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Forgotten Power: The Lord’s Supper and the Biblical Pattern of Revival

 
When the youthful King Hezekiah ascended to the throne in Judah, the temple was boarded up, and worship of the Lord had been discontinued. He immediately called in the priests and Levites to open and cleanse the temple—a process that took several weeks. The first service of the reopened temple was a sin offering for the sins of the previous generation. The king then called for a thank offering from the people, and the response was overwhelming—a sign that the revival had come: “Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it [revival of worship at the temple] was done so quickly” (2 Chron. 29:36).

At this point “the king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month” (2 Chron. 30:2). It was a month later than its mandated time because the priests had not been properly consecrated. Hezekiah converted the Passover into a “revivalistic” event for all God’s people by inviting the tribes of the northern kingdom, Israel, to share the Passover. This was in spite of the fact that Judah and Israel had recently fought a series of bitter wars.

For the most part the northern tribes ridiculed Hezekiah’s invitation—they were content with their own gods. Some from the north did come, but these and the other Jews from outside Judah had not properly consecrated themselves according to the Mosaic law (Ex. 12:43–49; Num. 9:10). They should have been disqualified from participating in the Passover. Hezekiah prayed that the Lord would overlook this requirement:

“May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chron. 30:18–20)

The “healing” in this passage refers to healing from ritual impurity. The whole assembly then “celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the Lord every day, accompanied by the Lord’s instruments of praise” (2 Chron. 30:21). All this was so good that everyone agreed to extend the feast and celebrate another seven days. This calls to mind the revival at Cambuslang in 1742, with its unprecedented second communion.

This revival, strengthened by the observance of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, spilled out into further reforms and revival. The people returned to their cities and destroyed the idols and local worship centers. Hezekiah reorganized the daily temple service so that it would be regular, and the priests, supported by the tithes of the people, dedicated themselves to the study of the law. Soon the tithe donated for temple worship was so abundant that new storehouses had to be built to contain the produce.

The Chronicler describes Hezekiah as a new David. True temple worship was restored and idolatry suppressed, and the law of Moses became normative in the kingdom of Judah. Positive earthly consequences resulted: Judah prospered, and with God’s miraculous intervention, an assault from the huge Assyrian army was rebuffed (2 Chron. 32).

Unfortunately the two kings who followed Hezekiah again “did evil in the sight of the Lord” and reestablished witchcraft, child sacrifice, and idolatry in Judah. This sets the scene for the last revival in Chronicles, the one led by King Josiah. This was a last hurrah of true temple worship before the dispersion and exile of Judah and the destruction of the temple.

Josiah inherited the throne as a boy of eight. By the time he was sixteen he began a cleansing of Judah from the idolatry of the two previous regimes. In the process of cleansing and repair the high priest discovered the scroll of “the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses” (2 Chron. 34:14). This was probably the book of Deuteronomy. When the book of the law was read to King Josiah, he realized how far his people had departed from God’s command. The king tore his clothes as a sign of repentance and sent his advisors to seek a prophetic word on the matter. The prophetess Huldah gave the word of God: The sins and apostasy of Judah were beyond remedy, and Judah was doomed. However, because Josiah had sought the Lord and repented, “I [the Lord] will gather you to your fathers and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here” (34:28).

Josiah immediately busied himself in bringing Judah into more rigorous conformity with the law of Moses. Perhaps he was mindful of the ancient Jewish understanding of “changing God’s mind” through prayer and repentance. That understanding went as far back as Moses’ plea to God not to destroy the Jewish people for worshiping the golden calf (Ex. 32:9–14). King David had gone on a fast to try to save his newborn child in spite of the word of God from the prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:7–23). Josiah was presumably also aware of the prayer of King Hezekiah, which had added fifteen years to his life in spite of the initial word from God through Isaiah that he would die immediately (2 Kings 20:1–7).9

In any case, Josiah organized a covenant-renewal service. This took the form of an assembly of the men of Judah in which the law was read, and Josiah vowed to obey the requirements of the law: “Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:32). Josiah also encouraged the Levites to become teachers of the law. As the other righteous kings of Judah, he reinstated the observance of the Passover and its accompanying Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 35:17–18)

The only serious error of Josiah as king was one connected with a military decision. He did not discern that Neco, the pharaoh of Egypt, was on a mission from God to fight the Babylonians (2 Chron. 35:22). Josiah refused to give the Egyptian army safe passage through Judah but instead went out and gave battle. He lost both the battle and his life, and he was buried to the public chants and laments of the prophet Jeremiah.
 

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Category: Church History, Summer 2003

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

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