supplies. The Lord has certainly blessed his people. Look at how much is left over!”

11 So the king gave orders for storerooms to be built in the temple, and when they were completed, 12-13 all the extra offerings were taken there. Hezekiah and Azariah then appointed Conaniah the Levite to be in charge of these storerooms. His brother Shimei was his assistant, and the following Levites worked with them: Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismachiah, Mahath, and Benaiah. 14 Kore son of Imnah was assigned to guard the East Gate, and he was put in charge of receiving the offerings voluntarily given to God and of dividing them among the priests and Levites. 15-16 He had six assistants who were responsible for seeing that all the priests in the other towns of Judah also got their share of these offerings. They were Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah.

Every priest and every Levite over thirty[l] years old who worked daily in the temple received part of these offerings, according to their duties. 17 The priests were listed in the official records by clans, and the Levites twenty years old and older were listed by their duties. 18 The official records also included their wives and children, because they had also been faithful in keeping themselves clean and acceptable to serve the Lord.

19 Hezekiah also appointed other men to take food and supplies to the priests and Levites whose homes were in the pastureland around the towns of Judah. But the priests had to be descendants of Aaron, and the Levites had to be listed in the official records.

20-21 Everything Hezekiah did while he was king of Judah, including what he did for the temple in Jerusalem, was right and good. He was a successful king, because he obeyed the Lord God with all his heart.

Footnotes:

  1. 30.1-4 first month: See the note at 29.3.
  2. 30.1-4 second month: See the note at 3.1,2.
  3. 30.6 the invasion of the Assyrian kings: See 2 Kings 17.1-22.
  4. 30.13 second month: See the note at 3.1,2.
  5. 30.13 the Festival of Thin Bread: The celebration of this Festival began one day after Passover. And so these two festivals were often referred to as one.
  6. 30.15-17 sacrifices to please the Lord: See the note at 1.6.
  7. 31.1 sacred poles: See the note at 14.3.
  8. 31.1 local shrines: See the note at 11.15.
  9. 31.2 sacrifices to please the Lord: See the note at 1.6.
  10. 31.2 sacrifices to ask his blessing: See the note at 29.33.
  11. 31.7 third month: Sivan, the third month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-May to mid-June.
  12. 31.15,16 thirty: The Hebrew text has “three” instead of “thirty”; in Hebrew, these two words look almost exactly the same (see also Numbers 4.3; 1 Chronicles 23.3).
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Romans 15:1-22

Please Others and Not Yourself

15 If our faith is strong, we should be patient with the Lord’s followers whose faith is weak. We should try to please them instead of ourselves. We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. Even Christ did not try to please himself. But as the Scriptures say, “The people who insulted you also insulted me.” And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope. God is the one who makes us patient and cheerful. I pray that he will help you live at peace with each other, as you follow Christ. Then all of you together will praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Good News Is for Jews and Gentiles

Honor God by accepting each other, as Christ has accepted you. I tell you that Christ came as a servant of the Jews to show that God has kept the promises he made to their famous ancestors. Christ also came, so that the Gentiles would praise God for being kind to them. It is just as the Scriptures say,

“I will tell the nations
    about you,
and I will sing praises
    to your name.”

10 The Scriptures also say to the Gentiles, “Come and celebrate with God’s people.”

11 Again the Scriptures say,

“Praise the Lord,
    all you Gentiles.
All you nations, come
    and worship him.”

12 Isaiah says,

“Someone from David’s family
    will come to power.
He will rule the nations,
and they will put their hope
    in him.”

13 I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.

Paul’s Work as a Missionary

14 My friends, I am sure that you are very good and that you have all the knowledge you need to teach each other. 15 But I have spoken to you plainly and have tried to remind you of some things. God was so kind to me! 16 He chose me to be a servant of Christ Jesus for the Gentiles and to do the work of a priest in the service of his good news. God did this so that the Holy Spirit could make the Gentiles into a holy offering, pleasing to him.

17 Because of Christ Jesus, I can take pride in my service for God. 18 In fact, all I will talk about is how Christ let me speak and work, so that the Gentiles would obey him. 19 Indeed, I will tell how Christ worked miracles and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have preached the good news about him all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum. 20 But I have always tried to preach where people have never heard about Christ. I am like a builder who doesn’t build on anyone else’s foundation. 21 It is just as the Scriptures say,

“All who haven’t been told
about him
    will see him,
and those who haven’t heard
about him
    will understand.”

Paul’s Plan To Visit Rome

22 My work has always kept me from coming to see you.

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Psalm 25:1-15

(By David.)

A Prayer for Guidance and Help

25 I offer you my heart, Lord God,
    and I trust you.
    Don’t make me ashamed
    or let enemies defeat me.
Don’t disappoint any
    of your worshipers,
    but disappoint all
    deceitful liars.
Show me your paths
    and teach me to follow;
    guide me by your truth
    and instruct me.
You keep me safe,
    and I always trust you.

Please, Lord, remember,
    you have always
    been patient and kind.
Forget each wrong I did
    when I was young.
    Show how truly kind you are
    and remember me.
You are honest and merciful,
    and you teach sinners
    how to follow your path.

You lead humble people
to do what is right
    and to stay on your path.
10 In everything you do,
    you are kind and faithful
    to everyone who keeps
    our agreement with you.

11 Be true to your name, Lord,
    by forgiving each one
    of my terrible sins.
12 You will show the right path
    to all who worship you.
13 They will have plenty,
    and then their children
    will receive the land.

14 Our Lord, you are the friend
    of your worshipers,
    and you make an agreement
    with all of us.
15 I always look to you,
    because you rescue me
    from every trap.

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Proverbs 20:13-15

13 If you sleep all the time,
    you will starve;
    if you get up and work,
    you will have enough food.
14 Everyone likes to brag
    about getting a bargain.
15     Sensible words are better
    than gold or jewels.

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