Hezekiah, The Samaritan Woman, Nicodemus & Jesus: My 2 Chronicles 30 Sermon

by Bobby Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings,Liturgy & Sermons

Good morning. My name is Bobby; I’m one of the pastors here. Peace be with you. At Sojourn, our mission is to reach people with the gospel, build them up as God’s church, and send them wherever God leads us to be champions of truth, beauty, and goodness, showing with our words and deeds that

the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him. 2 Chronicles 30:9

This is the final sermon in our series called Mosaic. Throughout this series we’ve said that as we approach the Scriptures, we must seek to understand what a passage says, what it means, and how it reveals Jesus. When we do this we find the answer to our own longings, our questions, our hopes and dreams. 

So today’s sermon structure is simple. For twenty minutes we’ll look at what 2 Chronicles 30:1-9 says, what it means, and how it reveals Jesus. In the last part we’ll connect it to the New Testament to see how Jesus is the fulfillment of our passage today, and why that’s good news for us. 

Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh … – 2 Chron 30:1

Israel was made up of twelve tribes. After King Solomon died, his son ruled badly. The northern tribes, which included tribes named Ephraim and Manasseh, seceded and took the name “Israel.”

The southern tribes took the name of their biggest tribe Judah, and they kept the capital city of Jerusalem. God wanted all his people to worship in the Jerusalem temple but Israel’s king felt that if his subjects kept traveling to Judah, it might weaken their loyalty to him. So he instituted worship sacrifices and ceremonies in his kingdom.

Two centuries later Assyria conquered this kingdom and killed or carried most of the people into captivity. 

Now in our passage, King Hezekiah of Judah, a descendent of Solomon, has consecrated and rededicated God’s temple. He wants to reunite all the tribes, including the few people in Ephraim and Manasseh who have survived Assyria’s conquest. In verse one he sends letters to their local leaders:

inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 30:1

Hezekiah wants to host the first Passover celebration for the entire old kingdom of Israel since the days of Solomon, more than 200 years before. Verse 6:

At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors … 2 Chronicles 30:6-7

Hezekiah invokes their shared history. These people living in Ephraim and the other Northern tribes have bitterly avoided Judah for several generations but they are kin. Their God delivered all of them from slavery in Egypt and led them into their land. Verse 9:

If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” – 2 Chronicles 30:9

Hezekiah says you can return to God by coming to Jerusalem. Passover was one of three festivals they were supposed to attend together at the temple. Hezekiah paraphrases Exodus 34:6-7, which we’ve seen quoted in the passages we’ve studied in this series. So this is going to be a happy ending, right? Verse 10:

The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some … humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 30:10-11

Most of Ephraim and the other tribes said, “No.” Scornfully. Hezekiah’s faithful reforms do lead to a revival, but it is not a revival of all God’s people, and it does not last. 

Part Two: What It Means (Interpretation)

So what does today’s text mean? 

The Old Testament contains two perspectives on the divided kingdom of Israel: Kings and Chronicles, much like the New Testament contains four biographies of Jesus. 

1 and 2 Kings was written during the Babylonian exile, when not only had the Northern Kingdom been conquered by Assyria but Judah was conquered by Babylon, the temple was destroyed, and all hope seemed lost. Kings is for those asking, “Why did God let this happen?”

Chronicles tells the same story but a bit less pessimistically. It was written later, after Persia conquered Babylon and let Jews return to Judah and rebuild the temple. Chronicles is for those asking, “What now?” How do we step back into God’s story and walk faithfully?

Somehow, someway the Chronicler believed God’s people could still learn from reading about Hezekiah’s attempt. Perhaps even the estranged people living in the old land of Ephraim can learn from this story and finally come home to God, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him

But as the New Testament begins, although Assyria is a distant memory they are now ruled by Rome. They are waiting for a king who will do what Hezekiah could not. 

And the people living in the old territory of Ephraim are bitterly divided from Jews living around them. Many Jews living in Judea and the northernmost region called Galilee would go out of their way to avoid the people in that region. The feeling was mutual, and the dispute about where a follower of God should go to worship persisted. 

Christians see Christ as the new and better Hezekiah, God the Son who was born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, took upon himself the role of Israel, and became our passover lamb as he died for our sins to fulfill God’s promise to bless the world through Israel.

Part Three: How It Reveals (Sets The Stage For) Christ

But does anything in the Gospels of Jesus connect with the Chronicler’s tale of Hezekiah and scoffers in Ephraim? 

So (Jesus) came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. – John 4:5

Guess where that was? 

In the old territory of Ephraim. Guess who the hated Samaritans were? 

They claimed they were the true Israelites who had kept the ancient faith. Jews said, “No, they’re not related to us. They’re descended from the people that Assyria moved into the neighborhood after they killed and carried away our relatives.”

The truth is a little of each: they are a mixed ethnicity of colonists and Jews. Some of their ancestors were the people ridiculing Hezekiah for inviting them to observe Passover in Jerusalem. Even before the time of Solomon they had wanted to worship at Mount Gerizim, near their town. 

So when a Samaritan woman says in John 4 “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” she isn’t trying to change the conversation after Jesus revealed in verse 18 that he supernaturally knew “you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

Because he reveals this, she perceives him to be a prophet who can answer the burning question of her people. This is about who is welcome in God’s house, and where God’s house is. But let’s back up to the beginning of this conversation, John 4:6 …

Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink? … The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) – John 4:6-9

This story speaks to age-old animosities, to class, race, gender, boundaries, beliefs. It’s about who God is and what that means for us, despite the sin that we commit and the sin that others commit against us.

The Samaritan woman was a sinner; we are all sinners. But there are plenty of books and Bible studies that raise questions about her character that the text doesn’t answer or encourage us to ask. And we paint her character in a way that doesn’t always make sense of her cultural background. 

For instance she was probably widowed some or most of those five marriages. We read “five husbands” and we instantly think, “She was divorced five times?” and then we start imagining how bad she must have been.

You can read more about that in a book by Dr. Caryn Reeder called The Samaritan Woman’s Story.

What John the Gospel writer wants us to notice are comparisons between the interactions of Jesus with this woman in chapter four, and Nicodemus in chapter 3. In Bible Fellowship we learn to read passages in context, asking, “What came before this passage? What came after?” 

Look at Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman to see what John wants us to glean from these stories – this is mostly from the NIV Study Bible:

Nicodemus, ch. 3                                                        Samaritan Woman, ch. 4

Jewish                                                                                Samaritan, the despised minority

Man                                                                                    Woman

Named                                                                               Unnamed

Pharisee, member of ruling council (3:1)                   Lesser status, draws her own water

Comes to Jesus at night (3:2)                                       Meets Jesus at midday 

Refers to Jesus as teacher                                              Perceives Jesus to be a prophet

Says little in comparison to Jesus                                Holds full conversation with Jesus

No arrival at understanding (3:9)                                Understands, believes, evangelizes

This is all about the upside down kingdom of God, where the first will be last and the last will be first. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

This unnamed woman, marginalized by her sex, ethnicity, and status, is seen by Jesus. When he talks about her marital state he is saying, “I see you.” To whatever degree her circumstances are results of her sin or other people’s sin, God knows all of it and has come to upend the social structures of a humanity that has surrendered itself to the spiritual powers and principalities of this world. Verse 21:

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem …  a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth – John 4:21, 23

Jesus, like Hezekiah, says everyone is welcome home. But Jesus adds that home isn’t just the Jerusalem temple anymore. Home is wherever you are. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him. Verse 25:

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” John 4:25-26

The first time in this Gospel that Jesus announces himself as the Messiah, he announces it to this unnamed Samaritan woman. And she turns out to be quite the missionary. Verse 39:

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. – John 4:39-41

So let’s put some things together from Hezekiah in the 7th century B.C. and Jesus in the first century A.D.

Hezekiah                                                                          Jesus

King of Judah                                                                 King of the world

Reestablishes Temple worship                                   Inaugurates “everywhere” worship

Sends letters to leaders in Samaritan region           Personally goes to unnamed woman

Inaugurates new Passover festival                             Becomes our Passover lamb

Is unsuccessful in reaching those estranged           Wins their allegiance

Ultimately his hopes are dashed                                His kingdom will have no end

The purpose of the Bible is to point us to the truth, beauty, and goodness of King Jesus so we will want to become Kingdom People. 

No matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what others have done to you, he sees you, he knows you, he wants you, and he will trust you with important kingdom responsibilities because the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

Monday Checkup (Application

Invite someone to journey with us through the Gospel of Mark, beginning in two weeks. Invite someone who has never heard the story of Jesus. Invite someone who heard it long ago but needs to hear it again. And realize that we need to hear it again. Week in, week out, we’ll walk through this biography of Jesus. 

Pray tomorrow about who you can invite two weeks from today. Bring yourself, bring your family, bring your friends. Hear the story of Jesus again, because every chapter of that story sings these lyrics to your heart:

For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.

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