Reading through the Bible together
There is an old hymn, written by Charlotte Elliot in the 19th century that reminds me of today's chapter. The hymn goes like this:
Just as I am, without one plea,
but that Thy blood was shed for me,
and that Thou bidst me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
The story found in 2 Chronicles 30 is a glorious one. Maybe it's because I like large gatherings, or reviving old traditions, or the idea of two weeks of happy feasting, but this may be one of my favorite Old Testament narratives. King Hezekiah risks the embarrassment of a large turn-out to invite all the people of Judah and Israel to a celebrate Passover together, a festival that hasn't been kept in years. He boldly calls his kingdom to faithfulness--and he succeeds. The people "humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem." In the process, they destroy all the idols in the land, which shames the priests and Levites (who presumably should've done this long ago) and moves them to sanctify themselves. Not only do the people have an enjoyable time, but it's so wonderful that they agree collectively to stay another seven days. There has never been so much joy in the land since the days of King Solomon. It is a time of purification and revival, a drastic turning point for the children of Israel.
But in the midst of all this faithfulness, there is one point at which Hezekiah seems to bend the rules: several who have come are ceremonially unclean, yet they partake in Passover, "contrary to what was written" in the Law. Does Hezekiah demand--in the spirit of radical obedience--that these transgressors leave? Does he throw them out with the idols? No--Hezekiah prays for them. "May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God." And the Bible says that "the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people." As David said in Psalm 51:16 & 17, God delights not in sacrifice, but in "a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart."
That is precisely how God works. This does not mean that the breaking of rules is okay--it is forgiven. There is a major difference. One costs nothing, the other costs the life of the Son of God. Yet when someone earnestly seeks the Lord, He is willing to forgive, to heal, despite the cost. I find it poignant that this all takes place at Passover, a beautiful foreshadowing of the Lamb to come, slain for the sins of the world. That same Lamb so yearns for us to draw near to Him, He bids us come, just as we are, that He may pardon, cleanse, and relieve us of our guilt. Will we accept the invitation of the Passover Lamb?
Generation. Youth. Christ.