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Leadership and revival – Part 28


Austen C. Ukachi

Every revival raises leaders who in some cases are not prepared for the position they occupy. The success or failure of any revival depends on the capacity and quality of leaders at the centre of the revival.

Revival and transformation only happen when leaders set the example; when they embody what they preach with their lifestyles. It is only then that lives and people can be transformed. The histories of Israel bear testimonies of the role leaders play in revival.

The reign of kings Manasseh and Amon were eras of spiritual blight in Judah’s history. In contrast, the reign of Josiah was like light shining in darkness. He was one of the few men in the Scriptures named before his birth. He was a chosen vessel named to fulfill the word of an unknown prophet (1 Kings 13:1-2).

Josiah’s reign witnessed religious revival before the disintegration of the Kingdom of Judah, which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. When Josiah was 20 years old, he began to clean up Judah and Jerusalem, destroying the heathen altars and the shameful idols on the hills as in 2 Chronicles 34:3.


Josiah undertook many reforms: He cleansed the temple of all the articles used in idolatry, burned them and took the ashes to Bethel (to defile the shrine there). He deposed and killed the idolatrous priests. He took the wooden image (Asherah) out of the temple, burned it, and scattered the ashes on the graves of the common people. He tore down the ritual booths of the male cult prostitutes (sodomites) in the temple area where the women wove hangings for the Asherah image.

He destroyed the altar that was at Bethel and burned the high place. Then, he took the bones from nearby tombs and burned them on the remains of the altar. On his return to Jerusalem, Josiah reinstituted the Passover according to the Word of the Lord, which he had read (see 2 Chron. 35:1–19 for more details). It was the greatest of such observance since the days of the judges. He is known as the greatest of the kings of Judah because of his reforms.

The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the dark years of captivity was a period of revival in the history of the Jews. Nehemiah’s exemplary leadership during this period is a testimony of the role of leadership in revival.

A leader’s vision, passion, commitment, maturity and sacrifice affect the work he does and the movement he leads. Nehemiah’s vision inspired the people to believe in his project and to follow him “Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies in waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” And I told them of the hand of my God, which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then, they set their hands to this good work” (Nehemiah‬ ‭2:17-18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬

Nehemiah’s tenacity and pragmatism galvanised the people and made the project a quick success (4:6-23; 6:15-16). In chapter 8, we see a revival of the word of God, which caused the people to weep for their sins. Repentance and confession lay a solid foundation for revival. In chapter 9, the people recounted their past and confessed their sins and then, they renewed their covenant with God.

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Austen C. Ukachi
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