- Sermon Notes
2 Chronicles 34:14-33
January 14-15, 2023
God loves revival because God loves you. It grieves the heart of God to see the brokenness and despair that comes from following the flesh, from living a worldly life. But when that person turns their life around, God rejoices! Jesus said that the angels of heaven rejoice when even one sinner repents.
God doesn’t stand by idly when a person is making terrible decisions and destroying their life. God is on the move. He continues to reach out to them to draw them back to Himself. Jesus gave parable after parable in describing the heart of God in pursuit of sinners.
He pursues them because he loves them. That’s why God loves revival!
That brings us to 2 Chronicles 34. In the southern kingdom of Israel, in Judah, three kings stood out from the rest. These were the kings who brought revival. First, there was David. All the kings of Judah were compared to David because of David’s faith and his 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. Manasseh, however, 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 lessons from Josiah’s life and faith have everything to do with his heart. Transformation flows out of revival. There are life lessons in the story.
I. Each One Must Decide for Himself
- Josiah had an evil father. But he did not follow in his father’s footsteps. He chose his own course.
- Each one must choose the path he will walk. Each one must decide the course. God is offering you life, but each one must choose life for himself.
Deuteronomy 30:19, “I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, so choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
Joshua 24:15, “Choose for yourself today whom you will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
- Each one 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 we might inherit our father’s disposition. My father was an alcoholic, and many children of alcoholics grow up to be alcoholics themselves.
Illus – Many 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. They are quite wrong. God has the power to transform.
Everyone was born in the nature of the flesh, everyone inherited enough tendencies toward the world to mess up your life, but never discount the power of God to transform.
- Josiah was 26 years of age. He raised funds to repair the damage to 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. 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 realized 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.”
- Faith arises when you connect real world consequences to the condition of the soul.
- 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 is seen in God’s response to Josiah’s heart.
- Verse 27 – “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, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes, and wept before Me, truly have I 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.
- Step back and see it from this perspective… Josiah heard the words of God’s heart. He truly heard them. He took them into his heart. So much so that he wept and tore his clothes.
- Josiah truly heard; God’s word mattered to him. He heard God’s heart…. therefore, God responds, “Truly have I heard you, Josiah.”
- Josiah heard God’s heart, truly…so God heard Josiah heart!
- Josiah heard God, so God heard Josiah!
- Prayer is not a formulation of words, it’s a condition of the heart! This is when the light goes on… this is a key to prayer.
James 5:16, The fervent, sincere prayer of a righteous man is very effective.
Jeremiah 29:12, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
- Revival is when a person or a people turn to God sincerely, genuinely, authentically, from the heart.
- Josiah tore his clothes and wept because it mattered to him.
Illus – I remember when I was just 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… it mattered to me.
- Verse 31, Josiah made a covenant before the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul.
- Does the heart matter? It matters 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.
Ephesians 3:19, My prayer is that you would know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you would be filled up to the fullness of God. Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think, according to the power that works within us.
- Reform happens 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 that revival. 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 – the word of God is the heart 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.
- Josiah’s reforms have 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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes — which were in the house of the Lord!!
- 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.
- 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.
C. There are two parts to revival
- The beginning of revival is a heart toward God, in hearing God’s heart.
- 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 you’re saying to God, “You’re right God, I see it now. 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 real danger in having only the appearance of reformation, of having the form and look of the thing without the heart.
Illus – Back when I had time for counseling, I met with a man who said he wanted to work on his marriage. I gave him some things to work on; he wouldn’t do it. It soon became clear he didn’t want to change. He was meeting with me only for the look of the thing. I finally had to say, “If you don’t want real change, I can’t meet with you. You’re meeting with me only for the look of the thing, you want your wife to think you’re working on it, when you’re not.”
- Reform without revival can 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.
- In other words…
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.”
Or the child who must say he’s sorry when he’s not sorry at all.
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 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
- Did you know that there is a law that requires parents to nurture and care for their children? Do you parents nurture and care for your children because it’s the law or because you love them?
- 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…because it mattered to you; truly I have heard you,” declares the Lord.
- How many would say, “I want to live like that.”
2 Chronicles 34:14-33 NASB
14 When they were bringing out the money which had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. 15 Hilkiah responded and 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. 16 Then Shaphan brought the book to the king and [a]reported further word to the king, saying, “Everything that was [b]entrusted to your servants they are doing. 17 They have also emptied out the money which was found in the house of the Lord, and have delivered it into the hands of the supervisors and the workmen.” 18 Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
19 When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. 20 Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, [c]Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book which has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord which is poured out on us because our fathers have not observed the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”
22 So Hilkiah and those whom the king [d]had told went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of [e]Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, the keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her regarding this. 23 She said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 24 thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am bringing evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the curses written in the book which they have read in the presence of the king of Judah. 25 Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched.”’ 26 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus you will say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel regarding the words which you have heard, 27 Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 28 Behold, I will gather you to your fathers and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, so your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place and on its inhabitants.”’” And they brought back word to the king.
29 Then the king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites and all the people, from the greatest to the least; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.
31 Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. 32 Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout his [f]lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.