On Fire for God (A)
Who wants to see revival in the Church?
— We all do, right?
We will not see revival… the Church will not see revival until we are “all in” for the Kingdom… Revival happens when God’s Children are set “on fire”....
49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
That will not happen until we stand in the Gap between God and this broken world!
Today we are going to step back in Israel’s history… we’re going to look at a story from the OT… and we’re going to see someone who did just that… Who stood in the Gap…
And… who because of his faith… because of his “all in” attitude and radical obedience to God… brought a great revival to Israel!
30 And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; I have returned their conduct upon their heads, says the Lord God.
God says that He searched the world… He looked everywhere for someone who would “stand up” for the people… Who would build the wall… Who would stand in the Gap… but He found no one!
And so… He was bringing destruction to them!
What was the wall God is talking about?
— It is a wall of faithfulness…
There was no one found in Ezekial’s time… But, there was one there was a man… 123 years before him… Who rebuilt that wall… who stood in that gap…
And in doing so… He “Stayed off” that judgment of God for 123 years!
His name is Hezekiah.
His story begins in 2 Chronicles 28.
Historian Thomas Carlyle said: “The destinies of societies are shaped by great men and women who act boldly at key times.”
Hezekiah was one of those men!
Let me tell you: You can be too!
In fact, God wants you to be that person!
You are that one man… that one woman… called to stand in the gap for… your marriage… your family… your friends… your workplace… even for your church…
As a church… we stand in the gap for our city… our state… our country…
Do you see yourself as that?!
That is what we are called to be…
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Let me tell you: We are the INSTRUMENT that CONNECTS God’s HEALING with their NEEDS!
— It’s like that scene from “Back to the Future”… where the crazy doctor is trying to connect those dangling pieces of wire so that when lightning strikes at exactly 10:04 pm, M.J.F.’s DeLorean… going exactly 88 mph… gets the power it needs to return to the future…
You are the Human bridge that connects the “lightning” of God’s power to someone’s “flux capacitor”…
That’s what Hezekiah did… He was that man.
We should be too…
Look at 2 Chronicles 28…
Hezekiah was born into the Southern Kingdom of Israel at a time of great moral degradation… His father, king Ahaz, has been one of the worst, most unGodly kings ever…
1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign; he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done, 2 but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even made cast images for the Baals; 3 and he made offerings in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and made his sons pass through fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 4 He sacrificed and made offerings on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
That’s how it started… and it only gets worse!
The author of Chronicles summarizes it:
22 In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. 23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus, which had defeated him, and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them so that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.
Can I tell you this: The enemy won’t always make himself easily identifiable… instead… he will make things other than God seem like they will provide the comfort and peace we seek.
Ahaz seemed to operate off the idea of: “If you can’t beat em, join em!”
The Church today… seems to be operating off this same principle… “If we can’t beat them… if we can’t convince them… then join them… blend with them… that way the Church will seem relevant… that way it will be easier… more peaceful… less demanding…
— “give in to the ‘cultural norms’… that way people will listen and not condemn the Church”…
— “If the majority believes it, if the majority is teaching it… then it must be true...”
— even “Biblical Inerrancy” comes into play here… people are backing away from the idea of Biblical Inerrancy… saying “the Bible is not inerrant because men wrote it”… even pastors are following this thinking…
— Churches… pastors… are actually preaching the oppression of one group in order to lift up and exalt another group… (minorities vs majorities, men vs women, heterosexuals vs homosexuals, white vs non-white congregations…)
All this in an attempt to make life easier… more comfortable… to “feel” like we are moving with God...
But… that was Ahaz’s downfall, and it can be ours as well!
Biblical Inerrancy is important!
— Without it… there are no “absolute truths,” and where does that leave us? How do we know what is true? Who decides?
Hezekiah believed the Word of God… and put his faith in it.
It determined how he lived and how he led…
27 Ahaz slept with his ancestors, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem; but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. His son Hezekiah succeeded him. 1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done. 3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.
Chapter 29 goes on to describe how Hezekiah got himself right with God and went on to lead Israel in a national revival back to God!
We need this same revival!
But… What is revival? And… How do we get it?
We are going to breakdown Hezekiah’s revival… I want you to see what revival truly looks like… how it will look in our city… and how we “stand in the gap”.
Revival happens when God’s people clean the junk out of their lives.
3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east. 5 He said to them, “Listen to me, Levites! Sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and carry out the filth from the holy place.
Revival starts with us!
— Hezekiah started this revival with himself…
Look at what he did:
— in the first month… he reopened the doors of the Temple… his faith was important to him, and the Temple represented that faith…
— then he called the “Levites” (the priests) together and told them to “sanctify themselves”…
Now… What does “sanctify” mean?
— Sanctify - “to set aside as, or declare holy”
— Hezekiah tells them to “set themselves aside… to consecrate themselves… to make themselves holy for God… Which is exactly what he had already done!
— Then he called them to “sanctify” the Church (the Temple)… by removing the filth… the Sin… the corruption… to make it Holy again!
Revival ALWAYS begins in the House of God!
— We like to think it is a problem that’s “out there”… that “they” are the problem… they’re callous… unbelieving… immoral… corrupted by Hollywood… by politics… by liberal media and “woke” college professors… they’re to cynical… and the Laws have failed us…
— But… it’s us… it’s in here… it’s believers that ALWAYS keep the community from revival.
— We harbor secret sins… things in our heart and lives that we know aren’t right… when we “tolerate” sin… when we accept it in others… no matter the guise… we keep our community from the presence of God.
— You see… Some people say that the idea “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” is impossible… but it’s not! It is how we are supposed to live!
— We are supposed to “love our neighbor” enough to help them see the sin in their lives… to see the destruction it is bringing… and to help them overcome it through a reconciled relationship with God!
— Nothing grieves and drives out the Holy Spirit like harbored, unconfessed sin in the Church…
— Sin destroys our sense of… and hunger for… God’s presence!
Tim Keller says: “Willful sin makes the presence of God imperceptible to you.” (Tim Keller)
Sin extinguishes the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives… in the same way that water extinguishes a flame.
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I want you to see the “amplified” version of that scripture:
9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].
God’s awakening… revival… in a community ALWAYS begins in the Church.
— It always begins with us!
16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Revival CANNOT come to this community until we are Holy!
… That means that we HAVE to sanctify ourselves, just as the Levites in Hezekiah’s time did…
THAT is what makes us Holy!!! (It’s not about being perfect first…)
One of the greatest revivals in Church history happened in Korea in the early 20th century… It began with one event… when the Korean church was nothing more than a handful of believers…
During a prayer service… a man named Mr. Kang stood up… trembling… and addressed the people in a voice that was barely a whisper: “I have something to confess. I have … for weeks… harbored an intense hatred for Mr. Lee… our friend and missionary. I confess before God and before you… and I repent.”
The room was “dead silent”… Did this man just confess to hating the host of the conference?
All eyes turned to Mr. Lee… who was taken aback and couldn’t hide his surprise… But… he answered:
“Mr. Kang, I forgive you.”
What followed was what some described as “a poignant sense of mental anguish due to conviction of sin.”
Church members began to confess hidden sins… to weep over them… and to pray for forgiveness…
The meeting… which was only scheduled for a few hours… stretched on until 5 am the next morning… as God’s people cried out to Him in confession and repentance…
— This led to a massive outpouring of God’s Spirit… in 1 year, 50,000 Koreans came to Christ!
— one college in Pyongyang… reported that 90% of its students had come to faith in Christ…
— Today, South Korea is one of the most thriving missionary-sending hubs in the world!
God can do amazing things when His children get serious about their sin!
Have you ever wondered why it is that the Early Church in Acts experienced such amazing growth… so many changed lives? Have you ever wondered why we don’t see that kind of response in the Church today?!
This is why…
Revivals always begin when God’s people get serious about their sin!
Let me tell you: True Revival… is not noisy… at least not at first… It begins with a hushed awe…
People weep over their sin before they shout for Joy in the presence of God!
Is that you?
Ask yourself: “Am I weeping over my sin?”
Does sin break your heart? Does it burden you to the point that you want nothing more than to see it gone?! To see it removed… eradicated… from your life and the lives of those around you?!
Our world is overwhelmed by pornography… gossip… hate… adultery… divorce… greed… division… violence… (the list goes on)…
I wish I could say this was an, “outside” the Church thing… but it’s not!
The Church is suffering under the destructive forces of unconfessed sin!
We could say a lot about this… but let me ask you:
What is your junk?
What do you need to clean out? What is in there messing up your life? Preventing you from “seeing” the presence of God in your life?
I want you to see something here:
25 He stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of the prophet Nathan, for the commandment was from the Lord through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. When the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of King David of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed down and worshiped. 30 King Hezekiah and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of the seer Asaph. They sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.
Do you see what Hezekiah did there?
He reestablished Scripture as the center of their lives and worship…
Nothing will happen in our lives… in our homes… in our community… in this church… until… we let go of our sin… until we grieve over our sin… until we refuse to hold onto it any longer and center our lives on scripture!
If you are harboring hidden sin in your life… you CANNOT stand in a relationship with God…
What is it that is preventing you fro hearing from God?
What is it that is keeping you from perceiving the presence of God in your life?
Revival starts with us… it starts right here…
God’s Word says:
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
— black stones… represent sin…
— consider your life… What sins are you harboring?
What sins have you been afraid to confess?
What is God calling you to deal with?
(take one stone for each sin… don’t be shy… )
Come now… Bring them to the altar… don’t stay in your seat… we all have things we are dealing with… we are all carrying sin…
There is no condemnation… no judgment… at the altar… bring them to God… and leave them there…