January 1, 2016

A Discovery of Great Value

There is a gem mine in Franklin, North Carolina, that offers a type of treasure hunt. Visitors can pay to sift through a bucket of dirt from the mine and then keep whatever they find. Most of the time the buckets are just full of dirt and rocks, but once in a while someone will come away with something valuable. In July 1995, a third grader bought a bucket of dirt for six dollars and dug through it. He found a little stone with a shape he kind of liked and decided to keep it. As he was leaving the mine, a saleswoman in the souvenir shop noticed the rock and gave it a closer look. That little boy had in his hand a 1,104 carat sapphire worth about $45,000!

A discovery that brought a revival

It is always fun to hear about a discovery of great value. Even better, though, is being the person who benefits by such a find! The Biblical account of King Josiah gives insight into how to be that person. In 2 Kings 22, we read about a discovery that was made in the eighteenth year of his reign. This came about when he sent instructions for Hilkiah the high priest to “sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people . . . and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house” (verses 4-5). After the repairs had begun, a report came back to the king that Hilkiah had “found the book of the law in the house of the Lord” (verse 8).

There is no discovery story more exciting than the account of the finding of the Law during Josiah’s renovation of the Temple, because God’s Word is priceless. However, this account is about more than something valuable being found. It is also about God revealing Himself, and the one to whom He chose to reveal Himself. The Law was not uncovered by accident. God could have disclosed its whereabouts at any time during the reigns of previous kings, but He didn’t. He chose Josiah. Knowing this, the question we might ask ourselves is, “Why Josiah?” What did he do that caused the Lord to draw near to him in a special way?

Life choices that welcome revival

We often pray individually and collectively for God to move among us in a spirit of revival. Essentially, we ask that He reveal Himself to us, giving a fresh understanding of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and a renewed appreciation for the truth. What Josiah experienced with the discovery of God’s Law is an example of revival. Seemingly, it came solely at God’s determination. However, Josiah exhibited a pattern of behavior throughout his reign which invited God’s blessing. In examining his life, we can glean what these behaviors were and seek to develop them in our own lives, so God will choose us, and revival can begin in our hearts.

The Bible tells us, “He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord” (verse 2). Josiah was sixteen when he first sought God, twenty when he set out to purge the land of idols, and twenty-six when he ordered the renovation of the Temple. Though he was young and may have lacked spiritual knowledge, he did what he knew was right. His workers did not find the Book of the Law laying in the street somewhere; they found it in the Temple while they were cleaning. They were positioned to find the Book because Josiah had looked at the Lord’s House, saw that its condition was a disgrace, decided that something needed to be done about it, and ordered that the Temple be cleaned up and repaired. He honored the Lord both in his words and actions.

If we are going to experience revival, it will not be because we stumble upon it somewhere. It will be because we are doing what is right in the sight of the Lord.

If we are going to experience revival, it will not be because we stumble upon it somewhere. It will be because we are doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. We must honor God in our lives if we want to receive His blessing. Like Josiah, we may lack some knowledge and understanding when God begins to move in our lives. He may reprove or instruct us in a few areas, but if our desire is to do what is right, He will help us.

Josiah’s response to God’s correction was another reason God chose to reveal His Word to him. In 2 Kings 22:10-11 we read, “And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.” He then commanded Hilkiah, “Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (verse 13). Josiah responded with an attitude of humility and a heart of repentance. When he realized that he and his people were not in compliance with God’s Word, he could have been defiant. Instead he was grieved, and he humbled himself before God, mourning the sin with a willingness to turn from it.

What is our attitude toward God’s correction? Is it one of defiance or humility? Josiah’s response brought God’s blessing. The Lord told him, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord” (verse 19).

The personal revival of Frederick Charrington

An attitude of humility and repentance allows God’s Spirit to illuminate the changes which need to occur in a person’s heart and life. That attitude and its results were exemplified in the life of Frederick Charrington, who lived from 1850-1936. He was a member of a wealthy family in London that owned the Charrington brewery. His personal fortune, derived solely from this brewery enterprise, exceeded a million pounds.

One night, a year after Charrington’s conversion to Christianity at age nineteen, he was walking along a London street with his friends when the door to a pub suddenly flew open a few steps ahead of the group. A man staggered out onto the street with a woman clinging to him in desperation. The man, who was obviously very drunk, was swearing at the woman and trying to push her away. The woman was gaunt and in rags. She pleaded with him over and over again, “Please come home.” She said, “Our children haven’t eaten for two days and I haven’t eaten for a week. If you aren’t going to come home, could you at least give me a little money so I can buy food for the children?” Before she could finish, the man brutally struck her, and she fell to the ground like a rag doll, landing right in front of Charrington. Her husband stood over her still swearing, and was just about to swing at her again when Charrington rushed forward and grabbed him. There was a struggle, but he was able to bind the man’s hands behind him as the others in the group went to the aid of the woman. In a short time, the police came and took the man to jail and the woman to the hospital.

In that moment, God revealed Himself to Charrington, shedding His light on the family’s activities, and the multimillionaire brewer was faced with a choice of how to respond.

As Charrington got up and brushed off his clothes, he noticed a lit sign in the window of the pub: “Drink Charrington Ale.” In that moment, God revealed Himself to Charrington, shedding His light on the family’s activities, and the multimillionaire brewer was faced with a choice of how to respond. He later wrote of that experience, “When I saw that sign, I was stricken just as surely as Paul on the Damascus Road. The source of my family wealth was producing untold human misery before my own eyes. Then and there I pledged to God that not another penny of that money should come to me.” After that incident, Charrington got rid of all of his assets pertaining to the brewery business. Eventually, he gained a reputation in London for being very active in the Temperance Movement and helping people break free of alcoholism.

Charrington was a man who, when confronted with his wrongdoing, turned away from it to pursue righteousness steadfastly. This is what God is looking for; someone who will receive correction with remorse and then wholly embrace the truth.

Making and keeping a commitment God

Josiah not only turned away from sin, but he turned toward God. In 2 Kings 23:2-3, we find that “the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.” With just one reading of God’s Law, he changed the course of the nation.

If we will consecrate our lives to doing God’s will and purpose to follow holiness, He will make us able to keep that commitment.

Like King Josiah, we too must be willing to change and do what the Lord asks. If we will consecrate our lives to doing God’s will and purpose to follow holiness, He will make us able to keep that commitment. As a young man, when I would kneel to pray or meditate, I would tell the Lord, “I will go where You want me to go. I will do what You want me to do.” Those words would just roll off my tongue. It was easy for me to say, and I thought I meant it. Then one day, after my wife and I were married and had accumulated a few things such as a house and a car, the Lord tested that consecration. I had just arrived home from work and was walking up to the house when I said to the Lord, “I will go where You want me to go. I will do what You want me to do.” I don’t know what prompted me to pray those words right then, but the response came back immediately, “Do you really mean what you are saying?” I froze. I thought, Is God going to tell me to leave all of this? Is it going to happen now? All of a sudden, the consecration I had made so easily became a very real possibility. In the days following God helped me to solidify my commitment to Him, and I continued to pray the same prayer.

Twenty years later, I received a phone call asking if I would be willing to move and serve as a pastor. I had a good job. My wife and I had a beautiful home and two cars. It was a big decision, but we did not even need to think about it. As soon as I told my wife about the phone call, we were willing to go. My consecration was still on the altar, and my wife and I had made the commitment years earlier that we would hold whatever God gave us with a loose hand.

A discovery that anyone can find

There is something of much greater value than can be found in a bucket of dirt in a North Carolina mine. It is having God’s presence in our lives—intimacy with our Lord. And the best news is that anyone can find it. Are you willing to honor God in your life, respond to His correction with humility and repentance, and do what He asks? If so, the treasure can be yours.

apostolic faith magazine