“People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the LORD. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him." 2 Chronicles 30:6-9
I recently downloaded a free book on my Kindle, Gods and Kings; Chronicles of the Kings #1.
Gods and Kings is the story of King Hezekiah, heir to the throne of King David. When his evil father plots to sacrifice him, Hezekiah's mother, Abijah, searches frantically for a way to save him. But only two men can help her, and neither of them seems trustworthy. In a time and place engulfed by violence, treachery, and infidelity to Yahweh, Abijah and her son must discover the one true Source of strength if they are to save themselves and their country. Book 1 of Chronicles of the Kings.
Reading this novel has been quite enjoyable, I could hardly put it down, but also very educational. It has put into context Old Testament people, places and events that can be rather confusing when reading about them from the Bible. Much of contemporary Bible studies are focused upon the New Testament, and rightly so, but this novel reminded me that the Old Testament still has lessons for us to learn.
If you remember, after the reign of Kind David the kings of Israel became more and more evil by worshiping idols and not following God's commands. In Gods and Kings, one of the main characters is Zechariah. Zechariah had been a high priest in the Temple and an adviser to King Uzziah. But Zechariah had failed with King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26: 16-20). In the novel Zechariah is an old man, a drunkard and grandfather to King Hezekiah. One day he reflects upon his life, his time with King Uzziah and wonders in despair how it is that his life has deteriorated to such an extent. His answer is he had lived only for himself, wasting a life that had been dedicated and belonged to God. Through his life he slowly, in small steps, bent the rules or made small concessions to God's laws that served his own purpose until he realized he no longer had any relationship with God. But Zechariah finally sees the error of his ways and asks for forgiveness and a second chance to serve the Lord.
It got me thinking about how we serve the Lord in our lives. How easy is it bend God's rules. We miss church one Sunday, then two and before we know it it's been months since we've worshiped. Or that one tidbit of gossip we happened to overhear that slowly turned us into judging someone else. Or we tell a small white lie that turns into keeping secrets from loved ones and it only snowballs into lies.
How do you live your life for God today? Have you "bent" God's rules? How can you go back to living your life for God?
Because, really, our lives are not our own. Our life belongs to God.
Dear Heavenly Father, Teach me and guide me that my life is lived for You and for You alone. Amen.