Invitations, specially delivered.
I’m sensitive to words. This scene in 2 Chronicles 30 choked me up.
God invites: come back.
It’s the same invitation he offers the world today. He is gracious and merciful, still.
“O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. 7 Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. 8 Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which he has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.
9 “For if you return to the Lord, your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to him, he will not continue to turn his face from you.” 2 Chronicles 30:6-9 NLT
Most of the people laughed at the runners and made fun of them. (I think I hear them laugh and mock today.) And this is where the tears sting–his loving, gracious invitation rejected.
But for those who did accept, joy spills in celebration. People clamoring for God, rule breakers and unpurified.
17 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. 18 Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those 19 who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:17-20
I see Jesus all over these words. He sets us apart. He tells us, “Come as you are.” Even though, in our own effort we aren’t properly cleansed (righteous, perfect), his blood–his sacrifice–our Passover Lamb, makes us so. He hears prayers. He heals.
That invitation in the hands of runners today, runners of faith. God calls, “Come to me. Worship me. I am gracious and merciful.”