For all intents and purposes, it was unprecedented. Not since Solomon had there been such a call to come and worship the Lord . . . and that was when the kingdom was united. The invitation had gone out to all Israel under King Hezekiah to come to Jerusalem and to observe the Passover. Couriers went from city to city with the call for God’s people to return to God’s temple that they might remember God’s mighty works of deliverance and worship God, who alone is God! Some RSVP’d with laughter and scorn and mocking . . . but others, moved by the hand of God . . . responding to a reviving of soul sparked by the Spirit of God . . . others, many others, came (2Chron. 30). And what’s moved my soul, this morning, is that they came just as they were.
For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves . . . For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “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 of cleanness.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2Chronicles 30:17a, 18-20 ESV)
They weren’t clean. Ya’ think? For two hundred years . . . literally, for generations . . . these northern kingdom dwellers had been up to their eyeballs in idolatry and pagan practices. Their lack of “consecration” . . . their “uncleansed” state went way beyond the “sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” They were a mess. And those of the southern kingdom, Judah, weren’t in any better condition. Though they had preserved the temple . . . their whoredom (ESV lingo) . . . their unfaithfulness to the LORD God had grown with increasing abandon of the word of God. But Hezekiah had put out the call . . . the hand of God had moved the hearts . . . and they came just as they were.
It’s not that Hezekiah wasn’t aware of God’s holy standard . . . but that he interceded on behalf of a less than holy people. He appealed to “the good LORD” (only time the phrase is found in the Bible) to pardon everyone . . . NKJV says to “provide atonement for everyone” . . . the idea is to cover everyone. The “price of admission” wasn’t their cleanness, it was their hearts set after seeking God. It wasn’t the state in which they came . . . but that they wanted to come. And, having set their hearts toward the place where God dwells, the covering grace of God would provide access . . . and the healing grace of God would wash away the uncleanness and accept the offering.
Come just as you are!
Less about my state than about me heeding the call. So not about the degree to which I have my act together and all about the degree to which His grace abounds and His covering is sufficient.
And, you know, it’s interesting. The chronicler says that after they came . . . and were received in their less then fully consecrated condition . . . and had worshiped the God of their covering . . . that afterward, “when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim and broke down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all” (31:1). They came just they were . . . they were received by God’s grace as they were . . . they worshiped as they were . . . and then they left different . . . and went and cleaned house. Revival begot return which led to repentance.
Come just as you are! Oh, how the sinner still apart from God needs to hear the call. Oh, how the sinner saved by grace needs to heed the call.
Our God is a gracious God. He invites hearts to seek Him . . . he invites wayward souls to return to Him . . . and has made provision through the work of His Son on the cross to provide a covering sufficient for all the grime . . . that men and women might come just as they are.
How great is our God? Pretty!!!
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