The history of spiritual revival in King Josiah’s day is inspiring because it occurred during a time of great idolatry that was, well, probably worse than today. Though God had shown Josiah that judgment was coming to the land, nevertheless, a local spiritual revival occurred among those who were open to it before the final fall of Jerusalem occurred.
The apostle Paul prophesied of a “falling away,” an apostasy in the last days (II Th 2.3) and basically we are living in a post-Christian society. Nevertheless, God can send down a spiritual revival at any time and place and He’s not dependent on any world statistics or base support. I heard a sermon a long time ago by Jon Courson on this theme in II Kings but had renewed interest when I considered how applicable it is for us today. The following seven steps outline the revival that occurred in Josiah’s day:
1) Repair damage to the house of God – Workers began joining together to repair the house of God (II Kings 22.5). This is important physically, but more important spiritually. In the NT, individual believers are referred to as living temples of God.” (I Cor 3.16) The Church body is also referred to as a temple of living stones (I Pet 2.5). Personal healing is a step towards revival as is renewed love in the body of Christ as a whole. I Peter 4.8 says "Above all things put on love." Love should be first on the list. Without love everything else is meaningless. In Ukraine, where I'm a missionary, there’s deep bitterness between many Ukrainians and Russians, even in the church. President Yushchenko recently said “There is no forgiveness and there will be none” referring to Stalin's infamous Bykivnya slaughtering ground.
2) Rediscover the word of God – The scriptures had been lost but were discovered by the priest, Hilkiah (22.11). Previous kings Manasseh and Ammon tried to destroy the scriptures, much like governments and institutions today that are trying to eradicate any mention of God or the scriptures from society. But the word of God was studied and read and love for it grew.
3) Repent of sins – When the word of God was studied Josiah repented (22.11). Like Daniel, it may have been more for the sins of his nation than for his own sins (Dan 9.5). Repentance means more than just feeling sorry for sins; it means changing direction and following God wholeheartedly.
4) Request guidance from the Holy Spirit – Our relationship with God is not based on a formula but on a dynamic interaction. We are to seek God’s specific will for our lives. Verse 13 shows Josiah’s request and verse 16 shows God’s answer to spare Josiah from the coming judgment. In turn Josiah continued to take steps towards revival.
5) Respond Outwardly – As the word of God was being taught people responded in tangible ways. They were not “closet believers” but were willing to take a stand for God and His word (23.3)
6) Remove all idols – One of the main responses of true repentance is the removal of any and all of the idols in our lives. Josiah had the idols burned (23.6) and this exemplifies God’s jealous love for us like a consuming fire (Deut 4.24). An idol is anything which vies for our attention or affection over and above our devotion to God. Examples may include money, career, family, comfort, pleasure, etc.
7) Revival’s result is Jesus – In the fruition of the revival, we see the Passover celebrated as the most remarkable one in the history of all the judges and kings (23.22). The Passover is a picture of Jesus’ redemption and our present day “communion” practice is an affirmation of His continual presence in our lives. In spiritual revivals there is a return to the basics.
The great spiritual revival in Josiah's day began with his own personal revival. In Revelation Jesus admonishes the church to return to her “first love” (Rev 2.4-5). Is Jesus the first and highest love in your life as Savior and Lord, though there other things in this world vying for the throne of your heart?
Have you ever seen a true impacting revival take place? Are you seeing one take place now? Do you believe that God can send a spiritual revival in your church and community that has a great impact on society in spite of the seemingly hopeless appearances?