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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Seek the LORD!

In 2 Chronicles 14, King Asa had just experienced a rousing, surprising victory. His army was outnumbered almost 2 to 1, but the LORD wrought a great victory, in response to Asa‘s prayer. His prayer of confident humility in verse 11 is instructive for God’s people in any age, especially as they confront far superior foes.

After the victory, Asa and his army were returning to Jerusalem. The Spirit of God came on a priest, Azariah, who prophesied (to declare & announce God’s standard) a strong, firm promise. “The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” Very simple, firm, and covenantal. Asa and God’s people took the Word to heart. They gathered in the liturgical, public framework of the Temple and there renewed their part of God’s covenant (12-14):

“Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. Then they took an oath before the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams' horns.”

Interestingly, they swore to dispose of those who “would not seek the LORD God of Israel.” The implication seems to be clear: seeking the LORD is observable and recognizable. Asa and God’s people seem to believe that it would be clear who was seeking the LORD and who was not. How can that be? Remember the physical, visible context of this covenant renewal: In the God-ordained Temple liturgy. Seeking the LORD has much to do with God’s prescribed, evident, discernable, public means of grace.

Even David, in Psalm 63, places seeking God within the boundaries of the Temple liturgy: “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.” (Now, hold that thought for a minute or two)

The effect was far reaching: “And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.”

Now, come back to the thought I mentioned a minute ago. In 2 Chronicles 15 (as well as in many other places in Scripture) - Seeking the LORD with all our heart & with all their soul is,

(1) Observable and recognizable, just as is “not seeking the LORD.” In Scripture, seeking the LORD is not primarily something hidden off in the unseen depths of a prayer-closet [though it will show up there as well]. Instead, seeking the LORD is chiefly thirsting and hungering for Him in His public Worship, with all of it’s joyful liturgy, warm ritual, and affectionate formality! The normal, ordinary way of seeking God, of drawing near, of going deeper with God, is not away from Church, but largely in the called together assembly of the Lord’s Worship with the Lord’s people on the Lord‘s Day.

(2) Seeking the LORD is to search for Him in the way He Himself prescribed and not through some innovative approach of our own invention. The people of Judah had slipped for years and been seeking gods of their own pleasure, and relegating the LORD to the family shrines they had built on the high places (thus, following their own intuitive fantasies). The truly alternative spirituality is to seek the LORD on His terms, as He has arranged.

(3) Seeking the LORD is a whole-hearted and whole-souled action. Logic and emotion are bound together, yearning for Him in this public, God-ordered, perceptible milieu.

(4) And the promise of verse 2, repeated in verse 15, “He was found by them”, is what we are assured if we come into His courts with praise, seeking, thirsting and hungering for Him in His worship.

Therefore, let me challenge you to be in church this and every Lord’s Day; to seek Him whole-heartedly and whole-souledly in the Word read and announced, in the sacraments administered, and in the sung and spoken prayers. He has promised that if you seek Him, He will be found by you.

Mike

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