Summary: God yearns for His people to be on mission with Him. And when we are revived, we will enter into mission with Him. The study of the great revival during the early day of Hezekiah's reign serves as a model of what happens when we are on mission with God.
“On mission with God.” The phrase is often heard among evangelical Christians! Or if it isn’t heard, it should be heard. But, what does it mean for a Christian to be on mission with God? Were I to state that every Christian is expected to be on mission with God, each listener would no doubt concur. Still, the concept of being on mission with God is confusing.
Somehow the concept of being on mission with God seems at once strangely foreign and oddly familiar to us as believers in the Risen Christ. We know intuitively that it speaks of something which ought to be a common experience for each follower of the Son of God. Immediately, we are seized with longing to see this concept fulfilled in our lives, even as we tremble at the thought that we could actually be fellow workers together with God.
And yet…, every Christian is on mission with God! However, not every Christian understands that he or she is on mission with God. Statements that incorporate this phrase serve as more than sermon fillers spoken to stimulate sleepy saints. Such a concept as being on mission with God is more than a saccharine sentiment, mere words casually uttered pedantically by pretentious preachers. The Phrase is essential doctrine that must be taught, for if neglected, the consequence must assuredly lead to spiritual ruin. If such a phrase grates on our sensibilities and seems alien to our understanding of Christianity, it may be because we are unclear concerning our mission; perhaps we are unclear about what is meant when we speak of being on mission with God.
In order to explore more fully this essential aspect of our Faith, and to ensure our congregation has a more accurate understanding of the concept of mission, I invite careful consideration of an incident which occurred during the latter stages of the Judean Kingdom. Hezekiah then occupied the throne—his reign sandwiched between the disastrous reign of the debased Ahaz and the idolatrous rule of Manasseh.
At the start of his administration Hezekiah revealed his heart for God through reinstitution of observance of the Mosaic Law, and especially through enforcing observance of the holy days mandated by that Law. It was during that Passover observance celebrated for the first time in years that the nation rediscovered what it means to be on mission with God, and through review of that exciting event we also may discover what it means to be on mission with God. Explore the incident with me, applying it to your own walk with God.
MISSION BEGINS WITH A VISION [29:1-31] — As seen in this pericope, vision finds its genius with but one individual. Take careful note of that fact, mark it well—mission begins with an individual [29:1]. It is not without significance that the chapter begins with a proper noun—Hezekiah. Attention is focused on one man from the opening word. As Mordecai suggested to Esther that she had come to her royal position at an exact time and an express purpose, so Hezekiah seems inherently to have seen that he came to his throne for a specific time.
No committee was appointed to decide that it was time to again obey God. No commission issued a statement of concern over widespread ignorance of the Law. No delegation met to determine reasons for the lack of enthusiasm to worship. One man was concerned and took determined steps to remedy the sorry state of religious fervour. Reviewing Hezekiah’s actions as outlined in chapter twenty-nine provides concrete steps for initiating change when the Faith has degenerated into mere form and formality. Though that the one man was king, it doesn’t negate the fact that one somebody—even you—can transform your church, and if not your church, then at least your home!
The first step is to remember that one determined individual is sufficient to initiate mission with God. Mission begins when one has a heart for God [29:2]. Emphasise in your heart that it is one individual who will change the course of the world; but that one individual, if he will affect the world for good, must have a heart for God. Though ascending to the throne while relatively young in years, Hezekiah was clearly imbued with a love for the things of God. Greatness, godliness, is not always measured in age. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. His actions, rooted in his love for God and prompted by a sense of commitment to the Lord God and His righteous demands, profoundly and indelibly effected the life of the nation, delivering the people from immediate—and deserved—judgement. This was Hezekiah's greatness.
There is a truth which is easily neglected if we would be on mission with God: Mission is impelled by confession of sin and confrontation of error [29:4-11]. No individual ever entered into mission with God without confession of personal sin; and that confession arises from a sense of contrition for the individual’s sin against holy God. More than that, if our mission is to be effective, others will be gripped by that same sense of need for getting right with God. In the first month of the first year of his reign, reads the inspired text, Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. Then, he confronted the appointed leaders with the sins of their forebears and the consequences of treating such sin in a cavalier manner.