Seeking the Lord
“Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord… “ 2 Ch. 11:16
If their faith in the Lord was truly personal, it wouldn’t have been necessary to move back to Jerusalem in order to worship him. They could easily have stayed in the comfort of their homes and worshipped the Lord just the same, couldn’t they? Surely the Lord didn’t call every one of them to forsake their homes and make the long and laborious journey to the South where they might not have relatives or friends, where they might have to start from scratch and build their farm or business from ground up.
Could the patriarch Abraham have remained among the Chaldeans, in the land of Ur where pagan gods were worshipped, and God still cut his covenant with him just the same? Was it absolutely essential for him to become a stranger in a strange land for God’s eternal plan to be established?
Of course, departure from his hometown was the first step for Abraham to make, and without it nothing would have been accomplished. Departure from the old is absolutely essential in order to usher in the new, and those who wish to embrace the two will end up losing both. The Israelites couldn’t have remained in Egypt and experienced God’s presence and witnessed his miraculous signs at the same time. Unless the departure, a clear break, was made, entering into the land of rest would forever remain an illusion, an impossible dream.
Whether it was through his own doing or not, Jacob, the one who preferred to dwell among the tents, the beloved son of his mother, had to pack up his belongings and venture out into the vast unknown. No sooner had he launched the journey, one miraculous thing after another started to take place, and the man’s life was turned upside down. Between his departure from his father’s house and his homecoming some twenty years later, the grasper of things turned into a pursuer of God’s blessings, and the self-made man whose name was Jacob changed into Israel, the father of many tribes. All these things couldn’t have occurred had he remained in his mother’s tent and under the protection of his father.
Indeed, the time finally came and the godly Israelites who resided in the North, the ones who were determined to seek the Lord, were utterly convicted that a departure had to be made. Surely a great sacrifice would have to be made and it must have felt like the rug of warmth and security had been pulled out from under them, but there simply wasn’t any other option left for them except the choice of bidding a final farewell to their past, to all they had known and come to love, and journey into the unknown wilderness.
Isn’t this what we have done both physically and spiritually, and will continue to do until we make our final departure from the world? O how we wish to drink the new wine and keep the old wineskin as well, yet no such option is ever offered.