RAF: 1. God must be our God. 2. God must be God, alone. 3. God must be worshiped according to what He has revealed. 4. God must be believed, and served according to what He has said. It is for want of these that Israel was decimated. Oh Father, keep us.
2 – “This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: “She despises you, she scorns you— the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you— the daughter of Jerusalem.” (2 Kings 19:21, ESV)
RAF: By this time, Judah was anything but a virgin. She had followed Israel into all kinds of idolatry – which God compares to adultery. A betrayal of their relationship with Him. Nonetheless, how gracious God is. How willing to forgive. How He still looks on her with such tenderness. He replies to her that He still thinks of her as His “virgin daughter”, not the soiled betrayer she had truly become. Christian, do you imagine your God casts you off over petty sins and one time failures? Do you think of Him as though you live in perpetual probation? It isn’t so. See how compassionate He is. See how patient He is. How forgiving. How ready and willing to receive us. Trust more in His love and grace than your love and performance. There is no other way.
3 – “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying,” (2 Kings 20:2, ESV)
RAF: As good and as faithful a King as Hezekiah was, he shows that his desire was rooted more in this life than that to come in the presence of God. And while God shows him uncommon favor in sparing his life for 15 more years, and demonstrating it with an unprecedented miracle – it is during this 15 years Hezekiah fathers the man who will become Judah’s most wicked King of all. How we need to set our hearts on things above. Father, make me to desire Heaven more than anything this life can possibly give.
4 – “And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.” (2 Kings 20:9-11, ESV)
RAF: God will move Heaven and earth for His children. Child of God, pray. Heavenly Father, give us your Spirit of prayer.
5 – “Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord:” (2 Kings 20:16, ESV)
RAF: We are not gnostics. Nevertheless, there are sweet treasures which belong to the children of God and are not for public consumption. If men would have the benefit of them, God must be their God too. May we have wisdom here. Some doctrines and some blessings belong to the Family, and are not to be paraded out before men until they have entered into the life of Christ. For want of discernment here, I fear we have left the Church open to needless attacks and plundering. The Lost have right neither to our peace nor our promises until they have become our Christ’s.
6 – “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?”” (2 Kings 20:19, ESV)
RAF: Heavenly Father, spare us from such minds. May we ever think of the legacy we will leave to those who come behind us. Silver and gold may not be ours, but teach us to be excellent stewards of the truth and grace you have poured out upon us. Help us to build upon it and improve it and leave it in the hands of faithful ones to follow. Help us to store up for the generations who will serve you after we have gone. Do not let us leave them to their own devices.
7 – “But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.” (2 Kings 21:9, ESV)
RAF: The old adage that “God has no grandchildren” cannot be more forcefully put before than it is here. Hezekiah led the nation in a great return to God. His reforms were sweeping. But his son did not know God for himself. And in one generation the people are led to do “more evil than the nations had done” – more than the pagans who were dispossessed because of their sin. When our Christianity fails to charge each person, every child to reckon with God on their own, for themselves, we plot the doom of the next generation. Our first responsibility to our children and our children’s children, is to evangelize them. And there is no greater deception among men than to imagine that the God of their parents is somehow automatically theirs by inheritance. It is not so.
8 – “ In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the Lord, saying, “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the Lord, repairing the house (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”” (2 Kings 22:3-7, ESV)
RAF: Josiah will lead Judah into its greatest revival. Note again how such times begin with a deep desire to repair God’s house. There, in the natural is a picture of the spiritual. When revival comes to God’s people, there is a great desire to build His “church”, His people together. To restore the fellowship of the saints. To restore common worship. Together to conspire to make His praise glorious in all the earth. To reach the lost with the fame of His name.
9 – ““Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”” (2 Kings 22:13, ESV)
RAF: Note the second great feature of true restoration of God’s people: The Word of God becomes central again. We MUST hear what God has said.
10 – “ Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him. And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:1-3, ESV)
RAF: If we would truly be “God’s people”, there must be a commitment to God’s Word, beginning with the leadership and then running all the way through the Church.
11 – “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.” (2 Kings 23:4, ESV)
RAF: The third step in restoration is a thorough purging out of worldly compromises and elements that had been imported into the worship of the one true God.
12 – “And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.” (2 Kings 23:5, ESV)
RAF: Fourth – Removal of compromised leadership. If they are not sold out solely for Christ, they need to go. His agenda alone must rule the day.
13 – “And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.” (2 Kings 23:7, ESV)
RAF: Fifth – Restoration to moral purity.
14 – “And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beersheba. And he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.” (2 Kings 23:8, ESV)
RAF: Sixth – A direct attack upon false belief and religious systems. No syncretism. A return to actively seeking to evangelization with a goal of proselytizing. Making disciples of all nations.
15 – “And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came out of Samaria.” (2 Kings 23:16-18, ESV)
RAF: Seventh – A restored appreciation for those who had served God faithfully before.
16 – “ And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.” (2 Kings 23:21-23, ESV)
RAF: Eighth – A renewed emphasis on Biblical ways and ordinances.
17 – “Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Kings 23:24, ESV)
RAF: Ninth – A rejection of superstition, mysticism and occultism.
18 – “Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.” (2 Kings 23:26, ESV)
RAF: Revival must not give way to utopianism. This world is still to be judged. No matter how vibrant the Church becomes, that day is still approaching. We will not produce Heaven on earth.