I’m reading, thinking about the book of Chronicles. It was written after the exile, reviewing the history of Judah to remind the new generation that they have a powerful God, that He would be the one who would help them rebuild.
There are several themes illustrated in Chronicles. A prominent theme is the significance of the temple, how David planned it, Solomon built it, kings were crowned in it, prophets were killed there, but most of all the temple was where God’s name dwelled.
I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever.2 Chronicles 7:16
My eyes and my heart will always be there.
The theme I want to explore is God’s presence in revival among the people.
STORY 1: Jehoshaphat
The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel. … His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord; furthermore, he removed the high places and the Asherah poles from Judah.2 Chronicles 17:3-6
Jehoshaphat was a Godly King – devoted to the ways of the Lord. In 2 Chronicles 20 he learns that a large army is headed his way, and he’s frightened. In hearing this news Jehoshaphat does several things …
- He seeks God
- He proclaims a period of fasting
- He invites the people to join him in prayer
- He bows down in worship
In response, God’s Spirit fills Jahaziel who encourages the people with God’s words. He says,
“Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. … You need not fight in this battle; take your position, stand and watch the salvation of the Lord in your behalf, Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow, go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.”2 Chronicles 20:14 – 17
The next morning, Jehoshaphat sends the choir ahead his army, praising God. God routs the advancing army.
God gives peace and rest to the kingdom of Jehoshaphat.
STORY 2: Hezekiah
Hezekiah was also a Godly king. The author of Kings tells us,
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.2 Kings 18:5-7
But in Chronicles we learn a few more details of the story.
- Hezekiah opens the doors of the temple .
- He calls in the priests to consecrate themselves and the temple
- He calls for the temple to be cleansed, purified
- He commands the priests to offer a sin offering on behalf of all of Israel
- He also organizes the singing of the Psalms, praise and worship
- He sends out a proclamation, an evangelical message to return to the Lord
- He initiates the celebration of the Passover
- Hezekiah prays for all those that returned, that God would pardon them
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 the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.2 Chronicles 30:26 – 27
The people experienced a revival of joy in the land!
STORY 3: Josiah
Josiah, a great grandson of Hezekiah, was just a child when he became king. The Chronicler tells us that in his 8th year as king he began to seek the God of his ancestor, David. And in his 12th year he began to purge Judah of the idols, altars to the Baals, and the Asherah poles. In his 18th year, he ordered repairs on the temple. We know from both Kings and Chronicles that the Book of the Law was discovered as they were working on the temple. We don’t know if the Book of the Law had been lost, or hidden, but it had been lost to the memory of the people. So when the priest read the Law to Josiah, it pierced his heart.
- Josiah tears his clothing in tears and humility
- He expresses contrition and repentance
- He inquires of the prophetess, Huldah
- He calls all the people to the temple
- He renews the covenant in the presence of the Lord
- He continues to remove all of the detestable idols from the land
- He initiates the celebration of the Passover
Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’”2 Chronicles 34:27 – 28
The people experienced God’s blessings and Josiah died peacefully.
Some time ago I heard Tim Keller on video speak about revival – how it comes, how to prepare for it. He suggested five elements of revival based on his study of historically great revivals. I see these five elements in the stories of Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah!
|Keller’s elements||Keller’s description||Revivals in Chronicles|
|Extraordinary Prayer||kingdom centered, corporate, prevailing prayer||each king prayed prayers of repentance|
|Recovery of the gospel||not just a means of salvation but the power through which our lives are transformed||each king focused on worship, on obeying the law|
|Informal leaders, catalysts||people who are willing to admit fault, who are gracious, who have an electrifying effect on others||each king admitted fault, and commanded, inspired change among the people|
|Venues supporting community||sharing, processing of experiences||each king focused on the temple, bringing the people together in God’s presence|
|Creativity||each ‘great’ revival in history had some unique characteristic.||One king leads the people in fasting; another sends out a proclamation, an evangelical message; and the third is noted for tearing down all the idols|
In each of these stories we see the relational presence of God. Each king sought God personally, in repentance, in a desire to honor the covenant of the Lord. And God met each king where he was.
Jehoshaphat’s statement resonates with me, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” In indecision, frustrations, challenges, even battles, we may not know what to do, but this we can be assured of … our God is for us! We simply need to turn our eyes to Him, forsaking all idols in repentance, and allow His grace to minister victory in our lives!
O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are
His word shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell
Turn your eyes upon JesusHelen H. Lemmel
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace