Monday, September 15, 2014
Revival and Reformation Pt 21
[The recording didn't work last night. But here is the manuscript]
Revival and Reformation Pt 21
2 Chronicles 32
Cause your Word, O Lord, cause your Word to take up permanent residence in our hearts that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that we may be strengthened to successfully resist sin, society and Satan. Amen.
Problems (1). The first line should snag our hearts – “After these things and these acts of faithfulness”. We want it to be, “Acts of Faithfulness equal Painless Triumph!” Right? But God is very careful to show us that he is neither a machine nor an abstract mathematical calculation. James 1.2-4.
Prophecy (6-8). The Son of David, the anointed one of God’s kingdom, speaks once more like a prophet. He has taken his cue from Jehoshaphat (20.17), and has gone all the way back to Elisha “”Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6.16-17) – which is similarly stated in in the NT, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4.4) – and the Exodus “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14.13).
Prattling (9-19). They strain hard to sow the seeds of disloyalty, distrust, and dissension (Hezekiah – v.11 and 15; but more importantly God – 11b, 14-19). V.12 – Kingdom resistors and God haters misread faithful actions! Hezekiah was instrumental in furthering and fortifying revival and reformation and he gets painted by the Spin-meisters and the powerful as being untrustworthy and deceitful. The same happened to our Lord Jesus who reached out to tax collectors, prostitutes, spoiled and sinful of his day and was called a glutton and drunkard, badmouthed for eating with the spiritual “trailer-trash” of his day!
Prayer (20-21). Hezekiah’s response reveals his resolution – he teams up with Isaiah and they have a two-man prayer meeting! The Spirit guided editors cut through all the things that happened in between to impress on us again the place of prayer and the potency of prayer in God’s sovereign scheme! From 1 Chronicles 4 to this place, we’re being pounded with God’s mallet of love and promises, and hammered into shape on the anvil difficulty so that 2 Chronicles 7.14 never leaves our hearts!
Provision (22-23; as well as 27-30). See 29.36 God provides for the sustaining of revival and reformation and all that is needed for it; and he provides deliverance. 2 Chronicles 20.20c.
Pernicious Paradox (24-31). I delight in the reality that God displays the faults of faithful men so that we never turn them into idols. Role-Models? Yes! Insofar as they follow Christ. Thorough examples that we look to, and place our confidence in? Never! And so this portion of the story reminds us – so that we gain a heart of wisdom – that with reforming men there still remains some foolishness. Hezekiah’s particular peccadillo was pride (v. 25 and 26). After all that has happened – personal and church-wide revival and reformation and then phenomenal deliverance from the greedy grip of the kingdom-resistors – you would think it might be otherwise. But he “did not make return according to the benefit done to him” (25). With some reflection it’s not too farfetched that pride might raise its sinister, serpentine head. It can often show up in reforming pastors, reviving evangelists and stalwart congregations, who become proud and pompous after God has done some great work in them or through them. Why? Because they slide into self-satisfaction that smacks of self-righteousness. But God wants humility because it is god-like (Philippians 2.5ff).
Therefore, Hezekiah portrays aspects of our Lord Jesus, but also exposes why we will always need Jesus!
Pulling it Together. Now it’s time to circle the wagons, look over our provisions and count up our ammo – so to speak.
As the editors, guided by the Spirit of God, are seeking to direct those coming out of exile, it’s pretty clear they want to encourage (on the one hand), and alert (on the other hand). (1) Listen to Hezekiah, he was right. Follow his faith and faithfulness, get on your knees with him and Isaiah and pray. Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established, believe his prophets (through whom his word comes) and you will succeed. Humble yourselves, pray, seek God’s face – he will hear, forgive and heal! (2) But don’t put all of your eggs in a human ruler’s basket – Hezekiah pictured what a Son of David ought to be like, and failed like every son of David. So lift up your eyes, look longingly toward the sunrise for the great Son of David who will be greater than Hezekiah ever dreamed of being!
First, for us, now that the greater than Hezekiah – whose name means something like Strength of Yahweh – the Greater Son of David, the one who is always the true Strength of Yahweh has come, we have every reason to pray and have confidence: Hebrews 4.12-14. (1) What Assyrian assault is piling up outside our walls – as a family, congregation, our denomination or the Church of Jesus Christ in North America – challenging our faith in the Almighty God? (2) How have the kingdom-resistors misrepresented our faithful actions, twisting them till they look either foolish or outright sinister? Bring these things before the LORD, lay out this chapter and pray for success, “pray because of this and” cry “out to heaven” (20). Pray because you know that what Hezekiah said is right (7-8). Turn those verses into your prayer!
Lastly, take heart. In the words of Os Guinness, “Let there be no wavering in our answer. Such is the truth and power of the gospel that the church can be revived, reformed and restored to be a renewing power in the world again. There is no question that the good news of Jesus has effected powerful personal and cultural change in the past. There is no question too that it is still doing so in many parts of the world today. By God’s grace it will do so again even here in the heart of the advanced modern world where the Christian church is presently in sorry disarray” (“Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times,” 14). Take heart, believe, and pray!