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REVIVAL AT WORK – 2 Chronicles 31:1-10

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 7, 2018 under 2018 |

Preached Sunday, January 7, 2018: Hezekiah—Ruler in The Revival; 2 Chronicles 31:1-10

Theme: True revival shows itself in active reforms in practical life.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

I ask that you turn with me to 2 Chronicles 31 as we continue our study of the great spiritual revival that God brought about under the godly king of Judah, King Hezekiah.

But please allow me just a necessary bit of review first.

Already in this story, we have learned about some of the great things that God had done to bring about a remarkable spiritual awakening among the Jewish people in this Old Testament period. In Chapters 28-29, we saw how God raised up King Hezekiah as an instrument of revival at a very dark and spiritually dismal time of Judah’s history. The idols and places of pagan worship that Hezekiah’s wicked father King Ahaz set up were removed; and the temple of God in Jerusalem was cleansed; and the priests began to repent and to be restored to ministry. Then, in Chapter 30, we saw how God put it on the heart of the king and his leaders to invite the back-slidden people of the northern tribes of Israel to return to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. After many years of neglect, the people of God had repented and were once again celebrating His appointed feast.

In all of these stories that we have been studying, we have been learning a great deal about the nature and features of a true spiritual awakening in a dark and spiritually needy culture. And all of this has been important for us to learn; because we ourselves are praying for a spiritual awaking of our nation and culture in our own time. To understand what a true revival looks like is an important thing for us to do; and that’s so that we may seek and pray for a truly God-given and God-honoring spiritual awakening. And now, as we come to Chapter 31, we come to a portion of the story that teaches us yet another important lesson about what such a revival would look like.

At this point of the story, the people of Judah—and also some of the God-fearing and repentant people of the northern tribes of Israel—had just experienced a tremendous spiritual high. They had gathered together in Jerusalem and celebrated a Passover for the first time in years. And what a Passover it was! We’re told at the end of Chapter 30 that there had not been anything like it in Jerusalem since the glorious days of King Solomon. The people repented, and prayed, and worshiped God with a sincerity and fervency that they had never before experienced. What exciting times these were! How emotionally exhilarating it must have been! It was a ‘mountain-top’ experience!

But what then? What happens in revival after the ‘mountain-top’ experiences of excitement and wonderful spiritual feelings are over? Chapter 31 then goes on to tell us about how this great revival didn’t just rest on the power of the feelings that would soon fade away; but rather was then taken to another level—to the level of the kind of practical actions and life-style reforms that made a permanent change in the ways the people lived their daily lives.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I wonder if you have ever had exciting spiritual experiences like they did. Have you ever been to a Bible conference or to a spiritual ‘retreat’ or a large worship event in which you had a tremendous feelings of emotion and excitement? Perhaps at such times, you felt that you really encountered God. But sadly, because things weren’t translated into some kind of sound biblical action afterward, the feelings and the excitement soon gave way to the mundane matters of daily living. The excitement was forgotten; and the feelings faded away; and things were soon back to where they once were—as if that significant event had never happened at all.

As I have studied the history of revival, I have found that there have been lots of experiences like that—great experiences in which a great number of people had remarkable feelings of excitement and devotion together. Perhaps the events that were associated with those experiences lasted for several weeks or months. It felt like miracles were happening. But it wasn’t long before the events themselves came to an end; and soon, the excited feelings also faded away. You may even be able to think of events from recent history that were called ‘revivals’—events that, at the time, seemed like big news; but that are now almost completely forgotten. I respectfully question whether those events deserve to be called ‘revivals’ in the truest sense.

Historically, revivals that truly prove themselves to be worthy of the name were not ultimately based on excited feelings and emotions, and did not fade away after the feelings passed. Certainly, it would be true to say that those feelings were present in genuine revivals. But the thing that makes those events worthy to be considered ‘revivals’ was that they resulted in significant reforms that expressed themselves in ongoing action—dramatic life-changes that endured for the life-time of those who experienced them. True revival permanently changes the way an entire generation lives and acts and works and serves the Lord.

As we come to the story of what happened in the days of King Hezekiah—after this great, exciting, emotionally exhilarating, ‘mountain-top’ Passover celebration—we see just that very thing. A series of very strategic, very active ‘reforms’ began to be applied in some very practical areas of life. And it was these practical reforms that made the kind of structural changes that caused the ‘revival’ to endure for a whole generation.

I believe that that’s what makes Chapter 31 so important. It teaches us that true revival shows itself in active reforms in practical life.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; what I see in these opening verses of Chapter 31 are four important reforms. I don’t believe it would be right to say that these would be the only four that we should look for in a true revival. The Bible tells us—in other stories of revival at other times of Israel’s history—of other reforms that are also important. But these four seem like crucial reforms to look to if something that calls itself a revival ends up being a true and lasting and genuinely God-given one.

You’ll find the first of these reforms in verse 1. It’s there that we read of what happened after the great Passover feast had come to an end:

Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars—from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh—until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession (2 Chronicles 31:1).

It hadn’t been too long before this time that King Hezekiah had ordered all of the idols and the pagan altars to be removed from the temple itself. And then after that, as the revival began to spread, the people of God themselves went out into the streets of the city of Jerusalem—into the areas immediately surrounding the temple area—and removed the pagan altars that Hezekiah’s father Ahaz had set up in every corner of the city. It must have been a long and hard project; but it was faithfully done. It was what made the celebration of Passover in the city of Jerusalem an acceptable feast in the eyes of a holy God.

But those previous ‘cleansings’ had to do with the areas immediately in and around the places of sacred worship. What would have happened if, after the Passover was over—after all the excitement and emotional joy of the feast had come to an end—the people had begun to go back again through the streets and villages of the surrounding areas and into the areas of daily life, only to find the same elements of paganism and sinful rebellion against God remained? Well; that’s when these Jewish people went further beyond the temple, further beyond the surrounding area of the sacred city, and removed the elements of sin that were found in the practical, ‘daily business’ areas of life as well.

Would you like to know how serious they were about this? In 2 Kings 18:4, we’re told a remarkable fact. King Hezekiah “broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehustan” (that is, ‘Bronze Thing’). Think of that! In the days of Moses, that bronze serpent on a rod had been an instrument of God’s grace. But over the years, the people began to worship it; so that not even it was considered too sacred a thing to be destroyed—if it would result in the people no longer committing idolatry.

And here, then, we see an important element of active reform that we see in true revival; that is …


It wasn’t enough to just do this in the contexts of religious worship and sacred duties—and yet to leave it undone in the practical areas of daily life. The gains of revival wouldn’t last unless it was extended to what we might call the ‘secular’ areas of life—the areas not necessarily tied to religious worship. It needed to begin in the places of worship, of course. But it if only remained there—and left the rest of daily life untouched—it would not be a revival that would last. So-called ‘revivals’ that only impact the outwardly spiritual, outwardly worshipful areas of life but that leave the private and practical areas of daily life unimpacted and unreformed do not deserve to be called ‘revivals’.

No area of life should be considered out of bounds for this reform. It should impact our home life, our work life, our school life, our social life, our entertainment and leisure life, our political life, and our intellectual life. Nothing should be considered too ‘sacred’ to remove if it keeps us from a whole-hearted reform before God. As our Savior put it;

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where

‘Their worm does not die

And the fire is not quenched.’

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where

‘Their worm does not die,

And the fire is not quenched.’

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—where

‘Their worm does not die

And the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48).

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now; as we move on to verse 2, we find another important reform being illustrated to us in the days after the great Passover celebration. We’re told;

And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites according to their divisions, each man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and peace offerings, to serve, to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camp of the Lord (v. 2).

That verse might be an easy one to pass by, and the significant thing it’s telling us be lost to us. But it is extremely important. You see; many generations prior to this time—way back in the days of godly King David—the priesthood and the roles of the Levites who supported them had been established into careful orders and divisions. There were roles that had been specified for them, and there were calendar dates placed on the times and responsibilities of their ministry. The worship in God’s temple had been carefully set into an orderly arrangement by David, so that the sacred work of the temple was effectively done and the vital spiritual needs of the people of God faithfully met.

But during the terrible years of the apostasy under Hezekiah’s father—and perhaps even before that time—this orderly arrangement was neglected and forgotten. The priests didn’t do their job in the temple as they should; and the Levites didn’t support them in their work as they once had. And so, Hezekaiah once again established those wise appointments and divisions—so that the priests were where they should be in the service of God’s worship, and so the offerings were brought to them and offered-up by them as they should be, and so that the Levites assisted the priests and led the people in worship and song and praise and in the giving of thanks.

And this is another practical reform that is a vital part of true revival; that is …


We live in a sad time in which people consider church life to be an option or to be irrelevant. Many in the past decade or so have even gone so far as to suggest that ‘the local church’ is no longer necessary. But in true revival—a revival that’s impact lasts for a generation—the vital importance of local church life is restored; and people begin again to rightly esteem and support the ministry of God’s house and God’s appointed stewards.

People recognize in such times that God has appointed His visible church on earth as a necessary institution for the spiritual health and well-being of His people. As the apostle Paul puts it in 1 Timothy 3:15, His appointed servants are to consider carefully how they are to conduct themselves “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth”. It is never to be considered optional—but rather, as essential to God’s people as God Himself declares it to be. As it says in Hebrews 13:17;

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).

And so; in true revival, one of the practical reforms that comes about is that the ministry of the local church—along with the sacred things that it is called to do—is once again placed on the high priority that God Himself places it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Verse three tells us about another reform that was made—a process of active reform that the king himself personally performed. We’re told;

The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord (v. 3).

Again, this verse is also easy to pass by; but what it tells us is vital. You see; in the Old Testament law of Moses—in Numbers 28-29—we’re told of how specific offerings were to be made in the temple for every day, for every week, for every month, and for the several annual feasts every year. God ordained that the priesthood in the temple in Jerusalem was to offer a specific number of bulls, and rams, and lambs and goats for each appointed calendar date; and with those offerings, a specific quantity of fine flower mixed with specific portions of oil were to be offered;, and a specific amount of wine was to be poured out at each offering.

These offerings were vital. They constituted the animal sacrifices that, in that stage of God’s redemptive plan for the ages, pointed ahead to the sacrifice that would ultimately be made by Jesus. They were crucial for a connection by faith to the atoning grace of God for His people. And what we discover from this verse is that Hezekiah commanded that the provisions for each of these offerings be faithfully made from out of his own personal property. He paid the complete bill, and made all the necessary provisions for all of the regular appointed offerings throughout the whole year; so that the people of God could be under the atoning grace of God.

I took some time to go back into Numbers 28-29 and add this all up. I didn’t calculate the figures for the grain, the oil and the wine—although that would, itself, have been significant for the whole year’s ministry in the temple. But for the two appointed daily sacrifices, the weekly Sabbath offerings, the monthly New Moon offerings, and the appointed offerings required at Passover, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, Hezekiah would have supplied 101 bulls, 1,129 unblemished lambs a year old, 31 rams, and 24 young goats. That was a substantial supply! Every year!

And in doing this, I believe he was illustrating yet another essential reform that we see that happens in true revival; and that is …


Now; you and I may wonder how that would look in an awakening in our time. Certainly it wouldn’t mean that we now start bring livestock to church. But we need to remember that those sacrifices themselves didn’t take away sin. Rather, they were meant by God to point ahead—ultimately—to the sacrifice that our Savior Jesus Christ would make for us on the cross. Hebrews 10:1-4 says;

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4).

But the writer of Hebrews then goes on to tell us that Jesus says prophetically;

Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (vv. 9-10).

Those offerings that Hezekiah provided were meant—in the plan of God—to point ahead to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross. And I would suggest to you that in true revival—as one of the great, ongoing reforms that results from a true awakening—the Great Commission is once again affirmed and embraced, and evangelism and missions are once again put on a high priority; and the people of God put forth the effort to supply for and to assist those who are getting the gospel of Jesus Christ out to people so that they can hear about Jesus, trusty in His cross, and experience the atoning grace of God through faith in Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

So far, then, we have seen three very practical reforms in true revival. We see that there is an ongoing work of getting rid of sin in the practical areas of daily living. We see that there is an active restoration of the sacred work of the local church to a place of proper priority. And we see that there is a sacrificial support of the cause of God’s atoning grace through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world. And by the way; historically, in true revivals, those are all ongoing reforms that have characteristically occurred.

And there is yet one more reform that King Hezekiah set into motion; and that is …


We find it told to us in verse 4;

Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord (v. 4).

You see; in the Old Testament law—in Numbers 18—God had commanded that the livelihoods of the priests and the Levites be provided through the offerings and the tithes of the people of Israel. This enabled them to be free to do the work God had called them to do in the service of the temple and in the different divisions and orders that had been set for them. But in the times of King Ahaz’s apostasy, this provision had been neglected.

There was a similar thing that would happen in a later time in the history of Judah—in the days of Nehemiah. After the walls of the city of Jerusalem had been rebuilt, Governor Nehemiah found that the priests were not fulfilling their duties. They were unable to do so, because they had to go to work in the farms and in the fields in order to provide for their families and their own livelihoods. In Nehemiah 13, we’re told that Nehemiah commanded the people to do as God said, and bring their appointed tithes and offerings so that the priests and Levites could be freed up to do their sacred work. And that’s what King Hezekiah also did.

And as proof that this was a true reform in the hearts of the people as a result of a true revival, we’re told that they responded remarkably. Verses 5-6 go on to say,

As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps (vv. 5-6).

Apparently, this important provision had been neglected for a long time; and so, it took a long time to get it back into order. Verse 7 says;

In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month (v. 7).

It took four months to get the tithes and offerings brought back in. But when they did, it came in great heaps! We’re told in verses 8-10;

And when Hezekiah and the leaders came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. And Azariah the chief priest, from the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance” (vv. 8-10).

I want you to know that I do not know who gives what in our church. That’s something that it is not my business to know. But I have asked our treasurer what would happen if everyone in our church tithed faithfully to our church’s ministry—just 10% of their income. He said, “If everyone in our church tithed, Greg, we wouldn’t know what to do with it all!” That’s what happened to the priests and Levites in the temple.

I suggest to you that in a true revival, one of the great reforms that happens is in the area of giving to the Lord’s work—enabling the spread of the ministry of the gospel and the service of the kingdom around the world. In a time of revival, the people of God begin to faithfully obey God’s command in Malachi 3:10;

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,

That there may be food in My house,

And try Me now in this,”

Says the Lord of hosts,

“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven

And pour out for you such blessing

That there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; it may be tempting to look at all of this and say, “Won’t it be great when revival finally comes and these things begin to be done?” But we shouldn’t think to wait until revival comes. They way God works in all this is like what it says in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” One of the remarkable things about revival is that when God’s people begin to repent of their neglect, pray for revival, and then begin to live in practical ways that are consistent with the principles of the revival for which they pray, their doing so is actually the early beginnings God’s gracious gift of a revival.

So, dear brothers and sisters; let’s not wait. If true revival means active reform in the practical areas of life, then, let’s pray—and by God’s grace and in His power, get into action now!

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