The Hezekiah Revival (part 1)
Revival As In the Days of Hezekiah
In this chapter let us continue our search for the “ancient paths.” (Jeremiah 6:16) So far, our study of the Exodus account and our early history has proven most fruitful. We have examined not only the literal Exodus, but also our American “Exodus” and the significance of the Puritan legacy for us today. We have discovered that God has a powerful message for the generation before us. The message: as America stands at the crossroads, God calls us back to our roots.
As we look back to our “Exodus” generation, is there perhaps a generation similar to ours that is described in Scripture? Does our generation have a Biblical equivalent, that is, a generation that the Lord also called to harken back to its roots? Even to the Exodus specifically? Could such a generation be instructive for us as we look to our future? I believe the answer is “yes.” That Biblically equivalent generation will be the primary focus of this chapter.
Before I describe it, however, let me share a further word of personal testimony by way of background.
On New Year’s Eve 2000, I attended a prayer vigil at a Messianic congregation atop Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. The prayer focus was revival for the land of Israel – for both the Jews and the Arabs. As I joined in praying for that country that I love so much, I was praying simultaneously for our own nation – for revival and spiritual awakening in the United States of America.
Throughout the evening, the Lord kept bringing to my mind Psalm 85:6: “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” I opened my Bible to Psalm 85 and began to read. I noticed that the Psalm was divided into three parts. In the first part, the Psalmist remembers how God has restored his people in the past. How God has been favorable to the land, forgiven iniquity, brought back from captivity, and covered sin. (vs. 1-3)
Then in verse 4, there is a shift to a current, contemporary appeal. “Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.” (vs. 4-7) In verse eight, the Psalmist turns to God’s future response to his appeal: “I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (vs. 8-9)
All evening the Holy Spirit kept quickening this Psalm in my spirit, particularly verse 6: “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” I approached the pastor who was leading the prayer meeting, and shared the Psalm with him. Just before midnight he called me forward to pray the Psalm over the nation. I shared briefly about the psalm and then literally prayed the psalm before the Lord. The worship team began a closing set of worship, and I walked back to my seat. As I began to worship, once again the Lord spoke to my heart in a way that was so clear and powerful, like a lightning bolt: “I’m ready to answer your question.” I was so taken by surprise, I didn’t know what question the Lord meant! Sometimes that’s the way it is when the Lord speaks to our hearts. It does not come out of us! It surprises us. I responded, “What question?” The Lord replied, “The question you’ve been asking all night: ‘Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice again in you?’ I am ready to answer your question. I am ready to revive America again. I greatly desire to do this. But the Church must respond to Me. The Church must seek me in the spirit of Hezekiah.”
“In the Spirit of Hezekiah”
I immediately opened up the Bible I had with me. I had grabbed it while hurrying out the door that evening. It was my sister’s pocket Bible. How I ended up with my sister’s pocket Bible in Israel, I do not know. Anyway, I turned to the story of King Hezekiah in II Chronicles 29-32 and began to glance at these chapters. I noticed certain verses had been underlined – when, or by whom, I had no clue. But as I read them, I was spellbound, because each underlined word seemed to have been underscored that evening by the Holy Spirit Himself. It was as though He was highlighting key aspects of the Hezekiah revival, and what He had done to move so radically and powerfully in that generation.
Let us first explore these underlined verses and highlight their significance for us today. Then I will pick up the story where I left off.
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side, and said: ‘Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. Our fathers were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him….They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings….Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes….Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and burn incense.’ (II Chronicles 29:1-8,10-11)
Cleanse the Temple
What is the first thing that Hezekiah did? He opened the doors of the temple and repaired them. He called the Levites to purify themselves, and to consecrate themselves to the Lord. That is also God’s message for the Church today. He is saying it is time to clean house, just like Hezekiah did. Time to open the doors of the temple, both individually in our lives, and corporately in our local churches. We need to open up the doors and ask the Lord to cleanse us. Every defilement and abomination that impede a revelation of the glory of God must go!
One Sunday after church, my older son Joshua asked me for three envelopes. I gave him the three envelopes, a little curious as to what they were for. A few minutes later he approached me again, “Daddy, I have some money in these three envelopes, and I want to write some words on them. Would you help me spell them right? I know how to write ‘The Poor,’ and ‘The Church,’ but I don’t know how to spell ‘Missionary.’”
After I spelled it for him, Joshua said, “Daddy, I put money into these three envelopes because today at church we talked about how our lives are the temple and that we don’t want idols in the temple. We want to worship God. And you know, Daddy, an idol can be anything that’s more important to me than God!” He then added, “I felt like God was telling me that money is too important to me. So I want to take some of my money and I want to give it to the church, and to the missionaries, and to the poor next Sunday.”
The Lord so often speaks to me through my children in moments like these, when I know He is penetrating their hearts – and mine. The Lord desires that we open up our hearts, asking Him, “What are the idols in my life? What are my idolatries? What are my treasures?” Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
Where is your treasure? Is it a heavenly treasure? Or an earthly treasure?
Continue to Part 2