Devotional: June 15, 2021
There were a lot of people, especially those from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, who did not eat the Passover meal because they had not prepared themselves adequately. Hezekiah prayed for these as follows: “May God who is all good, pardon and forgive everyone who sincerely desires God, the God of our ancestors. Even—especially!—these who do not meet the literal conditions stated for access to The Temple.”
God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.
2 Chronicles 30: 18-20 The Message
How do we respond to those who don’t measure up to God’s standards? Do we offer words of condemnation, or do we pray for them?
This passage from Second Chronicles begs us to ask ourselves these questions. This particular interaction arose from the time not unlike our own. People were returning to worship, after a time when worship had not been held regularly. (In this case, it was because of a prolonged period of idol worship. In our own time, it is because things are slowly normalizing after the pandemic).
We need to remember that this passage takes place long before the birth and resurrection of Christ. Christ eliminated all “worship preparation” that this passage is referring to. Here, these people are approaching worship and have grown rusty or careless about the requirements for doing so. They haven’t done everything exactly right. How does King Hezekiah respond? He prays for the Lord to look upon their hearts, and not just upon their external actions.
Here, Hezekiah shows he is a great leader by praying for the people who may have offended God by their sinful actions. He pleads with the Lord on their behalf. It is obvious that Hezekiah has a heart for all of his people, and maybe a soft spot for those who struggle the most. Often, the difference between mediocre leaders and great leaders is how they respond and treat people who fall short.
How does the Lord respond? The Lord hears Hezekiah’s prayer, and heals the people! It is good news. In fact, it is very good news.
So much so that at the end of the chapter, we read the following statement:
Jerusalem was bursting with joy—nothing like this had taken place in Jerusalem since Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, had built and dedicated The Temple.
2 Chronicles 30: 26
May we be like Hezekiah: rather than condemning speeches, let us offer prayers for all who fall short, even ourselves. May we be people more known for our sincere prayers and big hearts, than for critical spirits. May it be so…
Holy and loving Lord,
It is so easy for us to fall into the world’s pattern of being critical of others, and propping ourselves up by shooting others down. Save me from such judgmental thinking! Instead, help me to find grace, mercy, and compassion in my soul for those who struggle the most. Inspire me to pray for them, and to encourage them, for I and many other Christian brothers and sisters long for joy among all your people. I pray this prayer in Your holy name. Amen.