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CALL IT REVIVAL: Part #3: Biblical Examples

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

What do we see happen in throughout Scripture when people experience God

REVIEW:

In Part #1, “What Is Revival,” we explored the history and vernacular of where the word “revival” comes from and how it’s understood. It is a relatively new concept in church history therefore understanding how we use the Word in a modern context within a Biblical framework presents a significant challenge. This means for our modern generation, we tend to apply our own spin to the word, and there’s very little methodology to testing this according to Scripture. The word “revival” is loaded with biases and opinions and often cloud our ability to discern true moves of God when it comes to these events. Part #2 discusses “What Really Matters” when we are trying to sort out moves of God in our modern society. Division based on personal opinions and dogma have largely led to the fruit (repentant converts) of supposed moves rotting in the proverbial fields as the “workers” in the harvest spend our energy and time bickering amongst ourselves. Discernment is necessary as we reflect upon the events we see happening around us. However, this should not be based on the thoughts of men, instead, firmly fixed upon the foundation of the Word of God. Finally, in Part #3 we will reflect on examples in Scripture that give practical examples of what many today would likely call revival within the Biblical record. As these examples are laid out it is important to remove our own biases from the equation and simply read the text as we examine the Scriptures to better understand how God works and what it looks like when He does. We all agree the Bible is true, within that framework we can dissect modern events largely upon this foundation. While not exhaustive, this provides the proper framework outside the constraints of denominational dogma to humbly acknowledge God’s hand as we encounter Him in our lives.

What we will cover:
  1. King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29-30; 2 Kings 16-20)

  2. King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23)

  3. The woman at the well (John 4)

  4. Our responsibility

    1. Action based on truth revealed and the sincere conviction of our sin according to the Word of God

    2. Bear more fruit

      1. Share the Gospel

      2. Baptize

      3. Teach to Obey

These accounts are often longer stories, so we will offer the full references for your reading and study, but for the sake of time and space we will simply cover the high points of each story. As we study and take the time to really ponder what exactly begins and demonstrates the work of God in each account. Challenge yourself to find more examples and study them as well.

 

Some reading this blog are familiar with Hezekiah, but I suspect many likely know the name, but little to nothing about the actual life and impact of King Hezekiah on the nation of Israel. King Hezekiah’s story is well documented in 2 Chronicles 29-30 and 2 Kings 18-20. Hezekiah’s reign was unique amongst the kings of Israel as he lived and ruled according to the commands of YHVH, working to restore the order of worship and honor of God while turning away from idolatry to worship YHVH.

His story begins as a 25 year-old king following the reign of an evil ruler who did not do as YHVH instructed the people.


2 Chronicles 29:2 leb

2 And he did that which was right in the eyes of YHVH, according to all that David his father had done.”


2 Kings 18:2-7 leb offers a little more detail about what set him apart from other kings.

2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. The name of his mother was Abi, the daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did right in the eyes of YHVH according to all that David his ancestor had done. 4 He removed the high places, and he smashed the stone pillars; he cut down the poles of Asherah worship and demolished the bronze serpent which Moses had made, for up to those days the Israelites were offering incense to it and called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in YHVH the God of Israel; there was no one like him, before or after, among all the kings of Judah. 6 He held on to YHVH; he did not depart from following him, and he kept his commands that YHVH had commanded Moses. 7 YHVH was with him; everywhere he went, he succeeded. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”

Hezekiah’s reign begins with what appears to be a simple statement, “he did what was right in the eyes of YHVH.” Sometimes my brain works like a toddler, and the first thing I consider when I read passages like this is “why?” So, I look back. Did his parents lead him rightly? Was he impacted by a life event? What created this change? We find out in previous chapters Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, did not follow God (2 Chronicles 28:1-5; 2 Kings 16:2). It is clear Ahaz is not the source of Hezekiah’s repentance. As a result, given the absence of an active priesthood and the 2 kingdoms of Israel spiraling into paganism, some attribute Hezekiah’s heart toward God to his mother, Abi or Abijah. It is important to note the Bible only mentions her twice, leaving every detail of her history and life as a mystery, so we cannot rightly deduce she is responsible for his change (we also cannot eliminate her as a positive influence).


The Bible makes it clear Hezekiah reflects on the life of his ancestors and recognizes God had not honored their lives, plunging them into the depths of disaster as YHVH executes His judgement for their sin and rebellion. It is this realization that led Hezekiah to say,


2 Chronicles 29:10-11 leb

10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with YYHVH, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger might turn away from him. 11 Now, my sons, do not be negligent, for YHVH has chosen you to stand before him to serve him and to be his servants and incense burners.” One way or another, Hezekiah rejects the deplorable behavior of previous kings and reinstitute worship of the one true God of his ancestors, YHVH. Against all odds one man stands up against wickedness and sin and turns his own life toward God. It would be enough to stop here, as a dead man in a country full of dead men Hezekiah’s heart is turned back to YHVH. As we said in part #2 of this study, one of the fruits of God’s work in the lives of His people is purposeful action based on conviction rooted in the truth of the Word of God. Hezekiah, in this same model, takes action. His conviction is so strong he takes drastic steps to not only revive his own faith in God, but to lead the people in the southern kingdom of Judah back to following God’s instructions.


His first tasks included reopening the temple, cleansing and dedicating it, reinstitution the Levitical priesthood, and observing Passover for the first time in generations. It should not be missed that the very first thing Israel does when they are delivered from Egypt is observe Passover. In a similar way Hezekiah’s observance parallels this same deliverance for the people under his leadership.


Hezekiah experienced what could only be accredited to a move of God upon his own life. This leads to a fundamental change in his own behavior and creating a huge impact upon the people he led. Hezekiah’s life is worth studying in more detail as it is a marquee event which demonstrates the impact one man can have when he turns wholeheartedly back to God.

 
King Josiah: 2 Kings 22-23

As we continue our study you may notice some patterns emerging. Take note of those and reflect upon the totality of Scripture for these same patters, either corporately or individually. I think you will find a great deal of “revival” events appear in Scripture, but rarely looks like what we want to call revival today. With that said, let’s take a look at another king following Hezekiah’s reign, King Josiah. Josiah’s reign begins when he is only 8 years old, once again, Josiah is very quickly separated from the other kings.


2 Kings 22:2 leb

2 He did right in the eyes of YHVH, and he walked in all of the way of David his ancestor and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” You may notice as you read through the 4 books of Chronicles and Kings each king’s heart toward God is what is of utmost importance, everything else that is recorded is simply evidence to demonstrate the wickedness or righteousness of a particular king.


Josiah’s reign begins with an interesting request which offers us some clues into what is going on before he comes to power. He wants to see the records for how much is being brought into the temple. This shows us that the temple is still in use after Hezekiah’s reign, but once again had been taken over with idol worship with 2 evil kings spanning the 57 years between Hezekiah and Josiah. One king was so evil that he actually offered his own children as a sacrifice to foreign gods. 2 Kings 21:6 leb

6 He made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying and divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He increased the doing of evil in the eyes of YHVH to provoke him.”


If that wasn’t bad enough, something critically important to both the king and the people had been lost, the Torah. We do not know the status of Josiah’s heart as an 8-year old, but what do know is one key event becomes a catalyst for massive change for him and the people of his kingdom. 2 Kings 22:8-13 leb

8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the scroll of the Torah in the temple of YHVH,” and Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan and he read it. 9 Shaphan the secretary came to the king and returned the king a word, and he said, “Your servant poured out the money found in the temple, and they have given it into the hand of the doers of the work appointed over the temple of YHVH.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Then Shaphan read before the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the scroll of the Torah, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Acbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the servant of the king, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of YHVH for me and for the people and for all of Judah concerning the words of this scroll that was found. For the wrath of YHVH that is kindled against us is great because our ancestors did not listen to the words of this scroll to do according to all that is written concerning us!”


What spurred Josiah’s change of heart as a child king? A priest rediscovering the Torah and

reading it him. In this reading Josiah heard for the first time the commands of YHVH, the blessings for obedience, and the curses for rebellion. Upon hearing this truth Josiah sees that God has cursed his people and he immediately repents. What a dramatic change. As a young boy, he then goes to seek council from others who know the Word of God to find out exactly what God is expecting of him and the people (2 Kings 22:15-20).


This revelation of truth compels Josiah to reject the sin of his fathers (2 Kings 23:1-20) and return to the way of YHVH. Once again, Josiah purifies the temple and the priests and reinstitute Passover (2 Kings 23:21-23) marking the beginning of the national revival and repentance to follow YHVH.

Once again, Josiah is exposed to the absolute truth of God’s Word, convicting him of his sin and the sins of his people, leading to repentance and obedience. By now, I hope you recognize a pattern building with each of these revival stories.

 
The Woman at the Well: John 4

The vast majority of modern Bible believers have heard this story. As we reflect on this final example, ask yourself, “do I recognize the move of God in her life?” Then, “How do I know?” Once, again a pattern should emerge that fits with our studies so far. Certainly, this is not prescriptive, but as you study the likes of Paul, Peter, the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8, and so many others like them, there is a common thread, a procession of events that mark the dead coming back to life, i.e. revival.


Yeshua, having left the region of Galilee, travels to Samaria where weary from His travels sits down on a wall by a well. There He encounters a woman. For those who don’t know, this was no small thing. First, in this culture, Jews and Samaritans weren’t friendly. Why? The Samaritans were rejected by Jews because they were the heritage of Jews who had intermingled and had children who would later be completely excluded from all Jewish practices, including temple worship. As a result, the Samaritans would later build their own temple and follow a Torah-adjacent form of worship. Yeshua’s interaction with this woman is important, so important she takes notice.


John 4:7-9 leb

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me water to drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the town so that they could buy food.) 9 So the Samaritan woman said to him, “How do you, being a Jew, ask from me water to drink, since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”

I want to separate this story from how it’s often been told. Frequently, this is taught as renegade Yeshua pushes social and cultural boundaries to establish His own way, His own law, that would rise above the Torah. We must understand Yeshua only upheld the commands given in the Torah, never established His own Law, and sought to return people back to the unedited version of the Torah that had been changed, added to, and trampled on for thousands of years since its miraculous delivery so many generations before. While Yeshua’s actions certainly bucked the social norms of the day, He returned people to the truth of God’s Word, He didn’t change it. It is in that pure restoration of Godly truth in which people who encountered Yeshua could truly respond to the purity of God’s truth.


As they talk Yeshua begins to teach her, and it appears it’s going over her head (John 4:10-15 leb), but something finally hits home.


John 4:16-18 leb

16 He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.’ 17 The woman answered and said to him, ‘I do not have a husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have said rightly, ‘I do not have a husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you have now is not your husband; this you have said truthfully!’”


Yeshua moves the conversation from Biblical truth to personal revelation. In the face of this truth the woman confesses that Yeshua is a prophet (John 4:19). As they continue talking her heart begins to change and she understands the truth. Yeshua then drives the point home plainly, He tells her that He is the coming Messiah she spoke of and earnestly awaited (John 4:19-26). This reality paired with the Biblical truth and the personal truth He revealed to her brought instant change in her life. It was so impactful, she didn’t just have a change in her own heart, she went to tell others. Again, this rhythm and pattern of this event should not be lost on us as readers.


John 4:28-30 leb

28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Perhaps this one is the Christ?” 30 They went out from the town and were coming to him.”


What was the fruit of this interaction and personal conviction and repentance of the woman Yeshua talks with at the well?


John 4:39-42 leb

39 Now from that town many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me everything that I have done.' 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking him to stay with them. And he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word, 42 And they were saying to the woman, ‘No longer because of what you said do we believe, for we ourselves have heard, and we know that this one is truly the Savior of the world!’”

Because of the conviction and testimony of one woman, many lives were brought into the harvest of the Kingdom of God. The Samaritans eventually are visited by the apostles as persecution spread throughout Jerusalem after the ascension of Yeshua.

 
Our Responsibility:

It is not our goal to establish a system of action that sets the expectation that if you follow a specific sequence of steps you too can experience massive revival in your church or community. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, a true move of God is not marked by size and scope, it’s marked by revealed truth, conviction, repentance, and subsequent action. Sometimes these events lead to massive corporate repentance and chance as in the case of Nineveh. However, more times than not, it is the intimate reflection of a man coming face to face with the truth of the eternal God of all time.


How should we respond? It is important to note we don’t have to run down revival. We don’t have to manufacture it. When we see moves of God happening around the world, we should rejoice as people are added to the Kingdom of God. We respond first with repentance. When faced with the reality of God’s truth we repent, we learn to follow and obey YHVH in our own lives. We learn His ways as those before us did. We submit to Him as our Master and Savior. The fruit of the revealed Word of God always leads to conviction and repentance.

Acts 19:18-20 esv

18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” Did you notice that in some of these situations no miracles or signs or wonders were performed? Did you notice that in many cases it was simply seeing the Word of Truth which caused people to see how destitute they really were. Does this exclude the use of miracles, signs, and wonders? Certainly not, but it should be abundantly clear, they are not required or necessary for God to move with power in our lives. Let us not forget those who only sought the Messiah for miracles were often rejected and rebuked. However, those who sought the Son of David, the Messiah, Yeshua were changed with or without signs and wonders, but never without the revealed truth of God.


Second, we teach others what we have learned. We take the truth to those who, like us, walk in darkness so they too can see the light of the truth of YHVH. Yeshua once taught there is no point in having a light that is put under a basket. We see in each of these examples and all throughout the Bible that those who have truly experienced God’s work in their lives, go and shine that same light to everyone who will listen. This is the message of the Gospel, understanding the depths of our guilt before God, and the redemption offered to us through the Messiah Yeshua.


Finally, after hearing the word of truth, experiencing the conviction of that word, repenting of our transgression based on that truth, and teaching others this same life-altering truth, we then teach others to obey as we have learned to obey. This is best summarized in the great commission.


Matthew 28:18-20 esv

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


I cannot repeat it enough, a move of God is not contingent on numbers, duration, miracles, signs, or wonders it is only contingent on the revealed truth of God’s Word, conviction, repentance, and subsequent action. When the rubber meets the road modern “revivals” often look very little like this, and rarely bear this kind of fruit. Ultimately, it is up to each one of us to rightly handle the Word of God, bearing good fruit in keeping with repentance, leading to a life of submitted obedience to the commands of God. Moves of God, lead to God, and when faced with the reality of who God is, we are broken in His presence and we can never be the same. Personally, I see very little good in judging “revivals” we witness through the lenses of social media junkies and their cellphones. However, if you find yourself in that space where it appears a move of God may be happening, I pray this study encourages you to dig deep into Scripture so you can rightly discern the truth and respond appropriately. While you may never experience a massive corporate move of God, never forget if you were once dead and are now raised in new life with our Messiah, Yeshua, then you have experienced the greatest revival of your life. Matthew 28:8-11 esv

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

 
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