—2 Chronicles 29:5-7 (NASB)
In Hezekiah’s time the problem he faced wasn’t simply that God’s people were not worshiping and serving God according to biblical standards, the problem is they came to a point where they were not serving at all! The priests and Levites ceased working, worship and service activities stopped, and ultimately the whole thing was just closed down completely. There was no way to worship and serve the One True God as dictated by His Word because they weren’t merely unfaithful to His Word, but “have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the Lord, and have turned their backs“. I just can’t help seeing that to a large degree this is happening again today where people are not simply going to a church with “lower standards”, but something so closed off that it is impossible to serve and worship at even the most fundamental level.
I am not talking about “the good ol’ days” or yearning for a return to a specific way of doing things. One of the reasons traditions get replaced from time to time throughout the whole of church history is because they become ritualistic and far from relevant. I’m suggesting that the measurement of whatever activity is taking place must be according to the biblical standards of what God expects from His Temple, which by New Testament standards is now the Body of Christ. One of the chief standards is holiness. What happened to the goal of holiness in the pursuit of modern approaches to “doing” church? Can you honestly say that what takes place on Sunday mornings is achieving this goal?
In other words, if the Bible is no longer the exegetical basis of teaching, if no one is being held accountable for their pursuit of holiness through sanctification, if practices and approaches are introduced to make people more comfortable with themselves instead of being acutely aware of their contrast to a Holy God, we have effectively shut the doors. It is probably not possible for God’s people to come into His presence according to the standards He has set. And this has little to do with choosing a style of music or a dress code for attending church. The greater purpose of the Temple is to be spiritually qualified to serve and worship Him, not to provide a place to make us feel good about ourselves. An “open” Temple is one whose worship is directed upward, not inward.
It began on a personal level with Hezekiah restoring his own relationship with God. It progressed to then requiring the spiritual leaders to restore their own personal relationship with God. And it ultimately led to all the people re-engaging God on an individual level. When every individual attained to personal holiness, the corporate goals for the whole of God’s Temple were finally achieved.†††