We were seated around the living room, preparing for Shabbat afternoon fellowship. More people than normal were here and light banter was going on as we paused for prayer and entered into our designated time of discussion.
With a couple of us having just returned from Pesach in Israel, we gave a good report from the Land. My recent articles concerning The Skeleton in Independence Park came up and we discussed elements and how we can better get people to the Land at feast time. One gentleman commented on some of the negative feedback the articles had received and pointed us to a passage of Scripture I have never seen before!! Further, he spelled out an answer to one of the most bothersome questions that plague most Hebrew roots/Messianics.
The question is ” I am worried about my family. They won’t listen when I tell them about our need to keep Torah. How do I get them to hear and understand?”
Here’s the passage of Scripture with some added emphasis. Comments afterward.
30 Now Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to [a]celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel. 2 For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, 3 since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem. 4 Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and [b]all the assembly. 5 So they established a decree to circulate a [c]proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was [d]prescribed. 6 The [e]couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his princes, even according to the command of the king, saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the [f]hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see. 8 Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but [g]yield to the Lord and enter His sanctuary which He has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”
10 So the [h]couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.2 Chronicles 30:1-12
As we read this passage I just shook my head. How had I missed this? Funny how we can read all of Scripture and some pieces just miss our focus. Yet, here is an amazing passage with precedence and promise. Is it also prophecy? Hmmm…
First, noting the situation at the time of the decree from King Hezekiah, the northern house of Israel was in the last stages of destruction and exile by Assyria. Hezekiah, king of the southern house of Judah, became king at 25 and inherited a kingdom and throne that had been walking in pagan ways. His first acts were to restore Temple worship and to tear down the idols and places of false worship. Next, he restores feast observance at Passover.
Upon the planning for the Feast, Hezekiah sends an invitation to the northern tribes that had rebelled against the house of David about 250 years earlier. (See I Kings 12:16-19) This passage is amazingly clear in its direct address to Ephraim and Manasseh. The king issued and invitation and it appears many, maybe even most, mocked and rejected the invitation.
Notice that coming up to the Feast is synonymous with returning to YHVH, the Elohim of Avraham, Itzahk and Ya’acov. (v.6) Staying away from Jerusalem is regarded as ‘stiffnecked-ness.’ (v.8) And, entering His sanctuary ‘which He has consecrated forever’ is the recipe for turning away His ‘burning anger.’ (v.8)
But, here is the amazing kicker!! Here is the answer to the question that bothers every Hebrew roots person who has left family behind to follow the call of Torah. Here is what the Word of Elohim says:
…your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land.
Do you want to stand in the gap for your family? This passage indicates that a major step is to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem at the moedim. Period.
Lest I get fired up and someone feels the need to call me down, the larger context does not say ‘come when you feel like it,’ or ‘come when it is convenient,’ or ‘come when there is a cool off season tour that isn’t crowded,’ or ‘ come when it is cheapest.’ It says, ‘Come up to the Feast so that “your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to the land!!“‘ Halelluyah! If you are shedding tears for family, do it in Jerusalem at the Moedim! At the very least help someone else get there who can be a representative for you. (See my ideas on how to do this in the second of the Skeleton series.)
This passage above is a bit heartbreaking in that Ephraim and Manasseh scorned and mocked the messengers. Do we do that today? Hmmm…. I know a couple people who have been giving this message for years and they are mocked and marginalized. We need to check our hearts against the Word.
There are two really encouraging pieces at the end of the passage. First, ‘some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem,’ and second, it appears that Hezekiah’s obedience to call the northern tribes, some already scattered, caused God to bless Judah as well by giving them one heart.
WOW!! This is a win-win. Elohim hears our prayers for our captive brothers and He gives Judah one heart! Why wouldn’t we rise up en masse and go up for the feasts? His invitation stands, the question is our response. It begins with a humbled heart.
I beg, plead, that you pray about how to begin walking in this. If you can’t get to Jerusalem this year, then find someone who is going and help them with the expense. Ani Yosef is just one inexpensive way to be at Sukkot this year. But, if you can’t get there, they have a scholarship fund that helps get others to the Feast! (See the website’s sidebar for a Paypal link.)
We need to stop saying, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ It s time we say, ‘THIS year in Jerusalem.’ Nothing would excite me more than to meet you in Independence Park at Sukkot and have you walk up and say, “I read you blog posts. They stung, but prompted me to reevaluate some things and to get before the Lord. Then, I talked with my fellowship and I’m here representing a dozen people from _________.” And, just a guess, but I think Elohim will be much more excited than I would be.