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Monday, September 22, 2014

Revival and Reformation Pt 22


{Here is the final sermon in this series. The audio link can be here}
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Revival and Reformation Pt 22
2 Chronicles 34

Even now, Lord God, we ask for a heart like Josiah’s, a heart that is tender and humble before you; a heart that is ready to hear and respond to your word, just like our Lord Jesus! Amen.

O how we despise an arrogant cuss. But to be arrogant is actually an American passed-time – It makes big bucks, it makes many companies powerful and profitable, it gets people their own reality TV shows, it sells products and gets folks elected to office. It works! But is it really of value to God? Does it impress him to have his little creatures strutting about asserting their pleasure, their power, their prestige, and their preeminence? NO! You and I know it intuitively, and we know it from the Scriptures, that God hates arrogance and pomposity (Proverbs 8.13). So what is it, then, that pleases God? Humility. But what is humility? I think we have a picture of it here.

Background…Manasseh and Amon. 57 years have elapsed since Hezekiah, and they have been brutal, bloody, backsliding years. And now comes Josiah. 

V. 27 seems to be the thematic center of the life of Josiah. 
Humble Before the LORD. 34.1-13
A. Personal Revival and Reformation began early in his life, early on he sought out the Lord v. 1-3a – at 16 years of age. And he publicly acted on that faith and commitment himself at 20 (Military service began at the age 20)! Josiah used his youth to prepare himself for the day when he would be at liberty to operate in his manhood, and it was a God-fearing, God-honoring manhood.
B. As soon as it was legitimately possible, he spread this revival and reformation into his culture by alleviating the confusion of competing voices from his life and society – liquidating all of the shrines, etc. v. 3-7. The social consequences of this would have been similar to what I mentioned when looking at Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31)? But it would have also aided him personally. Think of it: What are some of the hardest obstacles to overcome in seeking God, especially as a young man or woman around 20? It’s the gods that feed the beast of our sensual nature; and many of these alternative spiritual approaches pandered to a young persons sensuality: not just sexual, but also the lust for thrill, excitement, fun and doing something daringly naughty! The Apostle Paul encourages us to follow a similar path as Josiah did: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2.22). As I mentioned a second ago, the impact would not only be personal, but (once again) it worked and rubbed revival and reformation into society!

Humble Before the Word of the LORD. 34.14-28. Josiah was hungry for – not angry with – the Word of God. V. 19 and 27. And notice that this “Book of the Law” Hilkiah found speaks of political, familial, health and wealth warnings and curses!!! But instead of throwing the Scriptures out (or cutting it up and burning it in the fireplace like his son Jehoiakim would do later) Josiah bowed himself before it – in his middle 20s!!!!!! V. 19-21. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2.13).

Humble before the People of the LORD. 34.29-33
A. He does everything in his legitimate power to lead God’s people back toward the full experience and enjoyment of God! V. 31. Even to the point of having them hear God’s Word, and act on it. V. 29-30. He led by example; and he led as King!
B. But it was a hard row to hoe – they were never really with him – v. 33. Also Jeremiah 25.3 – “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened”! Yet, he still led, loved and longed for bone-deep revival and reformation in their homes, their hearts and their hands. In fact, chapter 35 recounts how he lead the way to renewing and restoring the OT Feast of God’s Redemption – but it none of this ever “caught-on”. Chapter 36 records how after Josiah’s death the people of God raced their way into persistent and pugnacious rebellion, and 2 Chronicles pretty well ends in a smoldering heap of charred masonry and timber with the pungent smell of blood and decay. Only in the last two verses of the last chapter of 2 Chronicles do we get a peep into a hopeful future and a reminder that what the reliable God says, the reliable God does.

For those returning from exile in the middle 300 BC timeframe, the message rings out loudly: On the heartening side – Humble yourselves like Josiah – a humility that happily draws near to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that gladly hears the Word of his covenant and embraces it; that seeks God early on. Or in the Apostle Paul’s words, don’t be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12.11-12). And as a loving, compassionate forewarning – don’t be like so many of the sons of David, the sons of Josiah and your forbearers who refused to humble themselves, pray, seek God’s presence and turn from their wicked ways – look what it got them – and look out, that’s what it will get you (again!!!)!

I want you to see in Josiah’s craving for God, his compliant humility toward God, and his complete submission to God’s word, a divinely purposeful projection of the greater than Josiah, the greater Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to our Lord’s own words: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5.19). “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5.30). “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8.28-29). Therefore, listen carefully to his invitation to you: “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11.27-30).

There is a further hopefulness and enticement in this story: The quickness, the willingness, and the firmness of God’s kindness and love - “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7.18-19).  “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” (Isaiah 57:15). 2 Chronicles 7.14.

Young men, young women; teenagers, pre-teens, kids – Josiah is firm proof that God loves having people your age to come to him, seek him, draw near to him – and he will receive you. Like Josiah, seek to the God of your fathers, seek him young, seek him early.

One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening” (A. W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul).


Revive your church, O Lord, beginning with me!

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