SAMUEL (I Samuel 7:1-15)
The ark proved a menace to the Philistines who had defeated Israel, so they returned it. While it remained at Kiriath Jearim, “the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord” (2). Samuel said, “’If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’ So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only” (3,4). His pattern fits the whole book of Judges. Sadly, none of them passed the baton to another judge to sustain the revival: “When the judge died, the people returned to ways more corrupt than those of their fathers” (Judges 2:19). Even Samuel, the greatest of all judges, did not raise up godly children to follow him. Good leader in Israel—poor leader at home.
ELIJAH (I Kings 17, 18)
Ahab “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him” (I Kings 16:30). His marriage to Jezebel brought in Baal worship and he built a temple for Baal in Samaria. Elijah challenged Ahab to a fire contest—and won! That was followed by the slaying of 450 prophets of Baal and maybe 400 prophets of Asherah, all of whom ate at Jezebel’s table. She didn’t like Elijah messing with her mealtimes and put out a contract on his life. Elijah had the momentum for an ongoing move of God, but missed the moment and went south. He could have prevailed over Ahab and Jezebel had he stayed put and led Israel. However, he was the only prophet who raised up a mentor to take his place. Success over the long haul requires succession, and Elisha, who asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, did twice as many miracles as his father in the faith. Good going, Elijah!
ASA (2 Chronicles 14-16)
“Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands (14:2,3). Asa deposed his grandmother because she made an Asherah pole, and the nation had 35 years of peace. The king of Israel went to war against Judah in the 36th year. Asa foolishly made a treaty with Ben-Hadad rather than consult the Lord. When he contracted a disease, he sought the help of doctors but not the Lord. He had 35 good years but finished poorly. His son, Jehoshaphat, likewise started strong, finished poorly.
HEZEKIAH (2 Chronicles 29-32)
Hezekiah reformed the temple practices and reinstated the Levites. Hezekiah invited the nation to come together in Jerusalem for the Passover. And “a very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread” (30:13). But Hezekiah made two terrible mistakes: he showed envoys from Babylon all his treasures, which brought judgment on his descendants, and he was a better king than a father, and his son Manasseh “rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed” (2 Kings 21:3). Terrible passing of the baton.
JOSIAH (2 Chronicles 34-35)
Young Josiah likewise celebrated the Passover (35:18). He brought revival when the book of the Law was found, bringing repentance and new commitment. He also made two great errors. He foolishly went to battle against the king of Egypt and was fatally wounded. And he did not raise up righteous sons like he was.
For revival to turn into vival, it requires a strong passing of the baton, from leader to leader. Call committees typically stall this process, and momentum is often lost. Better to mentor a replacement and pass the baton, so that momentum accelerates, as it did from Moses to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha, and most remarkably, from Jesus to the apostles! Let us learn from their successes through succession, which sustains revival!