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2 CHRONICLES 29:1-36 | ROMANS 14:1-23 | PSALM 24:1-10 | PROVERBS 20:12
Hezekiah is the new king in town. And surprisingly, a good and upright king is he.
Hezekiah tells the people, 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”
And so, he prepares to do just that, i.e., to make a covenant with the Lord by way of purifying the temple. It takes many hands to remove the many idols and images out of the temple, and to carry them far out, and they are engaged in this exercise for eight long days before the temple is ready for use as prescribed by the fathers of old.
Having first purified the temple, Hezekiah goes on to instruct the priests to commence the business of making burnt offerings, and in eventually allowing the people to voluntarily bring in their thanksgiving offerings. In doing all of this, Hezekiah does well to reestablish himself as a righteous king of Judah. It is to be seen now if he and his descendants will continue in this manner.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Romans, we find Paul speaking to the differences among the believers with respect to their personal choices on observing certain dietary practices and observances. Paul is the consummate cool guy who is telling his readers to be cool likewise!
He says, 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
He goes on to say, 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Paul urges us to see the big picture, and to turn away from our narrow perspectives in adhering to our own ways of thinking. He points out the greater purpose of community, viz. to live together peaceably, regardless of what we might choose to eat or abstain from eating.
He says, 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
And so, finally, Paul closes out this topic by saying, 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find one in which David, the psalmist, is offering high praise to the Lord God Almighty. These verses appear as if David is envisioning the day when Jesus himself will return to Jerusalem one day in his second and final coming, and is rhetorically asking the gates of the city these questions:
7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, is affirming the source of two of our most important faculties. He says,
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
the LORD has made them both.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.