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Summary: Study of the revival that occurred during the reign of Hezekiah, focusing in particular on the suddenness with which God moved the hearts of the people and the conditions that preceded that revival.

“Hezekiah said, ‘You have now consecrated yourselves to the LORD. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the LORD.’ And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings. The number of the burnt offerings that the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD. And the consecrated offerings were 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep. But the priests were too few and could not flay all the burnt offerings, so until other priests had consecrated themselves, their brothers the Levites helped them, until the work was finished—for the Levites were more upright in heart than the priests in consecrating themselves. Besides the great number of burnt offerings, there was the fat of the peace offerings, and there were the drink offerings for the burnt offerings. Thus, the service of the house of the LORD was restored. And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because God had provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly.” [1]

“My God works in slow motion.” Many years ago, I heard a black brother make this declaration in a sermon. He was urging Christians to learn to wait on the Lord. It is true that God often works in “slow motion.” On the other hand, there are times when God moves suddenly and with surprising speed. However, upon examination, it seems always to turn out that God’s people prepared themselves in the interim—the seemingly interminable period of senescence—when God was giving ample opportunity for sinners to turn to Him and for His people to honour Him. God’s people prepare themselves for revival. We cannot cause revival, but we can prepare for revival.

In order to explore this vital aspect of the times of refreshment that the churches require on an ongoing basis, join me in studying an event recorded in the days of Hezekiah, King of Judah. As we witness the events preceding revival in that day, we will be able to discover what is necessary for revival in this day. The account is recorded in the Chronicles of Israel, and that is where we will begin our study today.

REVIVAL IN AN UNLIKELY TIME — Israel was in a dark place when Hezekiah came to the throne. Preceding his ascent to the throne, we read of conditions in Israel, and they are dark. Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, sought help from Assyria rather than seeking help from the LORD. Judah had been beaten down by Israel in a brief, though disastrous war. Edom had invaded the land, carrying away captives. Likewise, the Philistines had occupied multiple villages after successful raids.

The key to what was happening is discovered in one verse, which reads, “The LORD humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had made Judah act sinfully and had been very unfaithful to the LORD” [2 CHRONICLES 28:19]. Judah had forgotten the truth declared in the THIRTY-THIRD PSALM:

“The king is not saved by his great army;

a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

The war horse is a false hope for salvation,

and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,

that he may deliver their soul from death

and keep them alive in famine.”

[PSALM 33:16-19]

Because Ahaz promoted idolatry within Judah, even going so far as to offer his son as a burnt sacrifice, the LORD God punished the land. God delivered the nation into the hand of the king of Syria who took many of the people captive, deporting them to Damascus. Then, Pekah the son of Remaliah invaded, killing 120,000 from Judah in one dark day. Hard on the heels of the invasion by Pekah, the men of Israel invaded, taking captive 200,000 of the men, women and children of Judah, though God would not permit Israel to hold these captives. Speaking through a prophet named Oded, the LORD demanded that these captives be returned to Judah. His message was reinforced by several chiefs from Ephraim. Israel was like a weakened lamb surrounded by ravenous wolves. And, yet, the LORD was not finished with humbling the nation. The vile nation to which Ahaz turned for help, the Assyrians, betrayed the nation. Thus, we read, “So Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him” [2 CHRONICLES 28:20].

It was a dark time for the nation, and those living in the nation didn’t comprehend the danger in which they stood. They were facing disaster and they were insensible to the sole hope that could possibly assure deliverance; God alone could ensure their survival. Desperate for deliverance, Ahaz invited the Assyrians to ally themselves with Israel; however, the effort would not work out quite as Ahaz had hoped.

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