“They shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chronicles 12:8)
Serving God is utterly different from serving anyone else.
God is extremely jealous that we understand this — and enjoy it. For example, he commands us, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2). There is a reason for this gladness. It is given in Acts 17:25. God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
We serve him with gladness because we do not bear the burden of meeting his needs. He has no needs. So, serving him can’t mean meeting his needs. Instead we rejoice in a service where he meets our needs. Serving God always means receiving grace from God to do what we have to do.
To show how jealous God is for us to understand this, and glory in it, there is a story in 2 Chronicles 12. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, who ruled the southern kingdom after the revolt of the ten tribes, chose against serving the Lord and gave his service to other gods and other kingdoms.
As judgment, God sent Shishak, the king of Egypt, against Rehoboam with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen (2 Chronicles 12:2–3).
In mercy God sent the prophet Shemaiah to Rehoboam with this message: “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak’” (2 Chronicles 12:5). The happy upshot of that message is that Rehoboam and his princes humbled themselves in repentance and said, “The Lord is righteous” (2 Chronicles 12:6).
When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, he said, “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak” (2 Chronicles 12:7). But as a discipline to them he says, “They shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (2 Chronicles 12:8).
The point is plain: serving the enemy and serving God are very different. How so? Serving God is a receiving and a blessing and a joy and a benefit. Serving Shishak is exhausting and depleting and sorrowful. God is a giver. Shishak is a taker.
This is why I am so jealous to say that the worship of Sunday morning and the worship of daily obedience is not at bottom a burdensome giving to God, but a joyful getting from God. That is the true service that God demands. In all you do, trust me as the giver.