Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 30-31:21; Romans 15:1-22; Psalm 25:1-15; Proverbs 20:13-15
Hezekiah continues his good work in 2 Chronicles today by reestablishing the celebration of Passover. He sends letters to everyone in both Judah and Israel (2 Chronicles 30:1). Can you imagine the President of the United States calling all citizens to celebrate Easter or Christmas? Sadly, neither can I. But that is the equivalent of what Hezekiah did here. Again we see that God does not separate church and state. The leader of the nation has the responsibility for the spiritual health of its citizens.
Based on the fact that Hezekiah’s letter went into Israel it is likely that by this time Israel had been conquered as Hezekiah would not have encroached on the sovereignty of his northern neighbor. Previous attempts to unify the divided kingdoms by force always failed. Here Hezekiah tries the only real way to unify people – through worship of the one and only God.
Unfortunately many in Israel laugh at the suggestion (2 Chronicles 30:10) as many do today who are invited into a relationship with Christ through a friend or relative. We are never to take such mocking personally. It is directed at God and He will deal with it.
The Passover had not been celebrated for so long that some of the people, especially those from the northern tribes who had fallen very far away from God, did not follow the ceremonial cleansing rules before participating. Yet God allows them to participate anyway (2 Chronicles 30:17-20). Here we see that God is not a stickler. These people could not be expected to know the rules since they had never been taught them. What was important was that their hearts were in the right place. And that was good enough for God at this point. He could teach them the rules later.
The same thing happens when someone is saved today. God doesn’t ask us to clean ourselves up before joining Him. Instead He says “Join me, and I’ll clean you up”.
The aftermath of this wonderful celebration was that people went home and turned away from their idols (2 Chronicles 31:1). Hezekiah also reestablished the priestly service in the Temple (2 Chronicles 31:2). He even donated from his own wealth to support the effort and required the people to do likewise (2 Chronicles 31:3). The people respond by cheerfully offering a tithe (10 percent) of their possessions.
Today we live under the New Testament which does not speak of giving a tithe of our wealth back to God. Rather we are to give sacrificially. For some people 10% is a sacrifice. For others, 5% is a sacrifice. But for many in this country 10% is nowhere near being a sacrifice. Our giving should be proportionate to our income and it should “hurt” a little to give it up.
Everyone gives above and beyond what was needed so Hezekiah put people in charge of supervising all the donations (2 Chronicles 31:11-20) so that they could be stored and used effectively. Once again we see that God is a God of organization and administration.
Just as Christ did not live to please Himself, neither should we (Romans 15:1-3). Our goal should not be our own earthly comforts but to help others build their relationship with Jesus (Romans 15:2). In the process we may be insulted and hurt, but so was Jesus. We can endure these things knowing that God knew they would happen and that He will fulfill His promises to us in the future (Romans 15:4).
Believers should accept one another just as Christ accepted each of us (Romans 15:7). Jesus did not accept us because we were perfect or because He could get something from us. He accepted us for our own good. We should accept other believers in the same way even if we differ on non-core issues.
We already know these things, yet sometimes we need to be reminded (Romans 15:14). Its easy to let our human pride and selfishness take over our lives. Too easy. That is why we need to be in the Bible every single day. We also need to have at least one or two people in our lives who will hold us accountable and who will let us know when our behavior is not consistent with our beliefs.
I really like Psalm 25. The author is going through a very difficult time and turns to God for help (Psalm 25:1-4). Notice the importance the psalmist puts on God’s word in verse 5. The Bible is God’s truth. We need to be in the Bible every day for it teaches us, strengthens us, and guides us.
Just like we strengthen our body through exercise so we can have the strength we need, reading and studying the Bible provides spiritual and emotional strength that we can use to handle the difficulties that come with being alive.
The psalmist acknowledges that he has made mistakes (Psalm 25:7). But he also acknowledges that God did not forget him or turn His back on him. If we are humble and teachable, God will set us back on the right course (Psalm 25:8-9).
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post