- Sermon Notes
The Transforming Power of Revival
2 Kings 22 -23
April 23-24, 2022
In the southern kingdom of Israel, in Judah, three kings stood out from the rest. They were kings who brought revival. There was David, Hezekiah, and Josiah. All the kings were compared to David because he had a heart after God.
David certainly had his failures, they are infamous. But one thing must surely be said of David, he never turned his heart away from God. There was nothing in the gods of the world that interested David. Jehovah was enough, He was more than enough.
Then there was Hezekiah. He was the greatest of the kings after David. Hezekiah’s revival transformed the nation. What’s interesting is that Hezekiah’s father was the worst of the kings in the south. Hezekiah saw enough of his father’s evil that he wanted no part of it. And as the king of Israel, he had the authority to do something about it. It speaks to the significance of leadership and responsibility to influence others toward that which is good and godly.
Finally, there was Josiah. All his life he was faithful, he never turned to the left or to the right all the days of his life. It’s interesting that his grandfather, Manasseh, was just as evil as Hezekiah’s father. It’s true that Manasseh, at the end of his life, repented of his evil and turned back to God. That’s a testimony unto itself. It’s never too late to change, God will always take you back. These are great spiritual lessons.
Then came Josiah. His revival transformed the nation. And with that our lesson here begins. Authentic revival has the power to transform a person, a city, and a nation.
The lesson from Josiah’s life and faith has everything to do with his heart. Transformation flows out of and is the result of true revival. There are life lessons in the story.
I. Each One Must Decide for Himself
- One of the first things to see in Josiah is that although he had an evil father, he did not follow in his father’s footsteps.
- We do not have to walk in the sins of our fathers either. Each one of us has a choice and we can choose to be different. We can choose to walk as a man or woman after God.
Illus – It’s true that you inherit a disposition. My father was an alcoholic, and many children of alcoholics grow up to be alcoholics themselves. As a young man in college, I came to understand that alcohol and me do not mix. Back in those days I couldn’t do things in moderation. I didn’t know what sipping on a drink meant and I quickly learned it wasn’t for me.
Illus – Over many years of ministry I’ve talked to many people who are convinced that they cannot change, that their disposition is wired into their DNA. “This is just who I am, all right?” they say. That’s true of hyenas and crocodiles, but it’s not true of you. God has the power to transform.
- When Josiah was 26 years of age, he had been raising funds to repair the damage in the house of the Lord. In other words, the temple had fallen into disrepair, and it was on his heart to repair the damage, to restore it to glory.
- That’s a great picture right there. If you have received Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Part of the work of revival is repairing the damage done to your life by the old way in which you used to live.
- In the process of repairing the temple, the high priest found a book of the law of God in the house of the Lord. He gave it to the scribe who in turn brought it to King Josiah and read it while the king listened intently.
- And here we gain a great insight into the heart of King Josiah, because when he heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes and began to weep. His heart was broken because of what he heard.
A. Revival begins with a tender heart
- When Josiah heard the words of the law, he knew that the nation had fallen far away from God and that God’s wrath would burn against that nation.
- “Now I understand why our nation has gone through such travail and tragedy, our fathers turned their back on God and followed after the gods of the world.”
- He knew that their only hope was to turn their nation around and come back under the hand of the Lord.
- The life lesson and spiritual application, however, is seen in how God responded to Josiah’s heart.
- Verse 19 – “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what was spoken against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your close and wept before Me, I have truly heard you,’ declares the Lord.”
- Notice what God said, “I have truly heard you.” The word “truly” is there to emphasize the depth of how much God heard Josiah’s heart.
Psalm 51:17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
- What you are seeing in Josiah is revival, and it begins in the heart. If we seek revival, then we must understand what it is.
- Revival is when a person or a people turn to God sincerely, genuinely, authentically, from the heart. And this was most certainly true of Josiah.
- Notice in verse 23:1-3, Josiah made a covenant before the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul.
- Does the heart matter? To God, it matters above all things…
2 Kings 23:25, And before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might…
Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”
B. A heart that’s tender desires reform
- Revival happens when there is an authentic and sincere desire for the fullness of God in your life.
- Reform then, is when a person’s life is formed or shaped by the Word of God.
- When a person’s heart finds revival and there is an authentic love for God in the heart, then that person wants to change the way they live. Revival brings reform.
Illus –God wants revival in the heart first and then comes the life that is formed because of it. In other words, it happens from the “inside… out.”
Illus – The Jesus Movement of the sixties was based on that truth as well. The hippies lived and acted in such a way that sent a message of rebellion to the world. But Chuck Smith and others sought to change their hearts first, knowing that the outside would follow. How? by the Word of God.
Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 10:17, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- After Josiah’s heart was broken, he then called the people into a covenant with the Lord; and then he pursued reform. He wanted to change the way the nation was living.
- The degree of Josiah’s reforms has become famous throughout history. But the degree of his reforms is also a reflection of just how far the nation had fallen. He took the nation from its greatest depths to its greatest heights.
Reforms of Josiah –
- Verse 4; He brought out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for the host of heaven.
- Verse 5; He did away with the idolatrous priests who burned incense in the high places and to Baal, as well as to the sun, moon, and stars.
- Verse 7; He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes — which were in the house of the Lord!!
- Verse 8; He brought all the priests from the cities of Judah and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense from the north to the south.
- Verse 10; He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, so that no man might make his son or daughter pass through the fire for Molech.
- Verse 15; There was a golden calf at Bethel which Jeroboam had set up so that people would not go to Jerusalem to worship God. This also was destroyed by Josiah, but first, he burned the bones of those in the graves before that altar.
- The beginning of revival is a tender heart toward God. Josiah tore his clothes and wept because it mattered to him.
Illus – I remember when I was beginning to teach the bible and I gave the worst sermon in the history of the world. At least that’s what I thought at the time…
- There are two parts to revival. The beginning of revival is a tender heart toward God, but the second part of revival is removing those things that stand in the way of the fullness of God in your life. There is no revival without it.
- It’s like saying to God, “You’re right God, these things are poison to my soul. These things stand in the way of the fullness of God in my life. I see it now. You’re right God. I don’t want these things in my life because they stand in the way of revival, of the fullness of God in my life.”
- As an interesting note of prophecy, several hundred years before this time, Josiah was mentioned by name as the great reformer who would destroy that very altar at Bethel.
1 Kings 13:2, “O altar, O altar, thus says the Lord, behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; on you he shall burn the bones of the high priests who burn incense on you.”
Illus – If you go to Israel today, you can go to the far north and see the place where Jeroboam set up a golden calf. But the one in Bethel you cannot see, because Josiah destroyed it. It was part of his great revival.
II. Beware the Outward Form of Religion
- Josiah was a man of authentic revival. He truly honored God with his heart and with his soul and with his mind.
- And because of that, he wanted to bring great reform to the nation of Israel. In other words, revival brought reform.
- But there is a danger in having the appearance of reformation, of having the form and look of godliness without the heart.
- Reform without revival can even be dangerous because a person, having only the form of religion, may therefore believe that he is good with God, when in fact, God may not be pleased at all.
A. Beware of reform without revival
- It’s important to say again that reform is good, especially when we understand that reform may in fact lead to revival.
Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Illus – It’s good for families to create a set of rules for how their home will function. If those rules are based on godly principles, then the form or shape of the family is godly.
- But if a child kicks against those guidelines, then there is reform without revival.
Illus – We’ve all heard of the child who did something naughty and was told to sit in the corner, to which he responded, “I may be sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.”
Having only the form of godliness can be dangerous when a person believes they are approved by God because of their outward adherence to godly rules. (legalism)
Isaiah 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor me with their lip service, but they removed their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…”
The Pharisees were masters of having the outward appearance of religion without a tender heart toward God, and Jesus’ confrontation with them is a life lesson for us today.
Matthew 23:24-26, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. You are blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside may become clean also.”
B. God writes His Word on your heart
- Let me ask a question. Did you know that there is a law that requires parents to nurture and care for their children? Do you who are parents nurture and care for them because it’s the law or because you love them with a tender heart?
- The same is true with those who have a sincere and genuine desire for God in their lives.
Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
- God loved Josiah’s heart. “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord, because you tore your clothes and wept before Me, truly I have heard you,” declares the Lord.
- How many would say, “I want to live like that.”
1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord and walked [a]entirely in the way of his father David, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.
3 Now in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying, 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, and have him [b]count all the money brought into the house of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 And have them hand it over to the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and have them give it to the workmen who are in the house of the Lord to repair the [c]damage to the house: 6 to the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and for buying timber and cut stone to repair the house. 7 However, no accounting shall be made with them for the money handed over to them, because they deal honestly.”
8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have handed it over to the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” 10 Moreover, Shaphan the scribe informed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, [d]Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for the wrath of the Lord that burns against us is great, because our fathers did not listen to the words of this book, to act in accordance with everything that is written regarding us.”
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of [e]Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (and she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her. 15 Then she said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 16 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Behold, I am going to bring disaster on this place and on its inhabitants, all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. 17 Since they have abandoned Me and have burned incense to other gods so that they may provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.’” 18 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord, this is what you shall say to him: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘Regarding the words which you have heard, 19 since your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become an object of horror and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I have indeed heard you,’ declares the Lord.” 20 Therefore, behold, I am going to gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not look at all the devastation that I am going to bring on this place.’” So they brought back word to the king.
1 Then the king sent messengers, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up to the house of the Lord and every man of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, the prophets, and all the people, from the small to the great; and he read in their [f]presence all the words of the Book of the Covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. 3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments, His provisions, and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people [g]entered into the covenant.
4 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the [h]doorkeepers to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the utensils that had been made for Baal, for [i]Asherah, and for all the heavenly [j]lights; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 Then he did away with the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the surrounding area of Jerusalem, as well as those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the remaining heavenly [k]lights. 6 He also brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the [l]common people. 7 And he tore down the cubicles of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving [m]hangings for the Asherah. 8 Then he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he tore down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the city gate. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. 10 He also defiled [n]Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, so that no one would make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech. 11 And he did away with the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the official, which was at the [o]covered courtyard; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The king also tore down the altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courtyards of the house of the Lord; and he [p]smashed them there and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. 13 And the king defiled the high places that were opposite Jerusalem, which were on the right of the mount of destruction which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon. 14 He also smashed to pieces the memorial stones and cut down the [q]Asherim, and filled their places with human bones.
15 Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who misled Israel into sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he tore down. Then he burned the high place, ground the remains to dust, and burned the Asherah. 16 Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent men and took the bones from the graves, and burned them on the altar and defiled it in accordance with the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, the one who proclaimed these things. 17 Then he said, “What is this gravestone there that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.” 18 And he said, “Leave him alone; no one is to disturb his bones.” So they left his bones undisturbed with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. 19 Then Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had constructed, [r]provoking the Lord to anger; and he did to them [s]just as he had done in Bethel. 20 And he slaughtered all the priests of the high places who were there on the altars, and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem.
21 Then the king commanded all the people, saying, “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Truly such a Passover had not been celebrated since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums, the spiritists, the [t]household idols, the idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he might [u]fulfill the words of the Law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and all his might, in conformity to all the Law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.
26 Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. 27 And the Lord said, “I will also remove Judah from My sight, just as I have removed Israel. And I will reject this city which I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the [v]temple of which I said, ‘My name shall be there!’”
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 29 In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria at the river Euphrates. And King Josiah went to meet him, and when Pharaoh Neco saw him he killed him at Megiddo. 30 His servants carried [w]his body in a chariot from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned for three months in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 32 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with all that his forefathers had done. 33 And Pharaoh Neco imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of Hamath, so that he would not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a fine of [x]a hundred talents of silver and [y]a talent of gold.
34 Then Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of his father Josiah, and he changed his name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and [z]brought him to Egypt, and he died there. 35 So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but he assessed the land in order to give the money at the [aa]command of Pharaoh. He collected the silver and gold from the people of the land, each according to his assessment, to give to Pharaoh Neco.
36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah. 37 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with all that his forefathers had done.