The Hezekiah Revival (part 4)
Confirmation from History
Shortly thereafter, the Lord led me to a sermon written by Solomon Stoddard, the grandfather of Jonathan Edwards. Most Christians are familiar with Jonathan Edwards, known as the “Father of the Great Awakening.” But, most of us have probably never heard of Solomon Stoddard. It was actually Solomon Stoddard who sowed the seeds for the Great Awakening, witnessing what he called five “mini-harvests” during his ministry. When he became too old to handle all the pastoral responsibilities of the Northampton Church, his grandson came to help him. After Stoddard died, Jonathan Edwards became the pastor. A great revival then broke out in 1734 under Edwards’ leadership.
Solomon Stoddard’s sermon from 1712 was entitled “On the Outpouring of the Spirit of God.” In one paragraph, he wrote that the length of revival depends entirely upon the Lord: “This reviving is sometimes of longer, and sometimes of shorter Continuance. Sometimes Religion flourishes in a Country for a great many years together. So it did for twenty-nine Years in the days of Hezekiah, 2 Chronicles 29:1….” In the very next paragraph he described the posture of God’s people, praying for revival. God has to send revival; we cannot – we are not the ones who initiate it. Stoddard wrote, “God is very Arbitrary [unpredictable] in this Matter. The People of God are praying, and waiting for this Mercy. Psalm 85:6 – ‘Wilt Thou not revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee.’ ” [Emphasis added]
Our “Hezekiah Generation”
I was absolutely stunned as I read these two paragraphs. In two back-to-back paragraphs of one sermon from the grandfather of the spiritual awakenings in our nation, were the very two passages the Lord had given me on New Year’s Eve: II Chronicles 29 (the Hezekiah revival) and Psalm 85:6. What was God saying to me then? What is God saying to us now? I truly believe God is saying that we are living in a Hezekiah generation! As Israel and Judah strayed from the Lord, so has the United States departed from His commands and precepts. Yet as the Lord beckoned to Hezekiah’s generation, so He beckons to ours. God called the people of Judah to “clean house,” consecrate themselves, and renew their covenant with Him. God calls us to do the same. God had mercy on a repentant Judah and moved powerfully to revive them. I believe with all my heart that God desires to move just as powerfully in our day.
The prophet Micah warned Hezekiah’s generation that if they did not repent, judgment would fall. Jeremiah records:
Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins; and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.” ’ (Jeremiah 26:18)
What was Hezekiah’s response to this prophetic word of judgment?
Did Hezekiah and all Judah ever put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and seek the LORD’s favor? And the LORD relented concerning the doom which he had pronounced against them…. (Jeremiah 26:19) [Emphasis added]
Hezekiah feared the Lord and sought His favor, and the Lord relented! He did not send judgment; instead He sent, arguably, the greatest revival in the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
That, I believe, is what God desires to do for us. We are potentially a “Hezekiah generation,” and God is calling us to look back to our roots. Just as the celebration of the Passover was the centerpiece of that great Biblical revival, so God is calling us to look back to our roots, to our American “Exodus,” to the righteous foundation laid by the Pilgrims and the Puritans. God desires to reconnect us with our historical and our Biblical roots, awakening in us a renewed faith in, and commitment to, our destiny in God. God desires that the Church of this great nation, and this nation itself, be once more be a “redeemer nation,” a beacon of Christian truth; a “shining city upon a hill,” a model of Christian charity and spiritual promise; a “promised land,” a haven and refuge for persecuted peoples; and, fourthly, a blessing to Israel.
Could it be that our generation will see revival, as in the days of Hezekiah? Could it be that the Fourth Great Awakening – one that, I hope, will be the greatest in our history – might lie ahead of us? Dare we hope? Dare we believe, and take these passages and this history as prayer requests to our God? I dare say, “Yes!” Do we have the courage to repent? To take a searching and fearless moral inventory in the presence of our God? Beloved, we must clean house. We must “get the rubbish out.” We must consecrate ourselves to the Lord. This is a day of consecration, and we must renew our covenantal relationship with the Lord. God is commanding us to repent! Do we fully grasp that? God is commanding the Church in this country to repent!
I believe that as we repent, He calls to pray two requests, each an expression of the New Covenant Way to which we are called. “Lord, teach me first and foremost to love You the way I was created to love You, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength! And secondly, teach me to love others as Jesus would love them, and to bless them in His name.” If we would pray those two things, can you imagine the spiritual passion that would ignite our hearts? The love of Jesus that would swell our breast and overflow into the lives of others!
“My people must seek me in the spirit of Hezekiah.”