General Absolution


And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 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 brook Kidron. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the Lord. They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the Lord. For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone 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.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lordday by day, singing with all their might to the Lord. And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord. So they 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 30:13-22.

When Hezekiah realized he had missed the Passover, he decided to have it anyway. It would be a month late, but he wanted the people who had drifted away from God to come back as soon as possible. So at the feast he gave what we would know as general absolution. The Lord honored this request, and they decided to celebrate for seven more days.

This is the sort of thing a Catholic priest might have done on the Titanic as it was going down. The urgency of facing certain death sets aside all formality as people want to get right with the God they shall soon see. Did Hezekiah know it would be a little over a hundred years before God’s people would be removed from this land by the Babylonians?

It is unlikely that he knew he was on a sinking ship, but God knew. And God knows the state of our own nation better than we do. Whether we have already hit the iceberg or not, we must extend the absolution that is offered through the blood of Christ. No matter how America is doing, we all go under the waves sooner than we expect.

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