During my time in the religion department at Ouachita Baptist University, I had the privilege of taking a biblical interpretation course. Dr. Hays taught us to take a passage and see its layers. Simply by reading, reading again, and reading yet again, he showed us how new details could stand out to us even when we thought we had exhausted every avenue of thought in a verse or passage.
I have not always exercised that developed eye for details, keeping it in shape to see the depths Dr. Hays taught us to see. Even so, there are times when things jump out at me because I have learned to take a second, third, and fourth look at passages.
Take this verse, for instance:
So they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed. 2 Chronicles 30:5
This continues the story of Hezekiah we discussed a couple of weeks ago. The people have been purified, and they are ready to celebrate a nation-wide Passover for the first time in many generations.
So, what stands out to me here? The very end of the verse. “For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed.” (emphasis mine)
Do you know what that means?
Some still celebrated.
Celebration of the Few
The temple had been in various states of disrepair over the decades, and many years passed with priests completely unable to perform their duties. Yet some people still faithfully celebrated the Passover.
How must it have felt year after year for those few? They were being faithful. They were being obedient. Yet I cannot help but think that some of them must have longed for something they had never experienced – a Passover like God’s people held in the very beginning. A Passover with the whole community. A Passover in great numbers.
But they did not let those longings keep them from obedience. They persevered. They celebrated. They worshiped. They persisted in obedience. Even when the great numbers focused their attention and energy elsewhere.
We have no details showing us how life was for the small numbers who continued in worship. There is no story chronicling their faithfulness. They are not mentioned at all until this moment, and even here it is just a passing statement that only infers their existence.
What About Us?
It is not glorious to obey in small numbers. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is lonely. It is challenging. It goes unnoticed.
But it is worth it.
Are your numbers small right now? Obey anyway. Do you feel isolated? Stand strong anyway. Is obedience challenging? Obey anyway.
The world may never notice. History may never record your perseverance. But it is worth it. Keep going! The day will come when the great numbers will join you. And I guarantee your joy will be complete in that day!