Today’s passage is 2 Kings 23:1-20. In this passage, King Josiah of Judah has just discovered the long lost Book of the Law (consisting of the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch). He realizes that he and his nation of Judah have not lived up to God’s commands contained inside that book. So King Josiah assembles the nation of Judah, reads the Book of the Law to them, has them pray and pledge in the presence of God that they will obey God’s commands. He then proceeds to get rid of all the shrines, altars and sites used to worship idols in Judah.
It’s worth noting that before Josiah, three other kings of Judah had tried to cleanse Judah of these idolatrous shrines, altars and sites — Asa in 1 Kings 15, Jehoshaphat in 1 Kings 22 and his grandfather Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18. But Josiah’s efforts are far more extensive.
What is happening here? God is using Josiah to usher in a time of revival in the land of Judah. What is revival? Revival is a spiritual awakening that takes place in a group of people, such as a family, church, city or country. When there is revival, people are more passionate about worshiping God, more focused on pleasing God with their lives, more inclined to confess their sins and seek God’s help, and more courageous in sharing Christ with others.
This passage is full of great lessons about experiencing revival. I’ll share some of them with you below. I’ll share some others with you today at THRIVE Church’s Sunday services:
2 Kings 23:3 (NIV) 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.
On verse 3: Here King Josiah leads his people in returning to God with prayer and repentance. What is repentance? To repent means to change your mind. It means to realize that you’ve been going the wrong way and to agree with God that His way is the right way.
What can we learn from this? If you want to experience revival,turn to God in prayer and repentance. There is no revival without prayer and repentance. If we desire for God to work in our ilfe, we need to confess to God those attitudes, habits, and thoughts that we know do not please God and agree with Him that His way is the right way. As Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” 2 Kings 23:13-14 (NIV) 13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption–the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the people of Ammon. 14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.
On verses 13-14: Josiah is going from place to place in Judah, removing the altars, shrines, and sites that have been used for idolatry. He comes to the “Hill of Corruption”. What is the Hill of Corruption? It was the place where some of the most vile forms of idol worship took place in Judah, including child sacrifice to the idol Molech. Josiah removes the altars, shrines and sites located there. It’s worth noting that approximately 600 years later, this Hill of Corruption would be known as the Mount of Olives and would become Jesus’ most famous spot for prayer to the Father, the place where Jesus would surrender to His Father and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.
What can we learn from this? When you remove idolatry from an area of your life, you give God room to bring revival to that area of your file. God can turn that area of your life that used to be filled with idols into a place of worship that glorifies Him, a place that He can use to meet you, to speak to You and to glorify Himself. 2 Kings 23:15-16 (NIV) 15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin–even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also. 16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.
On verses 15-16: Josiah has already cleansed the nation of Judah of idols. Now he has been asked to go to the neighboring kingdom to the north, the kingdom of Israel, and cleanse the city of Bethel there of idols too. Eventually Josiah will even go to Israel’s capital city of Samaria to get rid of idols there (v19-20).
What can we learn from this? Revival can be contagious. It starts in one place, person or community but can go on to affect the places, people and communities around it. 2 Kings 23:17-18 (NIV) 17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?” The men of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.” 18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.
On verses 17-18: Approximately 300 years before Josiah gets rid of idols in Bethel, a man from Judah prophesies that one day a son named Josiah will be born to the house of David and will destroy the idolatrous altar in Bethel (1 Kings 13:2). When Josiah is getting rid of idols in Bethel, he comes across this man’s grave and tells his servants to leave that grave alone. What is Josiah doing? He’s respecting those who have gone before him to speak the word of God.
What can we learn from this? If you want to experience revival, respect those who speak the word of God to you. Realize that any experience you have had on God is largely because we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us in faith.
How well do you show respect to those who speak the Word of God to you? When we respect those who speak the Word of God to us, we’re laying the foundation for God’s revival work to happen in our lives. As Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God of revival, a God who wants to awaken my home, my church, my community, my city and my country, beginning with me. Holy Spirit come and fill me today that I would courageously return to You in prayer and repentance, be intentional about removing idolatry from my life, and respect those who have gone before me to speak the Word of God to me. Come revive us, O Lord. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!