The Hezekiah Revival (part 2)
Renew the Covenant
After cleansing the temple, Hezekiah made a covenant with the Lord. (vs. 10-11) The Lord called Hezekiah’s generation not only to repent, but also to renew their covenant with Him. In the same way, God calls us not only to repent, but to return to our righteous roots, renewing a covenantal relationship with Him. God calls us to stand before Him and serve Him, to minister and to burn incense, just as our founding grandfathers did some 400 years ago.
The covenant the Pilgrims made with the Lord is still instructive for us today. Here is an excerpt from the Mayflower Compact, written before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth:
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, Ireland, King, Defender of the faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith, and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and of one another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; [What were the “ends aforesaid”? The glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.] and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder inscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
Ten years later the Puritans arrived in Massachusetts under the leadership of John Winthrop. While still aboard the Arbella, Winthrop preached a sermon entitled A Model of Christian Charity. Note his emphasis on our commission and our covenant:
This love among Christians is a real thing, not imaginary…as absolutely necessary to the [well]being of the body of Christ, as the sinews and other ligaments of a natural body are to the [well]being of that body….We are a company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, [and thus] we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love….Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a Commission; the Lord has given us leave to draw our own articles….If the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this Covenant and sealed our Commission, [and] will expect a strict performance of the Articles contained in it. But if we shall neglect the observance of these Articles…the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man….We must hold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality. We must delight in each other, make one another’s condition our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our Commission and Community…as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace….We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory, that men of succeeding plantations shall say, ‘The Lord make it like that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill.
What a legacy! The impact of these two covenants on the New World cannot be overestimated. They are both examples of the righteous roots of our nation. God is calling us back to this kind of covenantal commitment.
A couple of generations later, when the colony became prosperous, the Pilgrims’ and Puritans’ descendants became apathetic and materialistic. “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter devoured the mother,” as Puritan scholar Cotton Mather expressed it. He could just as easily have been speaking of us today. We live in a very materialistic generation in this nation, and in the Western world. God is calling us back to the spirit of these covenants written into the spiritual fabric of our nation 400 years ago.
The perspective of the Puritans is clearly evident in this description of the first church that they founded:
Although the number of the faithful people of Christ are but few, yet their longing desire to gather into a church was very great…Having fasted and prayed with humble acknowledgement of their own unworthiness to be called of Christ to do so worthy a work, they joined together in a holy Covenant with the Lord and with one another, promising by the Lord’s assistance to walk together in exhorting, admonishing and rebuking one another, and to cleave to the Lord with a full purpose of heart….
A holy fear of the Lord and undivided hearts characterized the Puritans and the Pilgrims. They understood that God had called them as believers into a covenantal relationship with Him, as they charted a new course in a new land. Hezekiah shared this understanding in his day. God wants us to do the same thing personally, and as families and churches: renew our covenant with God. I believe it is important that we renew these covenants from which I quoted above. I encourage you to read them. I encourage you to pray over them with your families. Pray that the Church of this nation would renew its covenant with the Lord.