2 Chronicles 30 contains the wonderful testimony to the way God shows grace. Hezekiah had come to the throne in Jerusalem; his father Ahaz had been a wicked king. Hezekiah first restores the Temple to make it fit for worship and re-organises and re-consecrates the priests (see chapter 29). A proclamation is made throughout the nation and sent to the largely ungodly northern tribes, inviting them to come to Jerusalem to keep the Passover.

The king’s message is, “O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you … Do not be like your fathers, and your brothers, who were faithless to the LORD … So that he made them a desolation … Do not be now stiff-necked …” (verses 6-8). His message continues, “… if you return to the LORD your brothers and your children will find compassion … For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful …” (verse 9). We read that “couriers went from city to city … but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them … however, some … humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (verse 11).

This was the reaction particularly of the godless northern tribes, but “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” (verse 12). Six years after Hezekiah came on the throne (see 2 Kings 17:6; cf. 18:1) the northern tribes were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Sadly about 140 years later Judah also became so godless that it suffered the same fate at the hands of the Babylonians.

There are comparisons with today! It has become common place to scorn and even mock the message of Gode. Let us make sure we are among the few who are grateful that “God is gracious and merciful”, trusting His word as the only source of hope in a world that is increasingly experiencing His “fierce anger” (verse 8). It may be that exceptional fierce and destructive events such as in the weather illustrate this. Do we not see “fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word” (Psalm 148:8)? In this situation may the LORD be “gracious and merciful” to all who turn and humble themselves and seek to serve Him in truth and righteousness – knowing that “whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 John 3:10).