Revival and Reformation Pt 20: 2 Chronicles 31
Lord God, merciful and gracious, who in Christ sought us when we were not seeking you; but sought us so that we would seek you: by the actions of your Holy Spirit, take our stiff and often unyielding hearts, and kneed the message of this passage into them, that we may rise and become those who earnestly seek you and deeply know you. For Christ’s sake, amen.
What happens when real revival and genuine reformation erupt? Sometimes there are far reaching consequences! As an example, when John Wesley and his fellows began preaching the Gospel to coal miners, the highbrow and low, the down and outers and the well-to-doers, the low class and others on the margins of society, then the revolutionary and societal chaos that was percolating under the surface of the social systems of his day, and about to explode onto England, were diffused, and for a season England had something of a moral and communal transformation. “What did Wesley preach? Thrift, cleanliness, honesty, salvation, good family relations, dozens of other themes, but above all, faith in Christ ( . . . ) Swearing stopped in factories, men and women began to concern themselves with neat and plain dress, extravagances like expensive tea and vices like gin were dropped by his followers, neighbors gave one another mutual help through the societies” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/1983/issue2/207.html). When real revival and genuine reformation erupt, sometimes there are far reaching consequences.
Rubbed into the Culture/Society:
31.1 – this would have brought the cessation of some Religious Human Trafficking, curbing “unwanted” pregnancies, thus reducing abortions and infanticide; curtailing sexual immorality, slowed down the spreading of STDs, as well as other related illnesses.
30.11-12, 18, 31.1, 5-6 – fastened together much that had once been unfastened and feuding! With the core group having a God-crafted, God-fashioned unity of purpose and ambition – it became a magnetic glue that fussed together the frayed ends of society!
“Increasingly the ordered fellowship of the church becomes the sign of grace for the warring factions of a disordered world. Only as the church binds together those whom selfishness and hate have cut apart will its message be heard and its ministry of hope to the friendless be received” (Edmund P. Clowney, “The Church,” 16).Raised up a re-fired, awakened generation of ministers; 2, 11-19 [2c; 16b; and “faithful” 3xs]: And remember the importance of this is laid out by Paul, “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" ( . . . ) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10.13-17).
Renewed generosity in supporting the ministry of the Word and Worship of God (31.4, 5, 10).
“The practical question, which has been asked before in Chronicles, is how one may know that a real spiritual work is going on in the hearts of God’s people; and as before, the practical answer is the thoroughly earthy one of the pocket, the purse, and the cheque-book. The need of the moment is the ongoing support of the ministry, the providing of a livelihood for those whose calling is to ‘give themselves to the law of the LORD’ (31:4)” (Michael Wilcox, “The Messages of Chronicles,” 250).Restored kingdom prosperity: 31.20-21 (20.20c!).
The “Take Home”:
1. As this was originally written for God’s disenfranchised, defunct, despoiled, dejected, demoralized people coming out of exile in the middle of the 300s B.C., it is obvious that the Spirit-guided editors are pressing home on the hearts of the people: “This can be again! Therefore, like Hezekiah and the people, seek the Lord (30.6), break out of the past (30.7), throw off stiff-neck-itus (30.8a), yield yourselves to the LORD, come into his sanctuary and serve him with single-minded, exuberant, joy-filled worship (30.8b), draw near to the one who is merciful and gracious (30.9); and allow God’s reviving, reforming work to break into your society, bringing together diverse family groups, inspiring a new generation of God’s ministers, sprouting up a new generosity – and watch the kingdom prosper!
2. The same is for God’s church no matter the time, or place, or space we fill. This can be again!
3. But because we humans are more prone to plunge into processes – we are more likely to search out the techniques and technicalities, the methods and maneuvers (just take a trip to our Christian bookstores and notice how many of our books are absorbed with “How To” on just about every subject) – the recording of this episode has far more to say about the person whom Hezekiah sought, than the practices he followed!
“In the biblical view of things, a deeper knowledge of God brings with it massive improvement in the ( . . . ): purity, integrity, evangelistic effectiveness, better study of Scripture, improved private and corporate worship, and much more. But if we seek these things without passionately desiring a deeper knowledge of God, we are selfishly running after God’s blessings without running after him” (D.A. Carson, “A Call to Spiritual Reformation,” 16).So instead of running to the “stuff” and trying to turn them into some mechanical massaging for the purpose of manipulating the mercies of our Maker; see clearly that the goal of the whole thing is to seek this God – personally, pointedly, and passionately.