The leadership of revival
As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their fathers.
2 Chronicles 34:33 NIV
Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 34:1-33
We are looking at four kings of the ancient kingdom of Judah to discover what we can learn from the past that will ignite our movement into its final chapter until Jesus comes. Our king today is not only the last good king, but Josiah is the best of all the kings of Judah. During the reign of King Josiah, God was able to bring great revival on the lands of both Judah and Israel. As we take a peek at the life of Josiah, I want us to be particularly attentive to what God is saying to us today.
“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years” (2 Chronicles 34:1 NIV). Little eight-year old Josiah — his daddy is dead and the kingship is thrust upon him. An eight-year-old can’t lead a nation. God please give him grace.
An eight-year-old can’t lead a nation…but let me tell you what an eight year old can do: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (2 Chronicles 34:2 NIV).
I picked Josiah because during his reign, Judah and Israel enjoyed one of the most significant moves of God in their history. Was there something about Josiah that we can learn that brings revival to our day? What kind of a leader will it take to bring Jesus back to our fallen culture? What kind of a people do we need to be to be trusted with a great work of God?
Last week we learned what I’ve started calling the Uzziah factor. When Uzziah became powerful, he became prideful. When he was a young king and he sought the Lord and was dependent on him, God gave him success. But after God had filled his cup to the full, Uzziah became proud and no longer humble. I believe the church in the United States has been bit by the Uzziah factor. I believe that there is a danger, and to some degree we have already fallen for the trap. Some in our movement today are seeking after the excitement that comes when your cup is full instead of seeking the Lord.
Friends, we want the Lord to fill our cup to the very brim, but the minute we begin to look down on that person who God hasn’t yet brought into that full experience, that will be our downfall. Don’t ever forget God’s motive. He has lost children out there, he wants them back, and if we will stay humble and not get too full of ourselves, he will use us to get them back.
So what does the story of Josiah teach us? Let’s watch Josiah grow older right before our eyes. He starts out at 8 years old: “In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3). When he was 16 he began to seek the Lord and when he was twenty he: “…began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images” (2 Chronicles 34:3 NIV).
“In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign [now he is 26], to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 34:8 NIV). Josiah sends some of his leaders into the temple to supervise its repair. The temple has fallen into disuse. They lived in a day when the people were worshipping the idols of their culture. No one went into the temple anymore. I suppose the young people just looked at the temple as a place where their grandparents used to go and they thought that the temple had no relevance for their modern generation.
Josiah knows that if they are going to be God’s remnant people, they will need to get back to basics but he isn’t even sure what the basics are.
Sort of making up life as he goes along —just following Jehovah with the little he knows — he sends in the boys to clean up and repair the temple. In the temple they make an amazing find and in that find we discover our answer to revival.
What did they find? In that little back storage room in the temple they found an old dusty jar. In that jar they found a scroll, caked with dust, unread for many years. Do you know what they found? It was the book of the law. Today it is the fifth book of our bible — the book of Deuteronomy.
They brought the book and read parts of it to the king. “Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes” (2 Chronicles 34:18-19 NIV). Why was the king distraught? Why did he tear his clothes?
The book of Deuteronomy is laced with the blessings of those who will follow God and the curses that will be on those who reject or forget the Lord God. Twenty-six year old King Josiah hears the reading of this book and he knows his people are doomed. He is beside himself. What should he do?
He does what true leaders do — He sends his men to go inquire of the Lord. They go to the prophetess Huldah. She tells them that disaster is going to fall on the people who have rejected him but because Josiah has humbled himself, God will spare him. But Josiah is a leader. Josiah will not accept that the Lord would bring disaster on the people the Lord had given him to love and to lead. Josiah encourages the people to a renewed period of worship and obedience. He restores the temple and the Passover. He leads them to renew their covenant with God. The renewed covenant brought great revival to all of Judah and spilled over into the northern tribes of Israel. It was a great returning to the Lord and a great outpouring of the Spirit.
Ok, how does any of this apply to us? Do we want revival to come to us and what does revival look like? First of all we don’t bring revival, God does. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NIV).
If the Holy Spirit brings revival, then how can we seek a great outpouring of God? Is there something we can do? The lesson for us reminds me of Elijah at Mount Carmel as he opposed the prophets of the false god Baal. You know the story. Elijah proposed a contest, a test, to see who in fact was God. The prophets of Baal were to bring a bull and build an altar to sacrifice it to Baal and then pray for Baal to light the fire. Elijah was to prepare an altar and a bull and then pray to have the Lord God light the fire. The contest: The God that answered with fire was the true god.
So the prophets of Baal began. They prepared their altar. They cut up the bull and put it on the altar. Then they danced around the altar. They yelled and screamed; They cut themselves. They desperately tried to make something happen.
We can also try too hard to make something happen with God. It is futile. God wants to bless us. He wants to manifest his presence with us. We don’t have to whip up his presence. He wants to do mighty things among us.
So what did Elijah do? He built his altar out of twelve stones to represent a united Israel. He arranged the wood on the altar, cut up the bull, and put it on the altar. Then he poured water over the bull and over the wood. He did this three times. He poured so much water that he waterlogged the bull, the wood, and even filled the trench around the altar. Why all the water? Elijah wanted everyone to know that he wasn’t making something happen. He wasn’t somehow summoning the Holy Spirit or conjuring up a manifestation of God.
God isn’t reluctant to move among us. He is ready now. He is waiting for us to be ready. But there are things that we must do.
We need to be in the place of unity with our brothers and sisters as represented by the altar of twelve stones. To be in unity means that those of us who are further down the path will wait for and give a helping hand to those who are still making their way. The wood was on the altar to help the sacrifice burn. To me, the wood represents our ministry to each other. Our love and ministry to each other is the thing that helps us burn bright as Christians. We must give our ministry to Jesus. He must be the conductor.
Then there is the sacrifice. The bull represents us. We must place ourselves on the altar of sacrifice. Next there is the water. The water represents baptism, where we die to self. This is where we lay all our self effort at the foot of the cross….no more trying; only trusting.
Finally there is the fire. The fire represents passion from heaven. When the fire comes, then we are flamed with God’s passion and purified with His desires. We don’t light the fire. We place ourselves on the altar of sacrifice. We give God all that we do and all that we are and then we cry out to him: “’O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again’” (1 Kings 18:36-37 NIV).
Then fire falls from heaven. Your life is set on fire for the kingdom of God. Then the world will know that the Lord, He is God! Then the church will burn with the passion of God and God’s lost children will know that He is God!
Prayer: Lord, help us be a people who you can trust to receive revival in our land. Help us to be your remnant children, living in love and unity with each other. Give us courage Lord, to place ourselves on the altar of sacrifice where we die to self. Lord, we ask that your fire fall from heaven. Fill us with your passion and your love so that the world will look at us and know that you are God.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B006BKP6RA” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CUmzYaVpL._SL160_.jpg” width=”100″] Also by Bob Saffrin… [easyazon-link asin=”B006BKP6RA” locale=”us”]Moses – Steps to a Life of Faith[/easyazon-link]
This book is about how God built faith into a man.
Did you know that God is a dreamer? He is, and one day he had a dream, and he thought to himself…“Who will I get to fulfill this dream?” Then he made you. He created you to fulfill a dream. You are made for a purpose.
Know God’s dream for you and believe Him to accomplish it in your life.