For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying,"May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary." – 2 Chronicles 30v18-19
Here we have an early example of the importance of a right heart over ritual. A great number of people who had responded to Hezekiah’s call and turned back to God. They came to Jerusalem and ate the Passover, but there was a problem. They did not wash themselves before the Passover contrary to the Passover Rules.
I am sure that there were some there who were shocked. There people, who had just turned to God, did not do it all just right. They crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s in the wrong places. They did not go through the purification process the way they were supposed to. All the guys who had it right surely condemned them for it. How do I know? They did the same thing to Jesus and His disciples when the disciples ate without the proper washings.
But Hezekiah had it right. He prayed that God would overlook their violation of the rituals because although they had not done it right, they had prepared their hearts.
God answered Hezekiah’s prayer.
God is much more concerned with our hearts than with complying with a list of rules and regulations. We can see people doing things in a way that we don’t like or is not the way we do it and react with judgement and condemnation.
If we are not careful we can also get so focused on the rituals and traditions that we can let our preparation slip into second place.
If we could just get the hearts right the rest would sort itself out, because eventually the heart produces results on the outside.