Sun. a.m. AGCC 1/25/98



TEXT: II Kings 18:6; Deut. 30:11-20


One of the single most profound changes that occur during a Biblical revival is a revived passion for the Scriptures. This is not just a desire to KNOW the Bible, but a passion to LIVE the Bible. The biggest problem today is not as much a lack of knowledge about the Bible (although this is becoming a sad commentary on our times too!), but the fact that many people know the Bible but don't practice what they know. The biggest need may not be "information" as much as "implementing" the Word of God. ILLUS: Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand. The Scripture which troubles me most is the Scripture I do understand. -- Mark Twain The passion Hezekiah demonstrated for God's Word was another way he insured that Judah was on the pathway to revival! Revival does not shove aside the Word of God and lessen its importance, rather, it refocuses its importance and renews a commitment on our part for it! We cannot afford a revival that emphasizes "experience" over "exegesis" of Scripture! It is not one or the other, but both! Certainly the Word determines the experience and not the other way around. Hezekiah serves as a model for moving toward revival, and so his step in demonstrating his absolute commitment to God's Word stands as a beacon for us to find our way too. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that revival includes a great passion for the Word of God in our lives, and that the path of revival is paved with the Word of God and our commitment to it!


A. Acceptance! 18:6a 1. "He held fast..." Hezekiah was no casual believer in God or His Word! a. Hezekiah did not find his commitment to God and His Word changing on the basis of what happens to him day by day, it was an absolute commitment in his mind and in his actions. b. Too many Christians live for God with a passion that follows how well things are going for them from day to day! c. There are too many "convenient" Christians rather than "committed" Christians in the Church! 2. Judah was like many people today, rebellious to everything God had told them, and since they all did it, it was thought to be OK! Hezekiah changed all this by his unswerving commitment to the Word of God! 3. It was time Judah dealt with their rebellious heart! ILLUS: A mother had a particularly trying day with her young son. Finally she flung up her hands and shouted, "All right, Billy. Do anything you darn well please! Now let me see you disobey THAT!" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 193. B. Absolute 18:6b 1. "Kept the commands..." Hezekiah understood what was right was not determined by the majority or what one feels, it is declared by God's Word! 2. There is too much an attitude of doing what we want to do rather than what we should be doing! 3. Too much Christianity is lived like the world, when it feels good we are faithful, and when it doesn't we aren't! a. Too many Christians use the logic of this world: "Well, most Christians feel the same way I do and it is quite acceptable with most. The level of commitment I am living is about the same as most other Christians I know". b. Since when do we use what is acceptable or what most say or think to determine what is morally right or wrong? (1. There was a time when MOST FELT owning slaves were OK, did this make it right!? (2. There was a time when MOST FELT Jewish people in Germany were inferior and could be destroyed, did this make it right!? (3. We live in a time when MOST FEEL that a radical commitment to Christ is weird, and MOST FEEL that no one can be chaste before marriage or after...does this make it right!? c. We need to understand that right and wrong, or a commitment to God, has nothing to do with what anybody FEELS or what MOST think, but is based on what God Himself SAYS! 4. Hezekiah would not have seen a great revival in Judah had he not "KEPT THE COMMANDS"! a. Judah's problem was disobedience to the Word of God, propagated by Hezekiah's father and the older generation! b. The only way to recover God's blessings and help was a revival of God's Word. c. Simply crying out to God would not be enough, obedience to God's Word was also required for real revival to make changes through society! 5. The rule of conduct in the Church and in the world is still the Word of God, no matter what society says about God's Word! ILLUS: After ten years of patient work, experts in London have finished what is said to be the most perfect yard stick in the world. It is made of platinum and iridium, and was designed to be used as the standard of the British government. Every year for ten years it will be examined and if it varies by a millionth of an inch it will be rejected. The Bible is the Christian's standard for his rule of conduct. Its principles never change. "The law of the Lord is perfect." -- Rev. Aquilla Webb, 1001 Illustrations for Pulpit and Platform, 1929, p. 54. 6. Hezekiah was on the right path toward revival! Are we? II. CHALLENGES OF THE WORD Deut. 30:11-20 A. Achievable! 30:11-14 1. The first thing Judah, Israel, and we need to know is that God is not asking something from us that is not possible! a. Too many times you hear this logic: "well almost all people do this, no one is perfect!" b. Of course no one is perfect, but the fact that MOST do something or not is not an indication that we MUST do the same something! c. God would not ask us to obey something we cannot obey! 2. The language God uses here about Israel's obedience to His Word is very clear: a. "not too difficult" - meaning it was not incomprehensible! b. "or beyond your reach" - meaning it was not impossible or unattainable! c. God was not being mysterious or impossible here! 3. The failure of most Christians to live for God properly has little to do with the Word being impossible to obey as much as it has to do with improper focus in life! ILLUS: As a young boy, one of my favorite pastimes was hunting frogs along the banks of a pond near our home. While stalking those green leapers, I was unaware of their unique visual powers which enabled them to elude me so easily. Later I learned that the frog's optical field of perception is like a blackboard wiped clean, and that the only images it receives are objects that directly concern him -- such as his natural enemies or the food he needs for survival. Therefore these amphibious little creatures are never distracted by unimportant things, but are aware only of essentials and whatever may be dangerous to them. Although such restricted eyesight would result in an unimaginable handicap to man, nevertheless a spiritual lesson can be learned from the frog's "blackboard". In the Christian life we frequently become preoccupied with the vain things of the world. We allow our lives to become so cluttered with materialistic and insignificant concerns that we lose perspective of the "things that endure." 4. The truth is that the Word of God is neither too deep for us to understand what God is asking from us, nor is it impossible to obey! a. When there is a problem, it is much more likely that we have chosen to ignore what it says, or excuse ourselves from obedience in some way! b. God does not ask for us to do the impossible, just the right thing! 5. God kept the demands of the Word to two basic things, stated in 10 commandments: a. Love the Lord your God with all your being. b. Love your neighbor as yourself! 6. These are not impossible to do, even though the world may think we are spiritually weird if we do them! a. It is one thing for the world to think we are excessive if we actually practice the Word of God... b. but today you can be made fun of by other religious folk for being too passionate about God! c. What has happened to the belief that God's Word living out in our lives is an achievable reality? 7. The truth is that obeying God's Word is a real possibility to those who want to admit it, it is in our mouths and in our hearts...we just need to do it! B. Accountable! 30:15-18 1. Notice the strong language here that God uses to convince them to choose wisely: "I COMMAND YOU this day TO LOVE the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments..." a. God is not demanding that they love him, he is strongly urging them to choose correctly! b. Why is he so strong about this? - because acceptance of the covenant means real consequences, they will be held accountable for their actions, not just their theology! 2. Accountability is built into the relationship God desires to have with man, this is true with all relationships. a. To have the right values are important...they cannot be determined by just how we feel, but by what is right! ILLUS: It is no wonder that in 15 years of asking high school students throughout America whether, in an emergency situation, they would save their dog or a stranger first, most students have answered that they would not save the stranger. "I love my dog, I don't love the stranger," they always say. The feeling of love has supplanted God or religious principle as the moral guide for young people. What is right has been redefined in terms of what an individual feels. -- Dennis Prager in Good News (July/Aug. 1993). Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 12. b. We must not mirror our society when it comes to the adherence of what is truth and what is right. 3. God could not make it any clearer in His comments to His people: "See, I set before you today LIFE and PROSPERITY, DEATH and DESTRUCTION.... a. nothing ambiguous about accountability here! b. nothing confusing about the consequences of obedience or disobedience. 4. The same commands that worked for Israel 4,000 years ago still work in a society today, no one has ever improved on the 10 commandments! 5. Every person and every society that has chosen to ignore those laws of God has experienced the same kind of consequences. 6. In a world that says, "it's not my fault, everyone does it" we must realize that we ARE accountable to God's laws, for they are changeless like God Himself! C. Advice! 30:19-20 1. God concludes His remarks about what is good and what is bad with the advice that they listen and choose life! a. Whatever happened to the concept of "duty"? b. There is more to life than just being a big shot, it is far more important that we live right! 2. Whether we are noticed or not is not the issue on how we live, it is whether we live out God's call on our life that is most important. ILLUS: My small son and I were taking a walk. In the far corner of the field we found a small patch of beautiful and fragrant flowers. They were in the middle of weeds, almost completely hidden and unnoticed, yet these flowers were blooming in full beauty and we sensed their fresh fragrance. All of us have met persons unnoticed by many, but who in the middle of struggle and unlikely surroundings far from the center of attention live lives of beauty and fragrance. And living lives which seemed obscure they faithfully fulfilled God's calling for them. God's question on the last day will not be, "How much were you noticed?" or even "How much did you do?" Rather, His question will be, "Were you faithful in fulfilling your calling where I placed you?" 3. God will not force their hand or force their will, but His advice is clear. a. There is real life and joy in choosing God's ways over those of this world. b. There will be great loss both now in their lives, and in their children's lives if they choose to rebel against God's laws. 4. The invitation is still there to choose LIFE - what choice are you making? 5. Hezekiah led Judah into tearing down their high places and idols and returning to God's laws, as they did, revival broke out and God destroyed their enemy and restored their fortunes. All it took was a return to the Word of God! 6. Hezekiah KEPT THE WORD and it led to revival, are we keeping God's Word? ... are YOU keeping God's Word? CONCLUSION: Revival always has connected to it a greater passion for the Word of God! When Hezekiah chose to keep the Word of God he made a choice that would bring revival to Judah. Our steadfast commitment to God's Word is a mark of a revived person, Church, or nation. God help us KEEP HIS WORD always!