Picture yourself standing next to a small farm house, a few miles outside of a small town, where a small, neatly cut grass field plays host to a group of young children. In the field, boys and girls from the town run and play feverishly in the Summer heat, creating games from their imaginations as well as playing standard games such as softball or tag. As the sun begins to hide behind the trees, a bell from the front porch begins to ring as a woman's voice cries "dinner!"
While this may be an old-fashioned idea of family dynamics, there is a beautiful picture in the above illustration of a son or daughter being called to the home, to the place that they belong. Similarly, 2nd Chronicles chapter 30 provides a call for God's people, the Israelites, to return to their home. In context, 2nd Chronicles 30 explains life during the exile, when the Assyrians had been allowed by God to conquer the Israelites. King Hezekiah, the leader of the southern part of the "promised land," Judah, was calling the remnant of those Israelite exiles back to Jerusalem, to celebrate the Passover Feast, which had not been celebrated for many years. Rampant disobedience, idol worship, and Assyrian takeover had caused God's people to move away from the practice of keeping the Passover.
2nd Chronicles 30:6-9 is Hezekiah's letter to the remnant of Israel to return to the place that they belong... O people of Israel, return to the Lord, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hands of the kings of Assyria... Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord... Do not be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary... and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.
What a direct, pointed message! The narrative continues in verses 10-11 that some laughed, scorned, and mocked this call but that some humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. This can be seen today. We are called to gather together in community to worship the God of the universe. In the text, "return" also means "repent." The Israelites were called to come worship, and this was most directly done through repentance of sin. Likewise, we are called today to return to the Lord by repenting of sin. Very simply, take a moment to reflect on how you have sinned against God. For the Israelites, they followed after idols. Do we not similarly follow after idols such as money, sexual satisfaction, self-interest, comforts, and many more?
In verse 15, the assembly gathered together slaughtered the Passover lamb. Gathering together to worship, they recalled God's faithfulness, prayed for repentance, and physically removed their idols. The Passover lamb was merely a foreshadowing to the ultimate sacrifice to satisfy God's wrath, namely Jesus Christ the Son of God. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 5:7- For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
My challenge for you Christian is to return to where you belong. Worship with your local church body, remember to engage with other believers, repent of your sin before God, reflect on what Christ sacrificed on your behalf, and serve him in your community upon leaving worship. As the text states in verse 9, The Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him. Go back to where you belong, go in peace and worship our Lord. Amen.
MDiv Student 3rd Year