Last week, we started on the road to revival. I shared with you four steps on that road that I believe that every Christian must take if they hope to experience the kind of awakening that we need as a church and as a nation. This week, I want to continue along the same path, so to speak, but with a little different emphasis. As we continue to look at the story of King Hezekiah, what do we see as the result of revival and can we glean from this story some of the signs that revival is necessary? But we must understand one very foundational truth. Revival does not come easily. 2 Chronicles 31:21 says that Hezekiah “sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” Revival is hard work.
In 2 Chronicles 30 we see that as a result of the revival, there was a renewed desire to follow God’s commands. That’s why in verses 1 and 2 Hezekiah decided it was time to renew the Passover Celebration. From their deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites had been commanded to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the first month of their year. For centuries they had done this, but the country had rejected God and His commands so greatly that for years they had not done this. In fact, many had forgotten the requirements for participation. One of the sure‑fire signs that revival is needed is when people start neglecting biblical principles. In a church, the people stop attending Sunday School and Discipleship Training. They stop reading their Bibles. Pretty soon they start missing prayer meeting. Not long after that, attendance on Sunday night is sporadic. Eventually, they begin to miss on Sunday morning until one day they wake up and realize they have fallen away from God.
In a country, people stop caring about their fellow man. They stop thinking about the Bible and its principles. They outlaw its reading in the public schools. Pretty soon they start legalizing the murder of babies. Before you know it, our children begin to be indoctrinated with godless principles, Satanic powers, and the forces of evil through the media and through the schools. Ultimately, without revival, the end is the complete outlawing of the church, of worship, and evangelism. My friend, unless we wake up, our nation will be destroyed for lack of revival. Revival calls us back to obedience of God’s commands. Then it causes us to seek out others and convince them to follow God’s commands. We call this evangelism or perhaps reclaiming our backslidden brothers and sisters in Christ.
Hezekiah was not satisfied with celebrating the feasts of God with only his family or his city. He sent out messengers from Dan to Beersheba, throughout all of Judah and into Israel. He didn’t care that the people of Israel hated the people of Judah. It didn’t matter that they were openly hostile to their Jewish kin and had been ever since the kingdoms had divided after the death of Solomon. He believed God wanted all of His chosen people to experience revival, so he went out to get them. He extended the invitation to everyone regardless of their nationality.
Listen, when revival comes, there is a renewed desire to reach out and bring others in. God’s people who have repented of their sin and recommitted themselves to God’s service, are endowed with a desire for and a power to reach out and bring others into their new life. Really, this is simply a part of following God’s commands. In a church, we are always supposed to be evangelizing, reaching out, ministering. But sometimes we stop. And to stop witnessing is to die. Revival brings renewal and life.
A sure sign that revival is needed is that artificial barriers are erected. For a church and a nation, revival means breaking down those barriers like race and economic status. It means forgetting the hostilities and tensions that keep us from reaching out to people who are not “like” us. It means people can love one another and work together, and when we are willing to do that, we make our church and our country a better place. Historically, revival brings a reduction in crime. It means an abundance of volunteer labor. It means a complete change in our society as education of our children and medical care for the elderly receives proper attention by our legislators because priorities get straightened out.
Don’t misunderstand. Hezekiah did not have a 100% success rate. In fact, only a small remnant from the Northern Kingdom responded positively. The majority laughed at the messengers. They ridiculed the invitation. Some people reject the proposition that serving God can make a difference. They have no hope. The sin in their lives has caused such moral depravity that they wouldn’t want to change things even if they thought it was possible. But when people become so entrenched in sin because of years of sinful activity, they can’t see a need for change. But even a handful of changed people can make a difference. Even a small group of dedicated men and women committed to the cause of Christ could change the direction of a church or a community or even a nation.