June 12, 2015

Restoration after a Fall

2 Chronicles 29:1–30:27, 1 John 2:7–14, Psalm 104:1–15

Reading today’s passage about the next king over God’s people is a blessing. It even includes guidelines for restoring order in my life when I mess up. Like Israel, I can get out of step with God and my “temple” is in disarray like theirs was.

“Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem . . . and he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:1–2) Many of the kings did not do what was right, but this man had a heart for God.

In the first month and year of his reign, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. (2 Chronicles 29:3) For me, that speaks of opening my life for what God intended, allowing Him to fix whatever was closed and keeping me away from Him. This fix always involves confession of sin.

Verse 5 says he called for consecration and to “carry out the filth from the Holy Place.” This speaks of forsaking sin. Confession is not enough. God needs to cleanse me and change my attitude toward sin in general and toward the particular sin that is tripping me.

When I mess up, my prayer life goes down the tube too. This is Hezekiah’s next fix. He put out the incense lamps that represent prayer (verse 7).

He also turned his heart toward the covenant with the Lord. For me, this is crucial. When I sin, I need to turn my heart toward the new covenant that spells out what Christ has done for me, going to the foot of the Cross in humility and gratitude (verse 10) for His grace. There I let Him examine my life and dig out the deeper things that tripped me so I am thoroughly cleansed by His Word and His blood.  

This parallels what the priests did: “The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron.” (2 Chronicles 29:16)

After that, the worship started. “Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the Lord . . . The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded . . . . All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped . . . . And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.” (2 Chronicles 29:20-30).

“Thus the service of the house of the Lord was restored. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people . . .” and God promised His blessing.
Hezekiah called to the people to keep the Passover (celebrating God’s deliverance from bondage). Some laughed, but others “humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 30:10–11) and The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord (30:12).

The last important instruction is about persistence. They kept the Passover for a week, but the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness” (2 Chronicles 30:23).

When I mess up, confess, return to loving God as before, I’ve always a renewed attitude that “I never want to do that again.” Yet years of experience shows me that repentance is not about trying harder, but about surrender to the Lord who covenants to keep His people. In the NT reading, John’s words are right on:

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:7–8)

So also are the words of the psalmist who expresses how I feel when God blesses me — I want to bless Him! “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.” (Psalm 104:1–4)

God wants my life clean and obedient, yet when it isn’t, He provides all I need for restoration!

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