Recipes For Incubating A Revival
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 17, Apr 2019
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 15
And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD. And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep. And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about. And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days. And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels. And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
During the reign of Asa, we witness the first revival and I believe God has given us a blueprint on revival in this book. Asa is one of the five kings whom God used to bring revival to the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom never had a revival. They have nineteen kings, and all of them were bad. There’s not one good one in that lot. The saddest story concerning a church will be that it never had a revival. It never had a good leader. Evangel Tabernacle has been in existence for 33 years. Looking over the years, can we safely say Etab has periods of revival? I remember the Rodney Howard Browne and the G12 power encounter. Can we say that those are revivals that took place in Etab? What are the ingredients that incubate (nurture) a revival? Of the twenty kings over Judah, ten of them could be called good, and five of them were outstanding. These five were Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. The features of their reign was reformation, peace and quietness which comes about as a result of revival. On the road to revival there must be a few bridges that one has to cross. What are they?
1. The Spirit of God Came
2 Chronicles 15:1 says, ‘And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded.’
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. Azariah was a prophet. He was the prophet that is mentioned in nowhere else except this verse. He is another one of those men of God who made only a single appearance in the Bible. Before YHWH starts a revival, he usually send a prophet into your life or your church only for a period. He will appear out of the blue and won’t appear again in your life. He has an interesting mission and that is directed to you and to the church. He could also be known as a seer. A seer is one of the several terms used to denote a prophet. He has prophetic oracles (revelations, visions). Before a revival starts, the Spirit of the LORD must come through a prophet or a Man of God. The coming of the ‘Spirit of God’ or ‘Spirit of YHWH’ is an indication of prophetic inspiration or divine authority. The phrase ‘the Spirit of God’’ came upon someone is an idiom of YHWH empowering a person to do His will. We need the ‘Spirit of God’ to come upon us to do God’s work. We need the Spirit of God to come if we want revival. Rodney Howard Brownne started a revival that span from the United States to the whole world. He was different. He has prophetic oracles. In the Old Testament it is the ‘Spirit of God’ that came upon people that empowered them to execute artistic work of the tabernacle. The Spirit of God came upon 70 elders of God empowering them to help Moses. The Spirit of God must be upon the leaders of this church to help the leadership. All the judges in the book of Judges were empowered to be Judges. Even servants were empowered to be Saul’s messengers and David’s men.
Azariah was a prophet and in 2 Chronicles 15:2 it says, ‘And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.’
The message is clear. Asa is king over Judah and Benjamin. YHWH will be with Asa if Asa is with Him. If Asa seek YHWH, YHWH will be found of him. But if Asa forsake him YHWH will also forsake Asa. Notice the reciprocal, conditional covenant in this context. It is the Judean King who is called on to seek YHWH and then YHWH will allow himself to be found. There is no greater blessing than the presence of YHWH. This presence involves both human and divine will/volition. The human must cooperate with the divine will of God. That is the recipe for revival. What I am trying to say is that YHWH would continue to be on the side of the people as long as they continued to be true to him.
We are considered as God’s people. And if we humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then God will act. This is not a one-time action but an ongoing attitude. It is a lifestyle faith. This lifestyle faith will set the stage for YHWH to constantly act. God says, ‘then I will.’ This is a conditional covenant terminology. YHWH has always been waiting for His covenant people to act like His covenant people. YHWH’s blessing flows from obedience. He will hear, forgive and heal. All these will come in response to sinners seeking Him at the temple. Actually, YHWH told me very clearly that even stranger (people that are very new in this church and stranger to the regulars in this church); if they pray and seek him, He will answer their prayer. This is the promise of God to repentant, seeking people. And God told me that it is not meant to be a special or one-time event but it will be a constant promise that stranger that pray in this church, YHWH will hear.
2. The knowledge of the Word of God.
The Word of God. I personally believe if a church really is very interested in the word of God, then, there will be revival. The tragedy of the hour in our day is that there is no united interest in the bible teaching in the church. I know that today in the SCG some of you had an Easter Donut if you had brought your bible. Pastor Lily takes seriously the importance of studying the Bible in the SCG. The SCG has been in existence for 33 years in this church. There must be united interest in the bible in this church. I say this very kindly, but we do not need more preachers. You can buy them like bananas, by the dozen. I can go to the supermarket and buy a bunch of bananas and usually there are a dozen in that bunch. Preachers today are like bananas by the dozen. A preacher can just get a sermon from the website and delivered it on a Sunday. It did not come about as a result of his or her interest in the Word of God. Are you excited about the Word of God? Do you wake up in the morning and you read and learn and have knowledge of the Word of God and you get excited because YHWH spoke something to you. It is just that simple and yet it is just that complicated. My friends, if you mean business with God, God will mean business with you. I hear people says, ‘Oh, I try to study. I try to pray. I try to do this but I didn’t get anywhere.’ My friend, who are you kidding? May I say to you that when you say that, you make God a liar. I have news for you – God is no liar. God says, ‘If you seek Me, I am there.” If you mean business with God, God will mean business with you. Oh, search your heart, my friend. If you really want to know God’s Word then God is ready to meet you any time you are ready. I also want to say that it should not be a ritual. It should be something that is fresh and it takes sacrifice by waking up but it will be exciting because YHWH will talk to you. And when you have done that, after you come out of that closet you will feel something alive in the belly of your being. Something alive and fresh and you just feel and know that things will be ok. And if you are constantly filled with the Word, soon a revival will come.
3. The Conditions of the World and the Church.
Why is there no revival in the first place? 2 Chronicles 15:3 gives us the answer. It says, ‘Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. ‘ For a long season without the true God’ means that since the end of Solomon’s reign the kingdom was split into two and Rehoboam, his grandfather was a wicked king and ruled for 17 years and his father Abijah was equally wicked and ruled for 3 years. There was still Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem, the priest and Levites are going about their religious tradition but it was a long time that they have been without the true God. One of the major priestly functions was to teach the Law. Before Asa became king, until then even though there was a priest officiating in the tabernacle, he did not teach the people and consequently they lived without the true God and without the Law. As a result, there been a period of anarchy and lawlessness during which members had been easy prey for any enemies.
Isn’t it very sad that there is the existence of the church and yet there is no true God? The people were in a state described as a state of spiritual destitution (hardship, need, poverty) and ignorance (people do what is right in his own eyes) and exhibited carnality resulting in widespread anarchy, mutual dissension among themselves (infighting in the church) and general suffering is the state of the day. These calamities God has permitted to befall them as the punishment for their apostasy.
The covenant people had fallen into a period of spiritual malaise:
1. Without the true God
2. Without a teaching priest
3. Without the Law.
What a sorry spiritual condition for the unique covenant people. I am captivated by this phrase, ‘they did not have a teaching priest’. It is not saying that there was no pastor but the pastor is not a teaching priest. We have pastors in all churches; they are the Levites and the priests. But they are not teaching priest. It means that the Law found in the Word of God is not authoritatively proclaimed, taught and ministered. Oh, they preached but they talked about grace, about God telling them to have another plane, worldly music can be sung in the Holy Sanctuary of God, Christian can sleep together before marriage. Teaching involved a written Word of God which contains the Law. There must be oral instructions on the legal precepts. Isaiah 28:10 says, ‘For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little.’ Because they is no teaching priest, there is no law in the church. As a pastor of this church, I pray that YHWH will help me be a teaching priest. That we will not be a lawless church. That Etab will be with law.
To members of this church, we have to be learning to seek the face of YHWH. We have to be learning to read the Word of God and thereby know the Law of God. Because 2 Chronicles 15:5 says, ‘And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.’ When you are without YHWH, without a true God, without a teaching priest and thereby becoming lawless, then there will be no peace when you leave your house to go into the city to work. There will be no peace when you come back home. I remembered when I was a non-Christian, I hate to go home because there is no peace in the house. There is the constant financial worry. My dad is always not around. We need him to support the 8 children in the family. But he was not responsible. He would gamble away the money. There is no peace when I go home. Is your home like that? But there will be great vexations. It will be a city full of lawlessness. In today’s church context, the leadership must not lead the people into lawlessness. Without the true God means without His presence and blessing. Without the Law means without the knowledge of or obedience to the commandments of God. And this usually leads to anarchy with great turmoil and distress. It becomes a country of lawlessness.
2 Chronicles 15:6 actually describes the danger of travelling in a country full of lawlessness. 2 Chronicles 15:6 says, ‘And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. I ask you today? Why do we have really smart people in the political world that runs our country and they make stupid decisions? How can such smart people make such stupid decisions? Why is it that we cannot have law and order? Why is it that we can’t really have peace? Do you have peace in the house? It is because they are without a true God. YHWH has been left out.
4. A Seeking Asa.
2 Chronicles 15:2 says, ‘if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.’
Asa seeks God. Asa says this in 1 Chronicles 14:7 ‘The land is still ours because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought him, and He has given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.’ I feel that this verse is really for our church. This land that we are standing on is still ours because we have sought the LORD and He has given us rest on every side. So we build and prospered. I want to be honest here. For 26 years when I was leader in this church and chairman in my ex organization, I don’t have peace of mind but burden and pressure to fulfill the desire of my ex leader. But now, I feel peace and rest just going about doing God’s work. Every time I enter this church land, there is such a freshness and peace and rest and a smile because of the goodness of the LORD wells up in me. We are repairing this church and our next target is the MPH and like the verse says, ‘so we build and prospered.’
We have a glimpse into the private life of the king and it is commendable. Asa seeks YHWH. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, ‘For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.’ When you seek God, you will learn of his Law and you will always want to do what is good and right. Actually, Azariah the prophet reminded Asa that YHWH was with him because he sought the LORD.
The phrase ‘move and fro’ is an idiom used several times in the Old Testament.
a. It denotes YHWH actively seeking those who have sought Him. YHWH is looking for someone who actively sought him constantly.
b. It denotes those who seek YHWH. He looks for those who seek YHWH. When I seek Him he takes notes.
c. It denotes YHWH seeking one godly person in Jerusalem so as to spare it from Judgment. YHWH seek for a godly man in the city that he might spare a city like Iloilo City from disaster. YHWH is looking from where? The bible says ‘earth’ . It could mean a city, a land, a country or the whole earth. YHWH is looking for someone in a city, a land, a country or the whole earth who has placed his faith, obedience and devotion towards YHWH.
d. YHWH restoring the temple. God wants to restore the church to what it is meant to be.
As you seek YHWH you will learn of the Law and you will act to fix whatever spiritual malaise that is around you. On the contrary they will be no peace and they will continually be beaten up by their enemies if they don’t seek the LORD.
Asa acted to fix the spiritual sickness.
1. he removed the idols from the land,
2. he restored the sacrificial altar of the temple
3. he gathered all the faithful of both kingdoms to Jerusalem
4. they renewed their covenant with YHWH
5. took action against all who would not follow Him; one person’s sin affects the whole.
6. he initiated a major worship event.
7. YHWH responded with peace and security for him.
8. he restored the dedicated things to the temple.
Asa undertook all these reforms with great boldness. You want revival. Undertake reforms with excessive courage. These verses also showed a terrible pattern of idolatry around. Idolatry is a recurrent issue. Sin is always a recurrent issue in the church and we have to constantly remind and remove.
2 Chronicles 15:9 says, ‘And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.’
Asa gathered all Judah and Benjamin. And all the strangers out of Ephraim and Manasseh. Also, out of Simeon. They came to him from all over Israel in abundance. Why? Because they saw that the LORD was with him. This is amazing. Simeon was incorporated into Judah. Simeon became part of Judah. Even sojourner from Ephraim; the Northern Kingdom, Manasseh; the tribe from the other side of Jordan were drawn to the LORD. The population of Asa’s kingdom had been vastly increased by the continued influx of strangers who, prompted by motives either of interest or of piety, sought security and freedom which they could not enjoy in the midst of so much complicated troubles which distracted the whole people of God. People that had no sense of security and freedom but complicated troubles in abundance will be drawn to a true church. People from the Northern Kingdom came in abundance to Judah.
To put it into today’s context. People from other churches will gather to Etab because they see that YHWH is with us. I know that many people criticize transfer growth. It means that the church grew not because of new ones but members from other churches came to join because they saw that YHWH is with them. Whether you like it or not, people can see if YHWH is with us or not. Asa taught them to enter into a covenant with YHWH. Then they likewise will learn to seek the LORD. But whosoever will not seek the LORD will be put to death. If you don’t seek the LORD you will die spiritually and even physically. It doesn’t matter whether you are a great person or a small person. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. If you don’t seek the LORD you will die spiritually and physically, even if you are found in church. I mean scriptures for communion says, ‘if we eat and drink unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to ourselves. For this cause many are weak and sickly and among you and many sleeps. It talks about spiritual death and physical death.
So zealous was Asa that he even removed his mother from the position of queen mother because Maachah made idol in the grove. Asa cut down her obscene idol and stamped it and burned it at the brook Kidron. Maachah represents your religious traditions which are hard to eradicate. Maachah represents the religious belief of your family. I ask those who are head of the family. Are there still idols in your home? If you don’t think idols are that offensive to YHWH, please understand that the number one cause of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom, the whole of Israel being exiled was idolatry. Today the Jews are so scared of idolatry that they will never want to have idols in their home because they knew why they were dispersed all over the world in the first place. Because of Idolatry. If I know my bible correctly, God has given us a clear instruction on how to destroy idol if we have one at home. We are not only to smash it but to burn it. I believe smashing signify the breaking of ties and the burning speaks of death to its hold over us. Also, we must be insistent in our obedience to God even at the expense of our loved ones who can be the one who can cause us to sin, like Maachah, Asa’s mother. I mean Asa removed her to be queen.
I salute Asa and I think we are on the right track. Asa initiated a repair program for the temple since Solomon’s time. At this time the only part of the temple in need of restoration was the large altar. By this time the temple had been functioning for about 60 years. One would expect quite a bit of wear and tear, particularly in the altar. For Etab, we repaired the stage, the wood and tiles, the drop stage, the altar where we come to seek forgiveness and atonement, renewing of vow and worshipping none other than the true God.
5. Peace and Quietness.
2 Chronicles 15:19 says, ‘And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.’ There was no more war into the 35th year of his reign. Asa ruled for 41 years. 2 Chronicles 14:1 says, ‘So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. in his days the land was quiet ten years.’
When Asa started to reigned, the land was quiet for 10 years. The land was undisturbed for ten years. Not since the reign of Solomon had rest been given to the people. Please understand the political world during that time. The Egyptian Empire is fighting wars to survive and not lose more territories, the Assyrian Empire has started to exert itself and the coming Babylonian Empire is in its infant stage. There is constant war in the Middle East during that time. Yet no war came to Judah for 10 years. How is it possible? Contextually this could be because of Asa’s trust in YHWH and also it is because of Asa’s reforms. This rest or renewed peace is the result of restored faith. This is part of the covenant blessings . Chronicles is very interested in how Asa relates to YHWH. Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 2 Chronicles 14:5-6 says, ‘Also he took away all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.’ Rest from enemies, peace, and prosperity are the lot of the righteous. On the other hand, severe illness is the result of sin and guilt. 2 Chronicles 17:10 says, ‘And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war.’ Wow; when you become a teaching priest, and you go about reforming the church, fear will fall upon all that are round about you. The enemies become fearful of you and they made no war with you. When I teach and walked in the commandment of YHWH the enemies round about will be fearful of me and they will make no war with me. Then revival will come.