Links Daily Devotional

Israel’s Reforms—And Mine

The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book. (2 Chronicles 34:31, NIV)

Old Testament stories are curious things. For one, they are not stories of the fictional kind. They are more rightly histories, accounts of events as they actually happened.

It was time to return to what was right.Next, they can be violent, sexual, pride-filled. That is, they are made up of the stuff of earth, we might say. You’d have a hard time dressing them up to sit in a church pew—which isn’t to say that many a preacher or Sunday school teacher hasn’t tried to do just that.

But here’s the truth for nearly all of us sitting in those pews: Our lives are not rated G. We, like the people and nations in those stories of old, sin. I wish I could turn to softer terminology, but that’s the spade called a spade. We sin. We leave God out. We favor and follow other loves.

And so, I am like Israel. All of it. The wayward part and the worshipping part.

One of the things we love about golf is that we can all pull off shots like a tour winner. But that does not make one a tour winner. A golfer playing for the very first time can record a hole-in-one. And the very next hole, he’ll pick up at 10 and wonder whether it’s worth coming back.

So, whether playing golf or living life, I’ve got a long way to go. And it certainly should not hurt to be reminded of this. Because God wants to take us there.

The book of 2 Chronicles provides some fascinating reading, including the kinds of stories we started today by mentioning. The people come in their righteousness and go in their sin. The kings lead them in this, one king wicked and the next righteous. It’s a study in crowd dynamics, but it’s also a study in me. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:22-23).

But let me tell you where I find great hope. Two kings, Hezekiah and Josiah, blessed God and his people with massive reforms. When they came to the throne, war-waging spirituality had invaded the land; the people’s hearts were turned to the idols they had literally erected throughout the land.

Hezekiah and Josiah (the latter of whom was just a boy!) said, “That sin is over. We have grieved the LORD and we must return to him.” They reestablished the temple worship and called the people to purity in their sacrifices and in their service. It was time to return to what was right.

Maybe you find yourself in need of such reform today. It is time to return to a life of worship and devotion. God is waiting. Give your whole heart to him.

Jeff Hopper
August 1, 2017
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