The Very First Great Awakening?

Grasping the Old Testament Series

Leading Up to this Era

The majority of the Old Testament is made up of five multigenerational stories which can be read here.  First, God promises Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that through them both a nation and also a blessing to all the nations would come.  After a 400 gap the story picks up with Moses and Joshua leading the nation out of bondage and into the land of promise.  Another 400 plus years are accounted for in the Book of Judges as the tribes seamed stuck in a cycle of sin, oppression from an enemy, repentance, deliverance, and a period of peace.  Judges ends with a statement of the spiritual condition at the time.  “Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes.”  Looking at the way things were, no one would have guessed that the next three generations would powerfully transform Jewish society.  Do these three generations provide us a path for us to see transformations today?

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:14

Hannah wanted a child, God wanted a nation

The Book of First Samuel continues to provide pictures into society, by describing corruption in the priesthood with Eli’s sons, by a priest assuming a Hannah was drunk instead of crying out to God, and also by stating that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. (3:1)   It was a spiritually barren time and Hannah is crying out to God because of her own personal barrenness.  She became so desperate to bear a child that she was willing to give this child up to serve God.  God is looking for those like Hannah, who so want to birth something in the Spirit that they are willing not cling to it like they own it. Hannah didn’t realize all the implications of birthing Samuel and giving him to God, but she would make him a new coat every year, symbolically keeping a prayer covering over him.  God saw the condition of the nation and began to move through Samuel to bring correction and change.  Samuel was instrumental in beginning the transition from instability and sin to Israel’s greatest awakening.

Samuel – Transition, Priest, Judge, and Prophet

The first generation of advance is the generation of the prophet.  Prophets are visionary and break open the way for others to follow.  The word of the Lord was rare, there was no widespread revelation until God began speaking to Samuel.  He performed priestly duties as a young boy, became the last judge, was known as a seer, established the office of the prophet and most likely established a school of the prophets. Under his leadership, the people gather at the watchtower (Mizpah) and there repent, put away their foreign gods, fast, and pray.  God answers with thunder and gives them a great victory over their enemy.  Samuel traveled all over the land as a Judge teaching, reproving and exhorting the people to obey God.  Samuel anoints Saul as King but God says that this generation is rejecting God and not wanting God to reign over them.  After Saul goes off track the Lord has Samuel anoint David as King. Samuel lived to be 90 and Saul who was much younger died only a few years after Samuel’s death.

David – Warrior, Worshiper, King

David is the generation of many battles and victories.  God finds a young man whose heart is set on Him, who radically believes God is more powerful than enemy giants. After killing Goliath, David became a commander in Saul’s army.   Later on while being pursued by Saul, he gathers the outcasts of society, and these become his mighty men of renown. He doesn’t usurp authority but waits for God’s advancement after he passes his wilderness time of testing. When he becomes King, he has to overcome a civil war with Saul’s supporters, as king of all Israel he defeats all of the nation’s enemies.  He continues to have conflict as his wife doesn’t like his dancing, and with his son Absalom who tries to usurp the throne.  More then his exploits in battle or his reign as king, David is best known for having a heart after God. As a shepherd boy by writing and singing psalms, by playing the harp for King Saul, bringing in the arc of the covenant into Jerusalem and setting up the tabernacle of David with 24 / 7 worship.  His heart is to build God a temple, but that is for the next generation.  So David makes tremendous preparation for this by making the “blueprints”, storing vast sums of gold, silver, bronze, iron, marble, and jewels.  He also gathers craftsman, setup the divisions of the priests, and stepped aside as king so Solomon could assume command peacefully.  The nation advanced greatly under David, but the fire had yet to fall and the worship of God had to be set in stone and overlaid with gold.

Solomon – Temple, Glory, Wisdom

This third generation of transformation and the advances were implemented into the institutions of the culture and was know to distant nations. Solomon built the temple, the nation gathered for its dedication.  The glory of the Lord filled it and fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice.  “When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3

Evidence of Transformation

From a few years before Samuel anointed Saul king until the temple was built and the glory and fire fell 100 years passed.  From the completion of the temple until Jerusalem fell was over 400 years.  If a transformation of society took place then there would be lasting change, is there evidence of that?   Clearly there is no evidence that the 10 tribes that became Israel were transformed as they very quickly turned away from God.  Judah, however, was more faithful, but how faithful were they?

Second Chronicles chapters 10-36 briefly tells whether the king of Judah did what was good and right or evil in the eyes of the Lord. From David until the end of Isaiah’s life or Hezekiah’s reign as king was 353 years.  308 of those years or 87% of the time had a righteous king and only 45 years or 13% had an evil king.  After Isaiah / Hezekiah until Jerusalem was destroyed was 111 years with only Josiah’s reign of 31 years as the good and righteous exception.

Examples of Continued Transformation

When Israel divided from Judah then the priests, Levites, and “such as set their heart to seek the Lord” migrated to Judah and Jerusalem.  2 Chronicles 11:16.

King Asa proclaimed “we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.  2 Chronicles 14:7

And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around. 2 Chronicles 15:15

And the fear of the LORD fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Chronicles 17:10

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, the people, and the king, that they should be the LORD’s people.  2 Chronicles 23:16

Every generation had those that turn away from God to serve idols, but as a people they kept turning back to God for a hundred years after Solomon.  After that the people turned away more and more with short periods of returning.  Only under Hezekiah and Josiah were there revivals.   Just like it took the three generations of Samuel, David and Solomon to bring transformation, it wasn’t until three successive generations turned away that God brought judgment and destruction to a culture that had totally abandoned God.

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One thought on “The Very First Great Awakening?

  1. Pingback: Grasping the Old Testament – Introduction « More of We and Less of Me

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