[Life Journal] Hezekiah Rocks!

1 08 2006

Scripture:

  1. 2 Chronicles 29:34 (NIV)  The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their kinsmen the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been.
  2. 2 Chronicles 30:10,11,15,18-20 (NIV)  10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
  3. 15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the LORD.
  4. 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
  5. James 4:4-10 (NIV) 4You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? 6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
  6. 7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Observations:
For a few months I have been wrestling with this idea of "flexibility."  How can we be a church where everyone is welcome, yet still maintain the standards God requires of us?  What about the "slippery slope?"  If we let some get away with "stuff," what will the church look like 100 years down the road?  When I read certain passages of the Bible, it is clear to me that God is a God of order and that He requires obedience.  Yet, some people aren’t ready to obey.

However, I know that this has to be a journey and that we have to show grace and patience to those who are on this journey.  It can take anywhere from months to years for people to come into a fully victorious walk with the Lord.  We cannot expect people to immediately be obedient.  For crying out loud, I’ve been walking with the Lord for almost 20 years and I still wrestle with things that I should have given up long ago.  The key word there is should.  I am learning to obey, learning to listen, and learning to submit — but even though I know it in my head, I haven’t necessarily figured out how to put it into practice.

So, if God is being patient with me, why wouldn’t He be patient with the new believer, the seeker, the first time attender, or those who have no clue what to look for?

I’ve been talking to anyone who would listen and trying to figure this out — then in reading today’s readings from 2 Chronicles and James, I was struck with solid biblical precedence to support where I was feeling led.  Here is what I see (these observations correspond with the numbers above):

  1. There are not enough priests to deal with all the people coming to the temple so they have to go to their relatives to obtain assistance.  These are not consecrated priests, but they are people who are from the Levitical family.  The Levites were set aside by God to work in the temple and these men had purified themselves.
  2. This is kind of a side note to the bigger questions I’ve been raising, but at Common Ground, we are trying to unify the existing churches to work together in Colorado Springs.  Many people are unwilling to come on board — they may not openly mock or scorn us — but their actions are not supportive.  Yet some have chosen to get on board.
  3. The Passover was celebrated one month late due to some logistical issues.  This shamed the priests because it was not in accordance with God’s instructions.
  4. Many of the people who attended the Passover had not properly cleansed themselves and were not obedient in their form of worship.  However, Hezekiah interceded in their behalf and God not only accepted them, He cleansed them.
  5. God does require obedience and fidelity out of us.
  6. God gives clear instruction on how to walk with Him and be obedient.  This is how we will experience purity, joy, contentment, and abundance in our lives.

Application:
So, with the above observations, here is what I see:

  1. We may not always have enough "ordained" leaders in our church, but if our spiritual relatives are walking with the Lord — maybe even more than our leaders, we may use them to help shepherd the flocks.  Whether they are official or not, God can use them and we should too.
  2. We shouldn’t be concerned with the naysayers — God’s purposes will proceed.
  3. We may not always feel good about bending the rules, and we should not make this a habit, but God can still use this to His glory.  It is good to repent of this though and realize that we are out of alignment with God.  However, He did not smite them for their bending of the rules.
  4. Some of those who are seeking God are not necessarily walking faithfully with Him.  In fact, their lives may be quite askew.  As leaders, it is our job to intercede on their behalf.  I think of those who attend our gathering on a regular basis who are engaged in immoral behavior, have satanic symbols on their Myspace page, or who are pursuing a lifestyle that is leading them away from God.  Most of these people are seeking God and we MUST intercede for them — and God will accept them and cleanse them.
  5. By being flexible and understanding, it does not take away the need to be obedient.
  6. Seeking God will bring us into a more fulfilling lifestyle.

Interestingly, James 4 brings good balance to 2 Chronicles 30 — the Bible is always balanced in context.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for helping me to see You in all of your fullness and beauty.  Help me to better represent Your character and Your will.  Teach me to be patient, humble, obedient, and understanding.  Teach me to be tolerant and flexible.  Teach me to be strong and forthright in my own life.  Let me walk the walk — teach me to walk with You!

gw

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