This chapter details the reforms Josiah, King of Judah, made in response to the finding, reading, and rededicating himself to the Book of the Covenant. What immediately sticks out is that this adequately depicts what revival looks like. One revivalist said, “revival is nothing more than a recommitment to God in obeying Him in all things He has revealed.” In other words, revival starts in the heart of a man or woman who commits to doing things God’s way. It’s not primarily the services, popular personalities, or even the hymns sung, but a renewal of obedience to His known will. That said, it is evident in this generation there is a need for such a revival in the heart of Christians.
Today, Christianity is as popular as ever in our culture. Billboards and advertising conferences can be seen off the highway as you drive towards various destinations. Drive up and down any street in major cities, and you’ll see no shortage of churches, whether cathedrals, steeples, or storefronts. Turn on your radio if you still listen to it, and you’ll hear stations dedicated to Christian topics and programs. If that doesn’t suit you, many podcasts feature Christian content enough to keep you updated on the latest goings and comings of the Church with a hint of criticism as well. Furthermore, turn on your television, and you’ll find every religious program to suit your tastes. Finally, books are printed, and blogs are published to fill with literature, whatever is lacking from the other media.
I repeat that Christianity is as popular as ever, especially if you consider the jewelry industry. Long ago, a cross was tantamount to an electric chair and would not have been fashionable to wear around a person’s neck. When a person wore a cross back then, the community didn’t look upon it with envy, nor did it arouse jealousy. It was a sad reminder that this crucifixion could happen to you. Now crosses of all types are worn, bedazzled with diamonds and other luxurious stones, ornate with various designs, and made from silver, gold, or platinum. A symbol of death paraded by those full of life. Christianity is prevalent in our society, but is it as powerful?
In Josiah’s day, the ways of God weren’t as known as Christianity today, but similarly, there was a decline in its influence among God’s chosen people. The nation picked to carry the oracles of the Most High had somehow lost it or misplaced it, and as a result, the influence of its revelation waned. Josiah steps into a precarious position due to the choices of previous kings to erect other effects of life and culture instead of the Truth of God. Promiscuous practices were now commonplace amongst the populace. Idolatry had infiltrated every arena of life, including the Temple. Though somewhere, I believe, in the hearts of God’s people, they knew God didn’t prescribe their secular lifestyle. Therefore, against His will, it was easier to fall in line with what everybody else was doing, especially with idol worship being so prevalent. What a shock it must have been to those who found the sacred prescriptions and prohibitions from the Almighty! What embarrassment and shame must have filled their minds because of their practices and those of the nation? Whatever the knee-jerk reaction, their decision and that of Josiah brought about the reforms we read about in 2 Kings chapter 23.
Josiah chose to reinstitute God’s influence and turn from idolatrous ideologies. Isn’t this what revival is; the turning, or in this case, returning to Godly influence to obey it and a turning away from false ideology? It is the opposite of what we read in 2 Timothy 4:4, which says, “They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.” The effect of a revival is the turning from myths, fables, and false beliefs to the revealed truth of God. Make no mistake in thinking idolatry is simply statues, images, and trinkets; there’s a whole ideology and belief system in worshiping idols. It’s not bowing down to them alone that displays their error, but their reasoning for bowing in the first place. It’s actively dismissing God’s influence for the deceptive influence of secular society. When this is at its height, it can bleed into every fabric of society and culture, such as: from the government to church, from church to community, from community to homes, and from homes to individuals. Such was the case that preceded the reforms of Josiah, and such is the condition today that demands another triumph of truth, a revival of God’s influence, and a permeating of Christian power in society and culture. When Christians choose to let Christian influence dictate their lives, we’ll see truth triumph over false beliefs as we read in Josiah’s. For Josiah, it wasn’t enough to acknowledge the truth; its authority needed to be put into practice and erected higher than the tree stumps the nation was bowing down to.
This is where revival starts, dear Christain, in our hearts in response to God’s truth and influence. And I pray this revival can burn in my heart and into this generation.