2 Chron. 30:9 “For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”
The good king Hezekiah is instituting reforms in the land. He calls the people back to worship the Lord, and here, as well, to keep Passover.
He reminds God’s people that returning to the Lord—from neglecting him, from sin, from apostasy—is always a good idea. It is a good idea because the Lord does not hate his people but loves them deeply. He will not turn his face away from his own in disgust. Rather, the Lord stands in a posture of graciousness and mercy toward his people.
When we return to him, we do not find an angry father, ready to punish us for wild living. Much to our surprise we find our Father running to greet us in our repentance, embracing us, forgiving us, restoring us in full relationship with him. This is his grace to us, for us, shown as his favor toward us, his desire to embrace us, yet again. A Lord gracious and merciful!
We often hesitate to return, fearing that God will shun us, despise us, or exact some price from us—this time, for this sin. So, we stay away in a distant land, trapped in our downward spiral of sin, despising ourselves for it, but seeing no alternative.
But then comes the call, “Return!” He bids us through his prophets, priests, kings, pastors, and with his own voice: Return. It is the Old Testament word for repent, which is to return. Come back to me. “Return to me and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7).
As Jesus began his ministry he proclaimed the same message, return, repent, come back to the Lord. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). This is the first recorded sermon of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, taking up where the prophets of old left off, Return.
And we can return confidently, for here runs our Father to greet us as we return. He comes to welcome us and restore us, for his heart toward us is gracious and merciful, not exacting, and vengeful. This is the hope of our lives, through the redeeming work of God the Son, we are ever welcome with grace and mercy as we return.
So, let us return to him, from whatever far place we find ourselves, far, perhaps, even while in the shadow of a steeple. Let us return, again. “For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”