Great Awakenings

 

Imagine if you became a king at 8 years of age. In 2 Kings 22 & 23 we are introduced to a young king who was put in that very position. Josiah came to the throne as a boy inheriting a nation in terrible spiritual condition. At a young age he made a deep personal commitment to the Lord that shaped his life. When the Book of the Law was providentially discovered, he heard it as God’s Word and led the nation in spiritual renewal and reformation.

During Biblical times many of the kingdoms that ruled the earth were motivated by power and greed.Throughout history, materialism has often reigned deeper in the heart of mankind rather than pure spiritual values. For many kings and rulers in the western world, the Christian faith was used as a way to judge and persecute their personal rivals. For some of the religious leaders of the day, their manipulation of the Christian belief system led to abuses of power and more importantly heretical teaching in the church to suit their needs. The call for spiritual renewal often came at a cost to lives but also came in very unique ways.

Spiritual renewal or revivals, as they are often called, have been great events in time that have changed people internally, which in turn affected the social and economic conditions of many societies in remarkable ways. From John Wycliffe to William Tyndale among many others, each played a role in bringing some form of spiritual renewal and reform.  In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. This was a theological statement made against the Catholic Church stating that we can personally receive salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That through Christ’s sacrificial death we are justified through our faith in Him and not saved by the church. This reformation challenged the way people had a relationship with God and subsequently led to the scriptures being more readily available in German and English. With the printing press, the amount of people that could personally read and receive the Scriptures in their own language also added to theological comprehension.

Just as in Josiah’s day, there was a need to return to the values that God has laid out in His Word. In chapter 2 Kings 22, Josiah is showing his desire to follow God by firstly showing fairness in how money was given to pay for the repairs needed for the temple. The temple once being an important place of worship to the God of Israel had become a place of idolatry; the monies made from the people was used for idolatrous practices and to pay for frivolous activity. Josiah wanted to change that and as they begin the repairs some of the old Books of the Law are found. This was God’s Word and as Josiah listens to them being read aloud he realizes that as the people of God, they are far from where they should be spiritually. He tears his clothes in a sign of sorrow and promptly begins a campaign to make things right. Over the next chapter and a half, Josiah leads the nation in humility and consecration to God. It began in his heart; followed by visible action.

Renewal begins in the heart. A person who desires to be truly renewed requires to be convicted of sin and acting on that.

As the British Empire became a powerful entity in the world, they were also part of exploring and discovering new places to extract wealth and lay claim as part of their empire. In the 18th century the slave trade brought incredible prosperity to Britain. An English politician described the country's condition as "Stomach well alive, soul extinct." The abolition of slavery came about as a direct result of Christians praying and pushing for a reform in the way that each human being, regardless of color, was equal and had a right to be free. Many of those that championed these causes were converted through the preaching of John and Charles Wesley along with George Whitefield during what was called the “The Great Awakening”.

In Psalm 111:10 it says; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” Time and time again throughout history, when true acknowledgment of God’s love and eternal purposes are recognized, His grace extends and true revival begins through His forgiveness. From the times of King Josiah to the Great Awakenings in the United Kingdom to North America of the past century; now in Asia and other regions of the world repentance and renewal is just a prayer away.

 

By: Pastor David Jones