"But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'The good LORD pardon all who set their hearts to seek God, the LORD, the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary's rules of cleanness.'"
(2 Chronicles 30:18b-19)
Hezekiah was one of the few kings of Israel who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. He became king at age 25 and reigned for almost 3 decades. The first action he took while in office was to open up and repair/clean the temple. What a testimony to Israel's sin & faithlessness that the temple and worship had been so neglected. Nevertheless, Hezekiah moved ahead to cleanse.
Chapters 29-31 record the multiple steps taken to accomplish the Temple Cleansing: fixed the entrance doors, sanctified the Levites, took out all the unclean things inside, cleansed the worship items, and finished with worship & sacrifice (all of Israel!). Then the king called everyone to observe the Passover - something that had been neglected for years.
Some came for Passover, but not all. And among those who did come, not all had prepared themselves appropriately. So they had to make extra sacrifices for the people who were unclean & should have been ineligible to partake. But Hezekiah, knowing it was better for the people to come before the LORD unworthily (and unprepared) than to stay away, like they had done for so long, took action. He offered a beautiful prayer on behalf of the people, asking God to see the intentions of their hearts, and not the outward cleanliness (or lack thereof) of their bodies. The narrator tells us, "The LORD heard Hezekiah, and healed the people" (30:20).
I love that. Too many feel like they have to "get their act together" before coming to church or back to God. So they stay away. They miss out on God's healing, forgiveness, and restoration. Hezekiah, the wise young kind, knew this. He wanted the people to get right with God, so he challenged them to come, and then interceded on their behalf. I'm impressed and moved by that leadership trait.
PRAYER: Help me, LORD, to encourage my community of faith to return to you now - not later. Give me the heart to intercede on their behalf. Give me compassion, grace & mercy for them. And forgive me of all MY sins, too. AMEN.