Have you ever received something unobtainable for free? We have a combination of a ladder, swing and seesaw for children. Due to excessive use, the holes in the down posts where the seesaw hinges wore out badly and became dangerous for use. I took the instrument apart years ago and stored it in the shed. Recently Jenny and I realize there is a little girl of about two living in our street. This will be the perfect garden fixture for her, so we decided to repair it and give it to her. I needed some bolts and nuts as well as two bushes. By the third store I was sent to, which was a hydraulic repair workshop, they misunderstood me thinking I wanted them to turn out two bushes on a lathe. The bushes I needed were not a standard size. Eventually I asked if they had a thick steel wall hydraulic pipe. They did and it was the perfect size. When it came to paying … they said I could have it without charge. No payment required. That is revival. You can’t pay for it … you can’t buy it. Revival is strictly by grace that is free as God dispenses it according to His predetermined will. Yet even though it is free and by grace there are certain things we need to do personally and corporately as a church before God might grant such a glorious display of presence in revival. Now we have already spoken about what precedes a God given spiritual revival. We have seen in the case of king Josiah that the Word of God brought him to repentance and dependence upon God to that extent that he sent a delegation to inquire as to the meaning of what had been read to him from God’s Word. Once this was obtained from the prophetess Huldah, who spoke from God, the delegation left to return to king Josiah.
2Ki 22:20 … So they took her answer back to the king … and reported back. For the king and his spiritual leaders the climate is electric.
There is fear … godly fear … but also panic because the consequences of God’s anger and wrath are very real. The text continues …
1) The king takes responsibility and leads from the front.
2Ki 23:1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest.
He is now part of a delegation comprising of people from every sector of society. If there is one thing where a congregation ought to surprise society it ought to have people from every sector of society participating as the Church of God. Acts 2 demonstrates the end of the separation of people in Genesis 11.
2) The king takes the responsibility of reading God’s Word to the people. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. This is a decisive moment in Josiah’s reign. He is not a priest nor a Levite … he is the king. It is not his place to read the Scriptures … but he did. He wanted his people to grasp the magnitude and impact the Word can make on the hearts and wills of willing hearers. Remember what changed his heart? It was the Word read to him. That is what he needed for his people. A good king wants the best for his citizens. So does a good pastor and a good Church Council. What people need today is God’s Word. There is nothing more important than the Word. As said many times, you cannot separate God and His Word. You can’t have God without His Word as you can’t have His Word without God.
3) The king took the lead in commitment to God.
2Ki 23:3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.
Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. There was something symbolic about the “pillar” as kings tended to stand there and worship. The words … renewed the covenant … are important. First the king and then the people. The covenant had been so ignored it was forgotten. Even the spiritual leaders ignored it. Their function had slipped from serving God to following rituals. Maybe we ought to ask where the covenant comes from. Abraham was sonless … heirless and doubted God. The first section of Genesis 15 informs us of God making a covenant with Abraham which included two aspects.
(1) That he will have a son who will be his heir (Isaac) and
(2) That he will have land for his descendants (The Promised Land – The Land of Canaan). Look at the shape of the covenant God made
Ge 15:9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half
Ge 15:17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.
The word “made” in verse 18 is “cut”. God cut a covenant and sealed it by passing through the “cut” portions. It was vivid and dramatic, yet meaningful because God did not go back on His covenant, yet the people did … often … as did the two kings (grandfather and father) before Josiah. They led the priesthood and the people into paganism. They dumped the covenant! Now Josiah and the people renewed the covenant with God. We will see later how, because of their sin, Judah will lose the land temporally because they broke the covenant. Exile is on the cards … but right now it’s all about the renewal of the covenant. Did you see how the renewal went? It was … to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. This is serious … to follow and to keep with all the heart and soul … as laid out in the Scriptures! Consider this
Deut 4:29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
What covenant is there between God and you? He cut a covenant at Calvary … you role is to
Mk 12:30 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Our Father, help us to love You truthfully with all our emotions, spirit, intellect and body. When we consider what You have done for us in the past at Calvary, right now in the present … caring, providing and protecting us and in the future taking us to Your glory, may we honor You through covenantal faithfulness in Jesus. Amen.