The first passage from today comes from the Book of Chronicles, and features an account from the time of King Hezekiah of Judah:
10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of E′phraim and Manas′seh, and as far as Zeb′ulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. 11 Only a few men of Asher, of Manas′seh, and of Zeb′ulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also upon Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
13 And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron valley. 15 And they killed the passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were put to shame, so that they sanctified themselves, and brought burnt offerings into the house of the Lord. 16 They took their accustomed posts according to the law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had to kill the passover lamb for every one who was not clean, to make it holy to the Lord. 18 For a multitude of the people, many of them from E′phraim, Manas′seh, Is′sachar, and Zeb′ulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezeki′ah had prayed for them, saying, “The good Lord pardon every one 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezeki′ah, and healed the people. 21 And the people of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with all their might to the Lord. 22 And Hezeki′ah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord. So the people ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord the God of their fathers.
(2 Chronicles 30:10-22)
In my reading of the OT, I tend to pay more attention to Kings and Samuel, which can be a mistake. This passage is an example of that. I had completely forgotten about it, although when I did the next passage immediately came to light:
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Both scenes from Scripture feature those who are ritually unclean partaking of a meal, either the Passover or an actual supper with the Lord. It seems to me that the Pharisees, with their rigid adherence to the ritual laws of cleanliness, also seemed to have forgotten that passage from Chronicles. What matters is not how ritually clean we are on the outside, what matters is what is on the inside:
10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Because those present at the Passover Celebration in the Old Testament had clean hearts, they were healed by the meal. And those who sought the Divine Physician, in turning their hearts to Him, found themselves cleaning their hearts. Pity the poor Pharisees who focused on whether someone’s hands were clean, instead of whether their heart was. Also, I found it interesting that Matthew’s Gospel, which I believe is the longest, has a shorter list of evils that come from the heart than Mark’s Gospel, which is the shortest of the four gospels:
20 And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
While there is clear overlap- Matthew’s gospel pretty much has the same things as Mark’s (with a possible switch-up for deceit and false witness), Mark adds several more. What interests me is the addition of licentiousness. I’m curious what Greek word is used there, and what its full meaning is. Any of my readers feel like chiming in?