Friday, July 1, 2016

The Quick Work of God


It always surprises me that I can read the same passage of Scripture dozens of times, yet still find something new. That's what happened with the story of Hezekiah today. 

He became king when he was 29 years old. His daddy had been king before him, and he was terrible. He had closed the temple and cut up the temple utensils. 

Hezekiah, from the very start, was a king much like David. He reopened the temple and called the priests and Levites back.

When Hezekiah had assembled them, he told them an interesting thing. God had chosen them to stand before Him, minister to Him, to be His ministers, and to burn incense. In their "to do" list from God, standing before Him and ministering to Him came first. 

I immediately wondered what it meant to minister to God, so I looked at what these men did. First, they consecrated themselves. After they were consecrated, they cleansed the House of God of all the uncleanness. They removed the idols and prepared the temple for services. There was a good bit of repair work to do after Hezekiah's daddy's reign of sin. Then, the sweet work of ministering to God began. They sang praises with joy, bowed down, and worshipped Him.

If we are to be ministers (and, because of the priesthood of all believers, we are all ministers) we will begin with getting the sin out of our own lives. When that's accomplished, we'll be ready for the sweet work. Singing with joy. Praising Him. Bowing before Him. Worshipping.

That's the kind of ministry God wants first.

When that was done, the Levites and priests led the way in helping the people with their own sacrifices and worship.

Here's what's so astounding about all this. Scripture says: 

"And all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly." 2 Chronicles 29:46 nasb

Until today, I thought the "thing" that came about suddenly was the reopening of the temple.

This morning, I finally realized what God had prepared. It was astounding.

God put it in Hezekiah's heart to reinstitute the Passover and to bring all His people back to Him. By this point, many of the people from the ten Northern tribes had been taken into captivity by Assyria because of their terrible idolatry.

Hezekiah sent couriers throughout both Judah and Israel, inviting them to the Passover. He begged them to return to the Lord, and told them that their repentance could have a positive effect on those in captivity.

Most of the people in Israel mocked the couriers, but not all of them did.

"Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manassah, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem." 2 Chronicles 30:11 nasb

Spoiler alert: Here's the good part...

"The hand of God was on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord." 2 Chronicles 30:12 nasb

What God gave the people so quickly was two-fold: one more chance and a unified heart.

They had a chance to repent and return to Him, but they also had a chance to restore the kingdom. He also gave the people of Judah a heart of unity that welcomed the rest of the nation back into the fold. 

For a moment, consider the father of the prodigal son, waiting at the end of the road, watching every day for His wayward boy to return. That's what God had done for Israel (and for wayward Judah). For a season, He also gave all the people of Judah the kind of heart He had toward His prodigals. There were no "older brother" hearts in Judah. They were ready to worship together and willing to welcome their wayward brothers home.

Just imagine what our churches would be like if we prepared for ministering to God by consecrating ourselves. Imagine what it would be like if God gave the body of Christ a united heart for worship and the welcoming of prodigals, just like Jesus prayed in John 17:21.

And He has. Jesus' prayer for unity was clearly within the will of God, so we can count that heart of unity already given. The only thing lacking is for us to receive it.

Today, let's begin to do the work of ministering to God by consecrating ourselves. 

Let's invite God to show us our sin and remove it. 

Let's embrace a heart of unity with all the body of Christ and make our churches a warm and welcoming place for those who've wandered away.

We, too, can rejoice over what God has prepared for His people. 

Because of His unfailing grace, He's given us another chance to be salt and light. 

Another chance to bring in the harvest. 

Another chance to honor Him.

____________

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Prayers for Istanbul

#disciple #workofGod #Hezekiah #unity