History repeats itself. Or, perhaps more accurately, history laps itself. Throughout Scripture, we see the cycles of our Father's perfect plan. The cycles become familiar as we begin to recognize the pattern over time. Even better, we now feel ourselves living within that cyclical plan, as history repeats once again.
Hezekiah, was a son of David and King of Israel. As our family has kept and taught the feasts over the last 20 years, my wife Jane and I have often said, "We keep the feasts in the spirit of Hezekiah." Within Hezekiah's story, found in 2 Chronicles, we find a pattern that is being repeated today as His cycles continue as the Father's heart regarding His children is revealed.
King Hezekiah longed to gather all of Israel for Passover, for he was a restorer of the Father's ways. He wrote letters and had them posted throughout the land, inviting them to come together for Passover. Interestingly, only five of the northern tribes (Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulon) and joined Judah for this important feast (2 Chronicles 30:18). Much like the five wise virgins, these people were prepared and received an eternal blessing.
But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. 20 And Yahweh hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people (2 Chronicles 30:18-20).
Not all of Israel responded. Representatives from five Northern tribes had an awesome time as they humbled themselves, answered the call of the king of Judah, returned to celebrate the feasts with their brothers, and thereby obeyed God. They gathered together in faith, one month late, to celebrate Passover and had a joyful celebration.
Like us today, the people of Hezekiah's day were in various places – both physically and spiritually. While their lack of readiness kept them from keeping Passover at the appointed time, they relied on the mercy of their God and embraced the, "second Passover," Pesach Sheni. Then they got a little crazy, and celebrated the feast for an extra week, because there was such joy in their midst.
This year, many will be keeping Passover, and the rest of His feasts, for the first or second time. Others will be keeping some of the feasts, but not all. We are much like the people of Hezekiah's day – returning from captivity, embracing Torah and His ways as best we can. These things are foreign to us and take some time, study, and application to get them into our heart. While the Holy Spirit is moving upon His people, the "crossing over" is not happening at the same moment for everyone. Some are responding faster than others and some are still looking on from afar – trying to determine if what we are doing is "of the Lord."
I believe that if our feasts were focused more on joy than perfection, we would be able to be a brighter "light to the nations" at this hour. When we beat each other up over how the feasts are to be kept, and then assume a spirit of superiority because we have it "right," our light diminishes. Making fun of Believers who have not yet seen the goodness of the Torah will not win them to His ways. Instead, use that energy to pray for them. Make the effort to examine your own methods of keeping Passover, and the rest of His feasts, and see if there is abounding joy or abounding correctness.
Yes, it is good to be correct. One day, we will be able to be absolutely correct – when King Yeshua is on the throne in Jerusalem, and we are gathered there for the pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Then, we will have the exact day, the proper method, and the right place. Until that time, it is our joy that will win people to His ways, and help encourage them to stay the course. Not all will respond at this same moment, and not in the same manner. That is OK. God made provision for this in Numbers chapter 9 (Pesach Sheni) and King Hezekiah, the son of David, followed that pattern. The people's joy was so great that one week of Unleavened Bread was not enough – they went for two weeks.
Let us be like King Hezekiah this year, for we have much to learn from this wise king. As we prepare to enter a new cycle of feasts, may we ease a bit off of our own perceived correctness and move on towards joy. Let us be encouragers, who are so caught up in the joy of what our Messiah has done for us, that our exuberance cannot be contained. Then people will be knocking our door down, trying to get a seat at His table. May history repeat itself once again!
For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary." So YHWH heard Hezekiah and healed the people. And the sons of Israel present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day after day with loud instruments to YHWH. Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good insight in the things of YHWH. So they ate for the appointed seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to YHWH God of their fathers. Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy. For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. And all the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites, and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven (2 Chronicles 30:18-27).