Through the Word in 2020 #83 – July 28 / Give me a Break!

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Christians are (or ought to be) serious about serving the Lord. And each of us from our particular backgrounds, experiences, study and convictions come with lists of “oughts” and “ought nots.” Those things we deem acceptable to God and our assembly, and the things we determine are not. This is a good and right impulse. But, it can at times grow into an inflexible code. Our thoughts, convictions and opinions on things can become so rigid, as to never question ourselves on just how correct and important they are – and then demand that everyone else recognize and accede to that code – so as to render any who do not – necessarily renegades. We have an interesting lesson to learn in this regard in 2 Chronicles 28:22-31:21.
I’m Reid Ferguson, and you are listening to Through the Word in 2020.
Besides 2 Chronicles, we also have 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11; Psalm 116 and Luke 8:22–29 to consider. But it is a most interesting and informative event in the renewal time which came to God’s people under the reign of good King Hezekiah I’d like to draw your attention to.
Hezekiah’s predecessor, and Dad, was a wicked man. He totally turned his back on the God of the Jews and led his people into horrific national and pervasive idolatry. How it is Hezekiah came to be so devoted to God and restoring the people to the right worship and service of God, is a testimony to God’s intervening grace. It is inexplicable apart from God’s sovereign intervention. But so it is. And in the process, after doing all he could to divest the nation of the idolatrous symbols and practices his father championed, Hezekiah not only repaired the Temple, but sought to reinstitute the prescribed national Passover feast which had long been neglected.
In the process, he sent an invitation to the remaining Israelites who were outside of Judah – from whom they had been long separated by bitter civil war. And then suffered decimation by the Assyrians.
And some came.
But there was a problem. These who came, were not ceremonially clean according to the Law. But here they were. What was to be done?
Well, Hezekiah took a pretty radical but grace filled approach. He prayed for them. He prayed “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules and cleanness.” And 30:20 notes: “And the Lord Heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”
You see, it was more important that the people were earnestly seeking the Lord, than that they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. And in this case, some incontrovertibly divine i’s and t’s. Surely, in time, with instruction, they would come to know and practice better than they did in this moment. But in the moment, in the hour of people genuinely seeking God – we must beware that we do not quash that desire by the imposition of things which may be VERY important, and yet not so important as to discourage the work of grace which is stirring within them.
We need to give people some breaks. Cut them a little slack. Give young ones time to grow. Differing ones some room to differ. The uninformed time and means to learn. Compassion for those whose previous experience has left them with skewed or misshapen ideas. And for those who are jumping into our pool for the first time, time to adjust to the temperature, feel out the slope of the floor, get familiar with the deep and shallow ends, know the safe places to dive, the rules about splashing, where the Lifeguard is and – how to swim.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.

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