National Revival



Unlike his father Ahaz, King Hezekiah, the 14th king of Judah, was a good king. He succeeded his father to the throne when he was just 25 and reigned for 29 years.

Because of his gross apostasy, his father’s reign was a total disaster; the hand of the Lord was against him. Judah suffered heavy defeats and losses at the hands of the Syrians, the Edomites, the Philistines, and even their brother Israelites. Ahaz even offered sacrifices to the gods of the Syrians, ignorantly thinking that because their gods had been helpful to the Syrian king, they would be helpful to him.

This window depicts Rev. Robert Hunt, the Anglican chaplain of Jamestown, dedicating America to the Gospel of Jesus Christ on April 29, 1607. It’s found in the parish church in England that he left behind.

People are just as ignorant today – they readily “sacrifice” to whomsoever and whatsoever they think will bless them or make them happy, without a second thought.

Ahaz’s heart was so cold and closed to the Lord that he closed the temple and cut up its holy things. He presided over increasing moral decline in Judah and even sacrificed children in fire. The nation sank very low.

Hezekiah, however, recognized the underlying cause of all the nation’s ills and immediately set about national revival. He set about tearing down what his father had done; and his heart was to make a covenant with the Lord to turn away His fierce anger.

So he straight away opened up the temple and cleansed and restored it. He reinstated praise and worship and the sacrifices. He sent runners throughout the nation urging people to come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Some jeered the messengers and laughed at them, but there were some who were obedient. And the Bible tells us that the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and his leaders, at the word of the Lord (2 Chron. 30:12).

He will do the same for any nation that truly seeks Him.

Although many of the people who ate the Passover were ritually unclean, Hezekiah prayed and interceded for them, asking the Lord to provide atonement for everyone who had prepared his heart to seek Him. And, because He saw that their hearts were truly seeking Him, the Lord consented and healed the people; and there was great joy in Jerusalem – of a kind not seen in the city since the glory days of David and Solomon.

Likewise God will be gracious and gladden the hearts of any nation that turns to Him in earnest.

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. (Isaiah 46:9)

The hearts of the king and of his people were united to again seek the Lord and in this very thing they found immense favor with God.

Whereas the heart of Ahaz had been stony and cold, Hezekiah’s heart was repentant and hot towards the God of their forefathers. Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord; he trusted in the Lord; he held fast to the Lord and followed Him, keeping His commandments. Therefore, the Lord was with him and prospered him.

This is a word of encouragement and direction for every nation in moral decay and economic decline in these days – to turn away from evil and wholeheartedly seek the Lord God and His righteousness.

In 2011, we witnessed extremes of weather all around the world. America suffered record-breaking rain and snowfall resulting in flooding across the northern states, while the southern states experienced record-breaking drought and wildfires, along with devastating tornadoes. At the time of writing (November 2011), America’s economy is in a mess, millions are unemployed, and her leaders seem feckless to know what to do about it. America is not alone. Europe’s economy is teetering on the brink of collapse with Greece and Italy in serious trouble. Europe’s leaders appear just as inept as their American counterparts. And all the while, western governments and leaders are metaphorically “closing the temple and cutting up its holy things,” even believing it’s right and necessary to separate God from affairs of state and from public places.

And people are running to other gods ….as well as to drugs, alcohol, and retail therapy for as long as they still have money and jobs.

Are children being sacrificed in fire? Well, approximately 1.37 million unborn babies are being terminated in America every year, that’s about 3,700 every day. The vast majority of them are being incinerated. Worldwide the figures are in the order of 42 million annually and 115,000 daily. (These are 1996 figures.)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you….” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Rick Perry, the governor of the state of Texas, was heavily criticized in August 2011 for sponsoring and leading a prayer rally in Houston for the ‘nation in crisis.’ The New York Times reported that it opened him up to “criticism for mixing religion and politics in such a grand and overtly Christian fashion.” It also opened him up to a lawsuit which, thankfully, was thrown out. American politicians have mixed religion and politics for 200 years. If they hadn’t, would Americans celebrate an annual public holiday every Thanksgiving? Perhaps the secularists should be lobbying Congress for the annual  Thanksgiving holiday to be dropped.  But that would not make them very popular, would it?

Just consider the Thanksgiving Proclamations of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — they were not slow to mix religion and politics! It’s an experience just reading them out loud:

George Washington:

WHEREAS, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;

WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.  –George Washington – October 3, 1789

Abraham Lincoln:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s proclamation was made 61 years after Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists in which he wrote of “a wall of separation between church and state.” Jefferson was simply affirming the First Amendment that provides Congress should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  His letter is not part of the Constitution, nor was it intended to subvert the Constitution, but it has been used by the Supreme Court to interpret the First Amendment away from its clear and unambiguous language and even add to it. In plain language, the First Amendment tells Congress to stay out of religion; it does not tell religion to stay out of Congress! Jefferson himself had no doubt about that, for he himself regularly attended church in the Capitol building! [See our article ‘Jesus in America.’] Jefferson in no way advocated taking Christianity out of public life; but today there are restrictions on the exercise of Christianity in public life that appear to breach the plain language of the First Amendment.

Sixty-one years after Jefferson’s letter, Lincoln had no doubt about whom to thank as the Source of his nation’s help through the Civil War. And Washington had no such doubt either in regard to the Revolutionary War.

As for Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, he prayed thus: “….and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness.” And, just as in Hezekiah’s day, some protested and some jeered. Hezekiah’s words were very similar: “Our fathers have trespassed and done evil in the eyes of the Lord our God; they have forsaken Him, they have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the Lord, and turned their backs on Him.” (2 Chronicles 29:6)

The world’s idea of “one-God-fits-all” is true only if He is the God of the Bible and the cross of Jesus Christ is the only way to Him. All other faiths deny the cross, avoid the cross, and believe that salvation is possible without the cross. The truth is, however, that man by his own efforts cannot save himself. He needs the Savior; and the only Savior is Jesus Christ. There is no God of all faiths. Though He loves people of all faiths and sent His Son to die for all, He is the God of the Bible.

King Hezekiah turned his nation back to God and did what was good and right and true before the Lord. And in everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commandments, he sought his God and did it with all his heart. And so he prospered. (2 Chron. 31:20-21). He trusted in the Lord God of Israel. He held fast to Him, he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments. And the Lord was with Hezekiah and prospered him wherever he went (2 Kings 18:5-7).

Under Ahaz, who turned his back on the Lord and closed His temple, God had given the nation up to economic desolation, subservience to Assyria, and the loss of territory, men, women and children. But, under Hezekiah, who re-opened the temple and turned the nation back to the Lord, God quickly and dramatically turned the national economy around.

God blessed the people so very much that they had the wherewithal cheerfully to give tithes in abundance to the priests – so much that the priests had more than enough and began laying up the surpluses in heaps! When Hezekiah enquired about the heaps, he was told that the Lord had blessed the people to such an extraordinary degree that “what is left is this great abundance.” (2 Chron. 31:10)

In other words, Hezekiah had no idea how wonderfully the Lord was moving on the people to prosper them. God was doing it. Not the state.

We read in 2 Chronicles 32:27-29 that God blessed Hezekiah with such great riches and honor, that he had treasuries made for gold, for silver, for precious stones, for spices, for shields and for all kinds of desirable items. He had storehouses made for the harvests of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls for all kinds of livestock, and folds for flocks which he had in abundance. He also built new cities, for God gave him very great wealth and riches.

God blessed the nation so fast and so abundantly that the princes of Babylon sent ambassadors to Hezekiah to enquire about “the wonder that was done in the land”! (2 Chron. 32:31)

The Lord also blessed the nation militarily. They ceased to pay tribute to Assyria; they totally subdued the Philistines, taking back from them what had been lost under Ahaz and seizing more besides; and the Lord was with them to defend them from invasion by the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who, incidentally, spoke about the Lord as dismissively as he spoke about the gods of other nations, boasting in having overcome them.

And that was Sennacherib’s huge mistake, for the Lord He alone is God. He cannot be lowered and lumped together with other gods, neither in men’s thinking nor in their worship. It didn’t work then; it won’t work now.

These are true historical facts that God has included in the Bible as examples for our learning (1 Cor. 10:11).

The nations and their leaders need to learn from them today. They can learn great lessons from Ahaz and Hezekiah. They can learn the easy road to national revival.