19 And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were ritually clean. And they slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
21 Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the Lord God of Israel.
22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
So far we have seen three times when the Temple was worked on, sacrifices were reinstated, and Passover was celebrated. Hezekiah, Josiah, and now the people who were captives in Babylon had been released to repair the Temple followed the Law of God and did what God commanded.
The returned captives, some remembered the previous Temple and wept because the new one was much less glorious than the previous one, and some who were born in Babylon and wept because for the first time they were seeing a Temple to their God. Seventy years had transpired as God brought judgment upon them for refusing to keep His laws. At the end of God’s judgment a renewed opportunity for worship was given. They took the opportunity and obeyed God.
Each time that the people of God returned to the Word of God and the Worship of God there were similar results. First of all, they prepared the Temple, then they prepared their own hearts by ridding themselves of their idolatry and then consecrated themselves to God. They rid themselves of their sin to re-enter into a covenant with God. Finally, they offered atoning sacrifices knowing that their sin needed to be covered with blood.
We can learn something from this. We cannot worship God until we cleanse our own lives and consecrating them to God wash them in the blood of Jesus Christ. Atonement is necessary for worship. Christ is our atoning and justifying sacrifice.
The greatest result that each of these found who returned to the Lord and His Passover celebration was joy. When men come back to God and commit to following Him and thanking Him for His atonement of their sin, joy erupts and flows like lava out of a volcano. You can’t stop a lava flow nor can you stop the flow of joy from a heart rejoicing in atonement from its sin.
Pray with me that every time we gather as a church it will be an outflow of joy from all of us who have enjoyed atonement of sins through the blood of Jesus.
The work of VBS is in full swing. The church looks partly like a church and partly like an army camp. There is drawing and painting going on in preparation for children to come and to hear about the Lord Jesus. Each year, people who come to our VBS know that this is an important week to us. They know that the whole church jumps in to make it a great week for their children. The preparation is part of the process to reach children and their parents for Christ. We sent out our second mailing to previous VBS attendees and are now praying that as they receive it they will put it on their calendar and come the first day. Join us in prayer to God for the spiritual success of this week.
Sandra’s granddaughter’s funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 in Chicago. If you want to attend let me know. We are leaving the church at 9:15. Do keep Sandra and her family in your prayers in this dark hour for them.
Let me add that we need to be praying for the congregation in Charleston that was attacked last night. This attack hits home. A group of Christ-followers were having a prayer meeting and a Bible study when a gunman came in, stayed with them in apparent fellowship, and then began shooting until nine people were dead. The pastor, a 41 year old father of two was killed in the shooting. As I said, this hits home pretty hard. Pray for this church, the pastor’s family and the families of those who lost loved ones. Pray for this church to continue as their faith is being challenged like never before.
Have a great day in the Lord,