Posted by: Heather | January 17, 2011

The Reality of Revival

 

 

II Chronicles 34:19  When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.  (NIV)

The new year, as it often does, brings to the surface a need to evaluate my life…where I’ve been in the last year, and where I want to go this year.  It seems to do that for many of us, but during this time of soul-searching, my fingers have been largely silent.  I’ve been told that the word ‘wilderness’ in Hebrew literally translated means ‘the place where God speaks’.   Although God has been doing some speaking to my heart during this time, it’s mostly been about personal things…attitudes, habits and personality quirks that need the touch of the Master’s hand.    For this reason, words have not come easily for me the past couple of weeks.   But now, the subject of revival is something that has been pressing more and more heavily upon my heart, as I strive to come into line with the changes I feel the LORD is prodding me to make.   And it probably doesn’t hurt that our church is having revival this week either.  🙂

Revival is a totally different concept in my mind than it used to be.  As a child, my mind was always focused on the joyful aspects.  Clapping, singing, listening to good, fiery preaching, and fun fellowship were the mainstays of my attention.  Not that these things are bad…in fact, they are very good, in my opinion.  But, this verse in II Chronicles now reveals to me a more accurate picture of what I believe revival looks like.

II Kings 22-23 and II Chronicles 34-35 tell us the story of King Josiah.  He was king of Judah (southern Israel).  He began his reign at 8 years old, and scripture tells us that he began to seek the LORD at about the age of 16.  Judah had been ruled by kings that practiced idolatry for nearly 60 years before Josiah began to rule, so the land was literally riddled with idol worship.  During this fairly early part of his kingship, he had men overseeing the repair and cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem.  Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Torah (which we call the book of ‘law’) in the temple.

When Josiah was notified about this find, and the Torah read in his presence, the Bible says he tore his robes.   In that day, the tearing of ones clothes was a sign of great grief and distress, or righteous anger.  Josiah was so cut to the heart that Judah had neglected their covenant with God, that he immediately sent men to Huldah the prophetess to receive a word from the LORD.  She told them that God was going to pour His wrath upon the people, but because Josiah’s heart had been tender toward the Word of God, he would be spared from seeing the destruction that was to eventually come.

What happened next was cleansing on a grand scale.  Josiah had every pagan altar and high place destroyed, removing the Asherah poles and every vestige of idol worship.  The items used to worship Baal and Asherah were totally destroyed, and burned when possible.  What I failed to realize until recently is what perversion was actually taking place, even in what was originally the temple of God Himself, and how widespread it was.  Baal was considered the god of water, and Asherah of fertility, and they were thought to be a couple.  Those that worshiped them believed that if Baal and Asherah had good ‘relations’ that year (please read into that what I mean without me saying it outright), that the soil would be fertile and crops plenteous.  They believed they could cause that to happen by ‘having relations’ openly near these Asherah poles.  Male prostitutes stayed at the pagan temples solely for this purpose.

Molech was also a god of focus for pagan worship.  Those that worshiped him practiced what the Bible calls causing children to ‘pass through the fire’.  This literally means they believed in sacrificing their own children as part of their worship.

So, we can see exactly what Josiah was up against.  This gross perversion was everywhere, and Josiah was a very young man at the time…not much older than 20 or so.  To help myself understand, I began to think about what it would be like if the president of our country decided to bring the United States into covenant with God.  The backlash would be immediate and staggering.  There would be many that would threaten to kill the ringleader of the effort on sight.  I imagine Josiah may have experienced the same.  But, his heart moved him to action.  The living Word affected him to the point that he would risk all to bring Judah back into covenant with their God.

Three things about the account of Josiah have etched themselves in my brain, and they pave the way for what I see as true revival.  Josiah first heard the Word of the Lord.  He couldn’t be responsible when he didn’t know.  But, once he was made aware of the commandments of God, there was a decision to make.  Second, after he heard, he had to respond one way or the other.  He chose to follow the commandments, rather than put them on the back burner.  And last, he took action on his decision.  He laid fear and doubt aside, and just followed.  As a result, Judah came back to the LORD, and served Him as long as Josiah lived.  What started out as painful grief and anger ended up once again saving a nation.

Although I love the joyful aspects of a church ‘revival’ meeting as much as the next person, the things we see there are not the barometer that measures the presence of God in our meetings.  We believe that if we see someone healed, delivered, or generally see God behave in a way we think He should, that we’re in the presence of God.  Now I’m more inclined to believe that we first find Him by discovering (or rediscovering) His Word, making the decision to follow it, and then following through on that decision.  As we allow Him to use His Word to destroy all of our spiritual ‘high places’ and idols, we then find His joyful presence within.  As a jealous God, He cannot share His temple with idols.

As we begin to corporately experience true revival from within, we will then see that all of the joyful aspects of revival meetings follow as an outward manifestation of the inner change.  They are not the change itself that we are to seek for, but an outgrowth of the change going on inside of us…and heart change is the true definition of revival.   Let us all endeavor to experience the true reality of revival…it’s painful at first, but the end result is well worth the cost.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for this post. G-d does deal in the miraculous, but not exclusively. I believe that true revival comes with repentance. We need to see how we are choosing to follow the ways of the world as opposed to following Yahweh’s ways.

    • Abigail,

      I totally agree with you. That was the point I was trying to make about Josiah’s grief. Without repentance, there is no true heart change. In fact that is the true definition of repentance…to turn away from. We may see people healed, etc, but that is not the exclusive mark of God’s presence.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  2. Very good article!

    • Thanks Tony!


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