The Lord Is A Compassionate God
6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:
“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
Hezekiah pleaded for the Israelites to return to God. He urged them to do this so that God would return to them as well. The people had become stiff-necked, refusing to do what the Lord God Almighty had commanded them to do – to yield themselves to Him. They had refused to repent, and continued in their sin, and God allowed their enemies to overcome them and remove them from the land that God had given to them. Even in disciplining them, God anxiously awaited their return to Him, so that He could return to them.
Terror to Traitors
When they had refused to repent of their unfaithfulness, God made them an object of horror to all who seen them. Through their continued unfaithfulness, they were acting in a way that men would call treason. They no longer held God to be of the highest regard, and began to follow someone or something else. Treason in many countries is punishable by immediate public execution. The fact that God does not immediately do so shows His unfailing love and compassion towards us.
Submit in the Sanctuary
Hezekiah implored the people to submit to Almighty God, and to come to His holy sanctuary. The sanctuary was the place where God dwelt. We have the great benefit of being the sanctuary of God, our very bodies being the naos, the holy of holies, with the embodiment of God within us – the Holy Spirit has already taken residence. Today, disciples cannot avoid God, for He is with us even when we may not want Him to be. Because of this great honor, we should constantly remember His presence and power, His glory and honor, and submit in holy reverence to Him always.
Service avoids Soreness
Hezekiah goes on to say that we should serve the Lord so that His anger would be turned away. We have been created to serve God. We seem to flip things around, and desire that God serve us. When we pray and ask God for help, but don’t bother to make ourselves available to serve God, is that not what we are doing? God promises to give us strength and resources to do whatever He calls us to do. And while it may not seem pleasant at the time (see Jonah), it is what God requires, and brings Him great glory.
God has planned before the foundation of the world the deeds that He wishes to accomplish through us. We can submit in service to Him, and be part of His plan, or we can selfishly do what we want to do. It is the terrible two-edged nature of free will. But God believes that the rewards outweigh the risks, and knowing we would fail, provided His Son to die for our sins to get us back on track in our relationship with Him. Or, do we tell our best friend, who just asked us to help Him, that He can go pound salt?
Compassion by Captors
When we return to the Lord, He returns and restores us. He makes our enemies be at peace with us, and causes our captors to show us compassion. Throughout the Bible, those who were captured and enslaved were shown mercy and compassion by their captors when they submitted themselves to God.
We are told that the Just shall Live by Faith. We should do exactly that, and God will see us through all of the terrible difficulties He has allowed in our lives. This is how we can be at peace with others. When a people submit themselves to God, He is faithful.
God takes compassion upon us when we return to Him. It is part of His nature, a character feature that He cannot change or hide. God will ALWAYS show compassion on those who humble themselves before Him, submit to Him, obey His commands, and show compassion to others. God will not turn His face from those who do these things. No matter what the devil tells you, God’s character is immutable – it will never change. Heed the word of the Living God, and return in repentance to Him who loves You with an everlasting love.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Do I show compassion to others in the same way that God shows me compassion?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, blessed be Your name, for You are a compassionate and merciful God. You seek and save the lost, and when I stray, You come after me to restore me to the flock. Forgive me for my many sins. Help me to overcome that which so easily trips me up. Give me strength, guidance, and desire to follow You in every way. Help me to show others the same compassion that You show to me each and every day. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.