Thursday, December 27, 2012

2 Chronicles 31: Fruit of Revival

2 Chron 31:1-8 When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property. Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions — each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites — to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the Lord's dwelling. The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the Lord. He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. The men of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them in heaps. They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the Lord and blessed his people Israel.

The revival that Hezekiah initiated by restoring worship and the teaching of the word resulted in spiritual transformation of the nation. The fruits of revival were clearly seen throughout the land:

(1) Destruction of Idols ("They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh"): Having experienced genuine worship, the Israelites developed a new revulsion for all that is false when they returned home. They destroyed all the sacred stones, the Asherah poles, high places and altars that were dedicated to Baal worship. This is the fruit of genuine revival of worship -- the removal of everything that is false.

(2) Continual Worship ("priests or Levites — to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the Lord's dwelling"): Revival is initiated by worship but is also kept going through worship. Hezekiah ensured that the ministry of worship would continue by appointing priests and Levites to their divisions and their duties. NT worship involves the "sacrifice of praise"--"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name" (Heb 13:15). This could be done by giving of thanks or through songs of praise. It flows out of an attitude of faith and gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ.

(3) Joyful Giving ("the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced"): Where church giving is falling, it is an indicator that the spiritual life of the people is in decline. Where giving is overflowing, it reflects the on-going revival in that church. Some churches struggle with finances, but others have more than they need. The solution is not preaching about tithes, but restoration of people's hearts of love to God. Where there is genuine revival, there is overflowing giving.

May we be God's instruments of revival like Hezekiah. Prayer is not enough--for revival to take place, God needs a person who has a heart for him and is willing to restore genuine worship and the ministry of the Word.

Father, let revival come to our churches and our land. Restore the ministry of genuine worship in our churches. Amen.

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