A Pilgrimage Fueled by Hope: A Renewed Commitment
By Sharon W. Betters
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -1 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
Little did Jehoshaphat know his response to Jehu’s rebuke was preparing him for the battle of all battles. Rather than imprison Jehu as King Ahab had imprisoned Micaiah for speaking truth, Jehoshaphat humbles himself and rebuilds the spiritual foundation of his country. Just as he did at the beginning of his reign, he commissions teachers, priests, and judges to teach the Law of God with genuine hearts of faith. Remember his army is over 1,000,000 fighting men, all with families. Jehoshaphat ruled millions of people. Putting this leadership structure in place strengthened their bonds to him so when disaster loomed, they trusted him to lead them.
Jehoshaphat loses no time in exchanging his independence for dependence on God. I believe the story of God’s interchange with King Solomon during the celebration of the building of the temple many years before came to mind:
Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king's house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:11-14 ESV
At first glance, God’s words may sound like a bucket of cold water on Solomon’s celebration, yet once more we see grace in God’s instructions. Under Solomon’s leadership, a beautiful temple is built and God tells Solomon he approves. However, He also lets Solomon know the people are frail, they will sin. God expects His people to sin, but never fear, where there is sin, there is hope. God has provided a way to healing.
We often see Today’s Treasure, 1 Chronicles 7:14 on plaques and hear it used by speakers to rally people around a patriotic theme. It’s important to note God gave these instructions before the people needed to hear them before they had sinned after making a commitment to worship only Him at the celebration of the completion of the new temple. Isn’t that amazing grace? This is not a “to-do list” to get a sinner back on track. Rather, it is a call to God’s people, identified as belonging to God, to recognize the privilege of belonging to the One true God. He invites us to humble ourselves (repent), to come back to worship (pray), to search the scriptures for His wisdom (seek), and in response to the grace and love of God to repent (turn from their wicked ways). Then His perfect love rushes in to fully forgive and lead us to a place of redemption.
I believe Jehoshaphat embraced these words as a roadmap that showed him how to find his way back to the Lord and to lead the people of Judah to do likewise. When disaster caused by his own sin devastated Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, Jehoshaphat’s auto-response was to return to what he knew was true – God’s Word, and he responded in obedience.
My friend, is there a sin holding you back from experiencing intimacy with Jesus, a sin that seems too horrific, too unforgivable? Hear the Word of the Lord and run to Jesus. He’s waiting for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a nonprofit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
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