2 Chronicles 15:1-9
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: 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. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress. But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”
As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.
We were camped out west in Goodooga, NSW a few weeks ago. It was a mild evening, and the night outreach service was nearing an end. We’d heard more singing, sharing and testimonies of God’s saving grace.
Reuben walked up to me, curled up in my lap and said this,
“Mum, it’s like God has hit me in my head and now I can understand something that I couldn’t understand before…the man was talking about when God feels far away, and now I can see that when I feel far away from God, it’s not that God is far away from me, but I am far away from Him. I need to move towards God and He will be near to me.”
This kind of ‘drawing near to God’ isn’t about earning or deserving God’s presence – God is omnipresent. Nor is it a ‘Now he’s here, now he’s not’ kind of deal.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
It’s where we abide – and when we abide with God, we can’t take our idols with us. This is what King Asa was illustrating, living out to the people He led. Idols have no place in our walk with the Lord. Neither does sin.
The just nature of God says that we cannot abide with Him, while ever we abide in our sin. That’s why as Christians the blood of Jesus is so precious – because it allows us, at a huge cost to Christ, to dwell, to abide with Him. It allows us to, walk with Him, talk with Him and hear Him say that we are His. The blood of Jesus washes us clean, allowing us to draw near to God, with full assurance that we can enter that Holy place – not on our own merit, but in the name of Jesus.
Check this out:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We can draw near to Him. Amongst the piles of laundry, the sinks of dishes, the technological distractions, the comings and goings each day – In a world full of external measuring sticks that we regularly fail to measure up against – we can draw near to God, our Heavenly Father and abide with Him, because our inner beings have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and strengthened by God’s Spirit.
And, as King Asa found, when we abide with Him, others will see that we are with God and our God is with us – Emmanuel.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.