“At the same time, God’s hand was on the people in the land of Judah, giving them all one heart to obey the orders of the king and his officials, who were following the word of the Lord.” – 2 Chronicles 30:23 NLT
When I was growing up, the word revival carried a certain connotation. It was a special series of services held at the church for seven nights in a row and preached by a visiting minister. The intent was to light a fire in the lives of the people of the church, but in most cases, theses revivals were evangelistic in nature, aimed at those outside of Christ. There was a lot of singing, special music, and and always, a lengthy altar call at the end. I experienced a lot of these revivals over the years, but none ever really seemed to make much of a difference in the life of the church. Sure, they seemed to energize some of the people for a period of time, but it never seemed to last long. After the revival was over, things went back to the way they were before.
As I read about the reign of Hezekiah, I can’t help but think that what happened in his day was what real revival is all about. This is a picture of the people of God getting right with God. There is repentance involved. There is cleansing from sin required. Sacrifice is non-optional. And godly leadership set the example. Hezekiah was instrumental in making all this happen. He recognized that the nation of Israel had turned from God and had neglected their duties as His chosen people. He reminded the Levites, “My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him” (2 Chronicles 29:11 NLT). He told the people, “Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and his dwelling place; they turned their backs on him” (2 Chronicles 29:6 NLT). Hezekiah began an aggressive plan for restoring the centrality of God in the nation of Israel. He restored the Temple. He rededicated and re-instituted the priesthood. He reestablished the sacrificial system. He called the people of Israel – in both the northern and southern kingdoms to return to God and obey His commands. All the things that had been neglected over the years were restored – including the Passover. All of this came with a cost. To restore the Temple was an expensive proposition. Hezekiah personally paid for the sacrifices of many of the people, donating 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep and goats. The officials of Jerusalem donated another 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep and goats. This revival was not cheap. The people were required to travel to Jerusalem to make sacrifices. They had to bring offerings. They had to pay for their trips and for accommodations when they arrived. But the people brought so many gifts and offerings that special storehouses had to be built to hold it all.
The key element to this revival was not life change or spiritual renewal, but a renewed focus on God. These people had not been irreligious all these years. They had just been worshiping false gods. They had turned away from worshiping the one true God. So this revival was about returning to God and making Him he focus of their lives again. This was about relationship, not religion. They were reviving their love for and obedience to God. And it all began with Hezekiah. He provided the motivation and inspiration. “In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful” (2 Chronicles 31:21 NLT). Revival begins in the heart. It is not an event, it’s an attitude – a desire to serve and love God regardless of the cost. It is a willingness to put God first in our lives, obeying Him willingly and eagerly. It is making Him the center of our lives and the focus of our attention. When we do that, God revives us. He restores us. He reinvigorates us.
Father, there is no doubt that we need revival among Your people today. We have become distracted and in some cases, highly religious. But we have taken our focus off of You. Bring us back to You. Raise up leaders who will call the people to repentance and renewal. May we turn away from the false gods we have set up and return to You – the one true God. May we make You the focus of our lives once again. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men