1King Hezekiah sent messages to all the people of Israel and Judah. He wrote letters to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh also. Hezekiah invited all those people to come to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem so they all could celebrate the Passover for the Lord God of Israel. 2King Hezekiah agreed with all his officials and all the assembly in Jerusalem to have the Passover in the second month. 3They could not celebrate the Passover Festival at the regular time. Why? Because not enough priests had made themselves ready for holy service. And another reason is the people had not gathered in Jerusalem. 4The agreement satisfied King Hezekiah and all the assembly. 5So they made an announcement everywhere in Israel, from the town of Beersheba all the way to the town of Dan. They told the people to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover for the Lord God of Israel. A large group of the people of Israel had not celebrated the Passover since a long time ago the way the law of Moses said to celebrate it. 6So the messengers took the king’s letters all through Israel and Judah. This is what those letters said: Children of Israel, turn back to the Lord God that Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob) obeyed. Then God will come back to you people that are still alive and have escaped from the kings of Assyria. 7Don’t be like your fathers or your brothers. The Lord was their God, but they turned against him. So the Lord made people hate them and speak evil about them. You can see with your own eyes that this is true. 8Don’t be stubborn like your ancestors were. But obey the Lord with a willing heart. Come to the Most Holy Place. The Lord has made the Most Holy Place to be holy forever. Serve the Lord your God. Then the Lord’s fearful anger will turn away from you. 9If you come back and obey the Lord, then your relatives and your children will find mercy from the people that captured them. And your relatives and your children will come back to this land. The Lord your God is kind and merciful. He will not turn away from you if you come back to him. 10The messengers went to every town in the area of Ephraim and Manasseh. They went all the way to the area of Zebulun. But the people laughed at the messengers and made fun of them. 11But, some men from the areas of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 12Also, in Judah God’s power united the people so that they would obey the king and his officials. In this way they obeyed the word of the Lord. 13Many people came together at Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. It was a very large crowd. 14Those people took away the altars in Jerusalem that were for false gods. They also took away all the incense altars that were for false gods. They threw those altars into the Kidron Valley. 15Then they killed the Passover lamb on the 14th day of the second month. The priests and the Levites felt ashamed. They made themselves ready for holy service. The priests and the Levites brought burnt offerings into the Lord’s temple. 16They took their regular places in the temple the way the law of Moses, the man of God, said. The Levites gave the blood to the priests. Then the priests sprinkled the blood on the altar. 17There were many people in the group that had not made themselves ready for holy service, so they were not permitted to kill the Passover lambs. That is why the Levites were responsible for killing the Passover lambs for every person who was not clean. The Levites made each lamb holy for the Lord. 18- 19Many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not prepared themselves in the right way for the Passover Festival. They did not celebrate the Passover the right way, like the law of Moses says. But Hezekiah prayed for those people. So Hezekiah said this prayer, “Lord God, you are good. These people truly wanted to worship you in the right way, but they did not make themselves clean like the law says. Please forgive those people. You are the God that our ancestors obeyed. Forgive, even if someone did not make himself clean like the rules of the Most Holy Place say.” 20The Lord listened to King Hezekiah’s prayer. The Lord forgave the people. 21The children of Israel at Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. They were very happy. The Levites and the priests gave praise to the Lord every day with all their strength. 22King Hezekiah encouraged all the Levites that understood very well how to do the service of the Lord. The people celebrated the Festival for seven days and offered fellowship offerings. They gave thanks and praise to the Lord God of their ancestors. 23All the people agreed to stay seven more days. They were joyful as they celebrated the Passover for seven more days. 24Hezekiah king of Judah gave 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep to the assembly to kill and eat. The leaders gave 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep to the assembly. Many priests prepared themselves for holy service. 25All the assembly of Judah, the priests, the Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, and the travelers that came from Israel and moved to Judah—all those people were very happy. 26So there was much joy in Jerusalem. There was not anything like this celebration since the time of Solomon son of David king of Israel. 27The priests and the Levites stood up and asked the Lord to bless the people. God heard them. Their prayer came up to the Lord’s holy home in heaven.
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