June 13, 2015

Trust and obey, for there is no other way . . .

2 Chronicles 31:1–32:33; 1 John 2:15–17; Psalm 104:16–35

We do not earn God’s favor by our obedience, but He certainly encourages it by His blessing. He knows what is good for us, something like a father who does not want his child playing in traffic. Doing what He says keeps me out of trouble and often produces unexpected results.

This happened with King Hezekiah who restored God’s temple and encouraged the people to donate towards it. They responded in great abundance and Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites about the enormous amount of giving. Azariah the chief priest replied, “Since they began to bring the contributions into the house of the Lord, we have eaten and had enough and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed his people, so that we have this large amount left.” (2 Chronicles 31:9–10)

Hezekiah obeyed God by doing “what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.” (2 Chronicles 31:20–21)

He also encouraged the people to do the right thing, and to trust God: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:7–8)

When the Assyrians attacked, the Lord sent an angel. “He cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.” (2 Chronicles 32:21–22)

Hezekiah slipped a bit after that and became proud of his accomplishments, yet he “humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them.” (2 Chronicles 32:26)

I’m encouraged by Hezekiah, and also by the admonition of the New Testament reading. It says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15–17)

Like that ancient king, I’ve known God’s blessing for obedience. His wrath? That was poured out on Christ on the Cross, which means the punishment for every sin I’ve committed was willingly borne by Jesus, my Savior. Because of what He has done for me, I can repent of my foolishness and sin, and turn to Him. He forgives and gives me His love and the desire to do His will. What a blessing to know and share in the grace of God!

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:31–34) 

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