Return to the Lord
King Hezekiah was a descendant of king David. He took the throne at age 25.
“Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.
2 Chronicles 29:1-2 – NIV
Hezekiah was king of Judah, the southern tribes which were the tribe of Judah and Benjamin. The nation of Israel had originally been 12 tribes but under King David’s grandson Rehaboam, the northern 10 tribes had broken away, established Samaria as their capital and adopted pagan Gods to lead them. Judah, with its capital as Jerusalem had the temple of God but it had been neglected and abandoned because the people of Judah had also been worshipping pagan Gods.
Hezekiah made an effort to humbly return to the Lord and Invited his people and his neighbors to the north to return to the Lord.
“At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord. A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
2 Chronicles 30:6-14 – NIV
The people of God as directed and invited by their king came and worshipped God. They repented of their sins, they humbled themselves and then they gathered together and cleared away anything and everything that wasn’t part of worshipping God and then worshipped God. God is always worthy of worship. No matter how bad things are.
Our worship of God is not determined by our circumstances. Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned, locked in chains inside a prison cell. Here is their story found in the book of Acts.
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
Acts 16:22-34 – NIV
In the current pandemic the response of our government has been restrictive to us, with them imposing rules about if and how we meet, what we can and can’t do, all with the intent to keep us from spreading the COVID virus. No physical torture has been involved, no prison cells, no chains. Can we still worship? It feels as though our system of worship has been torn down, or filled up with distractions and road blocks like for King Hezekiah and his people. We can still praise our God. Our circumstances do not change who God is. They do not, cannot change what God has done for us. He has given us his son as the ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sins.
Maybe our 21st century Christianity has gotten cluttered up with stuff that doesn’t belong in our worship of God, and through COVID-19, God has given us an opportunity to clear away the rubbish that has been a distraction to us, keeping us from mindful, soulful, heartfelt and rigorous worship of God.
I have a request for all my readers; Don’t quit worshipping the God who sent us his only son Jesus. Don’t quit worshipping the God who sacrificed his son to die and be raised to life on the third day. Do not quit worshipping the God who took Jesus to heaven so he could prepare a place for us and then sent Hod the Holy Spirit to be with us, in us and working through us.
No matter what, We can continue to worship God. Will we?