August 21

2 Chronicles 30:18-20 18Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19who sets his heart on seeking God–the LORD, the God of his fathers–even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." 20And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

Hezekiah had just come to power. The nation was in shambles because of the sins of the former king. The first thing Hezekiah did was to cleanse the temple and prepare to celebrate the Passover. He invited those from every tribe who had not been taken captive to join them in returning to the LORD. Many mocked him, but a great number humbled themselves and came to the feast.

Some of those who came had not gone through the ritual purification to be able to eat the Passover, but in their zeal to return to God went ahead and joined in the Passover meal. Hezekiah asked the LORD, who is good, to pardon everyone who had set their heart on seeking God, even though they had not gone through the ritual cleansing period. God heard and healed them.

The Old Testament is full of illustrations where the heart of man is more important than ritual or the details of the Law. Jesus reminded the religious leaders of His day of David eating the shewbread that only the priests were allowed to eat (Mark 2:25-26). God looks at the heart. When people come out of sin to seek the LORD they are usually not cleaned up or familiar with what is acceptable. They may speak and even act in ways you consider un-Christian. Remember that God who is good will pardon them if their heart is set on seeking Him. Let the Holy Spirit bring conviction and change. If you feel led to correct them, do so lovingly and gently. In this chapter there was great joy. It would have been dampened had Hezekiah rebuked all who were not up on the rules of the sanctuary and the Passover meal. Instead he encouraged the Levites who did know and acted according to the Word of God.

Consider: Be gracious with young Christians as God was gracious you.