As my five year college reunion quickly approaches, I have been thinking a lot about my experiences with the Grove City College Men’s Soccer Team. I remember on the way home from away soccer matches, we used to stop at Wendy’s. Usually it was around 8:30 or 9ish, after the general rush of the dinner hour, and the place was usually pretty empty. By that time, many of the employees were probably in wind-down mode–cleaning, straightening up the place, and getting ready to go home for the night.
Then we pulled in.
We were a busload of thirty ravenously hungry college athletes with a $6.00 allowance to spend on six value menu items a piece (that’s like 180 items!). You can just picture the dread on the faces of those employees as they saw us file through the main door and into line, one after another after hungry another. Sometimes the manager handled everything well and took our surprise visit in stride. Sometimes, you could tell there weren’t enough cooks in the kitchen, and we were going to be waiting for a long time.
As I was reading in 2 Chronicles this morning, I realized that King Hezekiah pulled his own surprise Wendy’s visit, though his visit was to an unsuspecting Temple. Here’s the account of what happened:
King Hezekiah brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the LORD, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place. For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD our God…Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us. My sons, do not now be negligent, for the LORD has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him and to be his ministers and make offerings to him.”
Then the Levites arose…[and] they gathered their brothers and consecrated themselves and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD. And the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron…
Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the LORD…Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped…
Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings…But the priests were too few and could not flay all the burnt offerings, so until other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers the Levites helped them, until the work was finished—for the Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in consecrating themselves…Thus the service of the house of the LORD was restored. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.
2 Chronicles 29:4-6,10-12,15-16,20,27-29,31,34-36
The priests, like those poor Wendy’s employees, were not prepared for the multitude of offerings, because “the thing came about suddenly.” As I finished reading this morning, my only prayer was that God would overwhelm our churches in such an unexpected and sudden way that we would be flooded with sinners desiring to offer themselves as living sacrifices to God that we wouldn’t know what to do but to praise God. May the Holy Spirit move in Newberry, SC, and [insert your town] with such force, violence, and conviction that our churches would be overwhelmed by God’s graciousness. All to the praise of His glorious name!