July 8, 2012

Do Right, Right Now!

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, God is looking for and pleased with Kings whose hearts worship Him and who point His people to worship Him.  Many of the Kings did not do that, or did it half way by getting idols out of the temple but not tearing down the high places of idol worship.  I'm reading 2 Chronicles and have come again to the story of Hezekiah, (he appears in 2 Kings, as well.)  Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  He enters the scene as King of Judah following his very unrighteous father, Ahaz.

But Hezekiah, well, he was getting it right: he had the temple repaired; he called the Levites to consecrate the temple and get ready for sacrifices and worship; he directed the people to celebrate the Passover for the first time in a LONG time.

What made him do this?

His father had worshiped the Baals, built idols to other gods, and even sacrificed some of his own sons to them!  But Hezekiah does not follow in his footsteps.  Second Kings 18 says this about him:  Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.  He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

What moved Hezekiah to do right?  Hezekiah knew God's Word.

All of Scripture is an invitation to worship the one true God.

At some point in his life, Hezekiah had heard the Word of the Lord given to Moses and he thought to himself something like, Hey, we ought to be doing things that way, not my dad's way!

What strikes me as so wonderful about Hezekiah's story is that when he hears that invitation and  does something about it, God responds favorably - He receives the worship of the people and hears their prayers, despite previous decades of unfaithfulness.  They sacrifice many animals to atone for their sins and to honor the Lord their God, and then there's lots of singing and praising and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord!

Here's the take-away I want to share with you today.  No matter what has happened in the last day, week, month, or year.  No matter how far you have wandered away from God and (essentially) worshiped idols.  Turn and


Today is a perfect day, in fact.  Sunday morning worship is just around the corner (at least in the American time zones!)  You might be tempted to stay away, because you feel the need to atone for your sin on your own, or that you need to at least grovel for a while before you can enter worship.  The Bible tells us otherwise.  God desires that we worship Him NOW.

We don't need to fix the past, we need to come to God in the present.

Hezekiah knew, of course, that many of his predecessors had not done right by the Lord.  They had not followed him whole-heartedly, or at all, really.  But what he, Hezekiah, needed to do was respond to the Word of the Lord that he'd heard right then.

I know, of course, that many days this week, I have not done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.  I have not followed God whole-heartedly; in fact, sometimes I even consciously choose to disobey the Lord's nudging toward righteousness!

How about you?

As the song says, Come, now is the time to worship!  Like Israel and Judah, our worship will include repentance for sin (through the bloodshed of Christ rather than animals.)  And then how we can celebrate and rejoice int the presence of the Lord with His people!  It is the Lord who fixes, redeems and heals.  We need to come in response to His word.      Right.      Now.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; 
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts. 
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” 
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish, 
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy 
and be led forth in peace; 
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. 
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown, 
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.”
Isaiah 55:6-13

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