A Kingdom of God Revolution, as I define it, is a move of God that inspires people to take the Gospel of the Kingdom into all facets of the culture and works to transform society. There have been many Kingdom revolutions in church history and virtually all revolutionary fires were sparked by a revival in the hearts of the people in the Church. As stated in my earlier blogs, revivals are unusual, surprising works of God that touch the church and spill out to the outlying community.
Revolutions are often sparked by a local revival.
Revivals in the Bible
Though the Bible never uses the term revival the way historians use it, the Bible is replete with examples of how a local revival sparks the fires of a national revolution. In my last blog, we studied the revival and subsequent revolution through the young king, Josiah. In this blog I want to focus on the revival found in Nehemiah.
Revival through Ezra
The story of Nehemiah as well as the revival and reforms that Israel experienced under his leadership is fascinating. Nehemiah, a cupbearer of the King of Persia, Artaxerxes I, upon receiving visions from God, asked, and was allowed to go back to Jerusalem and lead the effort (as governor) of rebuilding the crumbled wall around the city. It was an arduous responsibility with many twists and turns. But upon completing the rebuild, the Jewish remnant came together for the reading of the Law by Ezra, the priest (Nehemiah 8). Ezra “opened the Book in the sight of all the people…read distinctly from the Book, in the Law of God…and helped the people understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:1-8). But then, very similar to Josiah, the reading and interpretation of the scriptures broke the hearts of the people and “all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:9).
Even with instruction from Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levites to “not mourn or weep,” the people continued to repent and mourn before the Lord (Nehemiah 8:9). With each day passing, the people continued to repent in “sackcloth, fasting, and dust on their heads” (Nehemiah 9:1). The people could not be deterred, and they stood and worshipped for hours at a time.
Revolutionary Fires in Israel
The result of the revival was a covenant made by the nation of Israel, signed, and sealed by Nehemiah and the leaders in Jerusalem. There was mass repentance by the leaders and the people resulting in the “joining of the people and the nobles into a curse and oath to walk in God’s Law…and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes” (Nehemiah 10:29).
As the Law was continually studied and read, the rest of the book of Nehemiah chronicles the revolution that took place in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 10-13). Truly one of the most amazing reformations in Israel’s history.
Patterns of Revival and Revolution
- Revival was sparked by the reading of God’s Word. As with Josiah, the reading of God’s Word resulted in a revival.
- Revival is the result of repentance from sin. Josiah tears his clothes, and in Nehemiah, the people cannot stop grieving, mourning, and repenting of their sin.
- Revival is marked by a fear of God. As with Josiah, the people in Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah can’t stop the worship to God by the people.
- Revival then sparks a national revolution of transformation. Governor Nehemiah and the spiritual and political leaders in Jerusalem institute reforms that impact the entire nation of Israel.