King Hezekiah concludes his discourse with a call to action:
“My sons, do not now be negligent for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.” – 2 Chronicles 29.11
On the heals of his stern assessment and rebuke of the faithlessness of their “fathers,” king Hezekiah draws the priests and Levites back to a right standing by tenderly addressing them as “sons.” Then, he offers a gentle rebuke for their former waywardness by labeling it “negligence,” and he calls them to change (i.e. repent) moving forward. This is a great example of biblical confrontation. The purpose of king Hezekiah’s rebuke was not to exacerbate the priests or Levites, to rouse them to anger, to provide a platform for the king to vent, nor to allow the king the opportunity to become pridefully puffed-up in pointing out the sins of others. The purpose here was to restore the priests and Levites to a right relationship with God. Likewise, whenever confrontation takes place (i.e. Matthew 18.15-20; Galatians 6.1-2), the overall purpose should always be restoration of a sinner to God.
King Hezekiah then reminds the priests and Levites of their high calling in service of the great King of kings. He points them back to the straight and narrow path, “… for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.” He gently reminds them of the weighty calling that God has placed on their lives. God had set them apart from all the other tribes of Israel to be His personal ministers, yet they had chosen to rebel against God by depriving Him of their service. This is reminiscent of the call and initial response of the prophet Jonah: God gave him very specific instructions and yet he chose to literally “run the other way.” God disciplined Jonah until he repented and chose to be obedient to God’s call. In like manner, the priests and Levites were given very specific instructions in the Scriptures, yet they chose to “run the other way.” God was disciplining them (along with the rest of the nation for their rebellion as well). But, king Hezekiah was calling them to repent and obey God’s calling on their lives. [Similarly, God has placed a call on all mankind to glorify and worship Him as their Creator and King. However, all mankind is born into rebellion. As a result, all mankind abides under His wrath until they repent (through the illumination and irresistible call of the Holy Spirit) and obey God’s calling on their lives to worship the Creator as King of kings and Lord of lords. See, mankind was not created to worship self (like the field of psychology would have everyone believe), creation, or others. Like the rest of creation, man was created to worship and glorify God alone. Man will continually be miserable, guilt-stricken, restless, idolatrous, and heavy-laiden until he repents and obeys God’s calling on his life to glorify and worship Him.]
King Hezekiah leaves the priests and Levites with the weightiness of their heavenly calling. The response is true repentance, which is marked by their changed lives (2 Corinthians 7.8-13). The very next thing stated in this passage is, “Then the Levites arose, …” (2 Chronicles 29.12). After being rebuked and reminded of their true calling, the priests and Levites immediately went to work. They became focused on reorienting their lives to fall back in line with the Scriptures (i.e. the instructions God had specifically given to the priests and Levites in His Word). In fact, the remainder of the chapter is essentially an account of all that they did to restore themselves and the temple for the service and worship of God. Likewise, whenever conviction of sin occurs, it will evidence itself in a changed life; a life that is reoriented to fall back in line with God’s instructions, as contained in the Scriptures.
In following the example of king Hezekiah, there are a few qualities that should mark a godly rebuke. First, it should always be done with the intent to restore a sinning brother to a right relationship with God. Secondly, the sinning brother should be reminded of God’s calling on his life and exhorted to conform to it. Lastly, the response to such a rebuke should be a changed heart, evidenced by a changed life … to the praise and glory of God!