Josiah Shows Us How
Much of the current discussion concerning revival in recent years concerns a nationwide (and
worldwide) wave of repentance and the conversion of countless new believers. Some have tied this
revival to the last days. Some say it will be the best revival this world has ever known. Some have
been very critical of all that has been happening, and say that what's going on in Pensacola,
Toronto, and other places, is not of God. As with anything else, we need to hold everything up to
the ultimate standard, God's word. Nothing that is of Him will conflict with His word.
The following study is not about a national revival, but we'll start off by listing a few quick points here about revival, then after that, let's look at what the Bible says about one of the greatest revivals ever, found in 2 Kings, and we'll see if we can learn anything from that story which we can apply to our own situations.
Last Days?A nation need not be in the last days to be going through a revival. The United States has gone through a few, including the Great Awakening, in the early 19th century, and the Second Great Awakening a few decades later. By studying both of these revivals in depth, one will see that both began with intense intercession on behalf of the nation by a few churches which united for prayer.
Unity:It is interesting to note this in light of the fact that over the past few years, we have seen in this nation's Christians begin to break down walls of denominationalism and race, among others. First, there's the Promisekeepers, and then there are cities all over the nation, such as Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Arlington, Texas, where churches all over the city are uniting for the purpose of making Jesus famous in their cities.Is this kind of Unity Biblical? Of course it is. The clearest scriptural proof is contained in John chapter 17. The entire chapter is a prayer from Jesus interceding on behalf of you and me. He realizes that the key to God getting His way on earth is for the churches to be unified:
John 17:23"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me."
So let's sum it up this way: Intercession leads to unity, and unity opens the doors for the Holy Spirit to initiate and sustain a revival. I think intercession is an incredibly vital part of advancing the Kingdom of God, so make sure you read my intercession page.
National or Worldwide Revival vs. Personal RevivalThe example below of how God used Josiah to cause a revival among His people can also be used on a personal level. Look at the steps and see if your own relationship with the Lord might be improved, (that is, you could have a personal revival), by following the steps listed.
Josiah:If we really want to see the Holy Spirit move on our nation and draw thousands or even millions to Him, it's always good to look and see if there is a biblical example of revival. The kingship of Josiah, which we can read about in 2 Kings chapters 22 and 23, and we can also read about in 2 Chronicles chapters 34 and 35, saw an awesome revival. The good news is, when you examine the story, you will see numerous parallels between that nation and ours.
In a nutshell, here's what happens: Judah, which is what's left of Israel at the time, had had some ungodly kings, who allowed the people to participate in all kinds of idolatry and immorality. Nobody even read the Law anymore. (Sound familiar? )
God had already decided to bring the nation under judgment, but before He acted on that judgment, Josiah became king. Since Josiah loved the Lord, God allowed him to come across a copy of His Word, and Josiah, now knowledgeable about the way his country had strayed from God, destroyed idols and restored a godly focus to his people. Because of this, God promised not to bring about His punishment as long as Josiah was alive.
This story becomes our step by step instruction manual for a revival.
Step 1: Know The Truth, then RepentSomeone doing some work in the temple ran across a copy of God's Law (probably part of Deuteronomy). It was read to Josiah, and he realized how evil his people had become. he was absolutely overwhelmed with sorrow, and he tore his clothes, and stated that his nation had been sinful (22:13).
Step 2: Ask God, Then Listen to What He SaysJosiah ordered his priests to inquire of the Lord, and they received the message that God, in fact, is very angry with Judah. (22:15ff).
However, verses 19 and 20 say that God will spare the nation while Josiah is king: "because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord . . . "
Step 3: Commit Yourself (and your nation) to God
2 Kings 23:3"and the king . . . made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.
Step 4: Get the Sinful Things Out of Your LifeJosiah had the idols removed from the temple and destroyed(23:4-14). Then, he got rid of everything else in his kingdom which had anything to do with sin and idol worship. We're talking about a real cleansing here. This is a reminder that it's not enough just to repent of sin, but we need to get rid of anything in our lives that is directly connected to our past sinful life which we are trying to break free of. It's the same reason a reformed alcoholic needs to stay out of bars.
Our nation has allowed a lot of immorality to creep in, but the issue with us is not our nation as a whole, but the Christian church in particular. That's why the verse most often cited when discussing a modern-day national revival, 1 Chronicles 7:14, begins with "if my people . . . " .
Our nation has gotten into the trouble it's in, quite possibly under God's judgment, because the church has allowed all these sinful things to enter in. Therefore, the church needs to get its act together before we can really begin to see changes in our country.
In the case of this episode in Judah, it was the national leader who initiated reform to turn the nation back to God, but one of his first steps was to clear the temple (compare today to the church; the people, not the building) of all impurities, then go and cleanse other areas. This particular revival began when a political leader did the cleansing.
The good news for us today is that there are several godly men and women in leadership positions in our nation. Of course, the press doesn't let you know about it, but they are there. I have heard stories about bible studies being held and led by congressmen, about prayer meetings where representatives got on their knees and prayed for wisdom. I even saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, the congressman from Houston, Tom Delay, speak from the heart recently about the need for God's hand on our nation.
We can always use more godly leaders, but we do have several now. Now, it's a matter of getting the believers to cleanse their lives and homes of all unrighteousness, to commit themselves to the cause of Christ totally and completely. As I mentioned above, this revival will happen in large part because of unity among Christians.
If we really are serious about wanting to see God's work on our nation, if we really think America is a country worth saving, then we need to follow the step by step plan that Josiah did. As with any story, you'll want to know how it turns out. In 2 Chronicles 35:18, we see that God's people had never celebrated the Passover like they did that year. In other words, this was a great revival. One of the best ever, if not THE best. Do you want to see that here? Then follow in Josiah's steps.
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