Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2 Chronicles 30: Revival Restores Joyful Worship

2 Chron 30:21-27 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the Lord every day, accompanied by the Lord's instruments of praise.  Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the Lord. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the Lord, the God of their fathers. The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully. Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves. The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the aliens who had come from Israel and those who lived in Judah. There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.

King Hezekiah called for repentance and return to the Lord. He did it by inviting  all the tribes in Israel and Judah to come Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, also known as the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. The Passover was an important festival because it was a celebration of God's deliverance of former slaves from Egypt to become God's people in the great exodus from Egypt. It was a great reminder concerning who they were (God's people) and whose they were. It had not been celebrated on a large scale since the time of Solomon, about 200 years ago. It was a celebration marked by great rejoicing. Psalm 16:11 tells us: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Worship that attracts God's presence is marked by joy.

Joyful worship is characterized by the following:

(1) Removal of altars to idols ("They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley"): God must be first in our lives if we are to experience His presence: "You shall have no other gods before Me" is the first commandment. Idols are whatever we give our hearts to above God. These could be things, people or ideology. If God's presence is to dwell among us, our hearts have to be single and undivided.

(2) Passover-centred ("They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month"): Genuine worship is always focused on the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. Worship has to be Christ-focused because Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb: "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Cor 5:7). True worship that attracts God's presence is not primarily about what God has done for us, but what God has done in Christ. It must be what theologians say "Christocentric." Worship that exalts the Lamb on the throne will release God's anointing and presence.

(3) Consecrated Worship team ("The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord."): The team that leads people into worship has to be consecrated -- people whose lives are totally surrendered to God: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship." Consecration means offering our  total being (who we are and what we have) to God for His service. If we are not 100% yielded, we are also not 100% full of the Spirit. Only Spirit-filled leaders can lead people into Spirit-inspired worship.

(4) Healing of People ("And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people."): When genuine worship takes place and God's presence fills the air, unconsecrated people are healed as prayers are offered on their behalf. Worship will lead to prayer ministry for the seekers, the sick and the backslided. We are told in verse 25 that among the assembly of God's people were "aliens" (non-Israelites). God's gracious power will not only heal believers but also non-believers. Genuine worship is critical to bringing down the presence and power of God to save and to heal.

(5) Songs and Music ("the Levites and priests sang to the Lord every day, accompanied by the Lord's instruments of praise"): Arts is God's idea and it is meant to be means whereby we can celebrate God's goodness with joy. The use of music and songs in worship is God's idea, not man's. It's not for entertaining one another but as expressions of our hearts of adoration and appreciation to our God. The Levites and priests "sang to the Lord every day"; they were not performing for men but for God. 

A true sign of revival is joyful worship because revival means God's presence among his people--restoring the backsliders, healing the sick and saving the aliens. Worship is both the means and the end of genuine revival.

Father, thank You that You want us to be a people who are filled with joy in Your presence. Revive us in our worship.

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