When One Person Wakes Up
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lordand walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.—2 Kings 22:1-2
Spiritual awakenings and great revivals often begin when one person wakes up. The Bible includes many accounts of powerful movements for God among His people, and almost always the stories highlight one individual who was uniquely transformed by the Lord.
However, we can’t predict who will hear God’s call, or what He will do with that life.
Josiah became king of Judah when he was eight years old. He had a godly grandfather, King Hezekiah, whom he never knew. But his father Manasseh ruled for 55 years of such unchecked evil that God’s holy patience reached its limit. When God had enough, He started the countdown to judgment (2 Kings 21:10-16).
But Josiah was a 180ochange in leadership. 2 Kings 22:2 tells us he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Standing in the gap between God’s holiness and his people’s wickedness, young Josiah launched a lifelong crusade to take care of God’s business in Israel. His mission was clear: we’re turning back to God.
Then something incredible happened. As Josiah’s team rehabbed the Temple, which had been neglected for generations, they found the scrolls of Moses’ books buried in obscurity and trash (2 Kings 22). At age twenty-six, Josiah heard the Scriptures read for the first time and the message took him to his knees. He hadn’t known that God had written down His instructions. He hadn’t seen the recorded promises of warning and blessing based on obedience. Now his heart was exposed to God’s Word and it convicted him to the core.
Josiah realized they were sitting on a time bomb. He said, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book” (2 Kings 22:13). The clock had been ticking the whole time God’s Word was buried, and judgment was closer than they realized.
When someone wakes up spiritually, they become radically different and their surroundings are unavoidably disrupted. As a man before God and a king before his nation, Josiah committed to lead his people to change their thinking and living. He recognized some things had to go, repented of how his nation had walked away from God—and he and his people returned to the Lord.
What occurred next changed history. God saw the tenderness and humility of Josiah and had compassion on him and his generation. In His holiness, God could not overlook the evil that had been done, but He held back the clock so this repentant generation would not experience the consequences.
Spiritual awakening begins with a profound awareness of God’s awesome holiness on one side, our absolute sinfulness on the other, and our complete inability to bridge the chasm. Only He can close the gap. Revival always starts with the Father reaching down to us—not in a trickle of blessing, but in a deluge of Himself that covers our past and welcomes us to begin again.
If you have any doubts about your own spiritual condition, ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to His holiness. God awakened a nation through Josiah. His divine wake-up call goes forth with every generation. Make sure you’re listening for it.
In what ways have you heard God’s wake-up call in your life?
How would you describe your present state of spiritual alertness?
Lord, I confess that my times of spiritual lethargy are often connected with a loss of attention to Your holiness. Forgive me for my pride and ignorance in thinking I can contemplate anything about You and not have my sensitivity heightened. Forgive me for the folly of assuming I can stand in Your presence when I should be on my face. Father, awaken me and call me again to live for You at this moment in this world. In Jesus’ name, amen.