God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19 - 2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48: Hezekiah Reinstates God's Reign over Judah

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Hezekiah removed most (but not all) of the things Judah used to worship other gods.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Unlike his predecessors, King Hezekiah removed the Asherah shrines. He destroyed Moses' bronze serpent. Hezekiah trusted God and was greatly blessed.
First, he restored the Temple in Honor of God. He knew God's wrath came because they worshiped foreign gods. Hezekiah wanted to set right their relationship with God.
The Levites and priests carried out Hezekiah's orders. They rededicated the Temple with sacrifices and music. Everything returned to normal!
For the first time since Solomon's rule the Passover was celebrated fully. Hezekiah asked God to accept those who had clean hearts. Out of joy, they extended Passover for a week.

Psalm (P)Synopsis

Psalm 48

The sons of Korah praise God because He has made Jerusalem safe. God protected it from many kings. They call Judah to dance because God would protect them long enough to tell the next generation the story of God.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Hezekiah removed the shrines that had become part of their culture.

I love Hezekiah. He is a man I can respect and appreciate. He reinitiates God's reign over Judah. His willingness to remove not only his father's idols but also the shrines laid by Jehoram and Ahaziah centuries earlier shows moral courage. Then he did the unthinkable, he removed Moses' bronze serpent
more than a thousand years old! These shrines had become normal to Judah and taking them out may have caused quite a stir within the country. "We've always worshiped this way! Why are you changing it?" However, Hezekiah was not willing to let this stop him from obeying God. He knew these foreign gods caused God to punish Judah and Israel. He saw them take something from their past (Moses' bronze snake) and worship it instead of the God who healed Israel. He had seen with his eyes what happened when God's Chosen People do not worship Him. We must be willing to remove all things which prevent us from setting all things right with God, even if it is centuries-old and the only way we know how to do it.

Hezekiah invites Israel to join in the celebration of the Passover.

Hezekiah does not want Israel to be left out of the reinstitution of the Passover. He wants them to worship God again. Unfortunately, they are too far gone to return to their god. They mock Hezekiah and ignore his requests. We know how that ended.
Unfortunately, not all people will join in worshiping God, especially some of His Chosen People.

Hezekiah prays for the ritually unprepared to be forgiven.

I love that Hezekiah gives mercy to the priests and Levites who are unclean during the Passover. They have been lazy. They procrastinated preparing until it was too late. So Hezekiah prays that God would overlook the literal conditions stated in the Law of Moses. Guess what, God healed the people! Why did God do this? God cares more for the heart-state than the physical-state.
What does that mean for today? We should not worry about crossing every "t" or dotting every "i" when we think to worship. We should first fix our heart, try our best to be acceptable to God, and then ask for forgiveness for anything else. If our hearts are clean, eventually the rest will become clean. Until then, God will overlook our uncleanness.

When God's Chosen People worship God correctly with clean hearts, they do not want to quit.

One more thing I enjoy reading in the life of Hezekiah is their enjoyment of the first Passover. Hezekiah had offered so much food to the celebration (most likely because he expected Israel to join them) they decided to extend it another week. There was so much joy at finally worshiping their god with a clean heart that no one wanted to go home. So they all stayed. When we have clean hearts, we never want to stop praising God! Think about that the next you start looking at your watch when the service is going long. Is it because you have somewhere to be or because you feel exposed before a God who can see your unclean heart?

Are you ready to reinitiate God's reign in your life?

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