TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 2 CHRONICLES 29:1-36
You will remember that we read about King Hezekiah’s reign in the Book of Second Kings, his life was summarized in glowing terms despite his failures (2 Kings 20:12-18).
2 Kings 18:5-7 5 He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
King Hezekiah is considered a hero among the kings of Israel. More is written about him than any other king except David and Solomon. Yet the Book of Chronicles anticipates a greater hero, the future King of Kings, Jesus Christ. The reference point for the anticipated Messiah, the ‘Son of David’, is perfect devotion (a heart after God) and perfect obedience (doing all of God’s will).
Acts 13:22-23 22 “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will DO ALL MY WILL.’ 23 “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.”
Hezekiah exemplifies a man who has a heart after God, though not perfect. Only a brief reference is given to his sin of pride in the Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 32:25).
The Chronicler starts by commending Hezekiah with reference to this prophetic Davidic standard of seeking to do what is right in the eyes of God:
2 Chronicles 29:2 2 He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.
Hezekiah’s first deed. He opened the doors of the house of the Lord that his wicked father, Ahaz had closed. This is what Jesus does. He is the open door.
We have a record of Hezekiah’s speech to the priests and the Levites. He exercises spiritual leadership, calling his people to action! He defined the present reality, admitted their past failures, and then he challenged them to move forward in a clear direction.
2 Chronicles 29:10-11 10 “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that His burning anger may turn away from us. 11 “My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and burn incense.”
The Lord Jesus has satisfied the terms of God’s covenant on our behalf and turned the wrath of God away from us. There is no condemnation to those who are in this temple (in Christ Jesus) (Romans 8:1).
Hezekiah purified the temple, casting every unclean thing ‘outside the camp’ into the Kidron Valley. This is what Jesus did when He was crucified for sin outside the camp of Jerusalem.
The purification is noted as taking place in multiples of 8 (29:17). The eighth day is the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, the day of resurrection. The number 8 stands for the new creation, the new week, the new beginning. This is what Jesus came to initiate (2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:1-5).
The Levites reported to King Hezekiah:
2 Chronicles 29:19 19 “Moreover, all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness, we have prepared and consecrated; and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.”
The next morning King Hezekiah freshly consecrated the temple with offerings, 7 of each type. The number seven meaning ‘complete’, ‘sufficient’, perfect, anticipating the perfect once and for all sacrifice made by Jesus Christ (29:20-24).
He organized tributes of worship. The worship is also described in Davidic terms: The musicians were stationed in the temple ‘in the way prescribed by David’ and with the musical instruments of David.
2 Chronicles 29:25 25 He then stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with harps and with lyres, according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets.
2 Chronicles 29:26 26 The Levites stood with the musical instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
He led worship by example.
2 Chronicles 29:29 29 Now at the completion of the burnt offerings, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped.
At the end of the day the people knew that God was once again working in their midst and were thankful for what He had done. “All those who were willing” brought burnt offerings of devotion to the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:31).
2 Chronicles 29:35b-36 Thus the service of the house of the LORD was established again. 36 Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over what God had prepared for the people, because the thing came about suddenly.
David had the desire to see God worshiped in spirit and in truth among all nations. His desire, specifically to build a house for the Lord on earth, is referred to as ‘the tabernacle of David’. In the New Testament we see how the church is the fulfillment of ‘the tabernacle of David’. It is built by David’s Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 15:14-18) and is God’s dwelling place on earth. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles have equal access to God through the merits of His perfect sacrifice. In Christ, perfect worship and service to God is established.
John 4:23-24 23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
LESSON: This passage reminds us that it is never too late for a new beginning. It also reminds us that change can take place quickly. This should encourage us to pray for new beginnings! May people be restored to the true worship of God through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Hezekiah had a wicked father and he grew up in a time of spiritual darkness when the doors to the temple were shut. But when he came to the throne at the age of 25, he launched a spiritual reformation. It started with a deep work of repentance where the people admitted their neglect, disobedience, and idolatry. They knew that God’s chastisement upon them was just. Hezekiah defined the present reality and then guided the people back to spiritual alertness. He restored the place of worship and the true order of worship. The temple had been so defiled that it took 16 days to cleanse the accumulation of filth from what was to be a holy place.
First, they gave themselves to the Lord. The people followed their example. Let us do the same and worship the Lord whole-heartedly.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 14:1-23
In this practical section in which we are exhorted to live out the gospel, Paul mentions both our personal duty to God and our attitude towards others. We are to worship God and do His will as fully as possible according to our conscience. That is our duty. But our attitude towards others, especially in disputable matters, is to let them do the same. God’s will is not that everyone conforms to our particular standard of sanctification. Christ is the standard of righteousness and it is only the working of His life in us that can bring about God-pleasing sanctification (true conformity to the image of Christ).
The Lord is the master of each person’s sanctification, so we should not judge others progress, particularly because the person you may be critiquing for not living up to your standard may be excelling you in many areas of sanctification that you don’t know about.
Romans 14:4 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Paul then gives the example of some of these areas of doubtful disputations where believers may have different ideas as to what is the particular course of obedience that would be most pleasing to the Lord.
- SACRED DAYS– Regarding one day over another as being more sacred- Sundays, Saturdays, holidays etc. (14:5). Paul concludes that “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” and live as unto the Lord, rather than someone else’s standard.
- SACRED DIETS– Some will advocate that they are taking the most God-pleasing route of eating. For conscience sake they will not eat meat from a market where they might be selling meat that had come from beasts that were sacrificed in someplace other than the holy temple or a kosher market.
- STANDARDS OF CHILD-REARING, DATING, etc.
- STANDARDS OF BUSINESS, CHURCH LITURGIES etc.
- INTERPRETATIONS ON SPIRITUAL GIFTS OR END-TIMES EVENTS
Sometimes we think more of our interpretations than what the Scriptures actually say.
Paul encourages us to remember that we live and die as those who must give an answer to God for our personal duty, but we must also answer to God for our attitude towards our brothers and sisters, particularly those who hold different positions in these areas of ‘doubtful disputations’.
This of course does not mean that we do not make efforts to correct those who are clearly teaching false doctrine, or behaving in ways that are clearly violating God’s revealed will communicated in His Word.
Let us keep the big picture in view:
Romans 14:17 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
We have a relational principle here:
Romans 14:19 19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
It is important that we are true to those convictions that God has given us from a careful study of His Word, while also remembering that God has been patient with us as these convictions have grown in us. Therefore, be patient and gracious with others.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 24:1-10
We go from the Shepherd’s Psalm (23) to the Psalm of the Exalted King (24).
Who is the King of glory?
By grace, we can say, we know who He is. What is His domain? All that is! The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (24:1).
The favor of this Eternal King must be mediated through One who is Holy, that is, THE HOLY ONE (24:3-5).
The result of seeking Him will be blessing from the Lord (24:5).
Lift up your heads, O you gates! Let the Worthy King and Redeemer in!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 20:12
Proverbs 20:12 12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them.
God has given us eyes and ears. Let us be careful what we look at and who we listen to. He has also given use spiritual faculties. Let us hear what He speaks and see what He is doing. Let us exercise our God-given faculties of discernment!
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS- KAZAKHSTAN
ANSWERS TO PRAYER– The Kazakh Church continues to grow in number and stature. From virtually no Kazakh believers in 1990, there were about 15,00 in 2010. They meet in over 100 Kazakh-speaking congregations. Two-thirds of the country’s districts have a Christian witness. Pray for further growth (the growth rate in slowing) and maturation.
Kazakhs are taking on greater leadership in churches and reaching out cross-culturally in significant numbers.
“To be a Kazakh is to be a Muslim”. That is their slogan, but it is a folk Islam strongly influenced by Shamanistic practices. Other Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan) invest huge amounts of money to send Muslim missionaries- some are effective even in converting Russians to Islam. Traditional Islam is on the rise, even trendy in some sectors, despite government actively opposing radical Islam. Orthodox Christianity is perceived as the religion of Russians, and evangelicals are often regarded as dangerous sects. Pray for this misconception to be broken; pray for freedom from historic spiritual bondages and prejudices.
An economic boom from the abundant natural resources brought transformation to Kazakhstan. The government invests in some public works, but much of the wealth makes a few people incredibly rich while most remain poor. Pray that the government will act on behalf of all its citizens. Pray for protection against the corruption and material greed that comes with such wealth.
PRAYER: Lord God, Maker and Owner of heaven and earth. The earth is Yours and everything and everyone in it! Yet there are so many who do not know You and are lost to any real relationship with You. Sin has separated and Your holiness demands that separation. We thank You for sending Jesus, the Holy One, to ascend the hill of Calvary on our behalf, to shed His blood as our perfect atoning Substitute, and make a holy place for us to come before You. You have opened the doors for us that no man can shut. We pray that the Kazakh people will hear You calling them to seek You and come through the open door You provided through the cross of Your Son and find peace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.