The Hezekiah Revival (part 3)
Gather the Elders
The next item on Hezekiah’s agenda was to gather the civil leaders, the elders at the gate. “Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the LORD.” (29:20) We must do the same in every city in this nation. I encourage you to pray that God would rally pastors and para-church leaders, the spiritual gatekeepers of our cities, as well as believing civil leaders, to pray together in unity for revival and spiritual awakening. In many cities all over this nation pastors have been gathering, by the hundreds even, to pray once a year for three or four days – simply to seek the face of God. Many also meet on a weekly or monthly basis to pray for their cities. I believe God is saying that it’s time for the spiritual leadership of our cities to come together in unity and prayer, beseeching the Lord for revival and awakening. Pray that a holy fear of the Lord would fall on our pastors and our civil leaders as well. O, that they would be so gripped by the fate of our nation as it hangs in the balance, that they would consider unified prayer among the greatest works that they could do! We must lay aside all denominationalism. As Augustine said, “Unity on the essentials, liberty on the non-essentials, and in everything love.” Our labels as Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, and Charismatics are secondary to our calling as Christians to rally together in unity and prayer to ask God to revive the Church, and to pour out awakening on our land.
Call the Nation
After rallying the spiritual and civil leaders, Hezekiah then called the nation to repent and return to its roots.
Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel….They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel….The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD. (II Chronicles 30:1, 5, 10-12)
According to the Chronicles account, it was the “word of the Lord” that called the people of Judah to celebrate the Passover and return to their roots. Likewise, I believe it is the word of the Lord that calls us to do the same in our generation. In response to Hezekiah’s proclamation, the people of Judah and a large remnant from several northern tribes gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. And what a celebration it was! They celebrated for seven days, then decided to continue the celebration for seven more days. “There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. The priests and Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.” (II Chronicles 30:26-27)
What a beautiful picture of renewal! The Lord visited His people in a way unparalleled since the days of Solomon. I believe our Heavenly Father will move in the same way again if we will seek Him as did Hezekiah and his generation. He will revive us, renew us, and awaken our land. II Chronicles 31:1 describes the fruit of this revival:
When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.
This revived remnant destroyed all the idols, all the high places, all the images…they destroyed them all. That’s a pretty far-reaching revival! Hezekiah’s generation experienced not only a revival, but a nationally-transforming awakening.
A Confirming Sign
Now let’s return to New Year’s Eve 2000 and the rest of the story. As I finished reading these Scriptures, I prayed, “Lord, I believe this is Your heart for our nation.” The Lord then gave me an opportunity to proclaim these verses in prayer. As I did so, the New Year 2001 dawned. I believe that even this timing was significant. It was as though God was saying, “I’ve given you an expression of My heart’s desire for this new year, for this new decade, as you move into this new century.”
I drove home early that morning of January 1, 2001, praying, “Lord, I believe You have spoken to my heart; but confirm it. Show me that indeed this is You.”
Two mornings later, while I was meditating and praying over these passages, the Lord filled my heart with faith and hope. I looked up to heaven, and prayed, “Lord, would you please send me a sign! Would you please send me an external confirmation that this is the word of the Lord?”
As I closed my prayer and glanced across the room, I noticed a children’s coloring book lying on the couch in the living room. An intercessor friend of ours had mailed it to us as a Christmas gift for my sons. My older son, Joshua, had apparently been reading it before school and had left it on the couch. The coloring book was opened to the front page. On it were two words in big, bold black letters, horizontally and vertically across the page, like this:
H E Z E K I A H
I was completely overwhelmed. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a “Hezekiah” coloring book in my life. I have seen children’s coloring books about Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, and Daniel, but never about Hezekiah. I picked up the coloring book and began to look through it. Amazingly enough, the first few pages corresponded almost exactly to some of the Scriptures that had been underlined in my Bible! Our God speaks in many ways. He speaks through children. He can even speak through children’s coloring books! Our God graciously speaks to offer us hope, to call us to faith, and to move us to repent.