I am sorry that weeks sometimes pass before I am able to sit down in the Presence of Holy Spirit and write a blog. One of my dearest friends just underwent serious open heart surgery and I have tried to be present to help her through her days of recovery and also present to my husband, who needs increasing help. It was a bit of juggling, but God orchestrated it and I managed, with His help, to be where I needed to be.
During those weeks I stayed "camped out" in 2nd Chronicles 30. Since it speaks of Hezekiah in the time of the Passover, I'm not sure why the LORD has had me in this chapter so long, but I can tell you that He reveals His true heart so powerfully and tenderly in this chapter, that I weep every time I read it! Let me begin in verse 6, where King Hezekiah sends his couriers throughout Israel with a letter that says:
"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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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.”
He will not turn His face from you if you return to Him. It's almost as if I could hear the Voice of God pleading, lovingly reaching out to His people through this king, who so desired to return the people of Judah and Israel back to their God. "It's so simple," the king seems to say. "Just return to your God! Just come! Submit! When you do this, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will lovingly receive you back. He is gracious and compassionate. RETURN."
The people begin to respond to this call to return to their God and to His appointed feast days. Though some rebelled (as some always do), a very large crowd assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. They slaughtered the Passover Lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. (This is allowed by the Torah if someone misses the opportunity to celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the first month, as is commanded in Leviticus 23:5). So, in a way, we see this merciful God who knew they had not kept it on the appointed day, but who reached out His Hand and gave them a second chance to meet with Him in the Passover! And verse 17 speaks more about God's mercy and grace: "Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the LORD. We know that the Levites are the priests - so this spoke powerfully to me about Yeshua, our High Priest, who BECAME the Passover lamb for us, even for those who are in sin, so that they could RETURN to Him, be cleansed in HIS blood, and come into His Kingdom! Then the text goes on, and gets even more grace-filled and beautiful:
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 their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
Now we see the gracious heart of the LORD at an ever deeper level. Those who were not clean according to the "rules of the sanctuary" (which probably meant uncircumcised), were still allowed to eat the Passover. Why? Because Hezekiah intercedes for them, asking God to pardon "everyone who sets their heart on seeking the Lord, the God of their ancestors - even if they are not clean!" Hezekiah most certainly is a type of Yeshua here also, as he intercedes for EVERYONE WHO SETS THEIR HEART ON SEEKING GOD. Doesn't this touch YOUR heart as it did mine? This is what God is looking for! For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2nd Chronicles 16:9) Once he sees someone who has set his heart upon seeking Him or returning to Him, He reaches through time and space and pardons that person and throws His arms around him as the father did to his prodigal son!
The chapter goes on to relate the unbridled joy that broke out in this assembly of true worshipers. They were, no doubt, a people overflowing with gratitude that they were pardoned, accepted and so loved by the King of the Universe! The chapter continues with this powerful picture:
21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the Lord every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the Lord. 25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.
Perhaps this last part of the story is equally as important for us to embrace as the first. Not only does God pardon and heal those formerly unclean, and invite those who have strayed to return to Him, but when they pray, He hears. Our prayers reach Heaven. Our prayers touch Heaven. And Heaven reaches down and touches us.
Return to Him, that He might return to you!
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Kelly Ferrari Mills