2 Kings 23:1-28
And the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.…
A young and active king now sits on Judah's throne. Our text finds him at the age of six-and-twenty, in the midst of reforms which might have appalled many a man of twice his age. The earlier years of his reign he has occupied in many and various reforms, Now we find him in the midst of a revival of religion, the like of which the world has but seldom seen. The king, the court, the elders, the rulers, and the people all felt its power. Beginning at the house of God, it thrilled through all classes, and changed the whole religious life and thought of the land. And it is this revival of religion that I desire now to consider.
I. This REVIVAL BEGAN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD. And surely that was the best place. In God's house, in God's presence, we are to assemble and look for Him. It is there we may expect the Shekinah fire, no longer visible over the ark between the cherubim, but felt in force and power in human hearts. It is there we must seek for renewed vigour and Divine influence. It is there we must look for the Lord Himself, and pray Him to strengthen and quicken us. It is there we must come for the deepening of our faith in the Eternal, enlarging of our courage and zeal, and the expansion of cur Christian hope. It is there all revival must begin. If, then, we are to have a revival, it must begin at God's house. Votes of the House of Commons cannot do it, Acts of Parliament will never make men religious. Decrees of State will not fill empty churches with men and women full of the Holy Ghost and fire. All this has been tried. Some two or three hundred years ago soldiers were stationed at the doors of the parish churches, not so much to see who attended as to note who was absent. Fine, imprisonment, exile and worse, fell to the lot of those who did not fill their places. These things did not succeed. They never can. Fine, sword, fire, and persecution failed, and always will. They are the instruments of a past and barbarous age. But if we are to have a revival in which the people shall flock to God's house, God's house itself must be revived. There must be live men in the Church, if it is to save men alive. A cold Church but seldom warms cold hearts.
II. IN THIS REVIVAL MEN CAME BACK TO THE WORD OF GOD. The long-lost book was found. The Word of the Lord hid, slighted, neglected, lost, was discovered and brought to the young king. What a discovery Hilkiah made when he found the Bible! What a treasure he dug up! What a mine of precious ore! What a valuable find! The young king was quick to see its importance, value, and worth. It was read; its warnings heeded, its promises believed. And it was read to all the people. What an effect that book produced. Even so. I have no faith in any revival without the Word of God. Read the history of the great revivals in the Church, and you will find the Word of God in it all. Beginning with the Bereans right down to our day you will find it so. John Wycliffe was a great power in his day. He is rightly called the Morning Star of the Reformation. He Sent his Lollard preachers through the lend to tell the story of God's love. As he translated the Bible into the language of the people, his preachers went and read it and preached it to common folk. Read the history of the Reformation, and what will you find there? Martin Luther is its hero. That marvellous man, like his Lord and Master, was a son of the people, and began life in a poor and comfortless home. Reared in the faith and practice of the Romish Church, he came to know it well, and early saw its weakness. What was it made him take his reforming action? Have we not read that he found a copy of the Scriptures — the neglected, deserted, forsaken Bible? He read it. It did its work. It was the Bible made him the great reformer. It was the Bible which the reformers accepted as a sufficient rule of faith and life. We, too, need to pay more attention to the living Word of God. We are apt to look for and depend upon the word of man. If that is not eloquent, if that is not such as to tickle our fancy, we often return from God's house displeased, dissatisfied, and unblessed. What a mistake! Let us look for the God-sent message; let us hearken for the voice of the living God; let us hear what He has to say to us.
III. A REVIVED CHURCH WILL MAKE ITSELF FELT IN THE WORLD. This assembling at the house of God, and the solemn and reverent reading of the Bible, made a deep impression upon the people. The king dedicated himself to God. And surely that is the right thing for a king to do. The king should lead in all good things. All the people felt the influence, and there was a national movement. Public life was affected, the power of God was felt, men pat away their idols, and came back to the faith of their fathers. The Church, the Temple, religion became a greater force in the national life.
(C. Leach, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.