A new king is seated on the throne in Judah. He comes from a line of men who gave no regard to God or His law. It looks to be the same old, same old. But is it possible for a man who grew up in a pagan home with unbelieving parents to love God? Is it possible that this King will finally turn the nation back to the Savior? It would be a surprising conversion, for sure . . . but God is full of surprises!
Surprised by Revival
II Chronicles 28-31
In the summer of 1787, representatives met in Philadelphia to write the Constitution of the United States. After they had struggled for several weeks and had made little or no progress, eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin rose and addressed the troubled and disagreeing convention that was about to adjourn in confusion.
“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a super-intending Providence in our favor...Have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
“I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning.”
We observed in our last discussion the fall of Israel. They had forgotten their all-powerful friend! We studied the collapse of the Northern Kingdom, and it was captured by Assyria and sold into bondage.
Our attention now turns to Judah - the Southern Kingdom, with Jerusalem as its capital city.
I invite your attention to the book of II Chronicles where, it seems, this kingdom is on the brink of destruction as well.
In chapter 28 and verse 1 we read: Ahaz was 20 years old when he became kin, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and he did not do right in the sight of the Lord as David his father had done. 2. But he walked in the ways of the Kings of Israel; he also made molten images for the Baals.
Because of Ahaz’s rebellion and sin, God caused war to be Ahaz’s middle name.
Ultimately, Ahaz attempts an unholy alliance with Assyria - so that Assyria would protect Judah. Notice verse 19. For the Lord humbled Judah becuase of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had brought about a lack of restraint in Judah and was very unfaithful to the Lord. 20. So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. 21. Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the Lord and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him. imagine that! 22. Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became (humbled before the Lord . . . oh no - ) yet more unfaithful to the Lord.
Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t think that suffering and distress automatically drives a person to God - sometimes, it drives them further away. Notice 23. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they became the downfall of him and all Israel.
24. Moreover, when Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, he cut the utensils of the house of God in pieces; and he closed the doors of the house of the Lord, and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem.
Can you imagine?!!!
Now, at this moment, while Ezra didn’t include the account in the Chronicles, the book of Isaiah informs us that the prophet Isaiah came to Ahaz. He delivered to Ahaz the stunning prophecy that although Ahaz was close to losing the kingdom to foreigners, the throne of David would not be wiped away forever.
The sign of that prophecy was that, according to Isaiah, a virgin would conceive and bring forth a son.
We know that prophecy came true centuries later when Mary conceived of the Messiah, by the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit - and the Son of David was born who will eventually sit upon David’s throne in the new Kingdom.
Well, Ahaz ignored Isaiah - refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of God, repent - and later died, so much the failure that the people didn’t even bury him with the other kings of Israel and Judah.
Last Lords day, we observed the idolatry and fall of the northern half of the kingdom - we recalled the words of Thomas Jefferson for our own nation as he said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
After reading what we’ve just read about the southern kingdom and wicked King Ahaz - you can almost hear the slumbering justice of God beginning to awaken.
But something remarkable happens - something unbelievable - a revival.
Just when you thought the nation was down for the count - when any remaining faithful ones must have thought there wasn’t any hope for their nation - something incredible happened.
Notice chapter 29:1. Hezekiah became king when he was 25 years old, and he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. (skip to verse 3) In the first year of his reign,in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them, and he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them into the square on the east.
Can you believe this - the son of wicked king Ahaz ascends the throne - it should be business as usual - yet in his first 100 days of office - he begins to restore what his father had destroyed.
“Open the doors of the temple - while you’re at it - repair them - it’s housecleaning time!”
Concert of Prayer
A man once came to Gipsy Smith, the celebrated English evangelist of an earlier time, and asked him how to have revival. Asked Gipsy, "Do you have a place where you can pray?" "Yes," was the reply. "Tell you what to do, you go to that place, and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk draw a complete circle all around you and pray for God to send revival on everything inside of the circle.
I want to you imagine yourself right now drawing a piece of chalk around where you’re kneeling or sitting. Before we can pray for revival to to come anywhere - to our family, our church, our city and country, we need first to ask God to revive us again.
PRAYER FOR PERSONAL PERSONAL FORGIVENESS AND CLEANSING
Would you first of all pray for yourself - while most of our people here today know Jesus Christ personally, maybe you’ve gone to your knees and you know the first thing you need to do is give your heart to Jesus Christ - maybe you’re already a Christian, but you’re heart has become cold and indifferent to his soft voice - before Hezekiah could ever hope to inaugurate the worship again in the temple, he first had to cleanse the temple. You are the temple of the Living God - so, first of all, confess your sins to the Savior - do that now.
Lead in prayer for personal cleansing and revival.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me,
Spirit of the Living God fall fresh on me;
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me;
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Hide Me Lord, in your holiness, every sin I now confess,
Praise to you forgiving Lord,
Hide me in your holiness, hide me in your holiness.
PRAYER FOR FAITHFULNESS AND COMMITMENT IN OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.
Let’s pray for our husband or our wife - let’s pray for our children - pray for those in your family to either come to know the Lord or to be faithful to the Lord.
Maybe some Christian here needs to make a fresh commitment to their marital relationship; maybe someone needs to purify a dating relationship; perhaps someone here needs to restore a broken relationship either in their family or their extended church family.
While we don’t practice the sacrifices of Hezekia - Paul made it clear in Romans chapter 12:1 that our worship is to spill over into the marketplace and the home. He urged us to to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God”
Christianity may be learned inside church but it is to be lived outside the church - in the world - especially in our relationships with others.
PRAYER FOR THE POWER OF GOD TO BE EVIDENCED THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF OUR CHURCH
Only this time, as you pray - would you pray out-loud - quietly yet sincerely - no to be heard of men, but so that the sound of our united prayers can heard as a background of unity as we personally pray.
How will the power of God be evidenced through this ministry?
For one thing - as we reach our city and beyond for Jesus Christ, unbelievers will come to faith in Christ through our ministry - a few months ago, a sweet couple who had been searching for the truth of God’s word began attending Colonial - just this past week they came to my office and with tears in their eyes, they told me that this past Sunday night, they had together asked Jesus Christ to come into their hearts and lives as their own personal savior and Lord.
Christians becoming involved in the purchase of our new land - it’s easy to talk about commitment - it’s another thing to act upon the belief that investing in the Lord’s work is worthy of our personal sacrificial involvement. Will you prayi that God will perform the miracle through us of purchasing this land
In my life, Lord, be glorified . . . be glorified today.
In my church Lord, be glorified . . . be glorified today.
In Revelation 5, the prayers of the saints are pictured as burning incense wafting upward to the living God.
Let’s close this time of prayer by you, letting the incense of your prayers ascend to the Father - tell Him that you love Him and ask Him to develop His character inside you and then, through you to your world.
Lord please make me, a Sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true;
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living, sanctuary for you.