I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.
Hezekiah decided to invite all of the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover at the restored Temple. They were unable to celebrate the Passover at the time set forth in the Law of Moses because not enough priests were able to get purified in time. So, Hezekiah, his officials and the entire community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover a month late. Hezekiah sent messengers throughout land of Israel, both the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel, asking the people to return to the Lord and come celebrate the Passover. Most of the people of the Northern Kingdom made fun of Hezekiah’s messengers. However, there were a few who responded to the message and went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
The people of the Kingdom of Judah, on the other hand, responded enthusiastically. As a result, when they celebrated the Passover a large crowd had gathered in Jerusalem. Many of the people had not purified themselves properly, so the Levites sacrificed their Passover lambs for them. In particular, most of those from the Northern Kingdom had not purified themselves. Hezekiah prayed to God asking that He pardon those who had come to resume following Him without properly purifying themselves. The decision was made to allow those who were not properly purified to eat the Passover lamb anyway. The passage tells us that God honored Hezekiah’s prayer and the desire of the people to worship Him and blessed the people who came to partake in the Passover.
This passage shows us that even here, under the Law, God honored those who sought Him and desired to be made right with Him. God invites us to come as we are, with our sins and imperfections. If we truly strive to follow and obey Him, He will bless us and purify us by His wondrous power. We do not need to purify ourselves before we come to God. Which is a good thing because we are not truly capable of doing so. It is only by the action of God’s Spirit and through the blood of Christ that we are able to be purified enough to approach God.
When the people returned to their homes after the Passover, they destroyed the Asherah poles and removed the shrines and altars to pagan gods. Even the people from the Northern Kingdom did this upon their return home (although the passage suggests that many of them remained in the Kingdom of Judah). The people responded enthusiastically to Hezekiah’s religious reforms.
Hezekiah assigned the priests to work full-time offering sacrifices and leading worship in the Temple. He sent out word that the people of Jerusalem were to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites so that they would not need to stop caring for the Temple to care for themselves. When the people of Israel heard of this proclamation, they began to enthusiastically bring goods for the Temple workers even though Hezekiah’s edict only extended to the people of Jerusalem.
I am praying for a revival today like the one experienced under Hezekiah, but not only in Judah, or Israel, but throughout the entire planet. I am striving to pray every day for the Holy Spirit to rain down on the earth and open the flood gates into people’s hearts.
Continuing on his theme from yesterday, Paul tells those of us who are strong in faith that we should bear with those who have weaker faith. In the context of yesterday’s passage, I would interpret this to mean that if we believe that some behavior is OK, but our fellow believer believes it to be a sin, we should not try to convince them to do that behavior, nor should we practice that behavior in front of them. Of course, the way Paul phrases his instruction raises the question as to who has the stronger faith? Well, the answer should be, since we should defer to those whose faith is stronger than our own on matters of faith, that if we think that someone else is mistaken in a matter of faith we must be the one whose faith is stronger and we are the one under obligation to bear with their failings of faith (of course, the same logic applies to the other party as well). Paul concludes this teaching by telling us that as followers of Christ we should live in harmony with our fellow believers. Our goal as Christians is to join together with one voice to praise God and bring glory to His name.
Paul concludes the teaching part of his letter by saying that he is confident that the readers of his letter are filled with knowledge and perfectly capable of teaching one another the Truths of God. He is merely writing to cover a few points which he considers worthy of special emphasis. He notes that his authority to make this emphasis is because God has appointed him as an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul tells us that while he is enthusiastic about what God has done through him, he does not want any special praise himself. Rather, we should praise God for what He has done.
As I write these blogs, I try very hard to remember to give all credit to God. If by some chance, someone reading this is blessed by what I have written, then praise God. That is not of any credit to me. While I believe myself to be a moderately good writer, even that skill is merely a gift which God has given me. Indeed, I have found that when I make an effort to do something to make my blog something special are the days when I get the fewest hits. Instead, it is the days when I struggle with getting my thoughts to be coherent that are the days when God brings more people to read what I have written (not that even on the best days is my audience size anything to brag about). I would love to have a large audience for my writings, but I know full well that if that were to happen it would be because God has chosen to work through my writings in that manner, not because I am such a gifted writer.
I am tempted to take that last paragraph out because as I re-read it it sounds like I am denigrating my ability as a writer and that would be incorrect. I think that I am a talented writer (please do not tell me if you disagree…or even if you agree). My point is that no matter how talented a writer I may be, that talent itself comes from God AND I will only gather a large following for my writing if God chooses to guide people to them. All-in-all my goal with this writing is to bring glory to God and gain a more in depth understanding of the Bible by attempting to share what God reveals to me in my writing.
Once again the psalm starts with a statement I want to live my life by (NIV):
I put my trust.
I fully believe that no one who trusts in God will ever be put to shame. He will show me the path I should follow. God is a friend to those who fear Him and will guide them in the path that leads to life. He will guide me to do right as long as I remain humble and contrite, for whenever I lose my humility I sin. If I can keep my eyes on the Lord, I will not go wrong again (keeping my eyes on the Lord is a challenge for me).
Those who sleep when there is work to be done will find themselves in poverty, but if we spend our time looking for the things that need to be done, we will have plenty. Someone haggling over price will talk down what they are buying, then brag about how great it is once they have bought it. Wealth is more readily found and obtained than knowledge and wisdom.