Summary: 8th & final in series "Revival in the Land." The story of Judah’s last revival shows that God is anxious to renew fellowship with us.
It was a bright Sunday morning in 18th century London, but Robert Robinson’s mood was anything but sunny. All along the street there were people hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd Robinson was a lonely man. The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life. It had been years since he set foot in a church—years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved. That love for God—once fiery and passionate—had slowly burned out within him, leaving him dark and cold inside. Robinson heard the clip-clop, clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him. Turning, he lifted his hand to hail the driver. But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman dressed in finery for the Lord’s Day. He waved the driver on, but the woman in the carriage ordered the carriage to be stopped.
"Sir, I’d be happy to share this carriage with you," she said to Robinson. "Are you going to church?" Robinson was about to decline, then he paused. "Yes," he said at last. "I am going to church." He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman. As the carriage rolled forward Robert Robinson and the woman exchanged introductions. There was a flash of recognition in her eyes when he stated his name. "That’s an interesting coincidence," she said, reaching into her purse. She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse, opened it to a ribbon-bookmark, and handed the book to him. "I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Could it be…?"
He took the book, nodding. "Yes, I wrote these words years ago." "Oh, how wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Imagine! I’m sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!"
But Robinson barely heard her. He was absorbed in the words he was reading. They were words that would one day be set to music and become a great hymn of the faith, familiar to generations of Christians:
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace’
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
His eyes slipped to the bottom of the page where he read:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
He could barely read the last few lines through the tears that brimmed in his eyes. "I wrote these words—and I’ve lived these words. ’Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.’"
The woman suddenly understood. "You also wrote, ’Here’s my heart, O take and seal it.’ You can offer your heart again to God, Mr. Robinson. It’s not too late."
And it wasn’t too late for Robert Robinson. In that moment he turned his heart back to God and walked with him the rest of his days. [Ron Lee Davis, Courage to Begin Again, (Harvest House, Eugene, OR; 1978), pp. 145-147]
Where are you at in your walk with the Lord today? Like the hymn writer have you found yourself drifting away from the Lord’s arms of love? Has the fire that once burned with passion for Christ grown cold?
Proposition: God’s message for you this morning is that new beginnings are possible. Just like in the time of Josiah, King of Judah, just like in 18th century England God longs to draw wayward children back home, God longs to stoke the flames of our hearts with revival.
In this the last of our series on revival I’d like us to look together at the last of the revivals that swept the nation of Judah and ask ourselves one last time, Why then? What did these people do that led to renewed fellowship with God? The answers I believe is key to us if we wish to experience revival in the present tense.
The first answer is that they
1. Renewed their Promise
v. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
First of all they took a stand. They said look we’ve been going in the wrong direction, but right here, right now, we’re going back on the right track. We’re renewing our covenant with the Lord. We will follow, we will serve.
What about you? Has God been tugging at your heart? Has this sermon series been God’s wake-up call to you. Are you ready to come home like the Prodigal son. It all begins with a new beginning, a renewal of your covenant. That doesn’t mean your being re-saved, Josiah and the people weren’t saying "we haven’t been your people but now we want to be again." No they were saying "we haven’t lived up to our end of the bargain, but from this point forward, with your help we’re going to act like the people of God. We want to come home"