The Heart of Revival
2 Chronicles 30:1-27
December 3-4, 2022
There have been great revivals in history, some in our own country in recent history as a matter of fact, and there is actually a movie that's coming out in a couple of months about a very recent revival that happened of course in the '60s. It's called Jesus Revolution. That's the name of the movie. It's going to be in theaters all over this country, and it's about that Jesus movement of the hippie movement of the '60s. In many ways it's a history of Calvary Chapel because Calvary Chapel was intricately part of the move of God in the hippie generation.
That's such an exciting thing that they're going to have a movie all about it. We're going to buy out the entire theater on opening night, and we're all going to go as many as we can fit into that theater and just have a night of celebrating together. It's going to be glorious. Revivals are amazing, and there were revivals in Israel's history and we're going to study one of them now, and it's all about Hezekiah. He was the king in Judah. Now, remember Israel was divided here. The southern kingdom is called Judah, only two tribes, 10 tribes in the north.
Although at this point, the northern kingdom has been destroyed. Their unfaithfulness, their waywardness, they're turning their back on God, they have been destroyed. Assyria has come, defeated them and taken many of them captive, and dispersed them amongst the nations, but this is in the south and Hezekiah is the king. He was 25 years old when he became king. We know something about his father and his mother, which are important part of the story, we'll look at that. It tells us that Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord.
Something happened in his heart that he took hold of the desire to honor God in his life, and it says that he did all that was according to his father, David, had done. Now, that's a great commendation. All of the kings were compared to David, and then it goes on to say that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, like Hezekiah. Oh, that's a great thing. Therefore, he's an important, significant king in the history of Israel. Now, there's also a Hebrew word that I like you to learn because it's a very important part of the story, and it's the word Nehushtan, and you'll see it comes into the story very powerfully.
It's one of those words in Hebrew that you should put a plaque on your wall with that word so that when your family and friends come over and say, "What's that?" Then you can explain all about this revival because this revival points to Yeshua, Jesus as the Messiah in one of the most powerful ways in the Scriptures. That's how important this revival is. All right, let's pick it up. We're in 2 Chronicles 30. We're picking it up now after Hezekiah has made all of these things to bring about transformation in the nation, and now he's ready to celebrate a Passover feast.
Now, Passover, of course, was that reminder that God is the one that brought them out of the oppression and slavery of Egypt and brought them out and give them the promised land, and it's a reminder of course, and it points to Jesus Christ also, but they have not been celebrating it as the Word of God had prescribed at all for years and years, but now Hezekiah has a revival and he's made all of these things and now he's ready to celebrate a great Passover.
I. Revival is Made to be Lived
He sends invitations, and here's where I want us to look at the story. He sends an invitation out to all of the people that remained in the north. These people who had turned away from God, turned their back and been destroyed by the nation of Assyria, he sends an invitation to them. This is fascinating. Notice 30:1, Hezekiah then sent to all Israel in the north and Judah in the south and wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that's in the north, that they should come to the House of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel for the king and princes and all the assembly in Israel had decided to celebrate the Passover in this second month.
Now, normally it would be in the 1st, but there's some flexibility, not normally, but there is now, for a reason. It says, because they could not celebrate it at that time. In other words, at the proper time, first month, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers. They weren't ready for such a large celebration as this, and nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem yet. They established a decree, circulated a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba, way in the south to Dan in the north that they should come and celebrate the Passover of the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem, for they had not celebrated it in great numbers as was prescribed for years.
The couriers went throughout Israel in the north and Judah with these letters from the hand of the king and the princes, even according to the command of the king, and this is what the letter said. Now listen to this. This is a call to revival. Notice what he says. "O sons of Israel. Return. Return to the LORD." Come back, that's what he's saying. "Return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that He may return to you." That's what revival is. Return to the Lord God of Israel that He may return to those of you who have escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
Do not be like your fathers, do not be like your brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of your fathers, so that He made them a horror as you can see, look at the devastation. Now, do not stiffen your neck. That means to be stubborn. Don't be like that. Don't harden your heart. Don't stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield. See. Bow, yield to the Lord and enter His sanctuary. That sanctuary where God's presence is, come, which He has consecrated for himself and serve the Lord your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you.
For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who lend them captive and will return to this land. Do you not know for the Lord your God is gracious? He is compassionate, and He will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him. That's true today. That was the letter. Great call to revival, an invitation. The couriers, they passed from city to city throughout the country of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun all the way in the north, but notice, but they laughed them to scorn and they mocked the couriers.
Nevertheless, I love verse 11. Nevertheless, there were some men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun, there in the north, who did humble themselves. There were some and they came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord. Then it describes how they came and they celebrated for a full week. The feast of unleavened bread and the Passover are all together for a full week of fasting, and then it says, when they finished with that week, they had such a wonderful time, they decided to do it all again.
"Let's do it another week." That's like saying, "Christmas was so wonderful. Let's have another one right now." Or Thanksgiving, a whole week of Thanksgiving dinners. A whole week of Thanksgiving dinners, and what's so amazing, let's do it again. Let's do it another week. It's like they're so excited about what God is doing. They start celebrating, they start rejoicing, and they start singing. There's such a revival going on they say, "Let's do it again." I love that part of the story. All right, this is about revival.
There's a lot to learn about revival starting with this, revival is made to be lived. Revival can be personal. You can have a personal revival. It can be in a family, a community, a church or a community or a nation, but revival is something that happens-- It's more than just in the heart. If it's true revival, it will impact the life. It will impact how you live. Notice Hezekiah, he has revival and desire in his heart, so he starts to make a move, he starts to live it. He cleansed the temple. He restored the priesthood. He kept the commands of the Lord that He gave to Moses.
Now, here's what's amazing. All right. Hezekiah received all this amazing commendation about the amazing king he was. Here's the thing, his father was the worst king in the south so far. Well, how did that happen? You went from the worst, the father was the worst to the son who was the best. How did that happen? It's a very powerful thing, powerful testimony and it's true today, you do not have to be like your father. The sins of the father do not have to be repeated.
Now, some believe that there is such a thing as a generational curse. Maybe you've heard of this. What some believe is that whatever your father was, if he was this despicable figure, whatever, that it therefore, lands on you and that it determines the course of your life. Many you believe this, but I submit that there is something far greater at work than a generational curse, it's called revival. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. Let me just say that if a generational curse determine the course of my life, well, then it failed because according to the statistics and that belief, my father, many of you know my story, my father was an alcoholic, angry, cantankerous, old cast, difficult, raised us in poverty.
According to that belief, I ought to have been ruined by it, but God can do a new work from one generation to another. The sins of the father do not have to be repeated. Now, if you had a wonderful father, praise God for that. That's a wonderful blessing in your life, believe me, that's a wonderful blessing, if you had a great father but if you didn't and many carry that father wound, many relate to my story. Let me just tell you, the sins of the father can end and they can end right here and right now, because the power of the Holy Spirit is in this place to move in power in your life.
That was his father, what's interesting is about his mother. Now, his mother was a good influence, and I would say the same. My father, I described him, my mother, she was like a hero in my eyes, all the suffering. Can you imagine being in that environment, but she was so faithful. She was so faithful to make sure that we had an opportunity to go to church and to have something good inputted it into our lives. She held this to the write things. The influence of a mother.
See, his mother, his name or her name rather was Avia, that's the name of his mother. Now, by the way, I love the name Avia because that's the name of my granddaughter and my daughter gave her that name right out of the Bible, by the way, when we took her to Israel with us one time and we were going through customs passport control and the Jewish person looked at her passport and said, "Avia, that's a Hebrew name" and she lit up. "Yes, I know", she was so excited about that. They recognized that and it's a great name, Avia has a great meaning, but it shows you the influence of a mother.
You compare Avia to Jezebel and there's no comparison at all. The name means God is my Father, my Father is God. Now, there's a great depth of meaning to that because I'll tell you something, it's personal to me that understanding, God is my Father, is about broke, the so-called generational curse, you might say, in my life because what happened was this, my 21st birthday, I was having in crisis moment it's my 21st birthday. I am crying out to God, I'm angry. Seemed like everybody else had every advantage because everybody else in the world had a good father and I looked around and I thought everything's against me because of what I had as a father.
Every disadvantage in life, alcoholic, angry, poverty, the abuse and I looked around and I had, everything's against me. That's the way I've looked at it, and I'm crying out to God, I'm angry. I didn't do this. If you ever had that Holy Spirit speak to your heart moment. That's what happened, I'm crying out to God and I heard that Holy Spirit speak to my heart moment where God broke through all of the anger and said into my heart, "I will be your father now. I understand what you've had for a father. I will be your father now."
Well, it broke through, It broke through. I took hold of it. It was the truth, and it changed everything because listen, if God is your Father, you have every advantage in life. I thought I had everything against me. If God is my Father, then who can be against me? Let me give you that verse that's out of Roman. Chapter 8:31-37 we love Romans 8, but listen to the verses, "What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, then who can be against us?" If God is your Father, then God is surely for you. Would you agree with that?
If God is for you, then who can be against you? Then he adds, "And in all of these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. He always leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus." Amen. Let's give the Lord praises, it's such a great understanding. Amen. The name of Avia was given to his mother as the recognition that God was your Father. It's quite rare, what a great understanding in those days.
A. Do what’s right in the sight of the Lord
Then we see this, Hezekiah did what's right in the sight of the Lord. Now this is a great part of the revival, in contrast to what? In contrast to doing what's right in his own eyes. In other words, if there was a conflict between the way God saw it and the what he saw, he would go with God's ways. Now, this is an important understanding because many people, they are the one who decides what's right in their life. I will do what I think is right, many people aren't like this, and they are the judge, they are the arbiter, they are the king of the thing. I will do what I believe is right, but not Hezekiah, and this is part of revival.
No, he did what's right in the sight of the Lord, in God's eyes because God's way is greater, is better. You go with God's way and you're going to be blessed. That's his point, in fact, let me give you some verses. Proverbs 12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes." Isn't that a great word? Makes you going to think, I need to listen to what God has to say. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is the one who listens to counsel." Proverbs 16:2, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motive." Why is it you want this thing? God has something better for you than that.
See, you look at what happened in the north, I talked about their downfall, their destruction. What caused that? Why did they fall? Because they would not listen to the voice, the wisdom. God would send his prophets. God sent the greatest, most powerful prophets in the Old Testament to the people in the north. Yet they would not listen. Why? Why didn't they listen? Because they desired rather than have Jehovah as their Lord over them, they went and followed the gods of the nations around them. Moloch, Baal, Ashteroth. Why? Because these gods and the nations around them were gods of the flesh. See, they were gods of sexuality, gods of fertility.
You get the idea. They were very graphic and they appealed to the flesh, nature of man. One of the great lessons out of the story, one of the great lessons of revival is that, that which the flesh desires is poison to the soul. You cannot have revival while your soul is being poisoned, it does not work. God wanted them to see that if you allow the flesh to have its way, the price will be high. You might say the enemy has a buy now pay later program. That's what sin is, it's a buy now pay later program. I can buy this now, I can have this pleasure now, I can have this sin thing now, and I don't have to pay for it until later?
Well, that sounds like a great deal, people think, until the later comes. Then the price they come to see is far higher than they ever imagined. God is trying to spare people suffering, hardship, misery, emptiness of life, emptiness of soul. God wants to spare you from that, God would say, listen, if you would abide in revival, if you would allow my Spirit to move upon your soul, I'll bring such life to your soul that it will bring forth, it will bear fruit in your life. Oh, that which God does is beautiful in the soul. Oh, I want to bless you. If you would just sow the seeds of God in your life, it will bring forth the fruit that's wonderful.
It's Jeremiah 29:11 all over again, "I know the plans--" See, plans are for the future. "I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "they're plans for welfare," means good, not for calamity. "My plans are to give you a future and a hope." It's all about the blessing of God. If you would just trust Him, He'll bear forth great blessings in your life. That's what revival will bring about.
I was thinking of an analogy. It's like what we want for our kids. We want our kids to be blessed. What parent would not want that? We want them to have a good life. Isn't that true? We want our kids to have a good life, and so we speak things into them and we bear forth into them so that they'll bring forth and bear forth a good life. I remember at one time we had five teenagers in our house at one time. Five teenagers in our house at one time. I've been in counseling ever since.
No, no, actually, listen, I loved it. I absolutely loved having-- We had three natural girls, we adopted two boys, and of course they were all compacted together. Oh, the activity, the buzz, the fun, it was really-- I actually loved it. In their teens, they would sometimes resist the rules.
Sometimes you push back against the rules. I remember one conversation with one of my kids who shall remain nameless, but one day we're having this conversation and he's resisting. I'm trying to help him to see, "No, it's to your good. That's why I say no to these things because I'm trying to bless your life, man." He's pushing back, and finally he says, "When I become a parent," oh, here we go, "When I become a parent, I'm going to let my kids do whatever they want." I go, "Really? That's why you need a parent right now."
I said, "Listen, if you do that, if you give your kids everything they want, you are going to have heartache for the rest of your life." Any parents understand what I'm saying? "It will bring heartache to the rest of your life because you will have ruined their lives." This is about revival. The soul. When the soul is made alive, it brings forth that which is glorious and beautiful. It bears fruit that's good.
B. Look unto Jesus, the true serpent of our sin
I mentioned that this revival is all about Jesus, and it's true. Let me bring that into the story in a way that perhaps might sound provocative at first, but let me explain it. It's this, "Look unto Jesus, the true serpent of our sin." There's a powerful and spiritual point behind such a provocative statement. We read in the Book of Kings that as part of Hezekiah's revival, he also broke the serpent of bronze which Moses had made in the desert.
They had still this serpent of bronze all these years later, and he broke it because they were burning incense to it. They were praying to it, and honoring it, worshiping it, in other words. He says, "Smash that thing to pieces," and he called it Nehushtan. That's that Hebrew word I was telling you about. He called it, "That's Nehushtan," which means, "It's just bronze, people. It's just bronze. What are you doing burning incense and worshiping the thing? Break it."
This is essentially an important part of the story because it points directly to Jesus. It's very interesting part of the story. In Numbers 21, when we were studying back then, we read this story, it took place when Israel was in the desert. Moses was leading them. They were grumbling. They were complaining. They loathed that miserable food, that manana. Manna was a miracle.
Every morning, they had manna to eat, and it was sweet. It tasted like coriander seed. It actually tasted good, but now they're tired of it, and they're loathing it, and they're complaining, and there's not enough water and they have an attitude, and finally, serpents came among them biting and latching onto them. They cried out to Moses and came and confessed that they had sinned, and God told Moses to form and fashion this serpent of bronze.
The serpents were biting them. "Fashion a serpent out of bronze, set it on wood" standard, a pole, "lift it up that all the people who would look upon this serpent would be healed." This is directly connected to Jesus. That's part of this revival. I'd like you to open your Bibles, please, and turn to John 3. You might know that John 3 contains the most famous Bible verse that I think is in the Bible. Most people know John 3:16. Almost everybody has memorized John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." The context of that is this serpent. It's fascinating.
Let's read it, read John 3:1. "Now there is a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "'Rabbi, teacher, "we know that you have come from God as the teacher." We know this. "For no one can do these signs, these miracles that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, that unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."" Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
"Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he's old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water," of your mother, "and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I say to you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Nicodemus answered and said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you a teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things?"" Then move down, for time, move down to verse 14, he explains. Listen. "As Moses," here he goes, here's the connection, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up."" In the same way that Moses lifted up that bronze serpent, the Son of Man must be lifted up even so.
That whoever believes, see, all they had to do when they lifted up that bronze serpent in the desert was to look upon him and in faith be healed. He says, "The same way the Son of Man would be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life." Then He explains John 3:16. That's the context to the greatest verse in the Bible. Many people do not recognize that John 3:16 is directly connected to Jesus being the serpent of our sin.
What a deep understanding is that that he says, "For God so loved the world," God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would look upon Him, whoever believes in Him would not perish-- He doesn't want you to die, He doesn't want you to perish-- but have everlasting life. That's a powerful understanding. This has everything to do with whether a person will have eternal and everlasting life.
The eternal nature of your soul has everything to do with this story. You might say, "How can Jesus be that serpent of sin?" Well, great question. Paul answers it in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him, Jesus, who knew no sin perfect in every way to be sin on our behalf", to be the serpent of our sin in our behalf "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." That's glorious. The sin of all of us were placed upon Him on the cross so that all who look to Him will be saved. Our sins are transferred to Him on the cross and He gave to you the very righteousness of God as a gift.
When you stand before God in heaven, if you've received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you will not be standing there before the throne of God in your sins, you will be standing there in the righteousness of God that is found in Christ Jesus, our Lord. That's where you're going to be standing. Let's give the Lord praise. Amen. He says this, Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death." The wages of sin is death but the free gift, say, the wages, that's the pay later part, death. "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is life, eternal life in Christ Jesus." It's such a deep understanding.
II. God Wants Revival in the Heart
Back to 2 Chronicles 30. God wants revival. This is about revival. God wants revival in the heart. He called this serpent Nehushtan. It's just bonze, people, and broke it up because they were offering incense and prayers to it. It wasn't the serpent, the bronze thing that brought life, it was God that brought life. That's what He's speaking to. That's authentic genuine life. See, holding onto or worshiping a religious relic is religion. There's no present reality in the heart of the worshiper.
By the way, side note, if you go to St. Ambrose Cathedral in Milan, Italy, today, you will see a bronze or brass serpent on this but it is said that in 941 AD an envoy from Constantinople brought the pieces of the bras serpent as a gift to the emperor. They reassembled it and set it up on a nave so that people can come and give it honor and pray to it. Oh, can you just hear Hezekiah? "It's just bronze, people." It's just a thing. It's just a thing. There's no life in the thing. Life is found in a sincere genuine relationship with the living God. That's what revival is.
Reminds me. In fact, part of the Chuck Smith's story, I'm mentioning in the movie, is the scene where Pastor Chuck arrives to church one Sunday morning, gets there early and someone had put up a sign, "No shoes, no service." Of course, it's about those hippies. He took the sign down, brought it into his office, called a meeting that week from his elders, and said, "Who did this?" One of the elders said, "I did." "Why would you do this?" He said, "Because those hippies, they come in here with their bare feet, dirty, and they sit on the carpet, they sit on the floor with that dirty feet of theirs and they're just leaving dirt marks and they're ruining the carpet."
I love Pastor Chuck's response. He said, "Well, I'll remove the carpet before I remove these hippies because I'm not here to honor carpet, I'm here to transform lives." It's not about the thing, it's about the life of God. Some people say, "I'm going to go to church to meet God." This church, this is just a building, just concrete and steel and carpet and chairs. God is in this place because you're in this place. The Holy Spirit takes up resident when you ask Jesus Christ into your heart, God is with you wherever you go. God is with you when you're driving in the car with that attitude. God is with you when you're in your family speaking to them with that attitude. God is with you.
A. God is inviting you to revival
Yes, God is in this place because you're in this place. We honor that which God is doing. God is moving in power to bring a sincere, genuine revival even today. Amen. I love this part where it shows us that God is doing the inviting. God is inviting you to revival. I love this letter that Hezekiah sends out. He's going to celebrate the Passover and he wants everyone to come, so he invites all of Judah, yes, of course, but all Israel in the north. Come to the house of the Lord. What does He say in the letter? "O, sons of Israel, return, come back. How long you wondered? Come back. Come back. Come back that He may return to you those who are left from the destruction and the devastation."
The Lord God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn His face away from you. The couriers passed from city to city, bringing the letter. It says that they laughed at them. They laughed them to scorn and they mocked. It's true even today. Oh, so many people today reject God, laugh, scorn, even when they're going through the greatest of troubles. Israel there in the north had already been defeated, already been destroyed, already come to nothing, taken captive and dispersed amongst the nations, and yet they mock. What you have to mock about? What you have to laugh about? Have you not already been destroyed? Have you not already ruined your life?
In fact, Jesus spoke to this in Matthew 7:13-14. Very interesting and deep word. Jesus said this. "Enter through the narrow gate." "Enter through the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and there are many who enter through it, but the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it."
I love verse 11 where it says, "Nevertheless, they bought the letter, the couriers came from city to city, proclaiming the invitation to come." Return. Most of them laughed, mocked, and scorned, but it says, "Nevertheless, some of them, some men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun in the north humbled themselves." Some did. Some humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
The hand of God was on Judah to give them one heart to do what God had said. Some of them came. They were there the whole week celebrating, finding revival, coming back to the Lord. In fact, at the end of that week, they were rejoicing so much. They agree, "Yes, let's do it again. Let's do it another week." There's always a few. Today, there are so many who mock and scorn. You don't have to look very far to see it, but God always has a few. God always has a remnant of those that are genuine and sincere that something authentic is moving in their lives. God always has a few. I'll tell you what, I want to be in that number right there. Amen. Anybody agree with me? Let's give the Lord praise. Absolutely. Amen.
B. Revival is clinging to the Lord
Then lastly, I'm going to close with this, revival is clinging to the Lord. It says of Hezekiah that he clang to the Lord and did not depart from following Him. There's a great word. To clinging to the Lord. You come back to the Lord. You be careful never to leave that place of a newness of life. Do not leave your first love. Keep that relationship to the Lord fresh and new. See, is your relationship to the Lord based on the good old days, something that God did in the past? God wants to do something that is new every morning. God wants to walk with you on the journey of this life and bring newness of life every day. Fresh and new every day. That's what God is doing.
That's authentic genuine revival. Never let anything come between you and the Lord ever again because you've already seen that when you walk in the things of the world and you walk in the ways of the flesh, it brings destruction to life, I want that which God has for me that which God has for me is beautiful on the soul. I want revival, I want authentic genuine revival because it's new every morning. Amen.
Father, thank you so much. Oh, how we love you for showing us, Lord, what revival is, genuine, authentic, genuine, coming to the Lord with a desire for newness of life, fresh and new. Church, how many would say to the Lord today, I want revival, new and fresh. I want my relationship to you Lord, to be based on more than just the good old days. I want that which is alive today, new and fresh every morning. That's what I want. Genuine, authentic, new every morning revival.