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Revival. When is the last time you prayed for it? When is the last time you heard a message preached on revival? The answers to these two questions reveal our attitude about revival in the church today. Sadly, there seems to be a growing contingency of people in our churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries that scoff at the idea of revival.
I will never forget attending a preacher’s meeting in Ohio years ago as an impressionable graduate student and hearing a seminary president preach a message that downplayed the idea of revival. I was shocked, to say the least. Hearing that message caused me to think that maybe the statement “Seminary is cemetery” was right after all. While I am not against higher education in the Christian realm, I am against an intellectual approach to the power and might of God. Every Christian college and seminary should promote the cause of revival, not hinder it.
A few months ago, I was preaching on the subject of revival, and I was met by an older gentleman at the end of the service. This man shared with me his pessimistic view of revival. He believed that God could not send a revival in our day. He said that we are “too far gone.” I will be the first one to admit that America has gone a long way in the wrong way, but Biblical examples of revival give me hope.
One such example in the Old Testament is Josiah, the boy king. His story is told in 2 Kings chapters 22 and 23. Imagine walking into the throne room of the king of Judah and finding an eight-year-old boy sitting on the throne, entertaining himself with some childish game or trick. This young boy grew into a mighty king and was used by God to bring a revival to a nation. We need young servants of the Lord with hearts like Josiah.
In 2 Kings 22:2, we see Josiah’s unswerving commitment to the Lord. He did what was right in God’s sight and was not distracted to the right or left in his pursuit of God. The word commitment is a foreign word in our churches and culture today. Commitment in the church is lacking because commitment to the Lord is at a low ebb. Some Christians today are more concerned about living right in the sight of man rather than the sight of God. Others have been turned to the left or right by pride or doctrinal error. Commitment to God is a precursor for revival.
Josiah also had an unquestioning respect for the Word of God and a response to it. In 2 Kings 22:8, Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law and it was brought to the king to be read. After hearing the law read, Josiah rent his clothes because the law revealed the wicked state of the people. I am afraid that we have raised a generation which has a familiarity with the Bible but little appreciation for it. As a result, there is no response to it. Josiah was so moved by the book of the law that he tore his clothes. When is the last time that you visibly responded to the Word of God? Perhaps it was a tear in your eye, a smile on your face, or a bent knee at an altar. If we are going to see revival in our day, we must regain a deep respect for the Bible and be willing to respond to it.
The last thing we see about Josiah and the revival in his day was an uncompromising purging of sin. He burned the vessels and images of Baal and broke down the high places of false worship in 2 Kings 23. Idolatry is alive and well in the church today. While Christians today are not worshiping gods of stone or gold, some are bowing to the gods of entertainment and pleasure. Many gather around the television on weeknights to see who will be the next American Idol. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3) or “I will not give my glory unto another” (Isa. 48:11)? What idol are you refusing to surrender? If we are going to see revival in our day, we must be willing to deal with the sin in our lives.
Revival is not a hoax. It is the hope of our churches and our nations. We need Josiahs who will be committed to the Lord, sensitive to His Word, and willing to deal with personal sins and strongholds. May the subject of revival be on our hearts more this year than ever before.