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Monday, July 7, 2014

Revival and Reformation Pt 13: 2 Chronicles 7.13-14


{Audio File is here}

Revival and Reformation Pt 13
2 Chronicles 7:11-16.

Here we are, Lord God, listening to your Scriptures read and expounded. Come and warm our hearts to happily embrace what you say to us. Amen.

There are seasons in our personal lives, or in the life of our families, but also in the life of a congregation or a denomination that feels like we’re wandering through a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. There are various causes for this – from extremely serious to simply falling into a slump. How does one get out of this slough of despond? I think there’s something here in this passage that God is saying a thing or two to each of us.
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1.  The Problem of Pain: V. 13 – C.S. Lewis once wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (from “The Problem of Pain). And so: “The conditions of 2 Chron. 7:13 imply that when national disasters begin to afflict a nation, people, or group of believers, it is time to ask what it is that God is trying to say to them or to us” (Walter Kaiser, “Revive Us Again,” 231).

2.  The Promise is People-Specific: “My People, on whom My Name is called.” Acts 15:14-18; Matt. 28:19. Revival and Reformation is aimed at the Church of Jesus Christ!

3.  The Prescription for Revival and Reformation
[a] Humble Themselves: Used 12 times in 2 Chronicles alone: Once or twice God humbles his people, but every other time it is about someone humbling himself before God. As Christ humbled himself, stooping down into our humanity (Phil. 2:7) and submitting to the Father’s rescue operation (v.8), we are being impressed upon to stoop down under the Word of God; to empty ourselves of our own religious inventions, recognizing our own bankruptcy before Almighty God, and taking upon ourselves the mind of a servant (v.5 and Mark 10.45). Isa. 57:14 "For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones." And James 4:10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

[b] Pray: This passage establishes prayer as a principle means by which God’s people can receive God’s enrichment/prosperity/blessing. Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10), the Tribes on the east-side of Jordan (1 Chronicles 5:18ff), David’s numerous prayers (1 Chronicles 16, 17, 29), and Solomon’s (2 Chron. 6). Then the first four kings of the divided kingdom are noted for prayer (Rehoboam, Asa, Abijah, and Jehoshaphat) and later Hezekiah and then rotten but repentant Manasseh. All of the recorded prayers in 2 Chronicles are to show that Yahweh keeps His promise to hear the prayers of His people.

[c] Seek God’s face: In most every case, seeking the face of God is to seek the person of God himself – an expression of loyalty to, devotion to and delight in God: for example 15:2 and 4. Seeking God is the opposite of forsaking him, turning the back to him, or abandoning his covenanted relationship. It carries the idea of intensity and warm commitment! 11:16 (“set their hearts to seek the LORD”), 12:14; 19:3; 30:19. Seeking him is a sincere devotion expressed or fleshed out, on the one hand, in complying with the Law of God (coming to love what he loves, and hate what he hates); on the other hand, yearning and desiring and delighting in the LORD God for his own sake!

[d] Turn away from their wicked lifestyle: Not just to stop doing something evil, but in the context, to start doing what’s right, to start walking in the Way of Yahweh. See Isaiah 1:15-17 {and the promise of v. 18}.

4.  Three-fold Promised Answer: {a} I will hear – with a view to answer. {b} I will forgive (cleansing, but also a restoring of relationship!), & {c} I will prosper - 2 Chronicles 20.20c.

What-To-Do:
There is nothing new or surprising in this prescription; no new secrets; no fresh steps to get holier and healthier. These are the very things a lover of God always wants to follow. This is a description of a Christ-lover, of one who loves because God first loved her and him! In the words of Matt Chandler of the Village Church, “But this repenting and believing is not merely a one-time occurrence…By means of the active, eternal grace of God, “repent and believe” becomes the living, growing, ever-renewing lifestyle of the Spirit-led believer” (“Recovering Redemption,” 66): [1] Humble – Matthew 18.3-4: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”; [2] Pray – 1 Thessalonians 5.16-18; [3] Seek his face/draw near – Hebrews 10.19-22 – “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”; [4] Turn from and to – 2 Corinthians 7.9. // 2 Chronicles 7.14 is simply a clarion call to get back to the old paths, to the Faith of God in Jesus Christ: "Thus says the Lord: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16). As you see clearly in this passage, this is the normal Christian life, where there is a sincere confessing and forsaking of our individual and communal sins; a deep, hungry desire to reverse the pattern of spiritual declension and apostasy and apathy; and a passionate aching after God himself! This is, and has always has been, the way of denominational, congregational, familial, and individual revival and reformation.


I conclude then, with this charge – Delight yourself in the Lord; Serve the Lord with gladness.  Humble… Pray… Seek…Turn. God has stepped forward and made the way. He has opened the door and holds it open to you and me, beckoning us to draw near. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1.3-4)!

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