The “High Places” Can and Will Prevent REVIVAL

BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG  – 2 KINGS 18:1-8 

I love Bible detective investigation, especially when uncovering hidden truths that were there all the time.  They were never HIDDEN, just ignored.

This week’s BLOG is no exception when it came to looking for the significance of ‘HIGH PLACES”.

HIGH PLACES is mentioned 117 times in the Old Testament of the Bible.  They were centers for Canaanite idol worship that God had commanded the Jews to tear down.  But instead, these places became IDOLS that subtly seduced God’s people year after year–they couldn’t stay away!

by-the-high-place-1024x672

The HEBREW word is bamah – a mountaintop, open-air altars on elevated knolls near towns.  (*Footnote [1] )

In 2 Kings 12:1-3, we read and notice Joash’s promising reign fell short of its promise; for he failed to get rid of the high places.

In this week’s Bible Text,  2 Kings 18:1-8, we are treated to the example of Hezekiah, a king who the Bible says,  “did right in the sight of the LORD”

What then went wrong (king JOASH), and What went right (king HEZEKIAH)?

#1.  What was it about Joash’s reign that kept the LORD from sending REVIVAL to the land?

#2.  What was it about Hezekiah’s reign that found favor in God’s eyes and led to REVIVAL?

The answers to the questions seem straightforward to me, but then again, I’ve been spending time in study lately in The Book of Kings!

Uncovering Evidence –

I see some very specific things in this eight verse summary of king Hezekiah’s reign, giving a clear indication what it was about Hezekiah that PLEASED GOD.

THE FIRST is found in verse 4 and it is his completed…

  • TURNAROUND

10029

 

JOASH failed to tear down the HIGH PLACES–

He wasn’t willing to make the effort to confront those STRONGHOLDS of sin and idolatry, and the consequence was the momentum toward REVIVAL; which was overcome by the EVIL of those strongholds, both in the nation and in Joash himself.

HEZEKIAH on the other hand, doesn’t fool around in his TURNAROUND.  He takes REFORM all the way to the hills!

He confronts the pagan priests and idolaters–he says, there is no more room for this kind of activity in my kingdom, because my kingdom is really God’s kingdom.

The PROCESS of Experiencing REVIVAL –

If we want to experience REVIVAL in our lives, in our home, in our church, in our community, we are going to have to make the same bold stand.

We can’t afford to have HOLDOUTS.

We can’t allow the HIGH PLACE of SIN to escape the LORD’S AUTHORITY.

We can’t say, “Lord, you can have all my life except…

  • MY FINANCES,
  • MY RELATIONSHIPS,
  • MY ENTERTAINMENT,
  • MY FUTURE PLANS.”

Today we don’t construct idolatrous clay figurines such as Baal, or attend worship services for Asherah.  But our TEMPTATIONS are just so seductive and perhaps even more subtle than in Hezekiah’s time.

Believers today might avoid the obvious “high places” such as THEFT, CHILD ABUSE or EXPLOSIVE ANGER.  But we tend to be casual about what the Bible teacher Jerry Bridges calls “respectable sins.”

We rarely speak of envy, worry, spiritual pride, sexual window-shopping, gossip or strife as SIN.  But these habits are nothing but sinful deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Historically, REVIVAL has come to the church when people have allowed the Holy Spirit to take the hammer of REPENTANCE to strongholds we harbor and once those barriers are busted, the river of REVIVAL becomes like a flood.

The second thing I noticed about Hezekiah that pleased God and led to REVIVAL was his complete…

  • TRUST  

ssbc-trust-post

[5] Hezekiah trusted in, leaned on, and was confident in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that neither after him nor before him was any one of all the kings of Judah like him.  (AMP)

The Bible says, Hezekiah TRUSTED in the Lord, the God of Israel.

There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after him.

Hezekiah’s forefather, DAVID declared…

psa20

It must be easy for a king to TRUST in the resources of his kingdom, to try to devise a way to solve their problems of weapons, and wisdom, and wealth the way Joash did.

But Hezekiah TRUSTED in the LORD!

Without FAITH, the Book of Hebrews says, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD (Hebrews 11:6).

But as we see here, with FAITH and TRUST in the Lord, God is genuinely PLEASED!!

CHURCH, if we are ever going to PLEASE the Lord, He will require from us the same that He required of the kings of Judah–REPENTANCE and FAITH–TURNAROUND and TRUST.

That TRUST must mean trusting in Him for SALVATION–believing that the SACRIFICE of Christ upon the CROSS is sufficient payment for your sins to make you righteous before God–this is the FOUNDATION of a God-blessed life!

With the central issue of SALVATION is dealt with, the LORD wants us to TRUST Him with even more–with ALL of our life.  He wants us to RELY upon Him for deliverance from the enemy, for daily bread, for our families, and for our future.

When we can openly give ourselves to God by TRUSTING HIM with ALL of our lives, and when we do that, (here it comes!)…we open ourselves up to His BLESSING, not that He’s been withholding it, but simply said, because we’ve been unable to receive it!

So then with TRUST as with TURNAROUND, we open the floodgate of REVIVAL!!

The last thing I found about Hezekiah in my reading that PLEASED GOD and opened the way for REVIVAL was Hezekiah’s…

TENACITY –

FullSizeRender-2

By definition, TENACITY is “the quality or fact of being very determined”  [Google Word Definitions].

HEZEKIAH CONTINUED–he stuck to it with a ‘bulldog’ mentality!

It wasn’t that he never faced difficulty, he did.  But unlike Joash, who when faced with a CRISIS…surrendered what was SACRED.

Hezekiah plunged forward with unwavering commitment to the task at hand.  

He continued to TRUST, he continued to do what was right even when confronted by the world’s only superpower of his day, even when he saw his Northern neighbor Israel being defeated and sent into exile.  Hezekiah continued to SERVE God in FAITH and in RIGHTEOUSNESS!!!

If we (the church) are genuine in our DESIRE to see God moving in our lives in a new and a fresh way, and if we long to see His BLESSING poured out across our nation, WE must exhibit the same kind of spiritual TENACITY!

So, why aren’t we seeing REVIVAL today as we should?

I’ve seen people over the years anxious for God to move in power; people who earnestly desire to have a new vision, a deeper understanding of the majesty and holiness of God, people who are anxious to see the lost come to faith, people who believe they have a God-given vision of REVIVAL in their community, people who have begun special prayer meetings to ask God to send REVIVAL, but who never seem to get there.  I know all this because, I’ve been there myself!  I don’t mean to say nothing happens–there is always spiritual fruit when people desire to be closer to Jesus.  And yet, the outcome never quite lives up to the expectation.

I don’t know why this happens for sure–perhaps part of it is, simply our inability to box God to define what REVIVAL is going to look like.  I suspect that part of it is the lack of one thing on our part:  TENACITY

After a few weeks of lacking attendance at the prayer meetings…after a few times2173776885_1108b59098 of inviting of friends and neighbors to church, we quit asking.

After a few days of resisting TEMPTATION…we give in.

We have not resisted to the point of blood (Hebrews 12:4).

 

Choosing How We Are to Live –

If we are going to see REVIVAL, we must choose to TURNAROUND, and tear down the “High Places,” giving God the sovereignty over every part of our life, leaving no place for temptation and sin to take root.

AND, we must choose to TRUST in Christ alone, both for SALVATION from sin–to be SET FREE from its penalty and for all matters of our lives.

AND it cannot be just a temporary decision but we must choose to follow hard after the Lord with TENACITY.

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE TODAY?

Share your decision if you wish in the Comment Section of this Blog.  Your words just might encourage another.

 

 


Footnotes & Credits ~

Footnote [1] : Billy Graham Evangelical Association – Seduced by the High Places by Scott Morton, May 2, 2012.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search and Seduced by the High Places provided by B.G.E.A.

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV)

Living Like KINGS In This Life!

ROMANS 5:17  (KJV):

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

When I study and meditate on God’s Word through the Scriptures, I love to look at bible verses in different translations.  It gives on perspective.  Although  in my library, I am fortunate to possess many different translations to compare, I also use the Internet to broaden my search, sites such as Bible Gateway or Bible Hub.

So in saying, let me give you a translation, of the same verse, from the Weymouth New Testament:

Romans 5:17  (WNT):

“For if, through the transgression of the one individual Death made use of the one individual to seize the sovereignty, all the more shall those who receive God’s overflowing grace and gift of righteousness reign as kings in Life through the one individual, Jesus Christ.”

THE IMPACT OF GOD’S WORD:

The apostle Paul, who wrote the Letter to the Roman church–inspired by the Holy Spirit–gives us a comparative look:

1.  The CONDEMNING ACT of Adam–

2.  The REDEMPTIVE ACT of Christ Jesus.

Adams sin (transgression), brought universal death to all of mankind (Romans 3:10, 23) when he accepted Satan’s lie:  “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

However, Jesus’ sacrifice brought salvation to those who believe (John 3:16).  Jesus’ one act of redemption was immeasurably greater than Adam’s one-act of condemnation.

HOW MUCH IS “ABUNDANCE”?

Romans 5:17 b…all the more shall those who receive God’s abundance of grace…

Did we get just enough to get by when we were saved by believing in Jesus?  Is that all there is?  Did we get just a teacup full of “grace”?

As some of you who follow my blog know, my favorite verse in the New Testament is John 10:10:

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”  [Amplified Bible]

Having “ABUNDANCE” till it overflows!

Given without a hitch, without strings attached, without measurement.  It’s like the Eveready Battery commercial: It keeps on giving every moment of the day throughout our entire lives!

Unlike Adam’s Act In Genesis…

Christ’s Acthas and will–accomplish exactly what He intended.  He called us as Christians TO “REIGN!” : That is a period during which something or somebody is dominant or powerful, has authority.

GOD’S ORIGINAL PLAN:

Genesis 1:27, 28, 30 b:

[ 27]  “So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.    [28] And God blessed them and said to them,  Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion (authority, dominance, power) over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.  [30] –to everything in which there is the breath of life–“

“Reigning in Life” (Romans 5:17):

Living like Kings
Living like Kings

The word “REIGN”  here, means to reign in life as a KING (not just in the masculine sense), to have kingly rule…possess kingly dominion as God originally intended before Adam’s act

Reign in circumstances…

Based on the authority of God’s Word, you are destined to “reign in life” as a king; “kingly dominion” over all your challenges and circumstances.  The time has come for us to stop “ABDICATING” our right to rule in life!  Remember, God has positioned us through His Son, to reign!

Ephesians 2:4-6  (AMP):

[4]  But God–so rich is He in His mercy!  Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us. [5] Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,  He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are SAVED (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).  [6] And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the anointed One).

NOTICE VERSE 4:

But God, who is RICH IN MERCY, because of His great LOVE with which He loves us; yet we were Spiritually Dead, but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love…

SALVATION IS FOR GOD’S GLORY!

GOD took you and I who were Spiritually Dead, gave us His boundless mercy and love.

IN VERSE 5:

Spiritually speaking here in verse 5, “at your best, you were dead in trespasses.”

Salvation brings Spiritual Life to the Spiritual Dead…

Remember, the POWER that raises the BELIEVER out of death, is the same POWER that brought you to life and it’s the same POWER that energizes every aspect of our Christian living–our circumstances, our trials, our doubts.

ALSO VERSE 6:

When we are SAVED from eternal death, we are raised up together; made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  Your physical body is still on earth, but your spiritual body…you get the picture here I hope.

The tense of “RAISED” and “MADE” indicates that these are immediate and direct results of SALVATION!

Verse 6 says, in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ Jesus.  It is the supernatural realm where God reigns.

LIVING IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM:

The SPIRITUAL is as real as the PHYSICAL world–BUT…it is different because it cannot be seen and tested.  Though the body itself is in the PHYSICAL REALM, the life within the body comes from the spirit.  [i] –See footnotes.

The Bible states clearly, we are to REIGN in life through Christ Jesus and… RECEIVING two important things from Him:

1.  The ABUNDANCE of Grace

2.  The GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS   (He declared you “righteous” at the Cross).

Worldly Thinking By Man–

Man’s thinking goes like this:  For God to BLESS him/her, he needs to DESERVE, EARN and MERIT God’s favor.  Man thinks that God’s blessings are based on his performance and good works.

God’s Way–

God’s way isn’t about ACHIEVING, but about RECEIVING!  (We are to receive!).

The WORLD’S SYSTEM Regarding SUCCESS in Life–

The SYSTEM is driven into our heads from the time we are children, through the teenage years, and emphasized through our working years.  All built on SELF EFFORT and DILIGENCE.

How many times did my parents advise and direct my paths?  “Quit being a procrastinator…a lazy teenager!”  Continue with your schooling; with the idea of being successful in life.  Now that IS good advice, don’t get me wrong.  However, a stigma can sometimes arise in a impressible child growing up:  “If I keep at this thing…due diligence will lead to my success!”  We can be sometimes find ourselves on the deserted island of “I”  (I did it).

We are driven to “do, do, do,” forgetting that Christianity is actually “done, done, done.”  [ii] See Footnotes.

k5929537The Question of “CHAIRS” and “SITTING DOWN”:

I’m a very visual person when reading and studying God’s Word and the Bible can certainly give us a picture of the believer, resting in finished and completed work of JESUS.

Hebrews 10:12, 14:

[12]  “Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for ALL TIME, sat down at the right hand of God.”

[14]  “For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.”

VERSE 14 once more–

DECLARING that you were PERFECTED FOREVER!

Our works, self-efforts, will, and can rob us of REIGNING in life by His grace.  You cannot earn your SALVATION, your HEALING, your FINANCIAL breakthrough by your own efforts.

GOD has called the REDEEMED to REIGN!

Revelation 1:6  (Young’s Literal Translation):

6  and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him [is] glory and the power to the ages of the ages!  Amen.

So if that’s you, reach out to Him in your spirit and RECEIVE your DESTINY…your AUTHORITY!  How do you reach out?

YOU PRAY…Lord, your Word is true and I believe it!  I’m tired of trying to be worthy in your eyes and everyone elses.  I was made worthy when your Son’s blood was shed on the Cross for my sins.  I am the REDEEMED in Christ.  I am worthy to RECEIVE the gift of kingship and to receive my destiny.  Have Your Holy Spirit empower me to take dominion over my life.  In JESUS’ Name I pray.  AMEN.

 

Footnotes and Photos:

Photo Inserts:  Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe Courtesy of Starpulse.com and Disney Productions & Foto Search.

[i] – From ChristWords.com–Christ’s words in Ancient Greek.

[ii] – Quote from a Howard Strickland sermon.