Our readings today include accounts of individuals with whom and through whom God can and did work. First, in 2 Chronicles 29 we have the account of Hezekiah becoming king and his instant action beginning in the first month of his reign to restore the Temple and rededicate worship in it. He inspired “all who were of a willing heart” (verse 31) to bring offerings, “and they sang praises with gladness and they bowed down and worshipped” (verse 30). It is a chapter to be read with imagination of the event that foreshadows a far greater future event.

In Daniel 9, the aged prophet is living in the era of King Darius; he is deeply grieved as he “perceived in the books … according of the word of the LORD to Jeremiah” that seventy years must pass “before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem” (verse 2).

Most of the chapter is his impassioned prayer, a great example for us, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him … To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness …” (verses 4,8,9). The angel Gabriel comes to him, “saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved’” (verses 22,23). What will the angels say to the ‘elect’ as they gather them together?

In Acts 9 we have the dramatic conversion of Saul (Paul). His first act was to be baptised. His preaching then astonished the Jews. Immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God”. Then Paul “increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (verses 20-22). And us? How is our strength increasing? How zealous are we in “proving” the things that we claim to believe? Surely Paul became “greatly loved” for his zeal and commitment – and we must look into our own hearts. May the angels gather us because we “are greatly loved”.