Day 104—Cleaning God’s House—“Dependent on God” 2 Chronicles 29:1 – 32:33
April 14, 2021, 7:07 AM

Day 104—Cleaning God’s House—“Dependent on God” 2 Chronicles 29:1 – 32:33

This reading proved restorative to me. Maybe I had some house-cleaning of my own to do. Maybe things were getting cluttered up in my soul—living through Lent and the then celebrating Easter, flower runs to Latham for the blooms that were on the altar and in the church, writing extra sermons, losing sleep, missing family…these things cluttered my spiritual house. Reading my bible in the morning, surprisingly, was feeling heavy to me—all those kings—those terrible kings!!

Hezekiah’s story has restored me. The very first line that caught my eye: “[Hezekiah] opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them,” (2 Chronicles 29:3) Something seemed to open in me too. I had a flash of understanding about ‘cleaning the house of the LORD’ and how it was possible for me to open the doors of the LORD’s house in my own heart. The good work of repair that Hezekiah did drew me deeply into the story because it sounded like a shocking and terrible job for faithful people to do.

The Levites, those temple servants and sextons, had to enter into a destroyed and defiled place, remove objects that were impure and awful to them, and carry them out to the area dump, the Wadi Kidron. They had to clean and clean and clean, find the objects that were still useful, that could still be made holy for worship, and dedicate themselves to the task that no one would ever want to do.

Perhaps this connected me again to the Easter story, a story of renewal that seemed impossible, to find that life exists after death and that we have been given that gift ourselves by virtue of someone else’s death, to remember that sin and darkness do not have to be the final answer, to remind myself that all things can be made new again.

I fund the labor and the sincerity of Hezekiah’s story provided me with hope. What things need to be cleaned out of our own churches, whether the stuff that literally accumulates in corners and crevices, or the stuff that is harder to clean such as broken relationships, disappointments, diocesan changes as we search for a new bishop, negotiating changes caused by the pandemic with grace. 2 Corinthians comes to mind for me: “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

I was desperately tired of old kings who ‘did what was evil in the sight of the LORD’, but Hezekiah reminds me that reparations, restoration, repentance is always possible, even when we look around and see that all appears to be in ruin.

Hezekiah goes on to call a celebration for the Passover in Jerusalem for all the people of Judah; he plans a huge gathering to celebrate the salvation (this word is absolutely appropriate here, although we tend to think of it as a New Testament word—God saved his people) of the LORD once again, And as the people came to Jerusalem, they helped with the grand clean up, removing pagan altars and cleansing the city from the worship of foreign gods, and the Temple itself was re-established as the central place of worship.

While I have criticized the Chronicler for cleaning up, or even sanitizing,  the story of God’s servants in his accounts, I found that today I needed the hope, the positive viewpoint, the emphasis on new life that the Chronicler provided for me. Verses like this one about Hezekiah are the ones that stood out, that I underlined, that I returned to after reading through the story: Hezekiah… did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.1 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God, and in accordance with the law and the commandments, to seek his God, he did with all his heart; and he prospered.” (2 Chronicles 32: 20-21) I want to do the work of God with all my heart, too, and this ancient King reminded me that this is entirely possible in our lives, even if we don’t have an enormous temple to clean and sanctify, even if we aren’t people of great importance.

One other connection for me: the invasion of Sennacherib hits a nerve. One short verse describes the fact that, when the city of Jerusalem was under siege, Hezekiah planned to stop the flow of the springs from outside the city. What that means is that Hezekiah created a tunnel that would route the water from outside the city walls into the city itself so the people would never run out of fresh water, and they would remain protected inside the walls themselves. This is BRILLIANT planning, and the tunnel itself still exists, and still routes water today.

When I was in Israel, we had the opportunity to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, but we were warned that we would get wet while we did it. I opted out of that trip, as it was a very cold winter in Jerusalem that January, and I didn’t know the history of the Tunnel the way I do now.

The tunnel is 1,749 feet long, hewn out of solid rock, and it brings water from the Gihon (gushing) Spring outside the walls into the Siloam (sent) Pool. The water brought in was used until the 20th Century when larger water systems were required to serve the growing city of Jerusalem, but the water continues to flow today. Built before 700 BCE, this makes the tunnel more than 2,700 years old!

My great regret is that I did not splash through the tunnel that day, of course. But I find that as I read the stories of the Old Testament in such depth, I am accumulating a list of places that I either want to see for the first time, or revisit when I return to Israel. Do you hear the hope in that phrase: “When I return to Israel”?

God is capable of making all things new—temples, celebrations of Passover and Eucharist, the way a king reigns over his people, entire people groups who have formerly turned away from God,  and of course, the human heart itself.

Today my heart feels renewed. Today I celebrate the fact that God continues to make all things new, and God calls us to help with that task. Today I am making plans for the day I return to the place where God’s chosen people lived, worked and worshiped. Today is one of the really good days. Thanks be to God!!!

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

 

 



Comments

04-15-2021 at 11:41 AM
ML+
Really pleased to hear that, Billy. It's pretty great when we are able to re-connect with scripture after feeling sort of depressed about it. I am learning that this is more about sticking with the task than anything else. It's been worth it.
04-14-2021 at 11:01 PM
Billy
So this is sort of a 2 day comment. I agree yesterday’s reading was depressing, I am an eternal optimist and yesterday was really depressing but today is what I/we aspire too. Fantastic.
While I think of the readings and where I am in my journey to discover who I am, I truly enjoy this process. This is a great way to enjoy a bite size pieces of the Bible/Old Testament.
And yes I am looking forward to the next chapter.
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